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racter of the divine being, and on the benefits which we daily receive from his hands; that we, more especially, reflect upon his universal presence, and providence; till every object, and every occurrence shall introduce the idea of God, as our creator, preserver, benefactor, moral governor, and judge. In this case a regard to him cannot fail habitually to influence our dispositions and conduct, so as to prove the strongest preservative against all vice and wickedness.
7. Prayer must be joined to meditation. We must frequently address ourselves to God, expreffing our veneration for his character, our gratitude for his favours to us, our humiliation for our offences, our devotedness to his will, our resignation to his providence, and also our desire of any thing that he knows to be really good for us. This kind of intercourse with the deity tends greatly to strengthen every proper disposition of mind towards him. Pruyer is the universal dictate of nature, not fophisticated by the refinements of philoso
phy; and, in fact, has been the practice of all mankind.
Besides, though God be so great and good, though he knows all our wants, and is at all times disposed to grant us every proper blessing; yet he who made us, so as that we cannot help having recourse to him as our father, benefactor, and protector, in the fame manner as we have recourse to our superiors and benefactors on earth, will no doubt approve, encourage, and condescend to that manner of behaviour and address to him, which the same dispositions and circumstances necessarily prompt us to with respect to one another. We may assure ourfelves, therefore, that the divine being will realise our natural conceptions of him, and reward his humble worshippers. Since we cannot rise to him, and conceive of him in a manner that is strictly agreeable to his nature, and since our intercourse with him is necessary to our virtue and happiness, he will certainly condescend to us; so that we may depend upon finding him to be
what the best of his creatures hope, and expect concerning him.
It will not therefore be the same thing, whether we apply to him for the good things we stand in need of, or not. Do not the wifest and best of parents act in the same manner towards their children? It has been the source of great error, and rash judgment concerning the ways of God, to confine ourselves to the consideration of what God is in himself, and not to confider what it even becomes his wisdom and goodness, both to represent himself, and actually to be, with respect to his imperfect creatures.
Besides, if good dispositions be regarded as the only object and end of prayer, it should be considered, that an address to God for what we want is a test of good dispositions, as well as a means of improving them, supposing it be known to be the will of God, that we should pray to him. But it must be acknowledged that, without revelation, or some express intimation of the will of
God, in this respect, the reasonableness and obligation of prayer is not so clearly, though sufficiently evident. .
In fact, there are similar reasons for asking favours of God, as for thanking him for the favours we have received ; since it may be said, that if we be truly grateful, it is quite unnecessary to tell the divine being that we are so; and thus all intercourse with God by words must be cut off. But certainly there can be no real impropriety in expresfing by words whatever is the language of the heart; and it can only be an unreasonable and dangerous refinement to distinguish, in this case, between love, gratitude, desire, or any other disposition of mind.
Of the future expectations of mankind.
I TAVING endeavoured to investigate 11 the rules of human duty, from the principles of natural reason, I Thall proceed to ascertain, from the same principles, what we have to expect in consequence of our observance, or neglect of them.
The natural rewards of virtue, and the punishments of vice, in this life, have been already mentioned occasionally. I, therefore, propose, in this section, to consider the evidence with which nature furnishes us concerning a future life, impartially stating both its strength and its weakness.
1. The argument that, in general, has the most weight with the wise and good, in fa