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their Luftre, you are too well acquainted with to fufpect them of Flattery. To preserve the Luftre of this Mirrour was the fole Purpose of the following Letters. For the dull Breath of Malice had attempted to defile its Purity; and, by staining it with the black Imputation of Fatalifm, to tarnish every Virtue it reflected.
It hath been obferved in Phyfics, that Nature never gave an Excellence, but fhe at the fame time produced its contrary, withQualities peculiarly adapted to its Destruction. As we fee how this ferves the wife Ends of Providence, by keeping us in that State of Imperfection and Dependence in which it hath pleased the Author of all Things to place us, we need not be much furprised to find the fame Phænomenon in the moral World: In no Inftance more apparent than in the Doctrine of FATE, which, almost coæval with the PraEtice of VIRTUE, is yet altogether the Deftruction of it.
But as there is not that Decay, nor Degeneracy of Good, in the natural as in the moral World; fo neither is there that Increase of Evil. I say this chiefly with regard to the Doctrine of Fate, which hath been still growing, from Age to Age, in Abfurdity and Impiety: And therefore no Wonder, that Virtue, whose specific Bane it is, fhould proportionably ficken and decline.
Indeed, it stopped not till it became like the Tree in the Chaldæan's Vifion, which reached to Heaven, and extended over the whole Earth; and received all the irrational and impure Creation, Birds, Beafts, and Infects, to its Shade and Shelter.
To confider Fate in its Growth and Progress, it divides itself into four principal Branches.
The first and earlieft is that which arose from the strange and prodigious Events in the Life of Man: Where the amazed Beholder obferving the Ends of human Wisdom fo perpetually defeated, even when fupported by the A 3 likelieft
Fikelieft Means, concluded that nothing less than an over-ruling Fate had traverfed his well-conducted Designs. This early Conclufion concerning God's Government here, from Obfervations on Civil Events, was again inferred in After-ages, by another Set of Men, with regard to his Government hereafter, from their Contemplations on Religious; while, from an utter Inability to penetrate the Defigns of Providence in its partial Revelations to Mankind, they concluded that Fate or Predeftination had determined of our fu ture, as well as prefent Happiness. Thefe, which are only different Modifications of the fame imaginary Power, may be called the POPULAR and RELIGIOUS Fate.
The Second kind arofe from a fuppofed moral Influence of the heavenly Bodies; founded In an early Superstition that the Hero-Gods had migrated into Stars. It was firft understood to be confined to Communities, as fuch
were the more immediate Care of thefe Heroes while living: But the fame Confiderations which produced the first Species of Fate, in a little time, extended it to Particulars. And this is the CIVIL or ASTROLOGIC Fate. Hitherto, Free-will was only curbed, or rendered useless. To annihilate it quite, needed all the Power of Philofophy. So true is the Observation, that without Philofophy Man can hardly become either thoroughly abfurd or miferable.
The Sophift, in his profound Inquiries into human Nature, and on what it is we do, when we judge, deliberate, and refolve, came at length to this fhort Conclufion, That the Mind is no more than a Machine, and that its Operations are determined in the fame Manner that a Ballance is inclined by its Weights. This abfolute Neceffity of Man's Actions is the third Species of Fate, called the PHILOSOPHIC.
From this, to the last, that is to fay, the Neceffity of GoD's, was an eafy A 4
Step. For when, from the very Nature of Mind and Will, the Philofopher had demonftrated the Abfurdity of Freedom in Man, the fame Conclufion would hold as to all other Beings whatfoever. And this is the ATHEISTIC Fate.
Thefe, Sir, were the glorious Effects of PRIDE: which our incomparable Friend, with fo good Reafon, esteems the Source of all our Mifery and Impiety. The Pride of accounting for the Ways of Providence begot the two firft Species; and the Pride of comprehending the Effences of Things, the two latter. Ab! mifera mens bominum, quo te FATA fæpiffime trabunt! In the Name of Paul, if one might be allowed to afk, What shall deliver us from the Body of this Fate? which hangs about the Soul like that Punishment of the ancient Tyrant, who bound dead Bodies to the living. I answer, the Religion of JESUS: which hath inftructed us as clearly in the