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Wherefore it ought always to be considered, that though Sin in Us, who see no farther than the Evils it produces, is Evil, and justly punishable ; yet in God, who sees the causes and connections of all things, and the necessity of its admission, that admission may be no Evil at all, and that necessity a sufficient vindication of his Goodness.
From this important proposition, that all Natural Evil derives its existence from necessity, and all Moral from expediency arising from that necessity ; I say, from this important proposition, well considered and pursued, such new lights might be struck out as could not fail, if directed by the hands of Learning and Impartiality, to lead the human Mind through the unknown regions of speculation, and to produce the most surprising and useful discoveries in Ethicks, Metaphysicks, and in Christianity.
In the first place, for instance, the Doctrine* of Original Sin is really nothing more than the very System bere laid down, into which we have been led by closely pursuing Reason, and without which the Origin of Moral Evil cannot be accounted for on any principle whatever. Indeed, according to the common notions of the absolute Omnipotence of God, and the absolute Free-will in Man, it is most absurd and impious, as it represents the Deity voluntarily bringing Men into Being with depraved Dispositions, tending to no good purposes, and then arbitrarily punishing them for the sins which they occasion with torments which answer no ends, either of their reformation or utility to the Universe : but when we see, by the foregoing explanation, the difficulties with which Omnipotence was environed, and that it was obliged by the necessity of Natural Evils to admit Moral, all these absurdities at once vanish.
* Original Sin is a contradiction in terms ; Original signifying innate,and Sin the act of an accountable Being : by this expression therefore of Original Sin cannot be meant original or innate Guilt, for that is absolute nonsense, but only an original depravity, or an innate disposition to Sin,
The Doctrine* of Sacrifice, or Vicarious punishment, is the most universal, and yet exclusive of this plan the most absurd, of all religious Tenets that ever entered into the mind of Man : 80 absurd is it, that how it came to be so universal is not easy to be accounted for : Pagans, Jews and Christians, have all agreed in this one point, though differing in all others ; and have all treated it as a self-evident principle, that the Sins of one creature might be atoned for by the sufferings of another : but from whence they derived this strange opinion, none of them have pretended to give any account or to produce in its defence the least shadow of a reason : for that there should be any manner of connection between the miseries of one Being and the guilt of another; or, that the punishing the innocent, and excusing the guilty, should be a mark of God's detestation of Sin; or, that two acts of the highest injustice should make one of justice, is so fundamentally wrong, so diametrically opposite to commonsense, and all our ideas of justice, that it is equally astonishing that so many should believe it themselves, or impose it upon others. But on the foregoing theory this also may be a little cleared up, and will by no means appear so very inconsistent with Reason.
From what has been here said, I think, it is evident that the Origin of Evil is by no means so difficult to account for as at first sight it appears; for it has been plainly shewn that most of those we usually complain of are Evils of Imperfection, which are rather the absence of comparative advantages than positive Evils, and therefore, properly speaking, no Evils at all ; and as such, ought to be intirely
* If the punishments of the wicked serve not some ends with which we are unacquainted, the sufferings of the innocent can possibly bear no manner of relation to them; and consequently the words Sacrifice, Atonement, Propitiation, and Vicarious Punishments can no more have any ideas affixed to them than the ringing of a bell, or the blowing of a trumpet, but are mere sounds without any meaning at all.
struck out of the Catalogue. It has likewise been made appear, that of natural Evils, which are the sufferings of sensitive Beings, many are but the consequences naturally resulting from the particular circumstances of particular ranks in the scale of existence, which could not have been omitted without the destruction of the whole ; and that many more in all probability necessary, by means to us incomprehensible, to the production of Universal Good. Lastly, it has been suggested, that from this necessity of Natural Evils may arise the expediency of Moral, and moreover that it is probable Moral Evil, as well as Natural, may have some ultimate tendency to the good of the whole ; and that the crimes and punishments of some beings may, by some means or other, totally beyond the reach of our narrow capacities, contribute to the felicity of much greater numbers.
This plan, Sir, I am persuaded is not far distant from the truth; and on this Foundation, if I mistake not, a system of Morality and Religion, more compleat, solid, and more consistent with Reason, might be erected than any which has yet appeared : I heartily wish that some person of more learning, abilities and leisure than myself, and much more, I am sure, of all it would require) encouraged by your favour, and assisted by your sagacity, would undertake it, and condescend to fill up these out-lines so inaccurately sketched out by
SIR, &c. [To be Continued, see page 241.]
MORALITY OF MAHOMETANISM.
[Continued from page 195.]
COVET not that which God hath bestowed on some of you preferable to others. Unto the men shall be given a portion of what they shall have gained ; and unto the women shall be given a portion of what they have gained :
fore ask God of his bounty; for God is omniscient. e. iv. v. 1. p. 100.
A fair speech and to forgive, is better than alms follow. ed by mischief. God is rich and merciful. c. ü. v. 1. p. 50.
HYPOCRISY, &c. Moreover the hypocrites shall be in the lowest bottom of hell fire, and thou shalt not find any to help them thence. But they who repent and amend, and adhere firmly unto God, and approve the sincerity of their religion to God, they shall be numbered among the faithful; and God will surely give the faithful a great reward. c. iv. v. 1. p. 122.
What thinkest thou of him who denieth the future judgment as a falsehood ? It is he who pusheth away the orphan; and stirreth not up others to feed the poor. Wo be unto those who pray, and who are negligent at their prayer ; who play the hypocrite, and deny necessaries to the needy. e. evii, v. 2. p. 513.
INFIDELS. O true believers ! take not your fathers or your brethren for friends, if they love infidelity above faith ; and whosoever among you shall take them for his friends, they will be unjust doers. Say if your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your relations, and your substance which ye have acquired, and your merchandize, which ye apprehend may not be sold off, and your dwellings wherein ye delight, be more dear unto you than God and his apostle, and the advancement of his religion ; wait, until God shall send his commands : for God directeth not the ungodly people. c. ix. v. 1. p. 242.
When ye encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads until ye have made a great slaughter among them ; and bind them in bonds; and either give them a free dismission afterward, or exact a ransom, until the war shall have laid down its arms. This shall ye do, verily if God pleased, he could
take vengeance without your assistance: but he commandeth you to fight his battles, that he may prove the one of you by the other. And as to those who fight in defence of God's true religion, God will not suffer their works to perish : he will guide them, and will dispose their heart aright'; and he will lead them into paradise, of which he hath told them. O true believers, if ye assist God, by fighting for his religion, he will assist you against your enemies ; and will set your feet fast: but as for the infidels, let them perish ; and their works shall God render vain. c. xlvii. v. 2. p. 376.
Fight for the religion of God, against those who fight against you, but transgress not by attacking them first, for God loveth not the transgressors. And kill them wherever ye find them, and turn them out of that whereof they have dispossessed you ; for temptation to idolatry is more grievous than slaughter: yet fight not against them in the holy temple, until they attack you therein ; but if they attack you, slay them there. This shall be the reward of the infidels. But if they desist, God is gracious and merciful. Fight therefore against them, until there be no temptation to idolatry, and the religion be God's : but if they desist, then let there be no hostility, except against the ungodly. A sacred month for a sacred month, and the holy limits of Mecca, if they attack you therein, do ye also attack them therein in retaliations and whoever transgresseth against you by so doing, do ye transgress against him in like manner as he hath transgressed against you, and know that God is with those that fear him. Contribute out of your substance toward the defence of the religion of God, and throw not yourselves with your own hands, into perdition ; and do good, for God loveth those who do good. c. 2. v. i. p. 34.
Fear not men but fear me; neither sell my signs for a small price. And whoso judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they are infidels. We have therein commanded them, that they should give life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for