Vol.VII No.VIII Pg.6
October 1970

Moral Philosophy, 1771

Robert F. Turner

Of all the relations which the human mind sustains, that which subsists between the Creator and his creatures, the Supreme Lawgiver and his subjects, is the highest and the best. This relation arises from the nature of a creature in general, and the constitution of the human mind in particular; the noblest powers and affections of which point to an Universal Mind, and would be imperfect and abortive without such a direction. How lame then must that system of morals be, which leaves a Deity out of the question! How disconsolate, and how destitute of its firmest support!

It does not appear, from any true history or experience of the minds progress, that any man, by any formal deduction of his discursive powers, ever reasoned himself into the belief a God. Whether such a belief is only some natural anticipation of soul; or is derived from father to son, and from one man to another, in the way of tradition; or is suggested to us in consequence of an immutable law of our nature, on beholding the august aspect and beautiful order of the universe; we will not pretend to determine. What seems most agreeable to experience is, that a sense of its beauty and grandeur, and the admirable fitness of one thing to another in its vast apparatus, leads the mind necessarily and unavoidably to a perception of design, or of a designing cause, the origin of all, by a progress as simple and natural as that by which a beautiful picture or a fine building suggests to us the idea of an excellent artist. For it seems to hold universally true, that wherever we discern a tendency or cooperation of things towards a certain end, or producing a common effect; there, by a necessary law of association, we apprehend design, a designing energy or cause.

It is evident, from the slightest survey of morals, that how punctual soever one may be in performing the duties which result from our relations to mankind; yet to be quite deficient in performing those which arise from our relation to the Almighty, must argue a strange perversion of reason or depravity of heart. If imperfect degrees of worth attract our veneration, and if the want of it would imply an insensibility, or, which is worse, an aversion to merit; what lameness of affection, and immorality of character, must it be, to be unaffected with, and much more to be ill-affected to, a Being of superlative worth! To love society, or particular members of it, and yet a have no sense of our connection with its Head, no affection to our common Parent and Benefactor; to be concerned. about the approbation or censure of our fellow-creatures, and yet to feel nothing of this kind towards Him who sees and weighs our actions with unerring wisdom and justice, and can fully reward or punish them; betrays equal madness and partiality of mind. It is plain, therefore, beyound all doubt, that some regards are due to the great Father of all, in whom every lovely and adorable quality combines to inspire veneration and homage.

From Vol. 3, p.296, FIRST edition, Encyclopaedia Britannica; 1771.