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Deists, Jews, & Christians.
WHETHER the writer of these sheets can jusly hope that what he advances will attra& the attention of unbelievers, he does not pretend to say. If however it should fall into the hands of individuals amongst them, he earnestly entreats that for their own sakes they would attend to what follows with seriousness.
It is hoped that nothing in the preceding
T pages can be fairly construed into a want of good will towards any of you. .
If I know my heart, it is not you, but your mischievous principles that are the objects of my dislike.
In the former part of this performance I have endeavoured to prove, that the system which you embrace overlooks the moral character of God, refuses to worship him, affords no standard of right and wrong, undermines the most efficacious motives to virtuous action, actually produces a torrent of vice, and leaves mankind, under all their iniseries, to perish without hope ; in fine, that it is
an immoral system, pregnant with destruction to the human race. Unless you be able to overturn what is there advanced, or, at least, be conscious that it is not true with regard to yourselves, you have reason to be seriously alarmed. To embrace a system of immorality is the same thing as to be enemies to all righteousness; neither to fear God, nor regard man; and what good fruit can you pect to reap from it, in this world or another, it is difficult to conceive. But alas, instead of being alarmed at the immorality of your principles, is there no reason to suspect that it is on this very account you cherish them? You can occasionally praise the morality of Jesus Christ; but are you sincere? Why then do you not walk by it? However you may magnify other difficulties, which you have industriously laboured to discover in the Bible, your actions declare that it is the holinefs of its doctrines and precepts, that more than any thing else offends you. The manifest object at which you aim, both for yourselves and the world, is an exemption from its restraints. Your general conduct, if put into words, amounts to this; Come, let us break his bands, and cast away his cords from
Circumstances of late years have much favoured your design. Your party has gained the afcendency in a great nation, and has been consequently increasing in other nations. Hence it is, perhaps, that your spirits are raised, and that a higher
one is assumed in your speeches and writings than has been usual on former occasions.
You are great, you are enlightened; yes, you have found out the secret, and have only to rid the world of Christianity in order to render it happy. But be
not too confident. You are not the first who have set themselves against the Lord, and against his anointed. You have overthrown superstition ; but vaunt not against Christianity. Of a truth you have destroyed the gods of Rome, for they were no gods ; but let this fuffice you. It is hard to kick against the pricks.
Whatever success may attend your cause, if it be an immoral one, and espoused on that very aca, count, it cannot poffibly stand. It must fall, and you may expect to be buried in its ruins. be thought fufficient for me to reason on the system itself, without descending to the motives of those who imbibe it ; but where motives are manifested by actions, they become objects of human cognizance. Nor is there any hope of your unbelief being removed, but by something that thall reach the cause of it. My defire is neither to izsult nor flatter, but seriously to expostulate with you ; if God peradventure may give you repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth. Three things in particular I would earnestly recommend to your serious confideration,
How it was that you first imbibed your present principles ; How it is that almost all your writers, at one time or other, bear testimony in favour of Christianity; and, How it comes to pass that your principles fail you, as they are frequently known to do, in a dying hour.
First, How WAS IT THAT YOU FIRST RENOUNCED CHRISTIANITY, AND IMBIBED YOUR PRESENT PRINCIPLES ? Retrace the process of your minds, and ask your consciences as you proceed whether all was fair and upright. Nothing is more common than for persons of relaxed mo
rals to attribute their change of conduct to : change of sentiments, or views relative to those fubjects. It is galling to one's own feelings, and mean in the account of others, to act against principle: but if a person can once persuade himself to think favourably of those things which he has formerly accounted finful, and can furnish a plea for them, which at least may serve to parry the censures of mankind, he will feel much more at ease, and be able to put on a better face when he mingles in fociety. Whatever inward ftings may annoy: his peace under certain occasional qualms, yet he has not to reproach himself, nor can others reproach him with that inconsistency of character as in former instances. Rousseau confesses he found in the reasonings of a certain lady, with whom he lived in the greatest possible familiarity, all thofe ideas which he find occasion forn: Have you not found the fame in the conversation and writings of deists? Did you not, previous to your rejection of Christianity, indulge in vicious courses; and, while indulging in these courses, did not its holy precepts, and awful threatenings gall your spirits ? Were you not like perfons gathering forbidden fruit amidst showers of arrows; and had you not recourse to your present principles for a thield against them? If you cannot honestly answer these questions in the negative, you are in an evil case. You may flatter yourselves for a while that perhaps there may be no hereafter, or at least no judgment to come ; but you know the time is not far distant when you must go and see; and then if you fhould be mistaken, What will you do ?
Many of you have descended from godly parents, and have had a religious education. Has not your infidelity arisen from the dislike which you conceived in early life to religious exercises ? Family worship was a weariness to you; and the cautions, warnings, and counfels, which were given you, instead of having any proper effect, only irritated your corruptions. You longed to be from under the yoke. Since that time your parents, it may be, have been removed by death ; or if they live, they may have lost their controul over you. So, now you are free. But still something is wanting to erase the prejudices of education, which in spite of all your efforts, will accompany you, and imbitter your present pursuits. For this purpose a friend puts into your hands The Age of Reason, or some production of the kind. You read it with avidity. This is the very thing you wanted. You have long suspected the truth of Christianity; but had not courage to oppose it. Now then you are a philosopher ; yes, a philofopher ! • Our fa
thers, say you, might be well-meaning people, but they were imposed upon by priests. The world gets more enlightened now-a-days. There
is no need of such rigidness. The Supreme Be'ing, (if there be one) can never have created
the pleasures of life, but for the purpose of enjoyment. Avaunt, ye felf-denying cafuists! Nature is the law of man !!
Was not this, or something nearly resembling it, the process of your minds ? And are you now fatisfied ? I do not ask whether you have been able to defend your cause against assailants, nor whether you have gained converts to your way thinking: you may have done both; but are you satisfied with yourselves ? Do you really believe