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:This state of things might lead men to look to the hand of God, and a particular Providence, which is evidently bringing about a state of things far exceeding in magnitude and importance, any thing that the present or any former generation of men has seen. And a person of an habitually pi. ous disposition, who regards the hand of God in every thing, will not take up a newspaper without reflecting that he is going to see what God has * wrought; and considering what it is that he is ap
parently about to work. To him whatever wishes
But mere men of the world look no farther than to men, tho' they are no more than instruments in the hand of God; and consequently, as the e. vents are pleasing or displeasing to them, promis
ing or unpromising, their hopes and fears, their affections or dislikes, are excited to the greatest de. gree; so as often to banish all tranquillity of mind, and cool reflection. And certainly, a mind in this state is not the proper seat of religion and devotion. All the thoughts of such persons are, engaged, and their whole minds are occupied by objects, which not only exclude christianity, but such as inspire a temper the very reverse of that of a christian, which is peculiarly meek, benevolent, even 'to enemies, and heavenly minded, a disso. sition of mind which we should in vain look for iu the eager politician of these times.;
As to those who are concerned in conducting the business of politics, those in whose hands God has more immediately placed the fate of nations, it is not to be expected (though there are noble ex. ceptions) that they will be eminent for piety and religion, or have any other objects than those of ambition, and, often that of avarice. Their eagerness to get into power, their jealousy of all their opponents who wish to support them at home,
and their negotiations with foreign powers, which must be intricate, must often keep their minds up. on the rack, to the exclusion of every sentiment, not only of religion, but even of common justice
and humanity. For such all history shews to have been the character of the generality of statesmen and warriors, in all ages, and all nations. They have kept the world in the same state of ferment and disorder with their own minds. The consolation of a christian, in this state of things, is that the great Being, whose providence statesmen seldom respect, does, tho’ with a hand unseen, direct all the affairs of men. He ruleth in the kingdoms of men, and giveth them to whomsoever he pleases; and even the Pharaoh's, and Nebuchadnezzars, are as use. ful instruments in his hands as the Davids, and the Solomons.
V. It might be thought that philosophers, per. sons dayly conversant in the study of nature, must be devout; And the poet Young says an undevout astronomer is mad; Yet we see in fact that men may be so busy all their lives in the investigation of second causes, as intirely to overlook the great first cause of all, and even to deny that any such Being exists. Or seeing no change in the course of nature at present, or in any late period, they hastily conclude that all things have ever been as they now are from the beginning; so that if the race of men had a maker, he has ceased to give any attention to them, or their conduct; and consequently that
they are at full liberty to consult their own interest, and live as they please, without any regard to him. Also philosophers, having all the passions of other men, the same love of pleasure, the same ardour of ambition, and the same attachment to gain, that actuate other men, they have in these respects been, in the usual course of their lives, governed by passion more than reason, and have lived as much without God in the world, as thoughtless of his being, perfections, and providence, as other men.
VI. Even ministers of the christian religion, though necessarily employed in the public offices of it, and i teaching the principles of it to others, are not necessarily influenced by them themselves; though the character they sustain in society obliges them to greater external decency of conduct; so as to lay them under some considerable restraint, at least will respect to a love of pleasure, and a taste for amusement. But if the profession was not the real object of their choice, from a sense of its supe. rior excellence, even this duty may be discharged as any other task, as any other means of subsistence, or on account of some other advantages to be derived from it. In some cases, in which religion is supported by the state, and ample emoluments are within the reach of churchmen, the christian mi
nistry (if in such a case it can be so called) may be chosen as the means of gratifying men's ambition or avarice.
In this state of things can we wonder at the pro. gress of infidelity? Those who are entire strangers to it see that it has little influence on the hearts and lives of those with whom they converse, so that whether it be true or false, they think it to be of little consequence, and not worth the trouble of a serious investigation. And many persons who had nominally christian parents, giving no more serious attention to christianity than they see their pa. rents and others give to it, observing none of its exercises, or only in the most superficial manner, seldom attending public worship, never reading the scriptures, or any book relating to religion, either explaining its evidences, or enforcing its duties, which they find to interfere with their inclinations, get a dislike to the subject; and in this state of mind a mere cavil, or a jest, such as are to be found in the writings of Voltaire, and other modern unbelievers, has the force of argu. ment. With many persons too in the upper ranks of life, christianity being the belief of the common people, on whom they look down with contempt, has more weight in their rejection of it than they