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C A M B R I D G E MONTHLY MISCELLANY.
On GRATIT U DE.
crimes, that human frailty is subject to, fo on the reverse, gratitude is incomparably the most amiable of all the, virtues. She is the very first excellence we are capable of; she is the perfection of childhood she takes her rise from the low foundation of artless innocence and fimplicity, and yet reaches by degrees to the heaven of heavens. She is the most natural, and consequently the most easy and obvious of all our duties. Her incense, tho’ the most refined imaginable, is the most attainable and the readiest at hand; for it is that of acknowledgment, praise, and thanksgiving.-In a word, she is an ornament to angels, being herself one of the brightest of them : she is the quintessence of goodness, and the delight of Numb. I Vol. II.
the Almighty. On this subject (for it is a glorious one) we could dwell to the end of time. It is absolutely inexhaustible, every object in nature putting a generous man in mind of her ; in finc, her excellencies, like blossoms on an old fruit-tree, make her appear graceful for her novelty, at the same time that she is venerable for her antiquity.
But least we should be thought to give only a defcription of this virtue, and worship her solely in theory, we will endeavour to reduce her to practice, by returning the thanks of all the gentlemen and scholars concerned in this work to the publick, for their candid reception and ingenuous approbation of it. Generosity, tho' in her own nature ile is continually exhausting her store, yet in her consequences she pays herself again ; and the indulgence we have received from a great deal of OLD ENGLISH GOOD-NATURE will enable us to go on with more fpirit, and to make our work more useful, more beautiful, and more universal.
But whatever additions we fall make, the publick may be assured, they will consist of originals only, unless we are deceiv'd by our correspondents, for we pretend not to infallibility.
In truth we are very little inclined to pilfer from the productions of our contemporaries, especially from the patchwork, pye-ball’d, party-colour'd contents of the monthly pamphlets : we want not to win any vests from these naked Piets. Let them go on in peace, ransacking the Compleat Servant Maid, the Cook's Guide, the Nut-Cracker, Joe MILLER's Fests, and the Academy of Compliments. Much good may do them with the poetry of Pancras church-yard, with the Latin taken from apothecary's jars, and the morality of dials. Let them (as my Lady WISHFORT says) drive a trade, let the poor devils drive a trade.
There is one gentleman indeed from whom we should be proud to borrow, if our plan forbad it not; and, fince the text is GRATITUDE, we beg leave to return our acknowledgınents to him for the noble and rational entertainments he has given us, we mean
the admirable author of the RAMBLER, a work that exceeds any thing of the kind ever published in this kingdom, some of the SPECTATORS excepted--if indeed they may be excepted. We own ourselves unequal to the task of commending such a work up to its merits---where the diction is the most high-wrought imaginable, and yet, like the brilliancy of a diamond, exceeding perspicuous in its richness—where the sentiments ennoble the style, and the style familiarizes the sentiments—where every thing is easy and natural, yet every thing is masterly and strong. May the publick favours crown his merits, and may not the English, under the auspicious reign of GEORGE the secofid, neglect a man, who, had he lived in the first century, would have been one of the greatest favourites of AUGUSTUS.
On the REALITY OF RELIGION.
L E T T E R
S the intention of the preceding letters was to point out
the usefulness, in these I shall endeavour to evince the reality, of religion, or that it is no imaginary notion, but founded on the nature of things and resulting from it.
The evidences for a deity are so many and ftriking, and what have been set forth and applied with such sublimity of sentiment and force of reason by men of the greatest eminence in the learned world, that it would be deemed needless to produce more, or to offer any thing after what has been fo well said on the subject. 'Tis likewise a truth the human mind greatly delights in, is firmly established, and universally afsented to, some few personages only excepted, who in all ages have wilfully shut their eyes against the brightest light, and thro' an unaccoutable obstinacy persisted in their delufions, in spite of all the means of conviction that have been plainly and honestly laid before them ; which I am of opinion A 2
they have done more out of perversity of principle than from the love of truth : instances of which are upon record from the first down to the present times. The thing that principally concerns those who are fully persuaded of the certainty of the existence of such a being is, the end he may reasonably be supposed to have had in forming the universe, or what were the motives which induced him to it. Because it is man's interest, and thence it becomes his duty, to conduct himself conformably to those his Creator's views. And when we have once found out the exciting principle of creation, it immediately discovers the rule God hath prescribed us, in an agreement of actions with which our happiness manifestly consists.
If we attentively survey (and all attention is requisite to our obtaining full satisfaction in the above particular) the present order and disposition of things, observe their uses, and the ends they are destined to, very strong characters of the author's benignity will appear imprinted on them. When we consider that valt variety of classes of beings in the universe, the apartments adapted to each class, and the gifts of heaven poured forth in such abundance on every side of them; we cannot avoid concluding, that the deity could not design any thing less by this provision than their happiness, or that with complacency and delight they should enjoy the stores he has so liberally sent for their support and nourishinent. From a sense of graritude to the donor, we ought to taste the fruits of the earth with joy and gladness of heart.
The nature of man is also another argument, that happiness predominates, or exceeds iis opposite, misery.
As a rational sensible creature he cannot defire and pursue misery as such. To do one or the other would be against the whole bent and propensity of his frame. It is not possible therefore he should be any longer in love with his portion here, than whilst it is attended with blessings which more than balfance the ills he feels. But experience every day may convince us that ninety nine in an hundred, were the offer to be made them on their departure hence, would choose life with all its dangers and difficulties, and think it a moft eminent benefit to them. An undeniable argument this, that mens conveniences and satisfactions do greatly prevail on the whole, notwithstanding certain appearances to the contrary. Why should the fight, a recollection on, or hearing of, the miseries and distress of others so much affect us ? it is in part owing to their novelty. For what we are not accustomed to, or the like to which falls not within our notice and observation, is apt to raise wonder and astonishment. Effects must arise out of, and be produced by those causes which infinite wisdom has contriv'd and fitted for the purpose. And if the parts of this system are so compacted, and become means and ends to each other in a continued endless reciprocation, after such a manner, and with such dependencies and connections, that the creator's designs can only be brought about by the concurrence of other free agents, in all such cases he wills and strictly enjoins conformity; that is, he expects they should suit their acts and movements in every particular to his. Now an absolutely perfect being is essentially invariable ; he cannot will one thing to-day, and another to-morrow. Whence his several dealings with, and all his dispensations to, mankind, whether exhibited by way of reward or punishment, will be subfervient to, and promotive of, what gave rise to the universe, the desire of imparting being and happiness to as many orders of creatures as could commodiously fubfift together.