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been advancing the interests of vice; which, as I take to proceed from their ignorance of human nature, we may hope, when they become sensible of their mistake, they will, in consequence of that beneficent principle they pretend to act upon, reform their practice for the future.

The sages, whom I have in my eye, speak of virtue as the most amiable thing in the world; but at the same time that they extol her beauty, they take care to lessen her portion. Such innocent creatures are they, and so great strangers to the world, that they think this a likely method to increase the number of her admirers.

Virtue has in herself the most engaging charms; and Christianity, as it places her in the strongest light, and adorned with all her native attractions, so it kindles a new fire in the soul, by adding to them the unutterable rewards which attend her votaries in an eternal state. Or if there are men of a saturnine and heavy complexion, who are not easily lifted up by hope, there is the prospect of everlasting punishments to agitate their souls, and frighten them into the practice of virtue, and an aversion from vice.

Whereas your sober free-thinkers tell you, that virtue indeed is beautiful, and vice deformed; the former deserves your love, and the latter your abhorrence; but then it is for their own sake, or on account of the good and evil which immediately attend them, and are inseparable from their respective natures. As for the immortality of the soul, or eternal punishments and rewards, those are openly ridiculed, or rendered suspicious by the most sly and laboured artifice.

I will not say, these men act treacherously in the cause of virtue; but will any one deny, that they

act foolishly, who pretend to advance the interest of it by destroying or weakening the strongest motives to it, which are accommodated to all capacities, and fitted to work on all dispositions, and enforcing those alone which can affect only a generous and exalted mind.

Surely they must be destitute of passion themselves, and unacquainted with the force it hath on the minds of others, who can imagine that the mere beauty of fortitude, temperance, and justice, is sufficient to sustain the mind of man in a severe course of self-denial against all the temptations of present profit, and sensuality.

It is my opinion that free-thinkers should be treated as a set of poor ignorant creatures, that have not sense to discover the excellency of religion; it being evident those men are no witches, nor likely to be guilty of any deep design, who proclaim aloud to the world, that they have less motives to honesty than the rest of their fellow subjects, who have all the inducements to the exercise of any virtue which a free-thinker can possibly have; and besides that, the expectation of never-ending happiness, or misery, as the consequence of their choice.

Are not men actuated by their passions? and are not hope and fear the most powerful of our passions? and are there any objects which can rouse and awaken our hopes and fears, like those prospects that warm and penetrate the heart of a Christian, but are not regarded by a free-thinker ?

It is not only a clear point, that a Christian breaks though stronger engagements whenever he surrenders himself to commit a criminal action, and is stung with a sharper remorse after it, than a free-thinker; but it should even seem that a man

who believes no future state, would act a foolish part in being thoroughly honest. For what reason is there why such a one should postpone his own private interest, or pleasure, to the doing his duty? If a Christian foregoes some present advantage for the sake of his conscience, he acts accountably, because it is with the view of gaining some greater future good but he that, having no such view, should yet conscientiously deny himself a present good in any incident where he may save appearances, is altogether as stupid as he that would trust him at such a juncture.


It will, perhaps, be said, that virtue is her own reward, that a natural gratification attends good actions, which is alone sufficient to excite men to the performance of them. But although there is nothing more lovely than virtue, and the practice of it is the surest way to solid natural happiness, even in this life; yet titles, estates, and fantastical pleasures, are more ardently sought after by most men, than the natural gratifications of a reasonable mind; and it cannot be denied, that virtue and innocence are not always the readiest methods to attain that sort of happiness. Besides, the fumes of passion must be allayed, and reason must burn brighter than ordinary, to enable men to see and relish all the native beauties and delights of a virtuous life. And though we should grant our freethinkers to be a set of refined spirits, capable only of being enamoured of virtue, yet what would become of the bulk of mankind who have gross understandings, but lively senses, and strong passions? What a deluge of lust, and fraud, and violence, would in a little time overflow the whole nation, if these wise advocates for morality were universally hearkened to! Lastly, opportunities do sometimes

offer, in which a man may wickedly make his fortune, or indulge a pleasure, without fear of temporal damage, either in reputation, health or fortune. In such cases what restraint do they lie under who have no regards beyond the grave; the inward compunctions of a wicked, as well as the joys of an upright mind, being grafted on the sense of another state?

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The thought, that our existence terminates with this life,' doth naturally check the soul in any generous pursuit, contract her views, and fix them on temporary and selfish ends. It dethrones the reason, extinguishes all noble and heroic sentiments, and subjects the mind to the slavery of every present passion. The wise heathens of antiquity were not ignorant of this: hence they endeavoured by fables, and conjectures, and the glimmerings of nature, to possess the minds of men with the belief of a future state, which has been since brought to light by the gospel, and is now most inconsistently decried by a few weak men, who would have us believe that they promote virtue, by turning religion into ridicule.

N° 56. FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1713.

Quid mentem traxisse polo, quid profuit altum
Erexisse caput? pecudum si more pererrant.

What profits us, that we from heaven derive
A soul immortal, and with looks erect
Survey the stars; if, like the brutal kind,
We follow where our passions lead the way?


I WAS considering last night, when I could not sleep, how noble a part of the creation man was designed to be, and how distinguished in all his actions above other earthly creatures. From whence I fell to take a view of the change and corruption which he has introduced into his own condition, the groveling appetites, the mean characters of sense, and wild courses of passions, that cast him from the degree in which Providence had placed him; the debasing himself with qualifications not his own; and his degenerating into a lower sphere of action. This inspired me with a mixture of contempt and anger; which, however, was not so violent as to hinder the return of sleep, but grew confused as that came upon me, and made me end my reflections with giving mankind the opprobrious names of inconsiderate, mad, and foolish.

Here, methought, where my waking reason left the subject, my fancy pursued it in a dream; and I imagined myself in a loud soliloquy of passion, railing at my species, and walking hard to get rid of the company I despised; when two men, who had overheard me, made up on either hand.

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