« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
rally extort from children, than by straining and racking their understandings, and imposing measures of knowledge to which their faculties are not fully adapted.
But let not the characterof God be ever represented in discouraging, but always in the first rudiments and essays of piety, in an engaging and attractive light; let him be noted, not for severity, but chiefly for condescenfion and mercy; that the love of a father, and not the servile dread of an enemy, may be established as the first principle of religion. Let not your general representations of religion terrify, but invite to a chearful approbation and acceptance of it. Impose no rigid austerities, no unnecessary restraints of innocence. Let not your service of God, your expressions and offices of piety wear a gloomy and melancholy aspect, left you inspire an early averfion to it.
• And with respect to the evidences of Christianity in particular, open the minds of children by degrees. Endeavour to impress a strong sense of its intrinsic excellence and tendency to happiness, before you engage their minds in an attention to its external proofs, which it requires a greater compass and Arength of judgment fully to discern and comprehend.
Again, it ought to be our first care to plant in children's minds the Jeeds, especially, of the following virtues i of justice, sincerity, civility, submission, friendship, generosity, compassion, and mercy, that they may work themselves insensibly, and take fast root in the flexible; pliants temper and habit of their nature, even while they are incapable, in a great measure, of reasoning about these or any other subjects. And here, I would recommend it; 'as most proper, to instruct them by pertinent and striking examples ; whether couched under apt fables and allegories, or such as have occurred in real life. And, by the same method, they may also be, in the most effectual and forcible manner, taught the odious malignant nature, and dreadful effects of the contrary vices of fraud, envy, malice, and revenge.
Finally, in their reading the holy scriptures, it were. greatly to be wished, that such parts were wisely selected, as are best suited to their weak, uncultivated, and inexperienced minds; such devotional pasages as are most free from figures; and fuch moral rules as these-Whatsoever ye would that men mould do unto you, do ye even go to them Children obey your parents--- As you have opportunity do good to all-.-Be cloathed with humility; and gentle towards all meni -Put away lying, wrath, anger, clamour, malice, and forgive one another : and, to conclude this head, those scripture hi
flories Tould be chiefly recommended, which represent, in a prong and affecting view, the obligations of early piety, benevelence, and goodness.
• But let parents be, above all things, careful not to inspire their children with a blind intemporate zeal for any peculiar System or party in religion, left they prejudice their mirds, both against the religion of nature and real chriftianity; or, at least (which yet is a consequence to be guarded against with the utmost precaution) train them up in a habit of contentious angry controversy, and in a bitter, nare row, and uncharitable cifpofition.'
In the fixth chapter our author confiders the duties of children towards their parents; and he reduces them all to the following heads, vix affection and gratitude, reverence and submission ; concealing or extenuating their imperfections, and vindicating their personal honour; so far as right, and the truth of the case will admit ; obedience to their commands, to the utmost extent of their rational and just authority; and whenever it is wanted, through a decay of their worldly substance, the infirmities of age, or any other of the incident misfortunes or calamities of human life, affording them a competent, eafy, and honourable fubsistence. Each of these heads he briefly illustrates.
In the beginning of the seventh chapter, the subject of which is the distinct obligations of; maiters and servants, the doctor shews that servitude may be as truly said to be an ordinance of God, as authority and government itself; since it was plainly his original design, that there should be certain differences and inequalities in the outward circumstances and condition of mankind; from which differences servi. tude must neceflarily flow. After some general reflections on the different kinds of servitude, he proceeds to a more particular confideration of the fubject, and discourses of the Jervant's duty, under the following heads, viz. That he 1hould be obedient, jult, and honeft; frugal; orderly in his behaviour ; submislive and respectful in his carriage towards his master; not a divulger of family secrets ; that he ought not to corrupt the manners of the children, who are intrusted to his care and oversight, nor encourage them in stubborness and disobedience; that no pretence of a superior purity and zeal, with respect to religion, should make him in the least rude and infolent, or careless of his master's interest; and that, as the foundation of a faithful discharge of all other branches of his relative duty, he endeavours 10 form his mind, as much as possible, to case and content
ment, under his state of servitude, and an entire submission to the wise disposals of providence. Under each of these particulars, he gives an impartial summary of the master's duty, in a kind of contrast to that of the servant's ; that by being jointly represented, and appearing together in one view, they may illustrate and enforce each other.
In the eighth chapter, our author treats of the duties of magistrates and subjects ; and here his principal aim is to oppose tyranny, and thew the monstrous absurdity of those pernicious maxims of arbitrary government, which are subversive of all natural right. He obferves, that the heart of man beats, by nature, most strongly for liberty, and that this feeling is so universal and unsuppressible, that it may reasonably be deem'd a divine instinct and impulse in the human foul. • Slavery,' says he entirely defaces the image of God, that was, at first, so strongly impress’d and ftamp'd upon human nature; and renders the condition of mankind infinitely more ignominious, and more sensibly deplorabl, than that of brute creatures ; whose rank of being generally requires that they should be subject to the abfolute controul of a superiour intelligence, and who being destined by the God of nature, for paljive servitude, have happily no aspirings after freedom and independance. So that, upon this plan, the arbitrary monarch in the reasonable, and those who are too wild or too fierce, to be subdued in the animal world!, are the only subjects of God's universal government, that he ever intended should taste the sweets of liberty; or, in other words, the weaker, the more useful, and innocent, are, throughout all nature, utterly deserted by providence, and given up as a prey to ravaging and oppressive power. Tyrants, in themselves, the objects of horror and detefiation, beyond pain, poverty, or death; the enemies of God, who intult and set at defiance the model of his supreme government; the courges of nations ; the pefits of all human fcciety; whom piety and mercy to mankind in general oblige us to oppose, and pursue, if it be poflible, and as far, as there is any probability of success, to their absolute d finition ; thele aliens, I say, from humanity are protected from resentment : their violence is declared to be irrefistible, thieir tovereign anointed cruelty to be sacred.
• But who could give them an authority to be thus opprefiive and infolent? Not the supreme source of power without denying himself, and dishonouring his moral perfections : not the consent of mankind, who could never voluntarily agree to their one shame and misery. The power
they claim, therefore, must be all usurped: and to say, that they ought not to be controuled, tho' there be a superior forces that is able to restrain them within the bounds of honour and justice, is, in effect, to assert that nature was intended and framed for mischief, for unnecessary and wanton mischief, and all this with no other view than to pamper the oftentation and luxury of power, and raise fome above their equals by nature, to trample upon their own kind. Such a constitution as this one would naturally expect from a capricious or malevolent being ; but to ascribe it to the God of eternal justice and mercy, is most strangely blasphemous. If revelation fupported such exorbitant claims, which bid uttex clefiance to reason; no pomp of miracles could maintain its authority, or screen it from the content of the wise, the generous, and the good.'
After this he proceeds to shew that the principles of the christian religion are repugnant to tyranny; that there were peculiar reasons for enforcing, in the warmest manner, fubmission and obedience to magistrates, at the first promulgation of the gospel ; and that, though it should be allow'd, that the apostles, at that time, inculcated absolute non-resistance and passive obedience to princes invested with authority; (that this was the cale, however, he is far from thinking) yet it can by no means follow, that the same obligation to a tame, implicit slavish submission lies equally on us, who are in a condition quite different, and possess’d of legal rights. To demonstrate this point beyond all reasonable exception, he firit treats briefly of the divine institution, the original and true end of civil government; and secondly of the extent of authority in the ruling power, and the just meaļures of obedience and submission in the subjects. Under the first head he shews, that no government deserves to be esteemed and reverenced as the institution of God, but what is framed and conducted on the model of his own universal government ;-that no human government can be directly and immediately derived from God, which is absolute and uncontroulable; because, in the nature of things, these are the sole incommunicable characters of his supreine empire ;--that it is absolutely unreasonable to imagine, that God would exalt a few, to be absolute lords over the lives and fortunes of others, unless they were either of a different mecies, or, at least, endowed with higher and more eminent faculties; that as empires and governments were founded before we read of any express law of God relating to government, it undeniably follows, that no particular species of govern
ment can be fixed upon, as the unalterable appointment of God, contrived and adapted for the use of all nations ;that government in general cannot be denominated the ordinance of God in any other view than as the natural inftincts, the condition and exigencies of mankind prompt and lead them to it ;—and that all equitable government must be founded in mutual consent. As the unnatural advocates for absolute
power would fain drag in revelation to be an auxiliary support and prop of tyranny, and erect a throne of violence and oppression upon the doctrine of the new testament ; the doctor likewise, under bis first head, confiders these passages of scripture that are urged in favour of their principles.
He concludes this chapter with enquiring into the extent and boundaries of the magistrate's power with respect to religion and the rights of conscience, and endeavours to make it appear, that he neither has nor can have from God, from nature, from the people, or from the peculiar reason and design of his office, any authority at all. He shews that, in matters merely religious, God is, and must be, the sole legillator; —that as the magiftrate has no claim to be a lawgiver in the religious world, which is strictly and unalterably God's kingdom, this equally evinces, that he has neither from nature, nor the possitive will of the supreme being, nor from the consent of the people, a right to set himself up for an interpreter of divine laws, or to frame creeds or articles, to be universally subscribed and assented to, as a standard of faith, or as articles of peace, or to qualify for high emoluments and honours in society. That, as the eternal law of nature strongly remonstrates against civil authority in matters of conscience, both in enacting new, and in explaining the old laws of religion ; fo likewise does revelation : Christ himself having exprefly declared that his kingdom is not of this world ;—that by admitting the necessity and authority of a publick magistratical religion, christianity itself is virtually condemn’d; because all those who at first either publish'd or embrac'd it, renounc'd, and directly confronted the religion of the state. And that, if it be every man's indispensible duty, and, of course, a right that he may justly claim, to act agreeably to the inward light and convictions of his own mind, the civil power can have no authority to impose the minutest article with respect to religion ; because these two rights are, in their natures, utterly repugnant and incompatible.