Page images

such a person.

criines, that no man can come to the throne of God and say, I am a better man than ROUSSEAU*

Notwithstanding the above unworthy circumstances, it must be owned that Rousseau's writings have great literary merit, but then they contain principles which might be expected from

He has exhausted all the powers of reasoning, and all the charms of eloquence in the cause of anarchy and irreligion. And his writings are so much the more dangerous, as he winds himself into favour with the unwary, by an eternal cant about virtue and liberty. He seems to have assumed the mask of virtue, for no other purpose than that of propagating, with more certain success, the blackest and most incorrigible vice.

This was the man and the writer whom the Constituent Assembly held up to the imitation and even adoration of the poor deluded French populace. He and VOLTAIRE, who never could agree in life, are placed by each other's side in death, and made the standard of French principles and religion to all future generations.

We have seen how VOLTAIRE terminated his earthly career, we shall find ROUSSEAU expiring with a lie in his mouth, and the inost impious appeal to the Divine Being, that was ever made by mortal man.

“ Ah! my dear,” said he to his wife, or mistress, just before he expired; “ how happy a thing is it to die, when one has ne reason for remorse, or self-reproach!"— And then, addressing himself to the ALMIGHTY, he said, “ ETERNAL Being! the soul that I am going to give thee back, is as pure, at this moment, as it was when it proceeded from thee: render it partaker of thy felicity !”

These twelve examples are such as to give but little encouragement to any person, who has a proper concern for his own welfare, to embark, either in the atheistic or deistic schemes. In those cases, where conscience was awake, the unhappy men were filled with anguish and amazement inexpressible. And in those cases where conscience seemed to be asleep, there appears nothing enviable in their situation, even upon their own supposition, that there is no after-reckoning.

* The above account of this strange man is taken from his owu Confessions, PETER PORCUPINE's Bloody Buoy, and the accounts' published of his death.

If to die like an ass be a privilege, I give them joy of it! much good may it do them! May I die like a Christian, having a hope blooning with immortal expectations !

Let us turn from these horrible instances of perverted reason, and take a view of some more promising scenes.



« If, sick of folly, I relent, he writes
My name in heav'n.”

13. CHARLES GILDON, author of a book called the Oracles of Reason, was convinced of the fallacy of his own arguments against religion, and the danger of his situation, by reading LESLIE's Short Method with a Deist. He afterwards wrote a defence of Revealed Religion, entitled The Deist's Manual, and died in the Christian faith.

14. The late Lord LITTLETON, author of the History of Henry the Second, and his friend GILBERT West, Esq. had both imbibed the principles of Unbelief, and had agreed together to write something in favour of Infidelity. To do this more effectually, they judged it necessary, first to acquaint themselves pretty well with the contents of the Bible. By the perusal of that book, however, they were both convinced of their error: both became converts to the religion of CHRIST Jesus: both took up their pens and wrote in favour of it*; the former, his Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul;

ATHENAGORAS, a famous Athenian philosopher in the second century, had entertained so unfavourable an opinion of the Christian religion, that he was determined to write against it; but upon an intimate enquiry into the facts on which it was supported, in the course of his collecting materials for his intended publication, he was convinced by the blaze of evidence in its favour, and turned his designed invective into an elaborate apology, which is still in being.

The above Mr. West, writing to Dr. DODDRIDGE on the publication of his Memoirs of Colonel GARDINER, ascribes his own conversion from a state of Infidelity, into which he had been seduced, to the care his mother had taken in his education. “ I cannot help taking notice,” says he,“ of your remarks upon the advantage of an early education in the principles of religion, because I have myself most happily experienced it; since I owe, to ihe early care of a most excellent woman, my mother, that bent and bias to religion, which, with the co-operating grace of God, hath at length brought me back to

[ocr errors]

the latter, his Observations on the Resurrection of Christ;
and both died in peace.
those paths of peace from whence I might have otherwise been in
danger of deviating for ever!"

Dr. JOHNSON tells us, that “ Lord LITTLETON, in the pride of juvenile confidence, with the help of corrupt conversation, entertained doubts of the truth of Christianity; but he thought afterwards it was no longer fit to doubt, or believe by chance; and therefore applied himself seriously to the great question. His studies being honest, ended in conviction. He found that Religion was true, and, what he had learned, he endeavoured to teach, by Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul; a treatise to which Infidelity has never been able to fabricate a specious answer.” Two days previous to his dissolution, this great and good man addressed his Physician in these memorable words: “ Doctor, you shall be my confessor. When I first set out in the world, I had friends who endeavoured to shake my belief in the Christian religion. I saw difficulties which staggered me, but I kept my mind open to conviction. The evidences and doctrines of Christianity, studied with attention, made me a most firm and persuaded believer of the Christian religion. I have made it the rule of my life, and—it is the ground of my future hopes."

The conversion of the Rev. JOHN NEWTON, late Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, in London, is also extremely remarkable. He was born of religious parents, and brought up in his younger years in a religious manner. The impressions of this kind seemed to be strong and deep. At length, however, the admonitions of conscience, which, from successive repulses, had grown weaker and weaker, entirely ceased; he commenced Infidel, and for tho space of

many months, if not for some years, he does not recollect that he had a single check of that sort. "At times he was visited with sickness, and believed himself near to death; but lie had not, like Mr. PAINE in the same situation, the least concern about the consequences. He seemed to have every mark of final inpenitence and rejection; neither judgments nor mercies made the least impression on him.

In this unhappy condition he continued a number of years, all the time iinproving himself under very unpropitious circumstances, in classical and mathematical learning. At the age of about twenty-three or twenty-four, however, it pleased God to call him by his grace, out of darkness and delusion into his marvellous light, and in due time, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. He has lived now for many years under the

power and influence of religion, and has been an eminent instrument of good to many thousands of souls by his preaching and writings.

It is remarkable, that, in this case, also, a religious education seemed to be the remote means of his conversion, after all his wanderings from the path of duty.

Au account may be seen at large, in bis Letters to the Reverend Dr. Haweis, of this very extraordinary business. The Narrative, is, at the same time, useful and entertaining.

15. Sir John PRINGLE, one of the first characters of the present age, though blessed with a religious education, contracted the principles of Infidelity, when he came to travel abroad in the world. But as he scorned to be an implicit Believer, he was equally averse to being an implicit Unbeliever. He therefore sets himself to examine the principles of the Gospel of CHRIST, with all caution and seriousness. The result of his investigation was, a full conviction of the divine origin and authority of the Gospel. The evidence of Revelation appeared to him to be solid and invincible; and the nature of it to be such as demanded his warmest" acceptance.

16. SOAME JENYNGS, Esq: Member of Parliament for Cambridge, by some means had been warped aside into the paths of Infidelity, and continued in this state of mind several years. Finding his spirit, however, not at rest, he was induced to examine the grounds upon which his Unbelief was founded. He discovered his error; was led to believe in the SAVIOUR of mankind; and wrote a small treatise in defence of the Gospel, entitled, A view of the internal Evidences of Christianity; a work worthy the perusal of every man who wishes to understand the excellency of the religion be professes.

17. Doctor OLIVER, a noted Physician at Bath, was a zealous Unbeliever till within a short time of his death. Being convinced of his error, and the danger of his situation, he bewailed his past conduct with strong compunction of heart, and gave up his spirit at last, in confident expectation of mercy from God, through the merit of that SAVIOUR, whom, for many years he had ridiculed and opposed. “Oh!" said he, that I could undo the mischief which I have done! I was more ardent to poison people with the principles of irreligion and unbelief, than almost any Christian can be to spread the doctrines of CHRIST."

18. General DYKERN received a mortal wound at the bat. tle of Bergen in Germany, A. D. 1759. He was of a noble family, and possessed equal abilities as a minister in the closet, and a general in the field, being favoured with a liberal education. Having imbibed the principles of Infidelity, by some means or other, he continued a professed Deist, till the time be received his fatal wound. During his illness, however, a great and effectual change was wronght upon bis mind by the power of divine grace, and he died in the full assurance of faith, glorying in the salvation of Jesus, and wondering at the happy change which had taken place in his soul*!

19. John, Earl of Rochester, was a great man every way, a great wit, a great scholar, a great poet, a great sinner, and a great penitent. His life was written by Bishop BURNET, and his funeral sermon was preached and published by Mr. PARSONS. Dr. JOHNSON, speaking of BURNET's Life of this Nobleman, says, “ The critic ought to read it for its elegance, the philosopher for its argument, and the saint for its piety.”

His Lordship, it appears, had advanced to an uncommon height of wickedness, having been an advocate in the black cause of atheism, and an encomiast to Beelzebub. He had raked too in the very bottom of the jakes of debauchery, and had been a satyrist against religion itself. But when, like the prodigal in the Gospel, he came to himself, his inind was filled with the most extreme horror, which forced sharp and bitter invectives from him against himself; terming himself the vilest wretch on whom the sun ever shone; wishing he had been a crawling leper in a ditch, a link-boy, or a beggar, or had lived in a dungeon, rather than have offended God in the manner he had done.

Upon the first visit of Mr. PARSONS to him on May 26th, 1680, after a journey from the West, he found him labouring under great trouble of inind, and his conscience full of terror. The Earl told him—“When on his journey, he had been arguing with greater vigour against God and Religion, than ever he had done in his life-time before, and that he had been resolved to run them down with all the argument and spite in the world; but like the great convert, St. Paul, he found it hard to kick against God.” At this time, however, his heart was so powerfully affected, that he argued as much for God and Religion, as ever he had done against them. He had such tremendous apprehensions of the Divine MAJESTY, mingled with such delightful contemplations of his nature and perfections, and of the amiableness of religion,

* See this extraordinary case more at large in DE COETLOGON'S Divine Treasury, p. 27.

« PreviousContinue »