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with little less than adoration. But the respect of which I am speaking is of a very different nature : it is felt for the poor as well as for the rich; for those who have no property, as well as for those who have much; for individuals in private stations, as well as for men in public ones. It does not depend upon outward circumstances, but upon the qualities and dispositions of the mind. Wherever virtue is found, it is esteemed and honoured ; and where it is wanting, although the man be clothed in purple and fine linen, the character is contemned.
More rational is the respect, which is shown to great knowledge and extraordinary endowments of mind. Those who can despise wealth, and consider it as adding no dignity to the possessor, yet regard these as just objects of veneration. In honouring wisdom and knowledge they are only honouring some of the excellencies which compose the character of an all perfect Being. But the respect of which I speak is different from that which is felt for knowledge or genius. It has often for it's object men, who are by no means distinguished by these qualities, men of plain understanding and little learning, but adorned with the moral virtues.
The disciples of Jesus had not the recommendation of wealth, or of the more captivating endowments of the mind, being men of ordinary understanding and no education, poor fishermen and mechanics; yet were they esteemed by their master, and treated by him with respect, because he disco
vered in them the traces of an upright mind, and a readiness to embrace the truth. .
There remains but one cause more, to which the esteem, which good men feel for one another, can with any colour of justice be attributed, and that is similarity of sentiment. It may be supposed, that as they think alike upon the great subject of religion and morals, their mutual affection is no more than what men of the same sect and party feel for one another, an affection of little value in itself, and tending rather to debase than exalt the character.
It must be admitted, that there are some principles, which are believed by all virtuous characters; nor is it possible they should be of the same dispo. sition and feel mutual affection, unless they held some things in common. Yet, while there are some important articles, about which they agree, there are several others, about which they differ; but that difference does not destroy mutual regard. Virtu. ous and candid minds will view with sincere respect and esteem all those, who appear to possess the genuine fear of God, however opposite to their own their opinions may be respecting many parts of the divine administration and government, and other topics of religion. Many pernicious errours, in. deed, are embraced, which may sour the temper, and lead to superstitious practices, but enough of the essentials of Christianity is retained to lay a foundation for undissembled piety toward the su. preme Being, and disinterested benevolence toward men; and wherever these appear, they attract regard. It is true, however, and much to be lamented, that men of different persuasions in reli: gion, instead of loving and esteeming one another, often discover every mark of aversion and hatred. But I trust there are examples enow in the world of an opposite nature to convince us, that mutual esteem is perfectly consistent with a considerable difference of religious sentiment. It appears, then, that good men have a respect and esteem for one another, which does not depend upon mutual intercourse, upon the reception of benefits, the possession of wealth or talents, or even upon a similarity in religious opinions: it must, therefore, proceed solely from a regard to the virtues of their characters. We are now to inquire in the second place, whence this esteem arises. Why do good men love and honour those, who resemble them? Why do they con. template their characters with admiration and pleasure? Why is virtue agreeable, and vice odious ? To this some answer by saying, that the divine Being, in order to secure the practice of virtue among his creatures, implanted in their minds a kind of instinct which leads all men, independently of reason and reflection, to approve of some actions and to condemn others, to admire and be pleased with virtue, wherever it is to be found and under whatever disguises concealed, and to hate and abhor vice, however dignified or exalted, just as the pa. late is formed to be pleased with one kind of food and
to reject another, or as the eye is made to be pleased with light, and the ear with melody. This faculty, on account of it's supposed resemblance to some of our senses, they have called the moral sense.
Others have answered this inquiry by saying, that there is an eternal fitness in some actions and unfitness in others, and that our reason, by perceiving the one or the other, occasions the feelings of approbation or dislike.
But there is a much better method of accounting for the formation of the moral sense than either of those now suggested, which is briefly this: the mind in a child, when it first comes into the world, exists without impressions from the different objects with which it is surrounded, and to the influences of which it is exposed, and only possesses a capacity of receiving them. And it is the earliest business of those, to whom the care of our first years are com, mitted, to inculcate, that certain actions are good, pleasant, honourable, fit, and worthy both of praise and reward, and that others are odious, painful, shameful, and deserving of punishment. The application of these terms by those, whose authority we respect, occasions the first symptoms of liking and disliking in our minds.
These feelings are further strengthened by observe ing the evil consequences which flow from certain vices, and the good effects which arise from the contrary virtues; from seeing, for instance, that intemperance produces disease and pain, want and
debility of mind, that the opposite virtue of temperance is attended with health, with the good opinion of mankind, with long life and plenty ; that anger, and malice, and envy, produce returns of the same passions from others, and are the occasion of injuries, reproaches, and disquietude, while forbearance and benevolence procure a return of kind offices, with friendly intercourse and the highest praises. This observation raises in us a love and esteem for virtue and a hatred of vice in others.
This esteem and hatred, which are founded upon a view of the good and evil consequences of certain actions, come at length to be felt upon the sight of virtue and vice, without considering whether it be a source of benefit to ourselves or otherwise. But our progress toward this state of mind is greatly hastened by reflecting upon what the Scriptures teach us, that there is an almighty and righteous Being, who will punish in a future life what we see to be attended with so many evil consequences in this, and reward there in a more ample manner what is accompanied with much good here. This prospect will, more than any other consideration, inspire us with a love of piety, virtue, and benevolence, and a horrour of the contrary; and, being often repeated, will at length settle into a fixed attachment to the one and aversion from the other ; without any immediate regard to future consequences; our nature being so formed, that what we like or dislike, approve or disapprove, for any particular reason, we