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fluence of religion prevails ; where-ever the solemnity of an oath is interposed, honesty, faith, candour, and sincerity will be inviolable. And not only in this instance, but in all our transactions with one another, a regard to the Supreme Being will direct our conduct : and if any thing, can create and preserve upon our spirits such regard, it must be the exercises of public worship : for the glorious excellencies of the perfections of God being here fo frequently set before our eyes; his power and providence, his love of right and hatred of wrong, being made so familiar to our thoughts, it cannot but often occur to us in the affairs of life, that we are acting under his eye, though no doubt such reflections will occur oftener to some than to others, and make a deeper impression, and have a better effect upon them.

3. The very acts of public worship serve to form us to right dispositions towards our fellow-creatures. For when, laying aside the distinctions of high and low, rich and poor, with united supplications we address our common Father, who regardeth not the rich more than the

poor,

and before whom all the distinctions that arise from external circumftances vanith, when thus proftrated in the same condition of abasement, want, and misery, we are not only put in mind to imitate hiin in justice, mercy, love, and benevolence, but to suppress the swellings of anger, envy, pride, malice, and disdain ; and to cultivate.

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the social affections of humanity, kindness, and compassion.

4. It is generally owned, that Atheism is inconsistent with the being of society; or, in other words, that fociety cannot fubfift without religion ; because there are no human ties strong enough to hold men together, and bind them to a mutual right behaviour, if they are not under the awe of an invisible Supreme Power. But as we cannot discern the hearts of men, we have no other way to difcover whether they are Atheists or not, but hy their worshipping God. When, therefore, those of a fociety join together in adoring and invoking the Deity, they give all the evidence and fecurity they possibly can give, that they acknowledge the Divine Being and Provi. dence ; and upon the matter they call God to witness, and plight their faith to one another, that they will be just, and honest, and faithful in their mutual dealings. There may indeed be hypocrites, who, under this fpecious thew, cover the treachery of their defigns; but it is evidently not the genuine tendency of worship, to produce or encourage hypocrify: for accidental abuses there is no remedy.

And whatever be a man's practice ; as the fccret motives of his conduct cannot be discovered by us, if he does not acknowledge God before the world, by worshipping him, we must suppose either that he is an Atheift, or that he cannot in conscience worship him ac

cording

cording to that form which obtains in his country; which, by the by, is an unanswerable argument for tolerating different modes of worship ; for is there is but one uniform method in fociety, there may be a great number, fome from principle, and others, taking the advantage of this principle, from irreligion, who give no evidence of their owning a God, and consequently no fecurity for their faith and honesty ; and as the one cannot be known from the other, distrust, injustice, and confufion must ensue. And if penal laws are added, the best and most conscientious will be punished, while Atheists are sheltered, and hypocrites encouraged by an easy, compliance. But if those of the same perfuafion in religious matters are allowed to worship God after that form which they believe to be most agreeable to his will; then all have it in their power to give a public declaration of their believing in God, and the proper assurances of their honesty to men. And, therefore, those who shew. a contempt of all public worthip, must be regardless of the interests of fociety, which otherwise cannot be secured ; and give too great evidence of their being under no impressions of a divine providence ; which is downright Atheism, and of the worst kind.

I am far from thinking, that all they who disregard public worship are Atheists from principle ; but I take the liberty to say, they ace Atheists to society, and their example pro

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duces all the mischievous effects which the rankeft Atheism can be supposed to do. It is of no moment whether one believes there is à God or not, if he does not acknowledge him in his actions. Atheistical principles are vented, at worst, only in a corner among a select number of friends ; nor was any confiderable harm ever done to society this way. But when public worship is despised, especiale ly by such as are in elevated stations, the contagion is sure to spread. Such force has example ; and fuch is our propensity to imitation, that the actions of a superior will have infinitely greater weight than all the arguments, he can use to determine us.

And therefore, as it is against the interest of society to lay restraints upon mens consciences in their manner of worshipping God, it is much more fo, to suffer them in society who worship no God at all, when such neglect is known to proceed, not from any Scruple of conscience, but from irreligion. Accordingly, in every civilized nation, Atheists have been extirpated, as enemies to mankind, not because they disbelieved the being of God, (for that is an act of the mind, in which men are not concerned), but left the society should be infected with Atheism, and thereby the ties of religion, by which men are held together, and prevented from being burtful to one another, should be diffolved. And if no indulgence ought to be given to luch as disown all public worship, is there not

the the same reason that they should suffer in proportion, who, by a frequent neglect of it, or. an irreverent behaviour when present, fet a public example of irreligion and Atheism? This is an event which they themselves would certainly not be fond of, (for even an Atheist would not chuse to live among Atheists); and yet such perfons are fatally instrumental in promoting it.

Lastly, There is this fingular advantage arising to fociety from the public worship of Christians, that, at the same time they meet together for worshipping God, all the duties they owe to him, and to one another, are inculcated upon them, and most strictly enjoined, under the pain of his eternal displeasure ; such as, subjection to magistrates, honour to fuperiors, honesty, justice, and fincerity in all our dealings ; affability, gentleness, meekness, forgiveness of injuries, provision for the poor, and the like Nay, the disposition of the heart, the temper, and affections, which human laws can never reach, are here taken into consideration, and as expressly brought under rule as public actions: and, in an especial manner, love, benevolence, pity, and compaffion, which are the source and foundation of social happiness, are recommended as indispensably necessary, and the proper principles by which our behaviour to others ought to be directed.

I think none will deny, that mankind would be happy indeed, if these divine laws were u.

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