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As every individual pursues happiness for himself, so many lose what they seek for, by pursuing it only and wholly for themselves; and as the love and practice of virtue is the most likely way to happiness in this life, so it is the only sure way to the happiness of another,

Positive religious institutions leave men as they find them, in respect to their natural abilities, their natural tempers and constitutions, their appetites and passions, and whatever are the springs of action in them, and the natural consciousness of the good or evil of those actions, are the same, both with and without such positive religious institutions. And, consequently, the probability. and the presumption arising from it lie on the other side of the question: that is, it may fairly be presumed, that men would generally be what they are, drunkards, or sober; honest or dishonest; virtuous, or vicious; both with and without such positive religious institutions. This, I think, is farther evident from experience; men, who are disposed to follow their vicious inclinations, do so, notwithstanding their being under such religious establishments. And, therefore, to presume that all others would be alike, or more vicious, were it not for the establishment of some religious positive institutions, is a groundless supposition, which has nothing in reason or experience to support it. Add to this, that positive religious institutions cannot possibly lay men under any reasonable restraint, which Natural religion does not lay them under.

Man's natural frame and composition, and his situation and condition in the world, show that he is designed and constituted for society, and to be happy in and with it; and he is hereby naturally and unavoidably led into it. His natural affections dispose him to society; his natural ability to convey his ideas to others by speech, the figure and parts of his body, and the endowments of his mind, qualify him for it; his indigence and dependence upon others, as being unable, in a single capacity, to procure the comforts, or guard against the evils of life, necessitate or force him into society; and his understanding shows him the fitness and reasonableness of so doing. And as man is thus naturally led into society, or to constitute a public interest, which is the same thing; so, in

reason, he has a right to claim from society protection from those injuries he is liable to, and which, in his single capacity, he is not qualified to guard against; and likewise to claim that assistance from society which his particular necessities call for, and which society is capable of, and, in reason, ought to afford him.



Pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this. to visit the Fatherless and Widows in their afflictions, and to keep one's self unspotted from the World.

Whoever takes a view of the world will find, that what the greatest part of mankind have agreed to call religion, has been only some outward exercise esteemed sufficient to work a reconciliation with God. It has moved them to build temples, slay victims, offer up sacrifices, to fast and feast, to petition and thank, to laugh and cry, to sing and sigh by turns: but it has not yet generally been found sufficient to induce them to break off an amour, to make restitution of ill-gotten wealth, or to bring the passions and appetites to a reasonable subjection. Differ as much as they may in opinion, concerning what they ought to believe, or after what manner they are to serve God, as they call it, yet they all agree in gratifying their appetites. The same passion reigns eternally in all countries and in all ages, Jew and Mahometan, the Christian and the Pagan, the Tartar and the Indian, all kinds of men who differ in almost every thing else, universally agree with regard to their passions; if there be any difference among them it is this, that the more superstitious they are, always the more vicious; and the more they believe, the less they practice. This is a melancholy consideration to a good mind; it is a truth, and certainly above all things, worth our while to inquire into. We will therefore probe the wounds, and search to the bottom; we will lay the axe to the root of the tree, and show you the true reason why men go on in sinning and repenting, and sinning again through the whole course of their lives: and the reason is, because they have been taught, most

wickedly taught, that religion and virtue are two things absolutely distinct; that the deficiency of the one might be supplied by the sufficiency of the other; and that what you want in virtue you must make up in religion. But this religion, so dishonorable to God, and so pernicious to men, is worse than Atheism, for Atheism, though it takes away one great motive to support virtue in distress, yet it furnishes no man with arguments to be vicious; but superstition, or what the world means by religion, is the greatest possible encouragement to vice, by setting up something as religion, which shall atone and commute for the want of virtue. This is establishing iniquity by a law, the highest law; by authority, the highest authority; that of God himself. We complain of the vices of the world, and of the wickedness of men, without searching into the true cause. It is not because they are wicked by Nature, for that is both false and impious; but because, "to serve the purposes of their pretended soul-savers, they have been carefully taught that they are wicked by Na ture, and cannot help continuing so. It would have been impossible for men to have been both religious and vicious, had religion been made to consist wherein alone it does consist; and had they been always taught that true reli gion is the practice of virtue in obedience to the will of God, who provides over all things, and will finally make every man happy who does his duty.

This single opinion in religion, that all things are so well made by the Deity, that virtue is its own reward, and that happiness will ever arise from acting according to the reason of things, or that God, ever wise and good, will provide some extraordinary happiness for those who suffer for virtue's sake, is enough to support a man under all difficulties, to keep him steady to his duty, and to enable him to stand as firm as a rock, amidst all the charms of applause, profit, and honor. But this religion of reason, which all men are capable of, has been neglected and condemned, and another set up, the natural consequences of which have t puzzled men's understandings, and debauched their morals, more than all the lewd poets and atheistical philosophers that ever infested the world; for instead of being taught that religion consists in action, or obedience to the

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