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saith of Atheism is equally true of Deism: “ A little philosophy, inclineth man's mind to Atheism ; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to Religion!" Our great moral Poet, too, will teach us the same lesson:
“A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Aud drinking largely sobers us again*." What then if THOMAS PAINE, who is well known to be both illiterate and immoral, insolent and satirical (ill qualifications for the discovery of moral and religious truth, which consists in purity, modesty, humility, sobriety, and goodness) though otherwise a man of good natural understanding, is an unbeliever in the divine mission of the Son of God? It may be some consolation to remember, that the first characters, wlio ever adorned our world, in every department of human life, have not been ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Every man would do well to reflect, in these days of abounding licentiousness, by way of supporting the mind against the ridicule of professed Deists, that the Divines, Butler, and BentLEY, and BARROW, and BERKLEY, and CUDWORTH, and CLARKE, aud SHERLOCK, and DODDRIDGE, and LARDNER, and PEARSON, and TAYLOR, and Usher, and a thousand more, were believers * :.that the Poets, SPENCER, and WALmost in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination." - Tatler, No. 267.
* “ The Christian Religion,” says another great writer, “ has nothing to apprehend from the strictest investigation of the most learned of its adversaries; it suffers only from the misconceptions of sciolists, and silly pretenders to superior wisdom. A little learning is far more dangerous to the faith of those who possess it than ignorance itself.”
+ It has been conceived, through mistake, that the author intended in this place to vouch for the genuine piety of every individual of the long list bere enumerated. But this was by no means necessary to his argun.ent, however favourably he might have conceived of the generality of these characters. He is arguing simply here for the Truth of the Scriptures; and the drift of his argument is, that they have approved themselves, respecting their veracity, to the understandings of the greatest and inost eniightened geniuses; and wiihstood the scrutiny of the most deep and critical investigation. This is precisely the argument adopted by Lord Chancellor ERSKINE, when counsel in the prosecution against WILLIAMS, referred to in the Preface. Our Author kiew too well LER, and Cowley, and Prior, and THOMPSON, and GRAY, and Young, and Milton, were believers : that the Statesmen, Hyde, and SOMERS, and Cullen, and PULTNEY, and Howard, and King, and BARRINGTON, and LITTLETON, with nuinberless more *, were believers: that the Moralists, STEEL, and Addison, and HawkSWORTH, and JOHNson, were believers: that the Physicians, ARBÚTHNOT, and CHEYNE, and BROWN, and BOERHAAVE, and PRINGLE, and HARTLEY, and HALLER, and MEAD, and FOTHERGILL, were believers : that the Lawyers, Hale, and Melmoth, and FORBES, and HAILES, and PRATT, and BLACKSTONE, and Jonest, were believers: that the Philosophers, PASCAL, and GROTIUS, and Ray, and Cotes, and FERGUSON, and ADAMS, and Locke, and Euler, and NEWTON, were believers.. Where is the great misfortune, then, to the interests of religion, if luke-warm Christians of every persuasion betray the cause they pretend to espouse; and if Unbelieters of every description imagine a vain thing against the ReDEEMER of mankind, and the Book which he hath caused to be written for our instruction. Nothing less than demonstration on the side of Infidelity should induce any man to the difference between the mere assent of the understanding to the truth of the Scriptures, and their saving influence on the heart, to urake any confusion between them. A man may be a true believer in the authenticity of the Scriptures, while he is a very infidel as to the obedience he pays to them.-EDITOR.
* WASHINGTON was lately a living character, and generally allowed to be one of the first of warriors, the first of politicians, and wortliest of men. The same gentleman is the delight of “ admiring and astonished world, and yet-hear it, o ye minute philosophiers of degenerate Europe he was a Christian !
# It is a pleasure to hear such men as the honourable THOMAS (now Lord) EKSKINE, one of the first orators of the age, come boldly forward in favour of the Gospel of JESUS. mau ever existed," says he, “ who is more alive to every thing consiected with the Christian faith than I am, or more unalterably impreseed with its truths."-View of the Causes, &c. p. 56.
: We are well aware that the truth of Christianity cannot be established by authority. But if its truth cannot be so established; neither can its falsehood. Indeed no man can be a competent judge, either of the truth or falsehood of the Gospel, who has not turned his attention to it for a considerable time with all seriousness of mind, and with a considerable share of literary information. We may experience its saving power, but we are ill qualified to defend its veracity.
resist the momentum that these venerable names give in favour of the Gospel. Many of them were the ornaments of human nature, whether we consider the wide range of their abilities, the great extent of their learning and knowledge, or the piety, integrity, and beneficence of their lives. These eminent characters, Bacon, NEWTON, Locke, BOYLE, DITTON, ADDISON, HARTLEY, LITTLETON, WOODWARD, PRINGLE, HALLER, JONES, BOERHAAVE, Milton, GROrius, BARRINGTON and Euler*, in particular, firmly adhered to the belief of Christianity, after the most diligent and exact researches into the life of its FOUNDER, the authenticity of its records, the completion of the prophecies, the sublimity of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, and the arguments of its adversaries. Here, you will remark, was no priest-craft. These were all men of independent principles, and the most liberal and enlarged minds. They investigated the pretensions of the Gospel to the bottom; they were not only satisfied with the justice of its claims, but they gloried in it as a most benevolent and god-like schemet; and they all endeavoured,
* It is said of this great Christian philosopher, in the General Biographical Dictionary, that few men of letters have written so much as he. His memory shall endure, continues his biographer, till science herself is no more. No geometrician has ever embraced so many objects at one time, or has equalled him, either in the variety or magnitude of his discoveries. He had read all the Latin classics, could repeat the whole Æneid of Virgil by heart; was perfect master of ancient mathematical literature; had the history of all ages and nations, even to the minutest facts, ever present to his mind; was acquainted with physic, botany, and chemistry; was possessed of every qualification that could render a man estimable. Yet this man, accomplished as he was, was filled with respect for Religion. His piety was sincere, and his devotion full of fervour. He went through all his Christian duties with the greatest attention. He loved all mankind, and if ever he felt a motion of indignation, it was against the enemies of Religion, particularly against the declared apostles of Infidelity. Against the objections of these men he defended Revelation in a work published at Berlin, in 1747.
+ Dr. DISNEY ALEXANDER, a physician now living, was favoured with a religious education, and brougbt up with a view to the church. By mixing with the world as he advanced in life, he lost his religious impressions. At this tiine he began to read the writings of Messrs. JEBB, LINDSEY, and PRIESTLEY, and became a confirmed Socinian. In this state of mind, he met with the writings of HelveTius and VOLTAIRE. He read them with avidity, and it was not long before he commenced Deist. In this state of mind he continued
if not by their oral discourses, yet by their immortal writings, ta recommend it to the general reception of mankind. It was their study in life, and their solace in death.
Why then are so many of our fellow-creatures found to oppose, with such malignant virulence, what these great men have so successfully laboured to establish? The reason, in most cases, is obvious. They will not have this man reign over them, because he is not to their taste. And they oppose the Bible, because it condemns their practice. For if JESUS is indeed the only SAVIOUR of mankind, and if the declarations of Scripture are at all to be regarded, their situation is desperate, and they cannot escape the condemnation which is therein denounced against all such characters. Other reasons, however, may be given for such a preposterous conduct. Abundance of men are so neglected at first in their religious education, and when grown up to maturity are so immersed in the pleasures and pursuits of life, that they never give themselves leisure to examine into the foundation of religion. They are as inattentive to it, as if it was none of their concern.
This seems to have been the case with the learned Dr. HALLEY. For when he was throwing out, upon a time, some indecent reflections against Christianity, his friend Sir ISAAC NEWTON stopt hiin short, and addressed him in these, or the like words, which imply that this great astronomer bad employed his life in studying only the book of nature :-“ Dr. HALLEY, I am always glad to hear you, when you speak about astronomy, or other parts of the mathematics, because that is a subject you have studied, and well understand: but you should not talk of Christianity, for you have not studied it: I have; and am certain you know nothing of the matter*." some years, applauding his own superior discernment, and triumphing in his boasted freedom from the shackles of the Gospel. NecKER's book on the Importance of Religious Opinions, however, falling accidently into his hands, the fame of the author induced him to read it. Here his Infidelity received a shock; his mind underwent another change; and he was partly brought back to Religion. Some months after this again PALEY's Evidences of Christianity were recommended to him. He bought the book. He read it eagerly twice over in a little time with great care. He was convinced-and is now a zealous and happy Christian. This is his own account pubJished in the Armenian Magazine,
* See the Life of Mr. EMLYN for this anecdote. There is a
Many other persons, possessed of some discernment, observe the hypocricy of several of the greatest pretenders to religion: they see them no better, and scarce even so good as some who make less pretensions; and this becomes an insuperable offence to them. If these discerning men, however, would attend more to their own conduct, and less to the misconduct of others, it would be much happier for them, and more to their honour. Can any thing be more sonable than that the Gospel should be made answerable for all the weaknesses, vices, and follies of its advocates? Will Philosophy endure to be tried by this test? The fact is, truth is a stubborn thing, and does not Auctuate with the varying whims and opinions of men.
Every person must give an account of bimself unto God. Hypocrites have no encouragement from the Bible. Why should any man, therefore, make their hypocrisy an objection to that Bible? Let the blame fall where it belongs. The fate of such persons is fixed by the Judge of the world himself. Their false pretensions are utterly disclaimed by him. Not every one that saith unto me, LORD, LORD, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he thut dorth the will of my FATHER which is in heaven. Many shall say unto me in that day, LORD, LORD, have we not prophecied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works; but then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, that work iniquity.
The weakness, folly, and enthusiasm; the noise and nonsense of the zealots
anong all the denominations of Christians, is another cause of the Infidelity of the age. Unbelievers see the absurdity of their pretensions and proceedings, sufficient account of the reasons for Dr. HALLEY's Infidelity in GOADBY's British Biography, vol. viii. p. 37.
* The extravagancies of sone of the German Anabaptists, the French Prophets, the English Quakers, Puritans, and Methodists, have given great and just offence to niany sensible and well-disposed people, and been instrumental in driving no small number into downright indifference to all religion; while others have contracted the most inveterate principles of Infidelity. But shall the follies of a few mistaken individuals subvert the nature of things, and the laws of everlasting truth? Because some men are weak, silly, enthusiastic, and enflamed with spiritual pride, shall we take upon us to say, there is no such thing as sound religion and good sense in the world? This would be to make ourselves as weak and culpable as those we