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PREFACE - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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The design of The Principles of Moral Philosophy,&c. is, to reduce appearances or facts in the moral world to general laws, in the same manner that appearances in the natural world are reduced into general laws by natural philosophers; and by pointing out several wise and good final causes of those general laws, to vindicate the ways of God to man, and prove that order is kept in the moral as well as in the natural world. Now, to compleat the scheme of moral philosophy there delineated, two things chiefly appear to be wanting.
I. To trace several great revolutions recorded in history to certain principles or general laws arising from, founded in, or well adapted to the general powers and affections of human nature and their laws, which are described and justified in that enquiry.
Order made it necessary to begin with an explication of those powers and affections belonging to man and their laws, which are, if one may so speak, the radical or elementary principles of human nature; the foundation or ground-work of the whole complex fabrick, which may be called the human system. And having done my best to accomplish that first and essential part, let me only suggest here, “That the ingenious Harrington, though it was not his immediate or direct design to illustrate the wisdom and goodness of providence in the government of moral affairs, has, however,<vii> given an analysis of the more remarkable changes in the Spartan, the Athenian, the Roman, and other states, which clearly unfolds to us several springs or causes of moral events, which will quickly be perceived by every intelligent, attentive considerer, to be necessary consequences of that general constitution of mankind we have endeavoured to illustrate and defend: springs or causes of moral events, which are either absolutely unchangeable in the nature of things; or so admirably adjusted to the very end of the present state of mankind, that no change can be imagined with respect to them which would not thwart or obstruct that end, nay, destroy the whole building.”2
He justly observes, “That to make principles or fundamentals, belongs not to men, to nations, nor to human laws. To build upon such principles or fundamentals as are apparently laid by God, in the inevitable necessity or law of nature, is that which truly appertains to men, to nations, and to human laws. To make any other fundamentals, and then build upon them, is to build castles in the air.”3And accordingly, all his reasonings about human societies, and their mutations and vicissitudes, are fetched from nature, from principles or causes founded in constitutions belonging to human nature. In the same manner that the chief phenomena in the mundan system are reduced, by natural philosophers, into the laws of centripetal and centrifugal forces, hath this Author reduced several great phenomena in the moral world into a few very simple moral laws or principles, which are as steady and regular in their operation as any laws in the material world; and as necessary to order and general good in the moral world, as those are in the natural system. He hath not indeed said that he has done so, i.e. he hath not made this comparison. Natural philosophy hath been much improved since his time. But he hath in fact done it. The same analysis from which he reasons about government, and deduces his maxims or laws of politics, serves to shew, that various revolutions in human societies, which to common readers appear no less anomalous and uncouth than comets may yet seem to one unacquainted with the Newtonian philosophy,<viii> are in reality the results of moral laws or principles, which are as uniform in their effects as the law of gravity, for instance, in the material system, and as conducive, as requisite to general order, harmony and good in the moral world, as gravity is in its sphere. This, however, it is sufficient for me to have but just suggested here. And several things in this enquiry into the doctrine of reason and revelation, concerning providence, virtue, and a future state, will make my meaning better understood, if it be not already sufficiently plain.
II. The other thing which appeared to me to be wanting to render the scheme of moral philosophy delineated in The Principles, & c. more compleat, is attempted in this essay; which is to shew, that the scripture doctrine concerning God, providence, human nature, virtue or human perfection, and a future state, is so far from being inconsistent with reason, that it is capable of clear proof from principles of reason. The scripture doctrine upon these momentous articles is here compared with what experience and reason teach, in order to render justice, at one and the same time, both to reason and to revelation. Some think the law of reason, or the light of nature, as it is commonly called, does not extend so far as it really does; and seem to imagine they magnify revelation, in proportion as they depress and vilify human understanding. Others misrepresent christianity as giving a very imperfect account of God, providence, human nature, human duties, and a future state. But the truth of the matter seems to be, that revelation gives us a very clear, consistent and comfortable view of these important matters; and that reason does not leave us in the dark about them, so much at least as some have asserted. It is certainly of importance to prove both these points. And therefore, whatever may be thought of the execution, the attempt will be approved by every lover of truth. The government of God by general laws: the consistency of the evils, natural and moral, which prevail in the world, with wise and good; with perfect administration: the relation of<ix> our present life to a future immortal one, as a probationary state, &c.—all the truths, in one word, which are explained in the Principles of Moral Philosophy, are here reviewed, in order to shew them to be either direct doctrines of revelation, or to be deducible from such by necessary consequence: for that effect, without repeating any of the reasonings in that treatise, they are here set in various new lights. And I shall not make any apology for endeavouring to do so. If any truths be of consequence, they are. And the variety of men’s understandings makes it necessary to set what is of moment for all men to understand and be convinced of, in various points of view. All I have said might easily have been compressed into much narrower and conciser bounds. But I did not write for philosophers merely, but in order to be as generally useful as I could. There are a few things, perhaps, in the second section, which may be thought by some too abstruse, too metaphysical. But the first, third, and fourth sections make a compleat body of Christian Ethics without it; and therefore that section may be passed by, if any one finds it too much upon the abstract way of reasoning for his taste or capacity, tho’ it would have been very improper to have overlooked the things there mentioned, in an essay of this nature. What is there said with relation to certain arguments offered by some to prove necessity, is merely designed to shew, that such reasonings are but verbal labyrinths. The question is a question of fact. And every one who is acquainted with the philosophers (if they may be called such) who have taken delight in perplexing and inveigling, knows what wordy mazes have been contrived by them to confound the plainest facts (such as the reality of motion, for example) and to bewilder the understanding in sophistical intricacies, out of which it is not easy for one to extricate himself, however sure he may be of the truth that is thus beset and puzled with studied subtleties. Moral as well as natural philosophy, is an enquiry into fact: let us therefore keep in the former, as natural philosophers now at last do in the latter, to experiment and fact; and after<x> their example, shake our selves loose of, and despise all verbal wranglings. No law of matter and motion, no connexion in the natural world is more certain than this fact in the moral world, “That by the laws of our nature some things are dependent upon our will as to their existence or non-existence: and with regard to all such, man is free.”
I have called this treatise, Christian Philosophy,because I have intirely confined myself in it to certain truths, which make up the whole of natural religion, and which for that reason must be essential, fundamental, in a divine revelation. Let me only add; That to misrepresent the Christian institution must certainly be as unfair as to misrepresent any other writings; which is allowed to be inconsistent with candour, with all pretensions to common justice and equity. To depreciate reason in order to exalt revelation, is no less absurd than it would be to talk of putting out our eyes in order to see better with glasses. But as for those, who imagine that the utility of a revelation cannot be acknowledged without vilifying human reason, the noblest gift of God, let them consider, That revelation, which can only address itself to reason, cannot encroach upon the reach or province, far less supersede the use of that faculty. It may add to reason, add to its compass, by giving it a proper evidence for certain very important facts not discoverable by ordinary experience, or without extraordinary instruction; but it cannot take from it, or render it less extensive: The evidence it carries with it of its truth, is offered to reason to be judged of by it. And surely, nothing that tends to enlarge our prospect of the government of the world, can weaken or degrade human understanding. To relinquish reason, to give up with it, or refuse to trust to it, must be a remediless error. But without abandoning reason, a fair hearing cannot be refused to testimony, attended with a specious evidence of truth. And as to admit testimony without sufficient evidence of it scredibility, is unreasonable; so certainly it is contrary to reason to reject testimony on any account but the want of proper and full evidence. Now, in the conclusion to this treatise, I have endeavoured to prove, that the testimony of Jesus Christ concerning<xi> the truth of the doctrines he taught, is accompanied with a proper, a full, a truly philosophical evidence. To be set right where I am mistaken, will ever be to me a most obliging favour and service.
The authors from whom any thing is borrowed are mentioned in the margin. The paraphrases on texts of scripture are chiefly taken from Dr. Samuel Clarke’s excellent Sermons.4
[2. ]James Harrington (1611–77). The analysis to which Turnbull refers is ubiquitous in Harrington’s writings, but see especially The Commonwealth of Oceania, in The Political Works of James Harrington, ed. J. G. A. Pocock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977).
[3. ]Harrington, Aphorisms Political no. 85, in Political Works, ed. Pocock, 773.
[4. ]In these early pages Turnbull is focused on Clarke’s Sermon 119, in The Works of Samuel Clarke, D.D., 4 vols. (London, 1738), vol. 2.