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M O R A L PHILOSOPHY,
A No or
C H R IS TI A N ET HICS.
DANIEL DEWAR, LL.D.
w 1 N is T E R of T H E T R o w c H U R ca A N D P A R is H. G. r. A s Go w,
AND I.A.TF PROFEssoR of MoRAL Philosophy in the university
BELL & BRADFUTE, EDINBURGH; AND M. OGLE, GLASGOW.
IN the following Treatise I have confined myself to the ethical department of Moral Philosophy. But as ethics cannot be explained without some knowledge of Natural Religion, that is, without some acquaintance with the character, perfections, and providence of God, the first book is wholly occupied with the consideration of these momentous subjects. The usual method is, to treat first of the active powers of man, and afterwards to discourse concerning the being and attributes of God... I have reversed this order; because I conceive that we can study the principles of moral obligation, and the various classes of our duties, with greater advantage when we have previously attended to the character and government of Him who has constituted us what we are, and of whom, and to whom, and through whom, are all things. I have styled this work Elements of Christian Ethics and of Moral Philosophy, because I have throughout assumed the Divine authority of Revelation, and have uniformly availed myself of its light. “Such as reject the Christian Religion, are to make the best shift they can to build up a system and lay the foundation of morality without it. But it appears to me a great inconsistency in those who receive Christianity and expect something to come of it, to endeavour to keep all such expectations out of sight in their reasonings concerning human duty.”
To this course it will, perhaps, be objected, that it is encroaching on the province of the Divine. The objection, however, is quite unfounded. While the moral philosopher does not professedly treat of divinity, or give a system of christian theology, he is bound always so to conduct his course of morals, that it may be, as it is designed, an useful preparation for the study of Revealed Truth. He is to treat of moral science, but not to the neglect of the sanctions of Christianity; not to speak and write on themes of the deepest moment, as if “the day-spring from on high” had not visited us. “The morality of the gospel,” says Locke, “ doth so exceed them all, that, to give a man a full knowledge of true morality, I shall send him to no other book but the New Testament *.”
* Locke's Thoughts on Reading and Study.