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for. But this, while they are under their old masters, be reckons as next to impossible. As to political revolutions, he did form high expectations from them ; but his hopes are at an end. “I have only the wish left,” says he, “ the confidence is gone.” As to improved systems of morality, which he considers as the art of living happy, though it might seem promising, yet history, he very justly remarks, does not allow us to expect that men, in proportion as they advance in this species of knowledge, will become more just, more temperate, or more benevolent. Of the extinction of wars, he has no hope. The new order of things which seemed opening in Europe, and to bid fair for it, has rather increased the evil : and as to Christianity, lit has been tried, it seems, and found to be insufficient for the purpose. Commerce, instead of binding the nations in a golden chain of mutual peace and friendship, seems only to have given additional motives for war.
The amount is, There is little or no hope of the state of mankind being meliorated on public principles. All the improvement he can discern in this way consists in there being a little more lenity in the government of some countries than formerly: as to this, it is balanced by the prodigious increase of standing armies, and other national burdens.
The only way in which an increase in knowledge is to operate to the melioration of the state of mankind is in private life. It is to soften and humanize men's manners, and emancipate their minds from the shackles of superstition and bigotry; names which writers of this class commonly bestow upon Christianity. This is the boundary beyond which, whatever be his wishes, the hopes of this writer will not suffer him to pass : and even this respects only Europe and her immediate connexions, and not the whole of them. The great mass of mankind are in an absolutely hopeless condition : for there are no means of carrying our improvements among them but by conquest, and conquest is a Pandora's box, at the mention of which he shudders.
Such are the prospects of unbelievers ; such is the horrid despordency under which they sink when providence counteracts their favourite schemes ; and such the spirit which they labour to infuse into the minds of men in order to make them happy! Christian reader, Have you no better hopes than these? Are you not acquainted with a principle, which, like the machine of Archimedes, will remove this mighty mass of evils ? Be they as great and as numerous as they may, if all can be reduced to a single cause, and that cause removed, the work is done. All the evils of which this writer complains are reducible to that one principle, which, he says, (and it is well he says it,)“ is interwoven into our very nature ; namely, The propensity to prefer our own interests above that of the community.” It is this propensity that operates in the great, and induces them to "
oppose every thing that would be unfavourable to their power and advantage;" and the same thing operates among common people ; great numbers of whom it is well known, would sell their country for a piece of bread. If this principle cannot be removed, I shall, with this writer, for ever despair of any essential changes for the better in the state of mankind, and will content myself with cultivating private and domestic happiness, and hoping for the blessedness of a future life ; but if it can, I must leave him to despair alone.
My hopes are not founded on forms of government, nor even on an increase of knowledge, though each may have its value ; but on the spirit by which both the rulers and the people will be governed. All forms of government have hitherto rested on the basis of selflove. The wisest and best statesmen have been obliged to take it for granted that the mass of every people will be governed by this principle ; and, consequently, all their schemes have been directed to the balancing of things in such a manner as that people, in pursuing their own interest, should promote that of the public. If in any case they have presumed on the contrary, experience has soon taught them that all their schemes are visionary, and inapplicable to real life. But if the mass of the people, composed of all the different orders of society, were governed by a spirit of justice and disinterested benevolence, systems of government might safely be formed on this basis. It would then be sufficient for statesmen to ascertain what was right, and best adapted to promote the good of the community, and the people would cheerfully pursue it; and, pursuing this, would find their own good more effectually promoted, than by all the little discordant arts of a selfish mind.
The excellence of the most admired constitutions which have hitherto appeared in the world, has chiefly consisted in the balance of power being so distributed among the different orders of society, as that no one should materially oppress or injure the other. They have endeavoured to set boundaries to each other's encroachments, and contrived, in some degree, to counteract venality, corruption, and tumult. But all this supposes a corrupt state of society, and amounts to no more than making the best of things, taking them as they are. As things are, locks, keys, bolts and bars are necessary in our houses; but it were better if there were no occasion for them. I do not take upon me to say that things will ever be in such a state as that there shall be no need of these political precautions; but I believe they will be far less necessary than at present. If the Bible be true, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea ; the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; idolatry, and every species of false religion, shall be no more ; the arts and instruments of war shall be laid aside, and exchanged for those of husbandry ; the different tribes of man shall be united in one common band of brotherly love; slavery and oppression will cease ; righteousness will be established in the earth; and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
But“ Christianity has been tried,” it seems, and found insufficient.” That it has not been as yet, sufficient to banish unjust wars from the earth, is true; and it were more than wonderful if it had, seeing it has never yet been cordially embraced by the majority, nor perhaps by the preponderating part of any nation. Nevertheless it has had its influence. This gloomy writer himself acknowledges, that the state of society in Euro e and America, that is to say in Christendom, is far preferable to what it is in other parts of the earth. Of the rest of the world he has no hope. Has Christianity done nothing in this case? That thousands in different nations are, by a cordial belief of it, rendered sober, just, dis. interested, and peaceable ; and that the state of society at large is greatly meliorated, has, I hope, been alre dy proved.* To believe
then in the future accomplishment of the foregoing prophecies is only to believe that what is already effected in individuals will be extended to the general body of mankind, or, at least, to such a proportion of them as shall be sufficient to give a preponderance in human affairs.
Moreover, the same book which declares that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, has foretold, in great variety of language, the downfall of the Papal Antichrist, and that by means of the same powers from which its dominion was first derived. We have, in part, seen the fulfil. ment of the one, and live in expectation of the other. We are not ignorant of the evil designs of Infidels ; but we believe that God is above them, and that they are only instruments in his band in the fulfilment of his word. While, therefore, we feel for the miseries of mankind, occasioned by the dreadful devastations of war, we sorrow not as those who have no hope; but are persuaded that all things, even now, are working together for good : and, while we pity individual sufferers, we cannot join the whining lamentations of interested men-Alas, Alas that great city! On the contrary, we feel disposed to join the song of the heavenly host, Amen, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride hath made herself ready.
If, according to the doctrine of Bolingbroke, Volney, and other Deists, we knew no other source of virtue and bappiness than selflove, we should often be less happy than we are. Our blessedness is bound up with that of Christ and his followers throughout the world. His friends are vur friends, and bis enemies our enemies ; they that seek bis life seek ours ; the prosperity of his kingdom is our prosperity, and we prefer it above our chief joy. From the public stock of blessedness being thus considered as the common property of every individual, arises a great and constant influx of enjoyment. Hence it is that, in times when temporal comforts fail, or family troubles depress, or a cloud bangs over our particular connexions, or death threatens to arrest us in a course of pleasing labour, we have still our resources of consolation. • Affairs with me are sinking; but he must increase.'-— My house is not so with God; but the kingdom of my Lord shall be established for ever.'• His interest sinks in this congregation ; but it rises elsewbere.'