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sweetness attracts affection. Be grateful, because gratitude nourishes and cherishes bounty. Be modest, for pride is offensive to the wise. Pardon injuries, for vengeance eternizes hatred. Do good to him who injures you, to shew the superior dignity of your own mind, and to make him friend. Be discreet, temperate, and chaste, for voluptuousness, intemperance, and excess, not only destroy the frame, but injure the reputation. Be a good citizen, because your country is necessary to your wellbeing, your security, and your pleasures. Be patient and obedient to lawful authority, because this is necessary to the preservation of society, and consequently to your own. Be obędient to the laws, because they are the dictates of the public will, to which your individual will must be subordinate. Defend your country, for it is that country, which renders you happy, and secures your property, and all that is most dear to you. In a word, be a Man. Be a being, sensible, and of reason. Be a faithful husband, a tender father, an equi table master, a zealous citizen. Labour to serve your country, and be assured, the tissue of your days will be happy."
What is the moral part of this counsel, but an echo of the precepts of Christianity? What is it, but, in other words, saying, "O man, be a Christian?"
MORALITY is the noblest, the best, and the only immortal distinction of man. It has even by some been said, that man is more distinguished from the animal world by morality, than by reason; as several brute creatures discover in their actions something like reason, but nothing that bears the least affinity to morality.* This is undoubtedly true: nor can it, with any shadow of reason, be asserted, that the grace of God, in the Christian dispensation, releases men from the laws of nature. This, indeed, would be to discard the primary obligations to piety and virtue. For, can there be transgression where there is no law, and consequently no obedience?
Religion, whatever be the opinion of bigots, I have always thought, ought to be no farther considered than as it contributes to mo
rality. But, the conduct of the early Christians, it is said, was extremely reprehensible. The meekness and resignation which had distinguished the primitive disciples of the gospel, were the objects of the applause, rather than of the imitation of their successors. These latter had contracted the insolent vices of prosperity, and the habit of believing, that the saints alone were entitled to reign over the earth.* Their clergy were a lawless tribe. They broke the laws in the most public manner, and instigated others to break them, by popular insurrections against the authority of magistrates, and by tumults and riots, in which they insulted the established religion of the empire. The list of martyrs, hence, consisted more of those who suffered for breaking the peace, than of those who suffered quietly for the sake of their religion.†
Morcover, has not Christianity, we are asked, given cause for such divisions, and such wars, that it would have been better for mankind had it never existed? Has it not caused the most detestable assassinations? one for example, the most horrible that was ever perpetrated among men, the massacre of Saint Bartholomew? Has it not shed more innocent, or rather more vir
tuous blood, in the persecution of heretics, (for men must be virtuous in an eminent degree, who submit to be burnt alive, rather than be guilty even of dissimulation) than the falsest and most sanguinary system of the ancients? Torqueta, that infernal inquisitor of Spain, brought into the Inquisition, in the space of fourteen years, no fewer than 80,000 persons, of whom 6000 were condemned to the flames, and burnt alive, with the greatest pomp and exultation. In the reign of the English fury, Mary, a young man having been inadvertently betrayed by a priest to deny transubstantiation, absconded. Bonner, the merciless Bonner, threatened ruin to the father, if he did not deliver up the young man. The son, hearing of his father's danger, made his appearance, and was burnt alive, instead of being rewarded for his filial piety. A woman, during the same reign, was delivered in the midst of the flames one of the guards snatched the infant from the fire, but the magistrate, who attended the execution, ordered it to be thrown back; being resolved, he said, that nothing should survive, which sprung from a parent so obstinately heretical. Even Father Paul computes, that in the Netherlands alone, from the time that the edict of Charles V was promulgated against the Reformers, 50,000 persons were hanged, beheaded, buried
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