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ing their consciences seared as with an hot iron, they are insensible to the vast realities of the invisible world, brave it out, and sport blindfold on the brink of destruction, after the manner of Servin, Hume, Emerson, and several of the late French philosophers. But surely a conduct of this kind is highly unbecoming men of wisdom, even upon their own supposition, that death is an eternal sleep. Is annihilation so small a matter, that a man can look upon it with complacency? Hume's conduct was infinitely unnatural. It was the effect of pride and sophistical philosophy. “ He had a vanity in being thought easy,” as Johnson observes,
" That must be our cures
this intellectual being,
Devoid of sense and motion ?" It will be the concern of every wise man, therefore, to take warning in time, to be cautious how he gives credit to the representations of unbelievers, and consider well what the end of our present state of trial will be. It is an easy business to revile and stigmatize the Bible. Few things more so. Any smatterer in learning, who hath got a wicked heart, a witty head, and a comfortable flow of scurrilous language, is competent to the task. Examples of this kind we moet with in every neighbourhood. Profound scholars, however, and modest men, have always been incapable of such conduct. What lord Bacon 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.”(4)
(4) Bacon was a serious believer in the gospel of Christ, and hath given us his creed -In a prayer which he wrote upon a certain occasion, he addresses the Almighty by saying—“Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temples."
Our great moral poet too, will teach us the same leşe
" A little learning is a dangerous thing;
But drinking largely sobers us again.”(5) What then if Paine, who is 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, who 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 consider, 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 Berkeley, and Cudworth, and Clarke, and Sherlock, and Doxidridge, and Lardner, and Pearson, and Taylor, and Usher, and Watts, and a thousand more, were believers : that the poets, Spencer, and Waller, and Cowley, and Prior, and Thomson, and Gray, and Young,
Steel gives us a fine character of this extraordinary person :" He was a man who for greatness of genius, and conipass of knowledge, did honour to his age and country; one might almost say, to human nature itself. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive know. ledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to adınire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination.”
(5) 56. The Christian religion 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 pretend. ers to superior wisdom. A little learning is far more dangerous to the faith of those who possess it, than ignorance itself.".
and Milton, and Cowper, were believers: that the statesmen, Hyde, and Somers, and Cullen, and Pulteney, and Howard, and Harrington, and King, and Barrington, and Lyttleton, with numberless more, (6) were believers: that the moralists, Steel, and Addison, and Hawkesworth, and Johnson, were believers: that the physicians, Arbuthnot, and Cheyne, and Browne, 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 Jones,(7) were believers; that the philosophers, Pascal, and Grotius, and Ray, and Cotes, and Ferguson, and Adams, and Locke, and Euler, and Newton, were believers.(8) Where is the great misfortune, then, to the interests of religion, if lukewarm Christians, of every persuasion, betray the cause they pretend to espouse; and if unbelievers 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 resist the momentum that these venerable names give in favour of the gospel. Many of them,
(6) Washington was one of the first of Warriors, the first of politicians, and the worthiest of men. He was the delight of an admiring and astonished world; and yet hear it, О ye minute philosophers of degenerate Europe he was a serious Christian!
(7) It is a pleasure to hear such men as Erskine, the first orator of the age, come boldly forward in favour of the gospel of Je. sus. “No man ever existed, who is more alive to every thing connected with the Christian faith, than I am, or more unalterably impressed with its truths.”
18) 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 eracity,
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, Grotius, Barrington, and Euler,(9) in particular, firmly adhered to the belief of Christianity, after the most diligent and strict 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 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 godlike scheme ;(30) and they all endeavoured, if not by their oral discourses, yet by their immortal
(9) It is said of this great Christian philosopher, that few men of letters have written so much as he. His memory shall endure, 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 Æneis 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 esti-, mable. 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 feltą motion of indignation, it was against the enemy 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.
(30) Dr. Alexander was favoured with a religious education, and brought up with a view to the church. By mixing with the world as he advanced in life, he lost his religious impressions. At this time he began to read the wrftings of Jebb; Lindsey,
writings, to recommend it to the general reception of mankind. It was their study in life, 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 to reign over them, because he is not to their taste. 'They' oppose the Bible because it condemns their practice. For if Jesus be indeed the only Saviour of mankind, and if the declarations of Scripture be 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 inattentive to it, as if it was none of their concern. This seems to have been the case with Halley. For when he was once throwing out some indecent reflections against christianity, Newton stopt him short, and addressed him in these words, which
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 comnienced deist. In this state of mind he continued for some years, applauding his own superior discernment, and triumph. ing in his boasted freedom from the shackles of the-gospel. Neckar's book on the Importance of Religions Opinions, how. ever, falling accidentally 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 Evi. dences of Christianity were recommended to him. He bought the book. He read it eagerly twice over in little time with great care. He was convinced and is now a zealous and happy Christian :