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bodily or external worship serve? Answer, bodily worship is intended to be subservient to that worship which is fpiritual or in the mind. For, tho' eating a bit of bread, and drinking a бір of wine, cannot possibly increase the divine knowledge of us, by informing God of something concerning us, which before he was igno, rant of ; nor can it increase God's kindness and good-will towards us, by disposing him to do that for us, which before he was not inclined to do; yet those actions may lead us into, and ftir up in others, a juft and suitable sense of what they were intended to be the outward tokens and memorials of, and thereby give occasion to our felves and others to be suitably affected therewith, and to act accordingly; and when this is the case, then those outward actions become subfervient to true piety, and answer the end they are capable of serving, and which they are intended to serve. And this, I think, is the design of all external worship, and all positive inftitutions, viz. to be subservient to inward piety, and thereby to produce in us suitable affections and actions. For, to suppose in this case, that mere" obedience to a positive law or rather institution, considered simply as such, will render us pleahng to God, is, I think, a most grofs misrepresentation of the Deity ; because it supposes God will prostitute his legiflative power to answer fo needless a purpose as to obtain mere obedience from his creatures thereby; such a conduct may indeed be fuitable to the wantonness, pride, and vanity of
some buman legislators; but it cannot comport with the justice, wisdom, and goodness of the great governor of the universe ; and therefore, cannot be the truth of the case.
But farther, if outward or bodily worship is only a sign or token of that piety which takes place in the mind, and if those tokens are not, in many cases, natural marks of respect, but are arbitrarily constituted to be such by the fashion and custom of the world; then, why may not God interpose and appoint those outward signs of inward piety if he pleases ? Answer, God
do so if he please, for any thing I know, or for any reafon I can give to the contrary, if the circumstances of things render such an interposition proper and useful to
But if the circumstances of things do not require such an interposition ; then, as it would be useless, so it is not likely to be the case, because it is not to be expected that God will thus interpose to answer no good purpose to mankind. By the circumstances of things I
mean, when the fashion of the world has constituted such actions to be marks of inward piety as are in themselves natural marks of the contrary; that is, when those actions naturally tend to raise in the mind of the actor and the spectators, not a just and worthy sense of God, but a false and unworthy sense of him, and in that respect are rather marks of impiety than piety: I say, when this is the case; then, as there is a reason resulting from the circumAtances of things for such an interpofition, viz.
the reforming the forementioned abuse; fo God may, if he please, kindly interpose and appoint what actions shall be the tokens of inward piety, to answer that purpose. But then, where those circumstances are wanting, it is not likely that he will do so.
From what I have observed, I think it appears, that Religion (when the term is used to express devotion, worship, &c.) is founded in nature or reason; and from thence likewise appears what it is that nature points out to men with respect to it. Here is likewise a plain rule by which a man may judge of himself whether he be truly religious, or not; or, in other words, whether he be truly pious, or not. If a man, upon
all proper occasions, awakens in himself a just and worthy sense of God, and if he is suitably affected therewith, and if he, when the circumstances of things require it, expresses that inward sense by such outward afts as are not improper in themselves, and which the fashion and custom of the world or which God has constituted to be the signs and tokens of it; then, he may very justly conclude of himself that he is a truly religious or pious man. But, if a man lives as it were without God in the world, that is, if God is not at all in his thoughts, or if he from necessity is forced to think of God, (which will sometimes be the case, as when the circumstances of things will make the sense of a Deity present to a man's mind) or if he should voluntarily think of God, but is not suitably affected therewith
then, he cannot, with any propriety, consider himself as a religious or pious man, even tho’ he should frequently use those actions that are made to be the outward signs and tokens of it; because he is wanting in that wherein true piety confifts. This is the state of the case independent of any revelation or promulged law ; and when considered in the abstract nature and reason of things.
I now proceed to enquire fecondly, whether Religion (when the term is used to express that which is the ground of our acceptance with God) is likewise founded in nature. And here the way seems plain and obvious. For, if there be a natural and an essential difference in things, and if one thing or action be really better or preferable to another in nature, and if there is a rule of action resulting from that difference which every moral agent ought in reason to govern his actions by, and if Almighty God makes this rule the measure of his actions in his dealings with his creatures, in all inftances and cafes in which it can be a rule to him, which are mostly self-evident truths ; then from hence it will unavoidably follow, that whoever makes this rule the measure of his affections and actions, must, by this, render himself approvable and acceptable to God, as he bereby renders himself the suitable and proper object of God's approbation and affection,' And whoever viciously and wickedly greatly departs from this rule, and perhifts in it, such an one must be unacceptable and disapprovable
to his Maker, as he bereby renders himself the suitable and proper object of the divine dislike and resentment. This, I say, is most apparently the true state of the case, For, as God is the most perfect intelligence, if I may fo speak; so he muit, if he acts consistent with himself, approve of every intelligent being who acts conforma able to that principle of intelligence that is planted in him; and God must likewise disapprove of every intelligent being who acts greatly contrary to that intelligent principle. And therefore, when a man acts such a part in life as in reason he ought, he will of course be accepted and approved of. God, it being morally impossible that it should be otherwise. When a man makes the law of nature the rule and measure of his affections and actions, he then acts that very part in life which his Creator designed he should act, and hereby he answers the end and purpose of his creation; and therefore, we may with as much justness and propriety doubt of the existence of a God, as doubt whether such a being will be acceptable to him. And, on the other side, if a man's conduct is the reverse of this, then, we are assured, from the reason of the thing, that such a man will be reprobated or disapproved by his Maker. This is the state of the case, independent of any promulged law, and when considered in the abstract nature and reason of things.
I am fenfible, God may, if he please, give a revelation to mankind. . That is, it is no way. repugnant to our natural notions of a Deity to