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The theological system of a Christian is : that God, who, at sundry times and in diverse manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son; whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and by whom also he made the worlds: who, being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high *.
The theological system of the infidel is: that all religions, claiming to be revelations from heaven, are alike impostures upon the
* Heb. i. 1-3.
blind credulity of mankind ; that the only religion, worthy of a philosophical deist, is uninspired natural religion ; and that, as human reason alone is amply sufficient to guide us into all needful truth, a divine communication is no less unnecessary in the abstract, than all pretensions to such communication are false in the concrete.
If we ask the specific ground, on which the latter system is preferred to the former ; we are told, that the religion of the Bible is hampered by too many difficulties to be rationally credible: and these difficulties are forthwith produced and expatiated upon with no small degree of triumphant satisfaction.
But here a question naturally rises, whether the deistical scheme itself, in all its component parts, be free from difficulties and objections: for that, which is preferred to Christianity on the express score of the difficulties attendant upon revealed religion, ought certainly in reason to be as free as possible from all liability to the unpleasantness of a direct and well-founded retort.
In the following discussion, the question now before us is answered in the negative. Its purpose is to shew, not only that Infidelity has its own proper difficulties as well as Christianity, but that those difficulties are incomparably greater and more formidable: for, while the alleged difficulties attendant upon Christianity have repeatedly met with an adequate solution, though deistical writers are accustomed confidently to urge and rëurge them without taking the slightest notice of the answers which have been so often afforded; the difficulties attendant upon Infidelity are of such a nature, that they never can be solved to the satisfaction of an unbiassed and rational inquirer. Hence results the plain and self-evident conclusion, that, since Infidelity is encumbered by more and greater difficulties than Christianity, to adopt the infidel system evinces more credulity than to adopt the Christian system.
The principle, in fine, of the argument, which has been prosecuted throughout the ensuing pages, is the reductio ad absurdum. By a specification of the immense and insuperable difficulties which on all sides beset his system, the deistical infidel, even on ground of his own selection, is convicted of gross irrationality.
August 6, 1823.
It will be proper to state, that this work was written as a competitory Treatise on the proposition, That there is more credulity in the disbelief of Christianity than in the belief of it: a proposition, which was adopted by the Church Union Society in the Diocese of St. David's as the subject of their Essay for the year 1823.
January 20th, 1824.