Page images
PDF
EPUB

what is Caesar's, and rendering unto God what is God's.

If God be indeed our creator, preserver, and bountiful benefactor, we owe him a debt of love, reverence, and gratitude, which it would be the highest injustice to withhold.

If we have been by any means informed that God has made to mankind any revelation concerning the divine nature and the divine will, and held forth in that revelation promises of eternal happiness upon certain conditions, we cannot refrain from diligent inquiry concerning the nature of these conditions, without being guilty of injustice to our own souls. Thus to inquire is therefore a duty which we owe jointly to God and to ourselves.

My expectations concerning you, my beloved child, lead me to hope that

you you will enter into this inquiry with eagerness: and to give you all the aid in my power, is the object to which the second part of this series of letters shall be devoted. In the mean time, let us observe how the first principles of religion, and the first principles of morality, aid and support each other, even in their simplest forms.

Justice demands of us, that we should do to others as we would be done by in the like case: that is to say, as we could not but acknowledge to be just, if done to ourselves. If justice be fixed as a principle in our hearts, we will not permit pride to whisper any exceptions against this universal rule. We shall no more dare to deceive, or to injure, or to insult a person who is in rank or fortune our inferior, than we should dare to ensnare, deceive, injure, or K 6 insult insult one whom fortune has placed upon her highest pinnacle, and armed with power to crush and to destroy us.

If the spirit of justice be in us* we shall ever be ready to support the cause of truth. I recommend this to your particular attention, because I have too much reason to believe, that it is a maxim which does not, in general, meet with the attention it deserves. Attachment to the party we espouse, or to the friends we love, or to the relations in whom we are (on any account) interested, seem, in some instances, to be deemed apology sufficient for departing from truth and perverting justice. Under this impression, people without scruple pronounce upon the cause which they know not. They without examining determine: they without hearing condemn. demn. The reputation which towers too high for them to destroy, they endeavour to undermine; and by hints, and shrugs, and whispers, insinuate the falsehoods, which, if openly brought forward, would be repelled with all the force of truth! People may, and I fear often really do flatter themselves that in acting thus, they act wisely; nay, if to screen a friend, or to support a party be the object they have in view, that they act virtuously! Such are the fatal delusions to which a deficiency of moral and religious principle, exposes the human mind!

I would not judge severely of any one. I would make every allowance for the exaggerations of partiality, and am willing to admit that it is extremely difficult to keep the judgment unbiassed by the prejudices of affection. But no fondness of affection,

no

[ocr errors]

no tenderness of friendship, can be admitted as a plea for violating the laws of charity, and outraging the principles of justice. Political expediency may, indeed, appear a sufficient apology in the eyes of the world, but we have no reason to believe that when we appear before the throne of God, it will then be accepted as an excuse for the breach of any positive commandment. "" Whosoever loveth father or "mother, or sister or brother, more "than me," saith our Saviour, "is f not worthy of me."

To preserve us from incurring the guilt of rash and erroneous judgments we have been expressly told, that •' with what judgment we judge, we "shall be judged; and that with "what measure we mete, it shall be "measured to us again." Nor are the consequences of having been hy

the

« PreviousContinue »