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EFORE the philofophical Works of lord Bolingbroke had appeared, great Things were expected from the Leifure of a Man, who, from the Splendid scene of Action, in which his Talents had enabled him to make fo confpicuous a Figure, had retired to employ thofe Talents in the Investigation of Truth. Philofophy began to congratulate herself upon fuch a Profelyte from the World of Business, and hoped to have extended her Power under the Aufpices of fuch a Leader. In the midst of these pleafing Expectations, the Works themselves at last appeared in full Body, and with great Pomp. Those who fearched. in them for new Discoveries in the Myfteries of Nature; thofe who expected fomething which might explain or direct the Operations of the Mind; those who hoped to fee Morality illustrated and inforced; thofe who looked for new Helps to Society and Government; those who defired to fee the Characters and B 2 Paffions
Paffions of Mankind delineated; in fhort, all who confider fuch Things as Philofophy, and require fome of them at least, in every philofophical Work, all these were certainly dif appointed; they found the Land-marks of Science precisely in their former Places And they thought they received but a poor Recompence for this Disappointment, in feeing every Mode of Religion attacked in a lively Manner, and the Foundation of every Virtue, and of all Government, fapped with great Art and much Ingenuity. What Advantage do we derive from such Writings? What Delight can a Man find in employing a Capacity which might be usefully exerted for the nobleft Purposes, in a fort of fullen Labour, in which, if the Author could fucceed, he is obliged to own, that nothing could be more fatal to Mankind than his Succefs?
I cannot conceive how this fort of Writers propose to compass the Designs they pretend to have in View, by the Inftruments which they employ. Do they pretend to exalt the Mind of Man, by proving him no better than a Beaft? Do they think to enforce the Practice of Virtue, by denying that Vice and Virtue, are diftinguished by good or ill Fortune here,
or by Happiness or Mifery hereafter? Do they imagine they fhall increase our Piety, and our Reliance on God, by exploding his Providence, and insisting that he is neither just nor good? Such are the Doctrines which, fometimes concealed, fometimes openly and fully avowed, are found to prevail throughout the Writings of Lord Bolingbroke; and fuch are the Reasonings which this noble Writer and several others have been pleased to dignify with the Name of Philofophy. If these are delivered in a specious Manner, and in a Stile above the common, they cannot want a Number of Admirers of as much Docility as can be wished for in Disciples. To these the Editor of the following little Piece has addreffed it: there is no Reason to conceal the Defign of it any longer.
The Design was, to fhew that, without the Exertion of any confiderable Forces, the fame Engines which were employed for the Destruction of Religion, might be employed with equal Success for the Subverfion of Government; and that fpecious Arguments might be used against thofe Things which they, who who doubt of every thing else, will never permit to be queftioned. It is an Obfervation which, I think, Ifocrates makes in one of his B 3 Orations
Orations against the Sophifts, that it is far more easy to maintain a wrong Caufe, and to fupport paradoxical Opinions to the Satisfaction of a common Auditory, than to establish a doubtful Truth by folid and conclufive Arguments. When Men find that something can be faid in Favour of what, on the very Propofal, they have thought utterly indefenfible, they grow doubtful of their own Reafon; they are thrown into a fort of pleasing Surprize; they run along with the Speaker, charmed and captivated to find fuch a plentiful Harvest of Reafoning, where all feemed barren and unpromifing. This is the Fairy Land of Philofophy. And it very frequently happens, that those pleafing Impreffions on the Imagination, fubfift and produce their Effect, even after the Understanding has been fatisfied of their unfubftantial Nature. There is a fort of Glofs upon ingenious Falfehoods, that dazzles the Imagination, but which neither belongs to, nor becomes the fober aspect of Truth. I have met with a Quotation in lord Coke's Reports that pleafed me very much, though I do not know from whence he has taken it: "Interdum fucata falfitas (says "he) in multis eft probabilior, et fæpe rationi"bus vincit nudam veritatem." In fuch Cafes, the