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religion is to man. It is that, which sweetens the bitterest of all bitters. It is that, which disarms the most invincible monster. It is that, which transformeth the most frightful of all objects, into an object of gratitude and joy. It is that, which calms the conscience, and confirms the soul. It is that, which presents to the dying believer another being, another life, another æconomy, other objects, and other hopes. It is that, which, while the outward man perisheth, reneweth the inward man day by day, 2 Cor. iv. 16. It is that, which dissipates the horrors of the valley of the shadow of death, Psal. xxii, 4. It is that, which cleaves the clouds in the sight of a departing Stephen; tells a converted thief, to-day shalt thou be in paradise, Luke xxiii. 43. and cries to all true penitents, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, Rev. xiv. 13.

II. Having taken the unbelieving libertine on his own interest, I take him on the public interest, and having attacked his taste, and discernment, I attack his policy. An infidel is a disturber of public peace, who, by undertaking to sap the foundations of religion, undermines those of society. Society cannot subsist without religion. If plausible objections may be formed against this proposition, it is because opponents have had the art of disguising it. To explain it, is to preclude the sophisms, which are objected against it. Permit us to lay down a few explanatory principles.

First. When we say, Society cannot subsist without religion, we do not comprehend in our proposition all the religions in the world. The proposition includes only those religions, which retain the fundamental principles, that constitute the base of virtue; as the immortality of the soul, a future judgment, a particular Providence. We readily grant, there may be in the world a religion, worse than atheism: for example, any religion, that should command its votaries to kill, to assassinate, to betray. And, as we readily grant this truth to those, who take the pains to maintain it, so whatever they oppose to us, taken from the religions of pagans which were hurtful to society, is only vain declamation, that proves nothing against us.

Secondly. When we affirm, Society cannot subsist without religion, we do not pretend, that religion, which retains, articles safe to society, may not so mix those articles with other principles pernicious to it, that they may seem at first sight worse than atheism. We affirm only, that, to take the whole of such a religion, it is more advantageous to society to have it, than to be destitute of it. All, therefore, that is objected against our proposition concerning those wars, crusades, and persecutions, which were caused by superstition, all this is only vain sophistry, which doth not affect our thesis in the least.

Thirdly. When we say, Society cannot subsist without religion, we do not say, that religion, even the purest religion, may not cause some disorders in society : but we asfirm only, that these disorders, however numerous, cannot counterbalance the benefits, which religion procures to it. So that all objections, taken from the troubles, which zeal for truth may have produced in some circumstances, are only vain objections, that cannot weaken our proposition.

Fourthly. When we affirm, Society cannot subsist without religion, we do not affirm, that all the virtues, which are displayed in society, proceed from religious principles; so that all just magistrates are just for their love of equity; that all

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grave ecclesiastics are serious because they respect their character; that all chaste women are chaste from a principle of love to virtue : human motives, we freely grant, often prevail instead of better. We affirm only, that religious principles are infinitely more proper to regulate society than human motives. Many persons, we maintain, do actually govern their conduet by religious principles, and society would be incomparably more irregular, were there no religion in it. That list of virtues, therefore, which only education and constitution produce, doth not at all affect the principle, which we are endeavoring to establish, and he, who takes his objections from it, doth but beat the air..

Lastly. When we affirm, Society cannot subsist without religion, we do not say, that all atheists and deists ought therefore to abandon themselves to all sorts of vices: nor that they, who have embraced atheism, if indeed there have been any such, were always the most wicked of mankind. Many people of these characters, we own, lived in a regular manner. We affirm only, that irreligion, of itself, openeth a door to all sorts of vices ; and that men are so formed, that their disorders would increase, were they to disbelieve the doctrines of the existence of a God, of judgment, and of Providence. All the examples, therefore, that are alledged against us, of a Diagoras, of a Theodorus, of a Pilny, of a Vanini, of some societies, real, or chimerical, who, it is pretended, lived regular lives without the aid of religion ; all these examples, I say, make nothing against our hypothesis.

These explanations being granted, we maintain, that no politician can succeed in a design of uniting men in one social body without supposing the truth and reality of religion. For, if there be no religion, seach member of society may do what he pleaseth; and then each would give a loose to bis passions; each would employ his power in crushing the weak, his cunning in deceiving the simple, his eloquence in seducing the credulous, his credit in ruining commerce, his authority in distressing the whole with horror and terror, and carnage and blood. Frightful disorders in their nature : but necessary on principles of infidelity! For if you suppose, these disorders may be prevented, their prevention must be attributed, either to private interest, to worldly honor, or to human laws.

But private interest cannot supply the place of religion. True, were all men to agree to obey the precepts of religion, each would find his own account in his own obedience. But it doth not depend on an individual to oppose a popular torrent, to reform the public, and to make a new world : and, while the world continues in its present state, he will find a thousand circumstances, in which virtue is incompatible with private interest.

Nor can worldly honor supply the place of religion. For what is worldly honor ? It is a superficial virtue; an art, that one man possesseth, of disguising himself from another ; of deceiving politely; of appearing virtuous rather than of being actually so. If you extend the limits of worldly honor further, if you make it consist in that purity of conscience, and in that rectitude of intention, which are in effect firm and solid foundations of virtue, you will find, either that this is only a fine idea of what almost no body is capable of, or, if I may be allowed to say so, that the virtues, which compose your complex idea of worldly honor, are really branches of religion.

Finally. Human laws cannot supply the place of religion. To whatever degree of perfection they

may be improved, they will always savor in three things of the imperfection of the legislators.

1. They will be imperfect in their substance. They may prohibit, indeed, enormous crimes : but they cannot reach refined irregularities, which are not the less capable of troubling society for appearing less atrocious. They may forbid murder, theft, and adultery : but they can neither forbid avarice, anger, nor concupiscence. They will avail in the preserving and disposing of property, they may command the payment of taxes to the crown, and of debts to the merchant, the cultivation of sciences, and liberal arts : but they cannot ordain patience, meekness, and love ; and, you will grant, a society, in which there is neither patience, meekness, nor love, must needs be an unhappy society.

2. Human laws will be weak in their motives. The rewards, which they offer, may be forborne, for men may do without them; the punishments, which they inflict, may be suffered ; and there are some particular cases, in which they, who derogate from their authority, may advance their own interest more than if they constantly and scrupulously submit to it.

3. Human laws will be restrained in their ertent. Kings, tyrants, masters of the world, know the art of freeing themselves from them. The laws avenge us on an insignificant thief, whom the pain of hunger and the fear of death tempted to break open our houses, to rob us of a trifling sum : but who will avenge us of magnificent thieves ? For, my brethren, some men, in court-cabinets, in dedicatory epistles, in the sermons of flatterers, and in the prologues of poets, are called conquerers, heroes, demi-gods; but in this pulpit, in this church, in the presence of the God, who filleth this house, and who regardeth not the appearances of men,

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