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eternal life—The pride of the human heart shewn to be fruitful in expedients—The rich exposed to all its snares—Instances adduced in proof of the assertion—Illustrations. ....'211
Difficulty of proceeding on the subject, felt by the writer—Faith in the fulfilment of every Gospel promise, an encouragement to lay aside all apprehensions in the discharge of duty—Nature of the Gospel promises recapitulated—Necessity of conforming to its precepts and acquiring its spirit—Pride the great obstacle to this—Pride in the great not liable to be checked by the intercourse with society— Self-importance increased by flattery—Religion offers a remedy for the evil—Selfishness—Allied to pride—Distinction between them—Why selfishness is most openly displayed in the highest and lowest orders of society—Illustration—Meanness—Often united to pride—Picture of polished manners given by Lord Orford—Exhortations to sincerity—The advantages vantages of religious principle in increasing personal influence—An elevated situation to be converted into a means of promoting happiness and virtue—The consequences of thus employing it—Concluding address .240 LETTER I.
My dear Lady Elizabeth,
w Hen T recollect the earnest attention with which you have often listened to me, upon subjects of importance to your temporal and eternal welfare, and recollect the respect you seemed to have for my opinions, and the grateful sense you shewed of the affection which led me so anxiously to examine the nature of those which ydu embraced, I cannot but indulge a hope of your having bestosved seVol. n. B rious nous considerations on the foregoing letters.
The consequences which result from a fixed, a constant, and an everoperative belief in the immediate presence of God, and a future state of retribution, have, I hope, been so fully displayed, as to enforce conviction. We are now to inquire upon what authority this belief rests: an inquiry of great importance, since according to the solidity of the basis on which we found our faith, will be the strength of the principles that proceed from it. f
The wise and good of all nations, and in all ages, have professed to believe in the being and attributes of God, and in a state of future rewards and punishments; and as the reasons for this'belief are thought to be ob-.vious and natural, it has taken the name of natural religion. Though < firmly firmly persuaded that a knowledge of the existence of a First Cause was transmitted from our first parents, and disseminated by tradition through all the various tribes and nations into which their posterity was divided, I shall adhere to the term natural religion in speaking of these first principles of faith, and go on to shew you what were the consequences it produced.
Supposing it to have been already proved, that a constant belief in the presence of an invisible and allpowerful Being must inevitably have a considerable influence upon the conduct, we must at a glance perceive that the influence which it has, will be either beneficial or otherwise, according to the notions entertained of the character of this great Being. .;
'Now it appears, that of the nature .