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SELF

-LOVE

AND

VIRTUE RECONCILED

ONLY

BY

RELIGION

:

Or, An Argument

to

prove,

that

the only

Effectual Obligation

of

Mankind

to

practise

Virtue,

depends on the

Existence

and

Will

of

God,

8pc.

SECT.

I.

The

General Proposal

of

the Subject.

IT

has

been a

great

controversy, whether

the rules of virtue,

and our obligations to

practise.

them,

be

eternal and immutable

in themselves,

antecedent

to

our

conceptions

of the being

of a

God;

or, whether they depend

on his

will and appointment.

In

things

which

are merely speculative,

it

is

very evident and

cer-

tain, that there are

many eternal and unchangeable truths

;

as,

"

two and two make four

;

a circle

is

most comprehensive of

all

figures, and

a

right

angle

is

larger

than

an

acute." Note, By

eternal truths

we can mean no

more than

this;

that

in

whatsoever

moment of the eternity, past or to

come,

these ideal

truths

were

or

shall

be

proposed to

an

intelligentbeing, they must

be

assented

to, and acknowledged to

be

true

:

But

any

real, eternal

existence

of them,

cannòt be supposed, without a God, in whose mind

alóne they could

exist.

And when we,call them unchangeable, our meaning

is

this,

,

that

we

cannot conceive

it

possible,

that

any circumstances,

or

situation

of things, or

even

the

will

of a God, should ever

alter

the nature of these truths, or make them

cease to be

true.

But

the

case is not quite

so

evident to us, and

so

indisputable

with

regard

to moral

or

practical subjects, however

these

may

be

supposed

to be as

certain in themselves.

It

may

admit

of

a doubt,

whether

all

the rules of virtue,

and more especially,

whether

the

obligations

of

mankind tó practise

them,

are eternal

and

unchangeable

;

,

and that

even

before

the supposition

of

the.existence

of a God, or without

any

regard

to

such a

supreme

Governor.

It

must be

granted, that there are

persons of known

learn-

ing

and piety whohave chosen

this

side

of the

question

:

And

yet

it

must

be

acknowledged

too,

that

it

grates

a little upon some

re-

ligious minds,

to

hear

of eternal and unchangeable obligations

lying

on

men, which

are

independent

on

the

will

or appointment

of

God

;

or

even upon a supposition

there

were

no

God.

I

would

not

chase

to see such

sort

of

suppositions

introduced,

if it

be possible to secure

the rules

and practice

of virtue without

them.

I

think

that

these eternal rules of virtue, whatsoever they

A2

.