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S ingratitude is one of the blackest and most odious crimes, that human frailty is fubject to, fo on the reverse, gratitude is incomparably the most amiable of all the virtues. She is the very firft excellence we are capable of; fhe is the perfection of childhood she takes her rife from the low foundation of artless innocence and fimplicity, and yet reaches by degrees to the heaven of heavens. She is the moft natural, and confequently the moft cafy and obvious of all our duties. Her incenfe, tho' the most refined imaginable, is the most attainable and the readieft at hand; for it is that of acknowledgment, praise, and thanksgiving.—In a word, she is an ornament to angels, being herself one of the brightest of them: fhe is the quinteffence of goodnefs, and the delight of Numb. I Vol. II.
the Almighty. On this subject (for it is a glorious one) we could dwell to the end of time. It is abfolutely inexhaustible, every object in nature putting a generous man in mind of her; in fine, her excellencies, like bloffoms on an old fruit-tree, make her appear graceful for her novelty, at the fame time that she is venerable for her antiquity.
But leaft we should be thought to give only a defcription of this virtue, and worship her folely in theory, we will endeavour to reduce her to practice, by returning the thanks of all the gentlemen and scholars concerned in this work to the publick, for their candid reception and ingenuous approbation of it.Generofity, tho' in her own nature she is continually exhaufting her store, yet in her confequences fhe pays herself again; and the indulgence we have received from a great deal of OLD ENGLISH GOOD-NATURE will enable us to go on with more fpirit, and to make our work more useful, more beautiful, and more univerfal.
But whatever additions we fhall make, the publick may be affured, they will confift of originals only, unless we are deceiv'd by our correfpondents, for we pretend not to infallibility.
In truth we are very little inclined to pilfer from the productions of our contemporaries, especially from the patchwork, pye-ball'd, party-colour'd contents of the monthly pamphlets: we want not to win any vests from these naked Picts. Let them go on in peace, ranfacking the Compleat Servant Maid, the Cook's Guide, the Nut-Cracker, JOE MILLER's Jeffs, and the Academy of Compliments. Much good may do them with the poetry of Pancras church-yard, with the Latin, taken from apothecary's jars, and the morality of dials.Let them (as my Lady WISHFORT fays) drive a trade, let the poor devils drive a trade.- -There is one gentleman indeed from whom we should be proud to borrow, if our plan forbad it not; and, fince the text is GRATITUDE, we beg leave to return our acknowledgments to him for the noble and rational entertainments he has given us, we mean
the admirable author of the RAMBLER, a work that exceeds. any thing of the kind ever published in this kingdom, fome of the SPECTATORS excepted-if indeed they may be excepted. We own ourselves unequal to the task of commending fuch a work up to its merits-where the diction is the most high-wrought imaginable, and yet, like the brilliancy of a diamond, exceeding perfpicuous in its richnefs-where the fentiments ennoble the ftyle, and the ftyle familiarizes the fentiments-where every thing is eafy and natural, yet every thing is masterly and ftrong. May the publick favours crown his merits, and may not the English, under the auspicious reign of GEORGE the fecond, neglect a man, who, had he lived in the first century, would have been one of the greatest favourites of AUGUSTUS.
On the REALITY of RELIGION.
S the intention of the preceding letters was to point out the usefulness, in thefe I fhall endeavour to evince the reality, of religion, or that it is no imaginary notion, but founded on the nature of things and resulting from it.
The evidences for a deity are so many and ftriking, and what have been set forth and applied with fuch fublimity of fentiment and force of reafon by men of the greatest eminence in the learned world, that it would be deemed needless to produce more, or to offer any thing after what has been fo well faid on the fubject. 'Tis likewife a truth the human mind greatly delights in, is firmly established, and univerfally affented to, fome few perfonages only excepted, who in all ages have wilfully fhut their eyes against the brighteft light, and thro' an unaccoutable obftinacy perfifted in their delufions, in fpite of all the means of conviction that have been plainly and honestly laid before them; which I am of opinion
they have done more out of perversity of principle than from the love of truth: inftances of which are upon record from the first down to the prefent times. The thing that principally concerns those who are fully perfuaded of the certainty of the existence of fuch a being is, the end he may reasonably be fuppofed to have had in forming the univerfe, or what were the motives which induced him to it. Because it
is man's intereft, and thence it becomes his duty, to conduct himself conformably to those his Creator's views. And when we have once found out the exciting principle of creation, it immediately difcovers the rule God hath prescribed us, in an agreement of actions with which our happiness manifeftly confifts.
If we attentively furvey (and all attention is requifite to our obtaining full fatisfaction in the above particular) the prefent order and difpofition of things, obferve their uses, and the ends they are deftined to, very ftrong characters of the author's benignity will appear imprinted on them. When we confider that vast variety of claffes of beings in the universe, the apartments adapted to each class, and the gifts of heaven poured forth in fuch abundance on every fide of them; we cannot avoid concluding, that the deity could not defign any thing lefs by this provifion than their happiness, or that with complacency and delight they fhould enjoy the ftores he has fo liberally fent for their fupport and nourishment. From a fenfe of gratitude to the donor, we ought to taste the fruits of the earth with joy and gladnefs of heart.
The nature of man is also another argument, that happinefs predominates, or exceeds its oppofite, mifery.
As a rational fenfible creature he cannot defire and purfue mifery as fuch. To do one or the other would be against the whole bent and propenfity of his frame. It is not poffible therefore he should be any longer in love with his portion here, than whilst it is attended with bleffings which more than ballance the ills he feels. But experience every day may con
vince us that ninety nine in an hundred, were the offer to be made them on their departure hence, would choose life with all its dangers and difficulties, and think it a most eminent benefit to them. An undeniable argument this, that mens conveniences and fatisfactions do greatly prevail on the whole, notwithstanding certain appearances to the contrary. Why fhould the fight, a recollection on, or hearing of, the miferies and diftrefs of others fo much affect us? it is in part owing to their novelty. For what we are not accustomed to, or the like to which falls not within our notice and obfervation, is apt to raise wonder and aftonishment. Effects muft arife out of, and be produced by those causes which infinite wisdom has contriv'd and fitted for the purpose. And if the parts of this fyftem are fo compacted, and become means and ends to each other in a continued endless reciprocation, after fuch a manner, and with fuch dependencies and connections, that the creator's defigns can only be brought about by the concurrence of other free agents, in all fuch cafes he wills and ftrictly enjoins conformity; that is, he expects they should fuit their acts and movements in every particular to his. Now an abfolutely perfect being is effentially invariable; he cannot will one thing to-day, and another to-morrow. Whence his feveral dealings with, and all his difpenfations to, mankind, whether exhibited by way of reward or punishment, will be fubfervient to, and promotive of, what gave rife to the univerfe, the defire of imparting being and happiness to as many orders of creatures as could commodioufly fubfift together.
[To be continued. ]