« السابقةمتابعة »
Oates 25 Aug. 1703. SIR, coCOURS of the 4th instant I re
Y ceiv'd; and tho I am conscious I 000. do not deserve those advantageous things which your civility says of me in it, yét give me leave to assure you, that the offers of my service to you, which you are pleas'd to take notice of, is that
part which I shall not fail to make good on all occasions.
You ask me, What is the shortest and surest way, for a young Gentleman, to attain a true Knowledge of the Christian Religion, in the full and just extent of it? for so I understand your Question : if I
have mistaken it, you must set me right. And to this I have a short and plain Answer: Let him study the Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament. Therein are contain'd the words of eternal Life. It has God, for its Author; Salvation, for its end ; and Truth, without any mixture of Error, for its matter. So that, it is a wonder to me, how any one professing Christianity, that would seriously set himself to know his Religion, should be in doubt where to imploy his search, and lay out his pains for his information ; when he knows a Book, where it is all contain’d, pure and entire; and whither, at last, every one must have recourse, to verify that of it, 'which hę finds any where else.
Your other Question, which I think I may call two or three, will require a larger Answer.
As to Morality, which, I take it, is the first in those things you enquire after ; that is best to be found in the Book that I have already commended to you. But because you may perhaps think, that the better to observe those
Rules, a little warning may not be inconvenient, and some Method of ranging them be useful for the memory; I recommend to you the Whole Duty of Man, as a methodical System : and if you desire a larger view of the Parts. of Morality, I know not where you will find them so well and distinąly explain'd, and so strongly inforc'd, as in the practical Divines of the Church of England. The Sermons of Dr. BARROW, Archbishop TILLOTSON, and Dr. WHICHCOT, are 'masterpieces in this kind; not to name abun. dance of others, who excel on that subject. If you have à mind to see how far human Reason adyanc'd in the discovery of Morality, you will have a good speci, men of it in TULLY's Offices : unless
a mind to look farther back inthe source, from whence he drew his Rules; and then you must consult ARISTOT LE, and the other Greek Philosophers.
Tho' Prudence be reckon'd among the cardinal Virtues, yet I do not remember any profess’d Treatise of Morality, where it is treated in its full extent, and with
that accuracy. that it ought. For which possibly this may be a reason, that every imprudent Adion does not make a man culpable in foro Conscientie.' The businefs of Morality, I look upon to be the avoiding of Crimes ; of Prudence, Inconveniencies, the foundation whereof lies in knowing Men and Manners. History teaches this best, next to Experience; which is the only effectual way to get a knowledge of the World. As to the Rules of Prudence, in the Conduct of common Life, tho' there be several that have imploy'd their pens therein; yet those Writers have their eyes so fix'd on Convenience, that they sometimes lose the fight of Virtue; and do not take care to keep themselves always clear from the borders of Dishonesty, while they are tracing out what they take to be, sometimes, the fecurest way to success : most of those that I have seen on this subject, having as it seem'd to me, something of this defect, So that I know none that I can confident, ly recommend to your young Gentleman, but the Son of SYRAC,
To compleat a Man in the practice of human Offices, (for to that tend your enquiries), there is one thing more requir’d; which, tho' it be ordinarily consider'd, as distinct from both Virtue and Prudence, yet I think it so near ally'd to them, that he will scarce keep himself from flips in both, who is without it. That, which I mean, is Good-breeding. The school for a young Gentleman to learn it in, is, the Conversation of those who are well-bred.
As to the last part of your enquiry, which is after Books that will give an-infight into the Constitution of the Govern ment, and real Interest of his Country : to proceed orderly in this, I think the foundation Thould be laid, in inquiring into the Ground and Nature of Civil Saw ciety; and how it is form'd into different models of Government, and what are the several Species of it. ARISTOTLE is allow'd a master in this féience, and few enter upon the confideration of Government, without reading his Politicks. Hereunto fhould be added, true notions of Laws in general ; and Property, the subject matter about which Laws are made,