Page images
PDF
EPUB

your own mind.

quainted with all the secrets of the invisible world? Your ipse dixit will go no further than ours. We say there is such a Being, and we appeal to all history; especially to the writings of the Old and New Testaments, the evidence of which is such as no man ever did, or ever can fairly answer. The Son of God, the Messenger from the invisible state, hath taught us this doctrine*; and we are firmly persuaded, it is acting a more rational part to give credit to his information, concerning the invisible world, than to trust to the vague, uncertain, and contradictory lights of a vain philosophy. What have you to reply?-_" There is no such Being in nature."-And so your affirmation or negation is to be the standard of truth !-A little more modesty might become you well: certainly it would make you the more amiable men, and not less comfortable in

But, suppose there be no Devil; what do you gain?Still man is a rational creature, and you are under the moral, as well as the natural government of the Divine Being, And if you have been dexterous enough to get clear of one enemy, you have two yet left, the world and your own nature -your lusts and passions within you, and the allurements of visible objects without you. Can you deny the existence of these? And are you perfectly sure, that you shall be able to wage a successful warfare with two such potent adversaries ?

You see then, MY COUNTRYMEN, that when you have hooted the Bible out of the world, proved the Virgin Mary to be a bad woman, Jesus Christ to be an illegitimate child, and annihilated the Devil-wonderful feats! worthy of all praise !---you must not stop here. There is no safety for you, till you have also annihilated the Maker and GOVERNOR of the world. Atheism must be your dernier resortt. For if there be a God, every immoral man will

* The Bible is full of the doctrine of fallen angels. See especially Matt. x. 1.-Ibid. xxv. 41.-Mark v. 8, 9.-John viii. 44. 2 Cor. xi. 14, 15.-- James ii. 19.-2 Peter ii. 4.-1 John iii. 8. Jude 6.

* ANTIPHANES, a very ancient Poet, who lived near a hundred years before SOCRATES, hath strongly expressed his expectatios of future existence: “ Be not grieved,” says he, “ above measure for tliy deceased friends. They are not dead, but have only finished that journey which it is necessary for every one of us to take. We Ourselves must go to that great place of reception in which they

be, ere long, a miserable man. You must, therefore, to be consistent, and obtain composure in your irreligious courses, plunge headlong into the gulpls of Atheism *.-But then, , what will you do with reason and conscience, those troublesome inmates of the buman bosom? Can you bring your selves calmly to believe, that this beautiful frame of nature, which displays so much intelligence, wisdom, power, good ness, justice, art, design, is the work of chance? That, are all assembled, and, in this general rendezvous of mankind, live together in another state of being."

Spectator, No. 289. * Books proper to be consulted against Atheism may be these that follow :-NIEUWENTYT's Religious Philosopher —ADAMS's Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy --CLARKE's Discourse concerning the Being and Attributes of God-Baxter's Matho-NECKER's Importance of Religious Opinions-Bishop CUMBERLAND on the Laws of Nature-BENTLEY's Boyle's Lectures-RAY's Wisdom of God in the Works of Creation-WOLLAS-, TON's Religion of Nature - WESLEY's Survey of the Wisdom of God in the CreationDERHAM's Physico and Astro-Theology-CUD WORTH's True Intellectual System-Bishop WILKINS on Natural Religion-Sturm's Reflections on the Works of GOD-Spectacle de. la Nature, by LE PLUCHE--and Fenelon's Demonstration of the Existence, IVisdom, and Omnipotence of God, drawn from the knowledge of Nature, particularly of Man, and fitted to the meanest capacity. This is a fine little work, and worthy of its great author. To these may be added also SWAMMERDAM's Book of Nature Bonner's Philosophical Researches, and PIERRE's Studies of Nature, abound with much ingenious matter in proof of the DIVINE EXISTENCE [*].

I transcribe the names of such a variety of authors both here, and on former pages, not out of any vain and foolish ostentation; but, to inform the less experienced reader, to what books he may have recourse, if he find it necessary for the peace and satisfaction of his own mind. But there is no proof of the existence of God, and the truth of Christianity, so consolatory, as the experimental and heartfelt knowledge of God, and of bis Son JESUS CHRIST. Indeed, alt other proofs, without this, are to little purpose, and this is independent of every other argument; for though it canuot with propriety be adduced for the conviction of Unbelievers, it is calculated io yield more satisfaction to our own bosoms than the most laboured arguments that reach the understanding only. Poor people, whose minds have taken a religious turn, usually rest their salvation upon this experimental conviction alone.

[*] Great as are the evils that PALEY has brought on us, by leaching the clergy the art of prevarication, the christian world is certainly much indebted to him for his able treatises on the Evidences of Christianity and Natural Theology; which cannot be too warmly recommended.-EDITOR.

Α Α

admirable piece of mechanism your own body, the meanest insect that crawls upon the ground, nay, the very wateh in your pocket, will confute the supposition. You must, there fore, you see, come back to and embrace the Religion of Jesus with us Believers. You cannot find rest, upon the principles of sound reason, in any other system. For though the Gospel is attended with various and great difficulties, as every view of both the natural and moral world unquestionably is; yet it is attended with the fewest difficulties, and none but such as are honestly superable; and is, at the same tine, the most comfortable and happy institution that ever was proposed to the consideration and acceptance of reason able creatures. Nothing was ever so pure, so benevolent, so divine, so perfective of human nature, so adapted to the wants and circumstances of mankind. To live under the full power of it, is to have the proper enjoyment of life*. To believe and obey it, is to be entitled to a crown that fadeth

not away,

Upon the supposition, that the person, whom we call the Saviour of the world, had no commission from heaven to make the will of God known to mankind, would it not be one of the greatest of miracles, that he and his twelve followers, poor, unlettered, and obscure men, should have brouglit to light a system of doctrines the most sublime, and of morals the most perfect? that Jesus and the Fishermen of Galilee should have far surpassed Socrates, Plato, Cịcero, and all the greatest men of the most enlightened period of the world that every thing they advanced should perfectly agree both with the natural, civil, and religious history of mankind that their discourses should still be capable of improving and delighting the most learned and profound geniuses of these latter agest that all modern

*** There is not a single precept in the Gospel, without excepting that which ordains the forgiveness of injuries, or that which cominands every one to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, which is not calculated to promote our happiness.”

Sir Isaac Newton has given us a demonstration of the existence and intelligence of the DIVINE BEING, in the close of his Principia, which the atheistical reacter would do well to consider at his leisure. And to the above books against Atheism should be added a very excellent and satisfactory Discourse by Archbishop TILLOTSON on the Wisdom of being Religious,

+ NEWTON accounted the Scriptures the most sublime philosophy, and never inentioned the word~God--but with a pause. See

discoveries should bear witness to the truth of the facts recorded in the most venerable of all Volumes ? and that every book in the world, sacred or profane, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, or: Mahometan, instead of lessening, should establish the credit and authority of the Bible as a revelation from heaven * !

Bishop Watson's Two Sermons and Charge, p. 9, where this is asserted. The same thing is recorded of the Honourable ROBERT Boyle, by Bishop BURNET. How different the conduct of our Minute Philosophers?

* Mr. Waiston, in his Astronomical Principles of Religion, gives us a short view of the reasons, which induced him to believe the Jewish and Christian revelations to be true. These reasons are the following:

1. “The revealed religion of the Jews and Christians law of nature for its foundation; and all along supports and assists natural religion; as every true revelation ought to do.

2. “ Astronomy, and the rest of our certain mathematic sciences, do confirm the accounts of Scripture, so far as they are concerned.

3. “ The most antient and best historical accounts now known do, generally speaking, confirm the accounts of Scripture, so far as they are concerned.

4. "The more learning has encreased, the more certain, in general, do the Scripture accounts appear; and its difficult places are more cleared thereby.

5. "There are, or have been generally, standing memorials pre. served of the certain truths of the principal historical facts, which were constant evidences for the certainty of them.

6. “ Neither the Mosaical law, nor the Christian religion, could possibly have been received and established without such iniracles as the sacred history contains.

7. " Although the Jews all along hated and persecuted the prophets of God; yet were they forced to believe they were true prophets, and their writings of divine inspiration.

8..“ The ancient and present state of the Jewish nation are strong arguments for the truth of their law, and of the Scripture prophecies relating to them.

9. “ The ancient and present state of the Christian church are also strong arguments for the truth of the Gospel, and of the Scrip- ture prophecies relating thereto.

10. “ The miracles, whereon the Jewish and Christian religion are founded, were of old owned to be true by their

enemies. 11. “ The sacred writers, who lived in times and places so remote from one another, do yet all carry on one and the same grand design; namely, that of the salvation of mankind, by the worship of, and obedience to, the one true God, in and through the king. Messiah: which, without a divine conduct, could never have been dope.

very

: This is nore extraordinary still, when it is considered that the object of our SAVIOUR's religion is new, the doctrine pew, bis personal character new*, and the religion, itself

12. "

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The principal doctrines of the Jewish and Christian religion are agreeable to the most ancient traditions of all other nations.

13. “ The difficulties relating to this religion are not such as affect the truth of the facts, but the conduct of Providence: the reasons of which the sacred writers never pretend fully to know, or to reveal to mankind.

14. “ Natural religion, which is yet so certain in itself, is 'nót without such difficulties as to the couduct of Providence, as are objerted to Revelation,

15. “ The Sacred History has the greatest marks of trutlı, honesty, and impartiality of all other histories whatsoever; and withal has none of the known marks of knavery and imposture.

16. “ The predictions of Scripture have been still fulfilled in the several ages of the world whereto tliey belong.

17. “ No opposite systems of the universe, or sebemes of divine revelation, have any tolerable pretences to be true, but those of the Jews and Christians.'

These are the plain and obvious arguments, which persuade me of the truth of the Jewish and Christian revelatious, wlrich I earnestly recommend to the farther consideration of the inquisitive reader.”

# The four Evangelists," of whom such contemptuous things have been spoken by Mr. Paine and others, “ have done, without appearing to have intended it, what was never perforired by any authors before or since. They have drawn a perfect human character, without a single flaw! They have given the tristory of one, 'whose spirit, words, and actions, were in every particular what they onght to have been'; who always did the very thing which was proper, and in the best manner imaginable; who never once deviated from the most consummate wisdom, purity, benevolence, compassion, meekpess, humility, fortitude, patience, piety, zeal, and every other excellency; and wlio in no instance let one virtue or holy disposition entrench on another; but exercised them all in entire harinony and exact proportion! The more the histories of the Evangelists are examined, the clearer will this appear; and the more evidently will it be perceived, that they all coincide in the view they give of their Lord's character. This subject challenges investigation, and sets Infidelity at defiance! Either these four men exceeded in genius and capacity all the writers that ever lived, or they wrote under the special guidance of divine inspiration; for without labour or affectation they bave effected, what hath battled all others, who have set themselves purposely to accomplish it,

Industry, ingenuity, and malice have, for ages, béen eiúployed, in endeavouring to prove the Evangelists inconsistent with each other; but not a single contradiction has been proved upon them?

!!!! This quotation is taken from the Rev.'T. SCOTT'S Aristeozoto PAINE's Age of Reason. The whole forms a satisfactory antidots

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »