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real magnitude, and importance. The things that are seen, says the apostle (2 Cor. iv. 18), are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal. It is, therefore, the more easy, by a firm faith, and a steady contemplation, to give them their just degree of estimation, and to feel and act properly with respect to them; as thousands and millions have actually done, who have cheerfully abandoned every thing in life, and life itself, when the retaining of them was incompatible with their great prospects beyond the grave.
6. It is by habituating the mind to contemplate great and distant objects, that religion enlarges and ennobles the minds of men, advancing them farther beyond the state of chil.' dren, who are only affected by things immediately present to them, and from the great bulk of mankind, who do indeed look before them, but not far. They can fow and plant one year in hope of a return in the next, and they can expend their money in the purchase of goods with a view to sell them to advantage in a future and distant market. Also, when they labour under any disorder, they can take disgusting medicines in the hope of a cure. But this is far short of looking to
a world beyond the grave, laying up treasure in heaven, making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness here, in order to be received into everlasting habitations hereafter. This is done by the help of religion, which by this means makes a man a superior kind of being to what he was before.
If great thoughts, as Lord Bacon says, make great minds, how much superior must be that man who is habitually employed in the contemplation of God, of a providence, and a future state, who sees the hand of God in every thing, and receives all the dispensations of providence with a contented and thankful heart, whose faith is not taken by all the distress and calamity of which he is a witness, and all that himself, his friends, his country, or the world, may suffer, and who when he comes to die can look back with satisfaction, and forward with hope and joy, to the man who is either wholly ignorant of these great principles, or an unbeliever in them, whose views are bounded by what he sees in this life, and who can only say, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. To such persons life is indeed of little value. And it is no wonder that, under any particular pressure of trouble or disappointment, they throw it up, and put an end to their lives in despair.
7. Though I have represented the religious man as acting on plain and intelligible principles, and as overlooking present evils for the fake of future good, it by no means follows that he will be an interested character, and never love virtue for its own fake. It is by a rational self interest that the most disinterested characters are formed. This admits of an easy illustration from what we know concerning the love of money. The greatest miser does not begin with the love of money as an ultimate object, or for its own sake, but only for the sake of the advantages it can procure him. And yet we see that it is possible, in a course of time, for men to come to love money, and to employ all their powers, and all their time, in the acquisition of it, without giving the least attention to the use of it, and indeed without ever making any proper use of it at all; their ideas never going beyond the mere accumulation of it. Let any thing be purfued, though as a means, and in a course of time, it will come to be an end.
In like manner, let a man from any principle, habituate himself to respect the authority of God, to do good to others, and practise virtue in general, though at first with no other view than to his reward in a future state, and in time he will live virtuously, without giving any attention to his ultimate interest in it; and in this progress he will necessarily become as disinterestedly virtuous as it is possible, in the nature of things, for a man to be. He may begin with the mere fear of God, or a dread of his displeasure, but at length he will be actuated by the purest love, and an entire devotedness to his will, as such. He may begin with doing kind offices to others from any motive sufficient to produce the external action, but at length he will come with the apostle, to love with a pure heart fervently, taking the greatest pleasure in doing kind offices, without any idea, or expectation, of a return. He may at first abstain from sensual indulgence from a persuasion of what he may ultimately suffer in consequence of it, but in time he will have greater satisfaction in moderation than he ever had in excess, and he will readily and cheerfully do whatever he apprehends to be right, without asking why. The dictates of conscience will be with him a fupreme rule of action.
This is that truly great and sublime character to which religion, and religion alone, can raise a man. Without the principles of religion, without the fear of God, which Solomon justly calls the beginning of wisdom, he wants the first neceffary step in this progress. There must be a belief in the being and providence of God, and in a life of retribution to come, to give a man that comprehensive view of things, which alone can lead him to overlook temporary gratifications, and give him that due command of his passions which is essential to rational life. He must first look beyond the things that are seen, and temporal, to things unseen and eternal, or he might never see sufficient reason for the practice of those virtues which do not bring an immediate recompence. He would never respect the authority of God, unless he had a belief in his being and providence. All his works would be done to be seen of men; and if the only reward of virtue was in another world, which he believed to have no existence, he would have no sufficient reason to exercise it at all.
But having this faith, the foundation of right conduct, the superstructure is easily raised upon it. Possessed of this first prin
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