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arguments, or excuses, they had not be. the truth of which approves our exist. fore thought of; or with objections to any ence a wise design-gives order and regurules of life differing from those by which larity to our life-places an end in our they guide themselves: which objections view, confessedly the noblest that can enthey often judge the only defence their own gage it--raises our nature-exempts us practice stands in need of.
from a servitude to our passions, equally I am sure, Sir, that to one of your un- debasing and tormenting usaffords us derstanding, the absurdity of such a way the truest enjoyment of ourselves -puts us of proceeding can want no proof; and on the due improvement of our faculties — that your bare attention to it is your suf- corrects our selfishness-calls us to be of ficient guard against it.
use to our fellow creatures, to become Religion is either founded wholly on the public blessings-inspires us with true fears and fancies of mankind, or it is, of all courage, with sentiments of real honour matters, the most serious, the weightiest, and generosity-inclines us to be such, in the most worthy of our regard. There is every relation, as suits the peace and pros
Is it a dream, and no more? perity of society-derives an uniformity Let the human race abandon, then, all to our whole conduct, and makes satispretences to reason. What we call such faction its inseparable attendant-directs is but the more exquisite sense of upright, us to a course of action pleasing when it unclad, two-legged brutes; and that is employs us, and equally pleasing when the best you can say of us. We then are we either look back upon it, or attend to brutes, and so much more wretched than the expectations we entertain from it. other brutes, as destined to the miseries If the source of so many and such vast they feel not, and deprived of the happi- advantages can be supposed a dream of ness they enjoy; by our foresight antici- the superstitious, or an invention of the pating our calamities, by our reflection crafty, we may take our leave of certainty; recalling them--Our being is without an we may suppose every thing, within and aim; we can have no purpose, no de- without us, conspiring to deceive us. sign, but what we ourselves must sooner That there should be difficulties in any or later despise. We are formed either to scheme of religion which can be offered drudge for a life, that, upon such a con- us, is no more than what a thorough acdition, is not worth our preserving; or to quaintance with our limited capacities run a circle of enjoyments, the censure of would induce us to expect, were we stranall which is, that we cannot long be pleas- gers to the
several religions that prevailed ed with any one of them. Disinterested- in the world, and purposed, upon inquiry ness, generosity, public spirit, are idle, into their respective merits, to embrace empty sounds; terms, which imply no that which can be best recommended to more, than that we should neglect our own
our belief. happiness to promote that of others. But all objections of difficulties must be
What Tully has observed on the con- highly absurd in either of these cases — nexion there is between religion, and the When the creed you oppose, on account virtues which are the chief support of so- of its difficulties, is attended with fewer ciety, is, I am persuaded, well known to than that which you would advance in its you.
stead: orA proper regard to social duties wholly When the whole of the practical doedepends on the influence that religion has trines of a religion are such, as, undeni. upon us. Destroy, in mankind, all hopes ably, contribute to the happiness of manand fears, respecting any future state; kind, ia whatever state, or under whatsoyou instantly let them loose to all the me- ever relations, you can consider them. thods likely to promote their immediate To reject a religion thus circumstanced, convenience. They, who think they have for some points in its scheme less level to only the present hour to trust to, will not our apprehension, appears to me, I conbe withheld, by any refined considera- fess, quite as unreasonable, as it would be
, tions, from doing what appears to them to abstain from food, till we could be sacertain to make it pass with greater satis. tisfied about the origin, insertion, and faction.
action of the muscles that enable us to Now, methinks, a calm and impartial swallow it.
, inquirer could never determine that to be I would, in do case, have you rest upon a visionary scheme, the full persuasion of mere authority; yet, as authority will
have its weight, allow me to take notice, it his chief study in the latter part of his
the other. Whatever else may have renI cannot forgive myself, for having so dered the writers in favour of infidelity relong overlooked Lord Bacon's Philosophi- markable, they, certainly, have not been cal Works. It was but lately I began to so for their sagacity or science-for any read them; and one part of them I laid superior either natural or acquired endowdown, when I took my pen to write this. ments. And I cannot but think, that he The more I know of that extraordinary who takes up his pen, in order to deprive man, the more I admire him; and can- the world of the advantages which would not but think his understanding as much accrue to it were the Christian religion geof a size beyond that of the rest of man- nerally received, shews so wrong a head kind, as Virgil makes the stature of Mu- in the very design of his work, as would sæus, with respect to that of the multi- leave no room for doubt, how little credit tude surrounding him—
he could gain by the conduct of it.
Is there a just foundation for our assent
Æn. I. vi. 667, 8. then be more carefully considered by us, as Homer represents Diana's height or have a more immediate and extensive among the nymphs sporting with her influence upon our practice.
Shall I be told, that if this were a right Πασάων δ' ύπερ ήγε κάρη έχει ήδέ μέτωπα.
Od. I. vi. 107.
consequence, there is a profession, in
which quite different persons would be Throughout his writings there runs a vein found, than we at present meet with ? of piety: you can hardly open them, but I have too many failings myself, to be you find some or other testimony of the willing to censure others; and too much full conviction entertained by him, that love for truth, to attempt an excuse for Christianity had an especial claim to our what admits of none. But let me say, that regard. He, who so clearly saw the defects
consequences are not the less true, for their in every science-saw from whence they truth being disregarded, Lucian's deproceeded, and had such amazing sagacity, scription of the philosophers of his age is as to discover how they might be reme- more odious, than can belong to any set died, and to point out those very methods, of men in our time: and as it was never the pursuit of which has been the remedy thought, that the precepts of philosophy of many of them-He, who could dis.
ought to be slighted, because they who cern thus mucb, left it to the witlings of inculcated, disgraced them; neither can the following age, to discover any weak- it be any reflection on nobler rules, that ness in the foundation of religion. they are recommended by persons who
To him and Sir Isaac Newton I might do not observe them. add many others, of eminent both natural Of this I am as certain as I can be of any and acquired endowments, the most un. thing, That our practice is no infallible suspected favourers of the Christian reli- test of our principles; and that we may gion; but those two, as they may be con- do religion no injury by our speculations, sidered standing at the head of mankind, when we do it a great deal by our manwould really be dishonoured, were we to I should be very unwilling to rely seek for any weight, from mere authority, on the strength of my own virtue in so to the opinions they had jointly patronized, many instances, that it exceedingly mortito the opinions they had maintained, after fies me to reflect on their numbers: yet, in the strictest inquiry what ground there whichsoever of them I offended, it would was for them.
not be for want of conviction, how excelThat the grounds of Christianity were lent a precept, or precepts, I had transthus inquired into by them, is certain: for gressed – it would not be because I did not the one appears, by the quotations from the think, that a life throughout agreeable to Bible interspersed throughout his works, the commands of the religion I profess to have read it with an uncommon care: ouglat to be constantly my care. and it is well known, that the other made How frequently we aci contrary to the
obligations, which we readily admit our- But I must not proceed. A letter of two selves to be under, can scarcely be other sheets ! How can I expect, that you should wise than matter of every one's notice; give it the reading? If you can persuade and if none of us infer from those pur- yourself to do it, from the conviction of suits, which tend to destroy our health, or the sincere affection towards you, that has our understanding, or our reputation, that drawn me into this length; I promise you, he, who engages in them, is persuaded never again to make such a demand on that disease, or infanıy, or a second child your patience. I will never again give hood, deserves his choice; neither should you so troublesome a proof of my friendit be taken for granted, that he is not in- ship. I have here begun a subject, which wardly convinced of the worth of religion, I am very desirous to prosecute; and every who appears, at some times, very diffe- letter, you may hereafter receive from me rent from what a due regard thereto upon it, whatever other recommendation ought to make him.
may want, shall, certainly, not be withInconsistency is, through the whole out that of brevity. compass of our acting, so much our reproach, that it would be great injustice to- CATECHETICAL LECTURES. wards us, to charge each defect in our morals
§ 99. Introduction to the Catechism. upon corrupt and bad principles. For a proof of the injustice of such a charge, I The Catechism begins with a recital of am confident, none need look beyond them- our baptismal vow, as a kind of preface selves. Each will find the complaint of to the whole. It then lays down the great Medea in the poet, very proper to be made Christian principle of faith; and leaving his own—I see and approve of what is right, all mysterious inquiries, in which this subat the same time that I do what is wrong:
ject is involved, it passes on to the rules of Don't thiok, that I would justify ihe practice. Having briefly recited these, it faults of any, and much less theirs, who, concludes with a simple, and very intelliprofessing themselves set apart to promote gible explanation of baptism, and the the interests of religion and virtue, and Lord's Supper, having a large revenue assigned them, both The catechism then begins, very prothat they may be more at leisure for 'so perly, with a recital of our baptismal vow, noble a work, and that their pains in it as the best preface to that belief, and those may be properly recompensed, are, cer- rules of practice, in which that vow entainly, extremely blameable, not only gaged us.—But before we examine the when they countenance the immoral and vow itself, two appendages of it require irreligious ; but even, when they take no explanation--the use of sponsors--and the care to reform them.
addition of a pame. All I aim at, is, That the cause may not With regard to the sponsor, the church suffer by its advocates --That you may be probably imitates the appointment of the just to it, whatever you may dislike in legal guardian, making the best provision them—That their failures may have the it can for the pious education of orphans, allowance, to which the frailty of human and deserted children. The temporal and nature is entitled — That you may not, by the spiritual guardian may equally betray their manners, when worst, be prejudiced their trust: both are culpable: both acagainst their doctrine ; as you would not countable: but surely the latter breaks the censure philosophy, for the faults of phi- more sacred engagement, losophers.
As to promising and vowing in the The prevalency of any practice cannot name of another (which seems to carry so make it to be either safe, or prudent; and harsh a sound) the sponsor only engages I would fain have your's and mine such for the child, as anyone would engage for as may alike credit our religion, and un- another, in a matter which is manifestly derstanding: without the great reproach for his advantage: and on a supposition, of both, we cannot profess to believe that that the child hereafter will see it to be so rule of life to be from God, which, yet, --that is, he promises, as he takes it for we model to our passions and interests. granted, the child itself would have pro
Whether such a particular is my duty, mised, if it had been able. ought to be the first consideration ; and With regard to the name, it is no part when it is found so,common sense suggests of the sacrament; nor pretends to scripthe next-How it may be performed. tural authority. It rests merely on ancient
usage. A custom had generally obtained, After “believing the articles of the of giving a new name, upon adopting a « Christian faith," we are lastly enjoined new member into a family. We find it “to keep God's holy will and command
“ among the Greeks, the Romans, ments.” Here too is the same natural and the Jews; nay, we read that even God progression. As the renunciation of sin himself, when he received Abram into prepares the way of faith, so does faith covenant, giving an early sanction to this lead directly to obedience. They seem usage, changed his name to Abraham. In related to each other, as the mean and the imitation of this common practice, the old end. “The end of the commandment,' Christians gave baptismat dames to their saith the apostle, " is charity out of a pure children, which were intended to point out “heart, and of a good conscience, and of their beavenly adoption, as their surnames "faith unfeigned. Faith (which is the distinguished their temporal alliance. act of believing upon rational evidence) is
From considering the use of sponsors, the great fountain, from wbich all Chrisand of the name in baptism, we proceed tian virtues spring. No man will obey a next to the vow itself, which is thus ex. law, till he hath informed himself whether pressed. “My godfathers did promise it be properly authorized : or, in other “ three things in my name : 1st, That I words, till he believes in the jurisdiction “should renounce the devil, and all his that enacted it. If our faith in Christ dotb “works, the pomps and vanities of this pot lead us to obey him, it is what the “ wicked world, and all the sinful Justs of Scriptures call a dead faith, in opposition “the flesh. 2dly, That I should believe to a saving one. “ all the articles of the Christian faith; and To this inseparable connexion between “ 3dly, That I should keep God's holy faith and obedience, St. Paul's doctrine “will, and commandments, and walk in may be objected, where he seems to lay " the same all the days of my
life.” the whole stress on faith, in opposition to First, then, we promise to "renounce works*.-But it is plain, that St. Paul's “the devil, and all his works, the pomps argument requires him to mean by faith, " and vanities of this wicked world, and the whole system of the Christian religion “all the sinful lusts of the flesh.” “The (which is indeed the meaning of the word “devil, the world, and the flesh,” is a in many other parts of Scripture); and by
" comprehensive mode of expressing every works, which he sets in opposition to it, species of sin, however distinguished; and the moral law. So that, in fact, the aposfrom whatever source derived : all which tle's argument relates not to the present we can only engage to renounce as far as question; but tends only to establish the we are able; but also to take paios in superiority of Christianity. The moral law, tracing the labyrinths of our own hearts; argues the apostle, which claimed on the
, and in removing the glosses of self-deceit. righteousness of works, makes no proviWithout this, all renunciation of sin ission for the deficiencies of man. Christi. pretence.
anity alone, by opening the door of mercy, Being thus enjoined to renounce our gave him hopes of that salvation, which gross, habitual sips, and those bad incli- ihe other could not pretend to give. nations, which lead us into them; we are Upon renouncing sin, believing the arrequired next to “believe all the articles ticles of the Christian faith, and keeping “ of the Christian faith.” This is a natu- God's holy commandments, as far as sinral progression. When we are thoronghly ful man can keep them, we are entitled by convinced of the malignity of sin, we in promise to all the privileges of the gospel. course wish to avoid the ill consequences' We“ become members of Christ, children of it; and are prepared to give a fair." of God, and inheritors of the kingdom
“ hearing to the evidence of religion. There "of heaven.” We are redeemed through
" is a close connexion between vice and in- the merits of Christ; pardoned through fidelity. They mutually support each the mercies of God; and rewarded with other. The same connexion subsists be a blessed immortality. tween a well-disposed mind, and the truths This account of our baptismal vow conof religion: and faith perhaps is not so in- cludes with a question, leading us to acvoluntary an act, as many of our modern knowledge the necessity of observing this philosophers would persuade us.
vow; and to declare our belief, that our
See Rom. iii. 28., and indeed great part of the epistle.
only hope of keeping it rests upon the as- end of sustaining the lives of innumerasistance of God.
Gilpin. ble creatures.
Nor is design shewn only in the grand $ 100. On the Creed—the Belief of God. fabric of the world, and all its relative
appendages: it is equally shewn in every The creed begins with a profession of part. It is seen in every animal, adapted our belief in “God the Father Almighty, in all its peculiarities to its proper mode “ maker of heaven and earth.”
of life. It is seen in every vegetable, furThe being of God is one of those nished with parts exactly suited to its truths, which scarce require proof. A situation. In the least, as well as in the proof seems rather an injury, as it sup- greatest of nature's productions, it is every poses doubt. However, as young minds, where apparent. The little creeper upon though not sceptical, are uninformed, it the wall, extending its tenacious fibres, may not be improper to select, out of the draws nourishment from the crannies of variety of arguments which evince this the stones; and flourishes where no other great truth, two or three of the most plant could live. simple.
If then the world, and every part of it, 'I'he existence of a Deity, we prove from are thus marked with the characters of the light of nature. For his attributes, at design, there can be no difficulty in acleast in any perfection, we must look into knowledging the Author of such designScripture.
of such amazing contrivance and variety, A few plain and simple arguments to be a Being of infinite wisdom and drawn from the creation of the world — power. We call a man ingenious, who the preservation of it, and the general makes even a common globe, with all the consent of mankind, strike us with more parts of the earth delineated upon it. conviction, than all the subtilties of meta- What shall we say then of the Author of physical deduction.
the great original itself, in all its granWe prove the being of a God, first from deur, and furnished with all its various the creation of the world.
inhabitants ? The world must have been produced The argument drawn from the presereither by design or by chance. No other vation of the world, is indeed rather the mode of origin can be supposed. Let us last argument advanced a step farther. see then with which of these characters If chance could be supposed to produce it is impressed
a regular form, yet it is certainly beyond The characteristic of the works of de- the highest degree of credulity, to suppose sign, is a relation of parts, in order to it could continue this regularity for any produce an end — The characteristic of the time. But we find it has been continued; works of chance is just the reverse.- we find, that near 6000 years have made When we see stones answering each other, . no change in the order and harmony of laid in the form of a regular building, we the world. The sun's action upon the immediately say, they were put together earth hath ever been regular. The proby design : but when we see them thrown duction of trees, plants, and herbs, hath about in a disorderly heap, we say as con- ever been uniform. Every seed produces fidently, they have been thrown so by now the same fruit it ever did. Every chance.
species of animal life is still the same. Now, in the world, and all its appen- Could chance continue this regular ardages, there is plainly this appearance of rangement? Could any thing continue it, design. One part relates to another; and but the hand of an omnipotent God? the whole together produces an end. The Lastly, we see this great truth, the being sun, for instance, is connected with the of a God, witnessed by the general conearth, by warming it into a proper heat, sent of mankind. This general consent for the production of its fruits; and fur- must arise either from tradition, or it must nishing it with rain and dew. The earth be the result of men's own reasoning. again is connected with all the vegetables Upon either supposition, it is an argument which it produces, by providing them equally strong. If the first supposition be
proper soils, and juices for their allowed, it will be difficult to assign any nourishment. These again are connected source of this tradition, but God himself
. with animals, by supplying them with food. If the second, it can scarce be supposed And the whole together produces the great that all mankind, in different parts of the