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seek it in things external, even when those things , uncertainty; at once the glory and the scorn of the
ON AVOWED INDIFFERENCE TO RELIGION. the Stoics call happiness? or more false than all It were to be wished, that the enemies of religion their reasonings on the subject ?
would at least learn what religion is, before they They affirm that man can do at all times what he oppose it. If religion boasted of the unclouded vihas done once; and that since the love of fame sion of God, and of disclosing him without a coverprompts its possessor to do some things well, others ing or veil, then it were victory to say that nothing may do the same. But those actions are the re- in the world discovers him with such evidence. sult of feverish excitement, which health cannot But since religion, on the contrary, teaches that imitate.
men are in darkness, and far from God; that he is 2. The intestine war of reason against the pas- hidden from them, and that the very name which sions, has given rise, among those who wish for he gives himself in the Scriptures, is “a God that peace, to the formation of two different sects. The hideth himself;" and, in faci, since it labors to esone wished to renounce the passions and to be as tablish these two maxims, that God has placed in
the other to renounce their reason, and be his church, certain characters of himself, by which come beasts. But neither has succeeded; and rea- he will make himself known to those who sincereson still remains, to point out the baseness and mo- ly seek him; and yet that he has, at the same time, ral pravity of the passions, and to disturb the re- so far covered them, as to render himself imperpose of those who yield to them; and the passions ceptible to those who do not seek him with their are still vigorously in action in the hearts of those whole heart, what advantage do men gain, that, in who aim to renounce them.
the midst of their criminal negligence in the search 3. This then is all that man can do in his own of truth, they complain so frequently that nothing strength with regard to truth and happiness. We reveals and displays it to them ? seeing that this have a powerlessness for determining truth, which very obscurity under which they labor, and which no dogmatism can overcome: we have a vague no- they thus bring against the Christian church, does tion of truth, which no pyrrhonism can destroy: – but establish one of the two grand points which she We wish for truth, and find within only uncertain- maintains, without affecting the other; and instead ty. We seek for happiness, and find nothing but of ruining, confirms her doctrines. misery. We cannot but wish for truth and happi- To contend with any effect, the opposers of reliness; yet we are incapable of attaining either.- gion should be able to urge that tbey have applied The desire is left to us, as much to punish us, as to their utmost endeavors, and have used all the show us whence we are fallen.
means of information, even those which the Chris4. If man was not made for God, why is he ne- tian church recommends, without obtaining satisver happy but in God? If man is made for God, faction. If they could say this, it were indeed to why is he so contrary to God?
attack one of her main pretensions. But I hope to 5. Man knows not in what rank of beings to place show that no rational person can affirm this; nay, himself. He is manifestly astray, and perceives in I venture to assert that none ever did. We know himself the remnant indications of a happy state, very well how men of this spirit are wont to act. from which he has fallen, and which he cannot re- They conceive that they have made a mighty effort cover. He is erer seeking it, with restless anxiety, towards the instruction of their minds, when they without success, and in impenetrable darkness. have spent a few hours in reading the Scriptures, This is the source of all the contests of the philoso- and have put a few questions to a minister on the phers. One class has undertaken to elevate inan articles of the faith. And then they boast of havby displaying his greatness; the other to abase him ing consulted both men and books without success. by the exhibition of his wretchedness. And what Really I cannot help telling such men, what I have is most extraordinary is, that each party makes use often told them, that this negligence is insufferable. of the reasonings of the other to establish its own This is not a question about the petty interests of opinions. For the misery of man is inferrible from some stranger. Ourselves and our all are involved his greatness, and his greatness from his misery. in it. And inns the one class has more effectually proved The immortality of the soul is a matter of such his misery, because they deduced it from his great- main importance, so profoundly interesting to us, ness; and the other established much more power that we must be utterly dead to every good feeling, fully the fact of his greatness, because they proved if we could be indifferent about it. And all our acit even from his misery. All that the one could say tions and thoughts would take so different a course, of his greatness, served but as an argument to the according as we have or have not the hope of eterother, to prove his misery; inasmuch as the mise- nal blessings, that it is impossible for us to take one ry of having fallen, is aggravated in proportion as step discreetly, but as we keep this point ever in the point from which we fell is shown to be more view, as our main and ultimate object. elevated; and vice versa. Thus they have outgone It is, then, both our highest interest, and our first each other successively, in an eternal circle; it be- duty, to get light on this subject, on which our whole ing certain, that as men increased in illumination, conduct depends. And here, therefore, in speakthey would multiply proofs, both of their greatness ing of those who are skeptical on this point, I make and their misery. In short, man knows that he is a wide distinction between those who labor with all wretched. He is wretched, because he knows it. their power to obtain instruction, and those who Yet in this he is evidently great, that he knows live on in indolence, without caring to make any himself to be wretched.
inquiry. I do heartily pity those who sincerely What a chimera then is man. What a singular mourn over their skepticism, who look upon it as phenomenon! What a chaos! What a scene of the greatest of misfortunes, and who spare no pains contrariety! A judge of all things, yet a feeble to escape from it, but who make their researches worm: the shrine of truth, yet a mass of doubt and their chief and most serious employ. But as for
is to come.
those who pass their life without reflecting on its me at this point, rather than at any other of all that close; and who, merely because they find not in eternity which was before me, or of all that which themselves a convincing testimony, refuse to seek it
On every side I see nothing but infinielsewhere, and to examine thoroughly, whether the ties, which enfathom me in their abysses as a mere opinion proposed be such as nothing but a credulous atom, or as a shadow which lingers but a single insimplicity receives, or such as, though obscure in start, and is never to return. All that I know is, itself, is yet founded on a solid basis, 1 regard them that I must shortly die; and that of which I know very differently. The carelessness which they be the least, is this very death, from which I cannot Ay. tray in a matier which involves their existence, “As I know not whence I came, so I know not .heir eternity, their all, awakes my indignation ra- whither I go. This only I know, that when I leave ther than my pily. It is astonishing. It is horri- this world, I must either fall for ever into nothingfying. It is inonstrous. I speak not this from the ness, or into the hands of an incensed God; but I pious zeal of a blind devotion. On the contrary, I know not to which of these two conditions I shall affirm that self-love, that self-interest, that the sim- be eternally doomed. plest light of reason, should inspire these senti- “Such is my state; full of misery, of imbecility, ments; and, in fact, for this we need but the per- of darkness. And from all this, I argue that it beceptions of ordinary men.
comes me to pass all the days of my life, without It requires but little elevation of soul to discover, considering what shall hereafter befall me; and that here there is no substantial delight; that our that I have nothing to do, but to follow the bent of pleasures are but vanity, that the ills of life are in my inclinations, without reflection or disquiet, and numerable; and that, after all, death, which threat- if there be an eternity of misery, to do my utmost ens us every moment, must, in a few years, per- to secure it. Perhaps inquiry might throw some haps in a few days, place us in the eternal condi- light upon my doubts; but I will not take the pains tion of happiness, or misery, or nothingness. Be to make it, nor stir one foot to find the truth. On tween us and heaven, hell or annihilation, no bar- the contrary, while I show my contempt for those rier is interposed but life, which is of all things the who annoy themselves by this inquiry, I wish to most fragile; and as they who doubt the immortali- rush without fear or foresight upon the risk of this ty of the soul, can have no hope of heaven, they dread contingency. I will suffer myself to be led can have no prospect but hell or nonentity. imperceptibly on to death, in utter uncertainty as
Nothing can be more true than this, and nothing to the issue of my future lot in eternity.” more terrible. Brave it how we will, there ends Verily, religion may glory in having for its enethe goodliest life on earth.
mies, men so irrational as these; their opposition is It is in vain for men to turn aside from this com- so little to be dreaded, that it serves, in fact, to illusing eternity, as if a bold indifference could destroy trate the main truths which our religion teaches. its being. It subsists notwithstanding. It hastens For our religious system aims chiefly to establish on; and death, which must soon unveil it, will, in these two principles, the corruption of human naa short time, infallibly reduce them to the dreadful ture, and redemption by Jesus Christ. Now, if necessity of being annihilated for ever, or for ever these opposers are of no use in confirming the wretched.
truth of redemption, by the sanctity of their lives; Here then is a doubt of the most alarming impor- yet they admirably prove the corruption of nature, tance; to feel this doubt is already, in itself, a seri- by the maintenance of such unnatural opinions. ous evil. But that doubt imposes on us the indis- Nothing is so important to any man as his own pensible duty of inquiry.
condition; nothing so formidable as eternity.He, then, who doubts, and yet neglects inquiry, They, therefore, who are indifferent to the loss of is both uncandid and unhappy. But if, not with their being, and to the risk of endless misery, are standing his doubts, he is calm and contented; if in an unnatural state. They act quite differently he freely avows his ignorance; nay, if he makes it from this in all other matters; they fear the smallest his boast
, and seems to make this very indifference inconveniences; they anticipate them; they feel the subject of his joy and triumph, no words can them when they arrive; and he who passes days adequately describe his extravagant infatuation. and nights in indignation and despair, at the loss
Where do men get these opinions? What de- of an employment, or for some fancied blemish on light is there in expecting misery without end? his honor, is the very same man who knows that he What ground is there for boasting in the experi- must soon lose all by death, and yet continues satisence of nothing but impenetrable darkness ?' Or fied, fearless, and unmoved. Such an insensibility what consolation in despairing for ever of a com- to things of the most tremendous consequences, in forter?
a heart so keenly alive to the merest trifles, is an Acquiescence in such ignorance is monstrous, astonishing prodigy, an incomprehensible enchantand they who thus linger on through life, should be ment, a supernatural infatuation. made sensible of its absurdity and stupidity, by A man in a dungeon, who knows not if the senshowing them what passes in their own breasts, so tence of death has gone forth against him, who has as to confound them by a sight of their own folly. but one hour to ascertain the fact, and that one hour For men who thus choose to remain ignorant of sufficient, if he knows that it is granted, to secure what they are, and who seek no means ot illumina- its revocation, acts contrary to nature and to comtion, reason in this way:
mon sense, if he employs that hour, not in the need"I know not who has sent me into the world, nor ful inquiry, but in sport and trifling. Now, this is what the world is, nor what I am myself. I am the condition f the persons whom we are describawfully ignorant of all things. I know not what ing; only with this difference, that the evils with my body is, what my senses are, or what my soul which they are every moment threatened, do infiis. This very part of me which thinks what I now nitely surpass the mere loss of this life, and that speak, which reflects upon all other things, and transient punishment which the prisoner has to even upon itself, is equally a stranger to itself, and dread. Yet they run thoughtlessly onward to the to all around it. I look through the vast and ter- precipice, having only cast a veil over their eyes to rific expanse of the universe by which I am en- hinder them from discerning it; and then, in a compassed; and I find myself chained to one petty dreadful security, they mock at those who warn corner of the wide domain ; without understanding them of their danger. why I am fixed in this spot, rather than in any Thus, not only does the zeal of those who seek other; or why this little hour of life was assigned God, demonstrate the truth of religion, but even
the blindness of those who seek him not, and who not more light, why do they not confess it? Such pass their days in this criminal ueglect. Human a confession would be no disgrace; for there is nature must have experienced a dreadful revolu- really no shame, but in shamelessness. Nothing tion, before men could live contentedly in this state, more completely betrays a weak mind, than insenmuch more before they could boast of it. For sup- sibility to the fact of the misery of man, while posing that they were absolutely certain, that there living without God in the world. Nothing more was nothing to fear after death bui annihilation, is strongly indicates extreme degradation of spirit, not this a cause rather for despair than for gratula- than not to wish for the truth of God's eternal protion? But seeing that we have not even this as- mises. No man is so base as he that defies his God. surance, then is it not inconceivably silly to boast, Let them, therefore, leave those impieties to those because we are in doubt ?
who are vile and wretched enough to be in earnesi. And yet, after all, it is wo evident, that man is if they cannot be completely Christians, at least let in his nature so debased, as to nourish'in his heart them be honest men; and let them at length admit a secrel joy on this account. This brutal insensi- the fact, that there are but two classes of men who bility to the risk of hell or of annihilation, is may be called truly rational :-those who serve thought so noble, that not only do those who really God with all their heart, because they know him; are skeptically inclined make their boast of it, but and those who seek him with all their heart, beeven those who are not, are proud to counterfeit a cause as yet they know him not. doubt. For experience proves, that the greater If there are any who sincerely inquire after God, part of these men are of this latter kind, mere pre- and who, being truly sensible of their misery, aftenders to infidelity, and hypocrites in atheism. fectionately desire to emerge from it; for these we They have been told that the spirit of high life con- ought to labor, that we may lead them to the dissists in rising above these vulgar prejudices. They covery of that light which they have not yet discall this throwing off the yoke of bondage: and covered. most men do this, not from conviction, but from the But as for those who live without either knowing mere servile principle of imitation.
God or endeavoring to know him, tbey count themYet if they have but a particle of common sense selves so little worthy of their own care, that they remaining, it will not be difficult to make them can hardly deserve the care of others: and it recomprehend, how miserably they abuse themselves quires all the charity of the religion which they by seeking credit in such a course. For this is not despise, not to despise them so far as to abandon the way to obtain respect, even with men of the them to their folly. But since our religion obliges world; for they judge accurately, and know that us to consider them, while they remain in this life, the only sure way to succeed in obtaining regard, is as still. capable of receiving God's enlightening to approve ourselves honest, faithful, prudent, and grace, and to believe that in the course of a few capable of advancing the interest of our friends; days, they may possess a more realizing faith than because men naturally love none but those who can ourselves; and that we, on the other side, may becontribute to their welfare. But now what can we come as blind as they ; we ought to do for ihem gain by hearing any man confess that he has thrown what we would wish them to do for us, if we were off the yoke; that he does not believe in a God, who in their circumstances; we should entreat them to watches over his conduct; that he considers him- take pity on themselves, and at least to take some self as the absolute master of his own actions, and steps forward, and try if they may not yet find the accountable for them only to himself. Will he light. Let them give to the reading of this work, a imagine that we shall now repose in him a greater few of those hours which they would otherwise degree of confidence than before, and that hence- spend more unprofitably. Something they may forth we shall look to him for comfort, advice or as- gain: they can lose but little. But if any shall sistance in the vicissitudes of life? Does he think bring to this work a perfect sincerity, and an unthat we are delighted to hear that he doubts whe- teigned desire of knowing truth, I would hope that ther our very soul be any thing more than a breath they will find comfort in it, and be convinced by or a vapor, and that he can tell it us with an air of those proofs of our divine religion, which are here assurance and self-sufficiency? Is this, then, the accumulated. topic for a jest? Should it not rather be told with tears, as the saddest of all sorrowful things ?
CHAPTER' VII. If they thought seriously, they would see that this conduct is so contrary to sound sense, to virtuous principle, and to good taste, and so widely re- Let us speak according to the light of nature. It moved from the reality of that elevation to which there is a God, he is to us infinitely incomprehenthey pretend, that nothing can more effectually ex- sible; because having neither parts nor limits, there pose them to the contempt and aversion of man-is no affinity or resemblance between him and us. kind, or more evidently nark them for weakness We are, then, incapable of comprehending his naof intellect, and want of judgment. And indeed, ture, or even knowing his existence. And under should we require of them an account of their send these circumstances, who will dare to undertake timents, and of their doubts on the subject of reli- the solving of this question ? Certainly not we, gion, their statements would be found so miserably who have no point of assimilation with him. weak and trifling, as to confirm, rather than shake 2. I will noi undertake here to prove by natural our confidence. This was once very aptly re- reason, either the existence of God, the doctrine of marked by one of their own number, in answer to the Trinity, or the immortality of the soul, nor any an infidel argument: “ Positively if you continue other point of this kind; not only that I do not feel to dispute at this rate, you will actually make me a myself strong enough to bring forth from the re. Christian.” And he was right; for who would not sources of weak reason, proofs that would convince tremble to find himself associated in his opinions a hardened atheist; but that this knowledge, if and his lot, with men so truly despicable ?
gained without the faith of Jesus Christ, were They also who do no more than pretend to hold equally barren and useless. Suppose a man' to bethese sentiments, are truly pitiable; for by the as come convinced that the proportions of numbers sumption of an insincere infidelity, they actually are truths immaterial,* and eternal, and dependant control their better natural tendencies, only to make on one first truth, on which they subsist, and which themselves of all men the most inconsistent. If from their inmost heart they regret that they have ! * Existing independent of matter.
THAT THE BELIEF OF A GOD IS THE TRUE WISDOM.
is called God: I do not find that man advanced one taking the risk that God is, if you win, you win step further towards his own salvation.
every thing. If you lose, you lose nothing. Be3. It is surprising that no canonical writer has lieve then if you can. made use of nature to prove the existence of God. Well, I see I must wager; but I may risk too They all tend to establish the belief of this truth; much. Let us see. Where there is equal risk of yet they have not said, There is no void, then there loss or gain, if you have but two lives to gain, and is a God; it follows, then, that they were more in- but one to lose, you might venture safely. If again telligent than the ablest of those who have come there were len lives to gain, and the chances equal; after them, who have all had recourse to this then it were 'actually imprudent not to risk your one method.
life to gain the ten. But in this case, where you have If it is a proof of weakness to prove the exist with equal chance of gain or loss, an infinity of ence of God from nature, then do not despise the lives, infinitely happy, to gain ; and where the stake Scripture; if it is a proof of wisdom to discern the which you play, is a thing so trifling and transient, contradictions of nature, then venerate this in the to hesitate from a false preference to it, is absolute Scripture.
folly. 4. Unity added to infinity does not augment it, For it answers no purpose to allege the uncerany more than another foot does a line of infinite tainty of winning, and the certainty of the risk; or length. What is finite is lost in that which is infi- to say that the infinite distance between the certainty nite, and shrinks to nothing. So does our mind in of that which we hazard, and the uncertainty of respect of the mind of God, and our righteousness that which we may gain, raises the value of the finite when compared with his. The difference between good which we stake, to an equality with the infinite unity and infinity is not so great as that between our good which is uncertain. For this is not the case. righteousness and the righteousness of God. He who plays must risk a certainty for an uncertainty;
5. We know that there is an infinite, but we and though he risks a finite certainty for a finite unknow not its nature. For instance, we know that certainty, it can be shown he does not act foolishly. it is false that number is finite. Then it is true It is false that there is an infinite distance between the that there is an infinity in number ; but what that certainty we hazard, and the uncertainty of wininfinity is, we know not. It cannot be equal or un- ning. Though it is true that there is an infinite equal, for the addition of unity to infinity does not distarce between the certainty of gaining and the change its nature; yet it is a number, and every certainty of losing. But the uncertainty of winning number is equal or unequal; this is the case with is in proportion to the certainty which is hazarded, all finite numbers. In the same way, we may know according to the proportion of the chances of gain that there is a God, without knowing what he is; or loss. And hence it follows, that if the risks be and we ought not io conclude that God is not, be equal on both sides, then the match to be played is cause we cannot perfectly comprehend his nature. equal against equal; and then the certainty of that
To convince you of the being of a God, I shall which is hazarded, is equal to the uncertainty of make no use of the faith by which we know him winning; so far is it from being infinitely distant. assuredly, nor of any other proofs with which we are And thus our proposition is of infinite force, since satisfied, because you will not receive them. I will we have but that which is finite to hazard, and that only treat with you upon your own principles, and which is infinite to gain, in a play where the I expect to show you, by the mode in which you chances of gain or loss are equal. This is demonreason daily, in matters of small importance, how stration, and if men can discern truth at all, they you should reason in this; and whal side you should should perceive this. take in the decision of this important question of I admit this: but is there no mode of getting at the being of a God. You say that we cannot dis- the principles of the game? Yes, by the Scriptures, cover whether there be a God or not. This how- and by the other innumerable proofs of religion. ever is certain, either that God is, or that God is They, you will say, who hope for salvation, are happy not. There is no medium point between these two in that hope. But is it not counterbalanced by the alternatives. But which side shall we take ? Rea- fear of hell ? But who has most reason to fear son, you say, cannot decide at all. There is an in- that hell? he who is ignorant that there is a hell, finite chaos between us and the point in question. and is certain of damnation if there is; or he who We play a game at an infinite distance, ignorant is convinced of its existence, and lives in the hope whether the coin we throw shall fall cross or pile. of escaping it? He who had but eight days to How then can we wager? By reasoning we can live, and should conceive that the wisest course for not make sure that it is the one or the other. By him is, to believe that all this is a matter of mere reasoning we cannot deny that it is the one or the chance, must be totally demented. Now, if we other.
were not enslaved by our passions, eight days, or Do not then charge with falsehood those who a hundred years are precisely the same thing have taken a side, for you know not that they are And what harm will arise from taking this side ? wrong, and that they have chosen ill. "No, say you, I you would become faithful, pure, humble, grateful, do not blame them for having made this choice, but beneficent, sincere and true. I grant that you would for making any choice whatever. To take a risk not be given up to polluting pleasures, to false glory, on either alternative, is equally wrong: the wise or false joys. But then, have you not other plcacourse is not to choose at all." But you must wa- sures? I affirm that you would be a gainer, even ger; this is not a matter of choice. You are inevi- in this life; and that every step you go forward, tably committed; and not to wager that God is, is you will see so much of the certainty of what you to wager that he is not. Which side then do you will gain, and so much of the utter insignificance take? Let us see in which you are the least inte of what you will risk, that you will in the end disrested. You have two things to lose, truth and right; cover, that you ventured for a good, both infinite and two things to play with, your reason and your and certain, and that to get it, you have given nowill-your knowledge and your happiness. And thing. your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. - You say that you are so constituted, that you canTake your side, then, without hesitation, that God is not believe; and you ask, what you should do. Your reason is not more annoyed in choosing one, Learn, at least, your inaptitude to believe, seeing than the other, since you cannot but choose one that reason suggests belief, as your wisdom, and yet Here then is one point seuled. But now of your hap- you remain unbelieving. Aim, then, to obtain conpiness? Balance the gain and the loss there. Upon | viction, not by any increase of proof of the existence of God, but by the discipline and control of , and true religion, are things essentially united. It your own passions. You wish to obtain faith, but should also recognize both the greatness and the you know not the way to it. You wish to be cured meanness of man; together with their respective of infidelity, and you ask for the remedy. Learn causes. What religion, but the Christian, has ever it, then, from those who have been, what you are, exhibited knowledge such as this? and who now have no doubt. They know the way 3. Other religions, as the pagan idolatries, are for which you are seeking, and they are healed of more popular; their main force lies in external a disease for which you seek a cure. Follow their forms: but then they are ill suited to sensible men; course, then, from its beginning. Imitate, at least, whilst a religion, purely intellectual, would be more their outward actions, and if you cannot yet realize adapted to men of sense, but would not do for the their internal feelings, quit, at all events, those vain multitude. Christianity alone adapts itself to all. pursuits in which you have been hitherto entirely It wisely blends outward forms, and inward feelengrossed.
ings. It raises the common people to abstract Ah, say you, I could soon renounce these plea- I thought; and, at the same time, abases the pride of sures, if I had faith; and I answer, you would soon the most intellectual, to the performance of outward have faith, if you would renounce those pleasures. duties; and it is never complete, but in the union It is for you to begin. If I could, I would give you of these two results. For it is necessary that the faith, but I cannot; and conseqnently, I cannot people understand the spirit of the letter, and that prove the sincerity of your assertion; but you can the learned submit their spirit to the letier, in the abandon your pleasures, and thus make experiment compliance with external forms. of the truth of mine.
4. Even reason teaches us that we deserve to be You say, this argument delights me. If so, if hated: yet no religion, but the Christian, requires this argument pleases you, and appears weighty, us to hale ourselves. No other religion, therefore, know also that it comes from a man, who, both be- can be received by those who know themselves to fore and afterwards, went on his knees before Him be worthy of nothing but hatred. who is infinite, and without parts, and to whom he No other religion, but the Christian, has admithas himself entirely submitted, with prayer, that ted that man is the most excellent of all visible he would also subject you to himself for your good, creatures, and, at the same time, the most miserable. and his glory, and that thus Onnipotence might Some religions which have rightly estimated man's bless his weakness,
real worth, have censured, as mean and ungrateful, 6. We ought not to misconceive our own nature. the low opinion which men naturally entertain of We are body as well as spirit; and hence demon- their own condition. Others, well knowing the stration is not the only channel of persuasion. How depth of his degradation, have exposed, as ridicu. few things are capable of demonstration! Such lously vain, those notions of grandeur, which are proof, too, only convinces the understanding: cus- natural to men. tom gives the most conclusive proof, for it influ- No other religion, but ours has taught that man ences the senses, and by them, the judgment is car- is born in sin: no sect of philosophers ever taught ried along without being aware of it. Who has this; therefore no sect has ever spoken the truth. proved the coming of the morrow, or the fact of 5. God is evidently withdrawn from us, and every our own death? And yet what is more universally religion, therefore, which does not teach this, is believed ? It is then custom which persuades us. false; and every religion which does not teach the Custom makes so many Turks and Pagans. Cus- reason of this, is wanting in the most important tom makes artisans and soldiers, &c. True, we point of instruction. Our religion does both. must not begin here to search for truth, but we may That religion which consists in the belicf of have recourse to it when we have found out where man's fall from a state of glory and communication the truth lies, in order to imbue ourselves more with God, into a state of sorrow, humiliation, and thoroughly with that belief, which otherwise would alienation from God, and of his subsequent restora fade. For to have the series of proofs incessantly tion by a Messiah, has always been in the world before the mind, is more than we are equal to. We All things else have passed away, but this, for must acquire a more easy method of beiief; that of which all other things exist
, remains. For God, in habit, which, without violence, without art, and his wisdom, designing to form to himself a holy without argument, inclines all our powers to this people, whom he would separate from all other nabelief, so that the mind glides into it naturally. It tions, deliver from their enemies, and lead to a is not enough to believe only by the strength of ra- place of rest, did promise that he would do this, and tional conviction, while the senses ineline us to be that he would come himself into the world to do it; lieve the contrary. Our two powers must go forth and did foretell by his prophets, the very time and together; the understanding, led by those reason- manner of his coming. In the mean while, to conings which it suffices to have examined thoroughly firm the hope of his elect through all ages, he cononce; the affections, by habit, which keeps them tinually exhibited this aid to them in types and perpetually from wandering.
figures, and never left them without some evident assurances of his power and willingness to save.
For immediately after the creation, Adam was CHAPTER VIII.
made the witness to this truth, and the depository of MARKS OF THE TRUE RELIGION.
the promise of a Saviour, to be born of ihe seed of True religion should be marked by the obliga- the woman. And though men at a period so near tion to love God. This is essentially right; and yet to their creation, could not have altogether forgotno religion but the Christian has ever enjoined it. ten their origin, their fall, and the divine promise
True religion ought also to recognize the deprav- of a Redeemer; yet since the world in its very ined appetite of man, and his utter inability to be- fancy was overrun with every kind of corruption come virtuous by his own endeavors. It should and violence, God was pleased to raise up holy have pointed out the proper remedies for this evil, men, as Enoch, Lamech, and others, who, with faith of which prayer is the principal. Our religion has and patience, waited for that Saviour who had been done all this; and no other has ever taught to ask promised from the beginning of the world. At the of God the power to love and serve him.
last, God sent Noah, who was permitted to experi2. Another feature of true religion, would be the ence the malignant wickedness of man in its highknowledge of our nature. For the true knowledge est degree; and then God saved him, when he of our nature, of its true happiness, of true virtue, I drowned the whole world, by a miracle, which tes.