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our Judgment is not in our own Power, and that a free Choice is ejjential to Morality: J answer, That Circumstance is quite foreign to the Purpose; and the Reason is, because the Freedom of an AcJion no way affects it's Influence on the Public. If to be virtuous and to be useful are the very same Thing, equal Degrees of Utility must unavoidably deserve equal Approbation. On the fame
Account it is perfectly insignificant, whether our Actions be intended or unintended ; and even whether they be Actions, or not Actions. If they have no absolute Worth to recommend them, they can only be valued for the Good they produce. Whatever therefore produces the fame Quantity of Good, must appear equally valuable and praije-worthy.
BUT because there are some Persons who cannot relish this Scheme of Morality; and because I am willing to vindicate the Scriptural Accounts of Faith, on all possible Suppositions; J have been forced to proceed upon the almost antiquated Notion of an intrinsic Difference between Good and Evil, and even to suppose that Good Actions have an Excellence peculiar to themselves, which cannot pojstbly belong to any Thing besides; and which therefore is intirely different from their good
Influence on Society. Whatever may be
said as to the Truth of my Opinions, I would not willingly be thought to write without a Meaning. Whoever therefore rejects this Notion, as unreal and unintelligible-, I J);all esteem it a Favour if be will pass on directly to the second Section, without reading or rt± garding what goes before itt Page
TH E Adversaries of our Religion, and indeed too many of its Friends, have, both in primitive and modern Times, laid it under great Disadvantages, by confounding the Ideas of Faith and Credulity; which, in reality, are just as different, as Truth and Error, Wisdom and Folly. The former is, or ought to be, founded on the best and most substantial Reasons: the latter is only a Weakness of Mind, which disposes us to believe without any Reason at all. The former, as we shall see hereafter, is derived from the noblest Origin, and productive of the happiest EffeSls: the latter owes its Being to no other Causes, but our own Folly, and our own Fault j and yields no other Fruits, than Error, and Vice, and Misery.— In treating therefore on the Subject of Faith, it will be requisite to explain it in such a Manner, that it may no longer be mistaken for a Quality so extremely unlike it; but, on the contrary, may appear to be, what it really is in itself, the highest Improvement of Human Understanding.
By Faith then in general, I understand