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ing that example is more powerful than precept. Now since the Deity. throughout all his works, so invariably employs his great power and wisdom as the ministers of his benevolence to make his creatures happy, what can this be for but an example to us; teaching that it we wish to please hin the true end of all religion, we must imitate him in his inoral goodness, which if we would but all do as steadily as he does, we should recal the golden age, and convert this world into Paradise.”
“All this looks very fair, Ben; but yet after all what are we to do without Faith?"
•Why, father, as to Faith, I cannot say; not knowing much about it. But this I can say, that I am afraid of any substitutes to the moral character of the Deity. In short, sir, I don't love the fig-leaf."
“Fig-leaf! I don't understand you, child; what do you mean by the fig-leaf?”
“Why, father, we read in the Bible that soon as Adam had lost at true image of the Deity, his MORAL GOODNESS, instead of striving to recover it again, he went and sewed fig-leaves together to cover himself with.”
“Stick to the point, child."
"I am to the point, father. I mean to say that as Adam sougit a vain fig-leaf covering, rather than the imitation of the Deity in moral goodness, so his posterity have ever since been fond of running after fig-leaf substitutes."
"Aye! well I should be glad to hear you explain a little on that heal, Ben."
"Father, I don't pretend to explain a subject I don't understani, but I find in PLUTARCH'S LIVE; and the HEATHFIN ANTIQUITIES, which I read in your old divinity library, and which no doubt give a true account of religion among the ancierts, that when they were troubled on account of their crimes, they do not seen once to'lave thought of conciliating the Deity by reformation, and by acts of benevolence and goodness to be like him. No, they appear to have been too much ena. moured of lust and pride and revenge to relish moral goodness; such lessons were too much against the grain. But still something must be done to appea-e the Deity: Well then, since they could not sum up courage enough to attempt it by imitating his goodness, they would try
it by coaxing his vanity—they would build him grand temples; and make him mighty sacrifices; and rich offerings. This I am told, father, was their fig-leaf.”
"Why this, I fear, Ben, is a true bill against the poor Heathens."
"Well, I am sure, father, the Jews were equally fond of the fig-leal; as their own countrymen, the Prophets, are constantly charging them. JUSTICE, MERCY and TRUTH, -bad, it seems, no charms for them. They must have fig-leaf substitutes, such as tythings of mint, anise and cummin, and making long prayers in the streets,' and deep groanings with disfigured faces in the synagogues.' If they but did all this, then surely they must be Abraham's children, even though they devoured widow's houses."
Here good old Josias groaned.
“Yes, father,” continued Ben, "and it were well if the rage for the fig-leaf stopped with the Jews and Heathens; but the Christians are just as fond of substitutes that may save them the labour of imitating the Deity in his moral goodness. It is true, the old Jewish hobbies, mint, anise, and cummin, are not the hobbies of Christians; but still, father, you are not to suppose that they are to be disheartened for all that. , Oh no. They have got a hobby worth all of them put togetherthey have got Faith."
Here good old Josias began to darken; and looking at Ben with great solemnity, said, “I am afraid, my son, you do not treat this great article of our holy religion with sufficient reverence."
"My dear father," replied Ben eagerly, I mean not the least reflection on FAIEH, but solely on those hypocrites who abuse it to countenance their vices and Grimes.”
“O then, if that be your aim, go on, Ben, go on.” “Well, sir, as I was saying, not only the Jews and Heathens, but the Christia!'s also have their fig leaf substitutes for Morul Goodness. BECAUSE Christ has saiil that so great is the Divine CLEMENCY, that if even the worst of men will but have faith in it so as to repent and aurend their lives by the golden law of 'love and good works, they should be saved, many lazy Christians are fond of overlooking those excellent conditions 'LOVE AND GOOD WORKS,' which constitute the moral image of the Deity, and fix upon the word Faith for their salvation."
“Well, but child, do you make no account of faith?" “None, father, as a fig leaf cloak of immorality.”
“But is not faith a great virtue in itself and a qualification for heaven?"
“I think not, sir; I look on faith but as a mean to beget that moral goodness, which, to me, appears to be the only qualification for Heaven.”
“I am astonished, child, to hear you say that faith is not a virtue in itself.”
*Why, father, the Bible says for me in a thousand places. The Bible says that faith without good works is dead."
“Buť does not the Bible, in a thousand places, say that without faith no man can please God ?"
“Yes, father, and for the best reason in the world; for who can ever hope to please the Deity without his moral image and who would ever put himself to the trouble to cultivate the virtues which form that image, unless he had a belief that they were indispensible to the perfection and happiness of his naturepus
“So then you look on faith as no virtue in itself, and good for nothing unless it exalt men to the likeness of God?”
“Yes, sir, as good for nothing unless it exalt us to the likeness of God-Day, as worse; as utterly vile and hypocritical.”
“And perhaps you view in the same light the IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, and the Sacraments of BAPTISM and the LORD'S SUPPER.”
“Yes, father, faith, imputed righteousness, sacraments, prayers, sermons; all, all I consider as mere barren fig-leaves which will yield no good unless they ripen into the fruits of BENEVOLENCE and Good Works."
“Well, Ben, 'tis well that you have taken a turn te the printing business: for I don't think, child, that if you had studied divinity, as your uncle Ben and myself once wished, you would ever have got a licence to preach."
“No, father, I know that well enough; I know that many who think themselves mighty good Christians, are for getting to heaven on easier terms than imitating the Deity in his moral goodness. To them, faith and imputed righteousness, and sacraments, and sour looks are very convenient things. With a good stock of these they can easily manage matters so as to make a little morality go a great way. But I am thinking they will have to back out of this error, otherwise they will make as bad a hand of their barren faith, as the poor Virginia negroes do of their boasted freedoin."
“God's mercy, child, what do you mean by that?”
"Why, father, I am told that the Virginia negroes, like our faith-mongers, fond of ease and g!ad of soft substitutes to hard duties, are continually sighing for freedom; “O if they had but freedom! if they had but freedom! how happy should they be! They should not then be obliged to work any more. Freedom would do erery thing for them. Freedom would spread soft beds for them, and heap their tables with roast pigs, squealing out, “come and eat me. Freedom would
them fine jackets, and rivers of grog, and mountains of segars and tobacco, without their sweating for it.' Well, by and by, they get their feeedom; perhaps by running away from their masters. And now see what great things has freedom done for them. Why, as it is out of the question to think of work now they are free, they must give themselves up like gentlemen, to visita ing, sleeping and pastime. In a little time the curses of hunger and nakedness drive them to stealing and house-breaking, for which their backs are ploughed up at whipping-posts, or their necks snapped under the gallows! and all this because they must needs live easier than by honest labour which would have crowned their days with character and comfort. So, father, it is, most exactly so it is, with too niany of our FaithMONGERS. They have not courage to practise those exalted virtues that would give them the moral likeness of the Deity. Oh no: they must get to heaven in some easier way. They have heard great things of faith. Faith, they are told, has done wonders for other people; wiy not for them? Accordingly they fall to work and after many a hard throe of fanaticism, they concert they have got faith sure evough. And now they are happy. Like the poor Virginian negroes, they are clear of all moral working now: thank God they can get to hea ven without it; yes, and may take some indulgences, by the way, into the bargain. If, as jovial fellows, they should waste their time and family substance, in drinking rum and smoking tobacco, where's the harm, an't they sound believers? If they should, as merchants, sand their sugar, or water their molasses, what great matter is that? Don't they keep up family prayer? If, as men of Honor, they should accept a challenge, and receive a shot in a duel, what of that? They have only to send for a priest and take the sacrament. Thus, father, as freedom has proved the ruin of many a lazy Virginian negro, so I'am afraid that such faith as this has made many an hypocritical christian, ten times more a child of the devil than he was before.**.
Good old Josias, who, while Ben was speaking at this rate, had appeared much agitated, sometimes frowning, sometimes smiling, here replied, with a deep sigh, “Yes, Be it, this is all too true to be denied: and a sad thing it is that mankind should be so ready, as you observe, to go to heaven in any other
than by iinitat ing God in his moral likeness. But I rejoice in hope of you, my son, that painting this lamentable depravity in such strong colours as you do, you will ever act on wiser and more magnanimous principles."
“Father, I don't affect to be better than other young men, yet I think I can safely say, that if I could get to heaven by playing the hypocrite I would not, while I have it in my choice to go thither by acquiring the virtues that would give ine a resemblance to God For to say nothing of the exceeding honour of acquiring even the faintest resemblance of him; por get of the iminense happiness which it must afford hereafter, I find that even here, and young as I am, the least step towards it, affords a greater pleasure than any thing else; indeed I find that there is so much more plrasure in getting knowledge to resemble the Creator, than in living in ig. norance to resemble brutes; so much more pleasure in BENEVOLENCE and DOING. GOOD. to resemble him, than in hate and doing harm to resemble demons, that I hope I shall always have wisdom and fortitude sufficient even for my own sake,, to spend my life in getting all