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CIL AP. V.
PART THE SECOND;
P R E F A C E.
THE fruggle between religion and irreligion has existed in the world in all ages: and if there be two opposite interests which divide its inhabitants, the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God, it is reasonable to expect that the contest will continue till one of them be exterminated. The peaceful nature of Christianity does not require that we should make peace with its adversaries, or cease to repel their attacks, or even that we should act merely on the defensive : On the contrary, we are required to make use of those weapons of the divine warfare with which we are furnished for the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every highthing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
The opposition of the present age has not been confina ed to the lefs important points of Christianity, nor even to its first principles : Christianity itself is treated as impofture. The same things it is true have been fre
quently advanced, and as frequently repelled, in former ages : but the adversaries of the gospel of late, encouraged it should seem by the temper of the times, have renewed the attack with redoubled vigour. One of their most popular writers, hoping to avail himself of this circumstance, is pleased to entitle his performance The Age of Reason.
This writer is aware that fattery is one of the inost successful means of gaining admison to the human mind; such a compliment therefore to the present Age was doubtless considered as a master-stroke of policy. Nor is Mr. Paine less obliging to himself than to his readers, but takes it for granted that the caufe for which he pleads is that of reason and truth. The considerate reader, however, may remark, that those writers who are not ashamed to beg the question in the title-page, are seldom the most liberal or impartial in the execution of the work.
One thing which has contributed to the advantage of Infidelity is, the height to which political disputes have arisen, and the degree in which they have interested the passions and prejudices of mankind. Those who favour the sentiments of a set of men in one thing, will be in danger of thiking favourably of them in others; at least they will not be apt to view them in so bad a light as if they had been advanced by persons of different sentiments in other things as well as in religion. It is true there may be nothing more friendly to infidelity is the nature of one political system than another, nothing
that can justify profeffing christians in accusing one another, merely on account of a difference of this kind, of favouring the interests of atheism and irreligion: nevertheless it becomes those who think favourably of the political principles of infidels, to take heed left they be insensibly drawn away to think lightly of religion. All the nations of the earth, and all the disputes on the best or worst mode of government, compared with this, are less than nothing and vanity.
To this it may be added, that the eagerness with which men engage in political disputes, take which fide they may, is unfavourable to a zealous adherence to the gospel. Any mere worldly object, if it become the principal thing which occupies our thoughts and affections, will weaken our attachment to religion : and if once we become cool and indifferent to this, we are in the high road to infidelity. There are cases no doubt relating to civil government, in which it is our duty to act, and that with firmness: but to make such things the chief objeet of our attention, or the principal topic of our conversation, is both finful and injurious. Many a promising character in the religious world has by thefe things been utterly ruined.
The writer of the following pages is not induced to offer them to the public eye from an apprehension that the Church of Christ is in danger. Neither the downfall of popery, nor the triumph of infidels, as