Obrázky stránek

than' habitual good-humour, in rendering, the intercourse of society agreeable, and in keeping at a distance all intemperate passion, and all harshness of sentiment and language and of what religion, but the Christian, can we say with truth, that it supplies, in every state of human affairs, a perpetual source of inward confolation ? In a word, true Christianity, alone and at once, transforms a barbarian into a man; a brutal, selfish, and melancholy savage, into a kind, a generous, and a chearful associate.

Will it be faid, that delicacy of speech and behaviour may be communicated and acquired by the means recommended in some late LETTERS, namely, by external applications, and by the use of certain mechanical phrases, looks, and geltures? As well may the painting of the cheeks and eye-brows be prescribed as a preservative from the rheumatism, and perfumed snuff as an antidote against hunger and thirst. He has learned little of the true interests of human fociety, and nothing at all of the human mind, who does not know, that without fincerity there could not be either happiness or comfort upon earth; that permanent propriety of conduct has its source in the heart; and that, if all men believed one another to be knaves and hypocrites, politeness of language and attitude, instead of being graceful, would appear as ridiculous, as the chatter of a parrot, or the grin of a monkey. Who, that has


the spirit of a man, could take pleasure in professions of good-will, which he knew to be insincere? Who, that is not conscious of fome baseness in himself, could seriously imagine, that mankind in general might be rendered susceptible of such pleasure ? I speak not now of the immorality of that new system; which, if I were inclined to say of it what I think, would give deeper, as well as louder, tones to my language ; I speak only of its absurdity and folly. And absurd, and foolish, in the extreme, as well as wicked, must every system be, that aims to disjoin, delicacy from virtue, or virtue from religion,

Let us not imagine, because the influence of religion is not so powerful as it ought to be, that therefore it is not powerful at all., What human creatures would have been at this day, if the light of the gospel had not yet arisen upon the earth, we cannot positively tell : but were this a proper place for explaining the ground of such a conjecture, I think I could demonstrate the reasonableness of supposing, that they must have been, beyond all comparison, more wretched than they are. At a ține, when it was debased by the most lamentable superstitions, religion taught courtesy and soberness to the sons of chivalry: a circumstance whereof the falutary effects are still discernible in the manners of Europe. How much greater may we presume its efficacy to be in these days, when it is taught in its purity, and may be under



ftood by all ! — But infidels, it may be objected, are as eminent for polite behaviour, as believers. Granting this to be true, which however it is impossible to prove, I would only desire those, who second the objection, to consider, whether the present system of politeness arose among infidels or Christians; whether it would have arisen at all, if paganism had continued to prevail; whether several of its distiguishing characters be not derived from the Christian religion; whether the light of reason, unaided by the radiance of the gospel, would have dispelled fo foon that night of intellectual darkness which followed the subversion of the Roman empire : — and, lastly, whether it be not prudent for a few individuals (unbelievers being still, as I trust, the smaller number in these parts of the world) to conform to the manners of the many, especially when those manners are universally felt and acknowledged to be more agreeable than any other. The influence of true religion, in humanizing fociety, and refining conversation, is indeed very great. And if so, I could not, confiftently with my present plan, overlook it. Nor is it, in my opinion, possible for a philofopher, unless blinded by ignorance, checked by timidity, or led astray by prejudice, to enter into any inquiry relating either to morals or to manners, without paying fome tribute of praise to that Divine Institution.

Τ Η Ε Ε Ν D.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Ego multos homines excellenti animo ac virtute fuise, et fine doctrina, naturæ ipfius habitu prope divino, per feipfos et moderatos, et graves, extitisse fateor.

Etiam illud adjungo, sapius ad laudem atque virtutem naturam fine doctrina, quam fine natura valuisse doctrinam. Atque idem ego contendo, cum ad naturam eximiam atque illuftrem accefferit ratio quædam conformatioque doctrinæ, tum illud nescio quid preclarum ac fingulare folere exiftere. Quod si non hic tantus fructus oftenderetur, et fi ex his studiis delectatio fola peteretur ; tamen, ut opinor, hanc animi remiffionem humaniffimam ac liberatissimam judicaretis. Hec ftudia adolefcentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, fecundas res ornant, adverfis perfugium ac folatium præbent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.

Cicero pro Archia, cap. 7. കകകകകകകകകകകകകകകുക


« PředchozíPokračovat »