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with this view that the following re- clusively attributed to the violence of marks are presented to the readers of his prejudices. Hence, in a letter to the Imperial Magazine; and though the Rev. Dr. Campbell of Aberdeen, the writer entertains no sanguine whose masterly refutation of his sohopes that they will reclaim the estab | phistry on miracles does him so much lished deist, yet he would fondly per- credit, Hume requests, as a particular suade himself that they may in some favour, that in their future communiinstances guard the young and inex-cations he would no more approach the perienced against those errors, which subject of the Christian religion, addare so industriously disseminated by ing, that he “had made up his mind, the votaries of infidelity.
and was determined to receive no further In attempting so desirable an end, information on the subject.” ho will first enumerate some of the We have here only mentioned the principal causes which lead to infi- name of Hume, but in every other delity ; and secondly, shew their in- | case, the opinions of a man formed sufficiency to justify the conduct of under similar circumstances, would those who submit to their influence. be entitled to no degree of considera
Among the causes which have in tion. duced many to become infidels, one is, Though I am far from meaning to the want of an intimate acquaintance disparage those excellent treatises with the great truths of revelation. which have been written in vindication The justness of this observation may of Christianity, by such eminent men be gathered from references to the as Doddridge, Watson, Chalmers, Pawritings and confessions of infidel ley, and others, I would above all reauthors. Even Hume himself, when commend to the man who is in the pressed with the question, was com- anxious pursuit of truth, an attentive pelled to own that he had never read and dispassionate perusal of the sathe whole of the New Testament; and cred scriptures; and I have not the consequently, he must have been but smallest doubt, that he will, through partially acquainted with its doctrines. the blessing of Heaven, be as firmly No individual can be competent to convinced of their divine inspiration, form a correct judgment of the truth as he is of any moral truth in existor falsehood of any system of religion, ence. until he is thoroughly acquainted with The refinements of false science it. The religion of Jesus particularly are represented in the third volume of requires this, because it is so distri- the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, as havbuted throughout the New Testament, ing a most powerful tendency to lead that no man can form an accurate to infidelity; and to the truth of the judgment of its excellencies or defects, remark, an impartial mind can have until, by reading every verse, he com no hesitation to subscribe. To those prehends its leading doctrines. philosophers who derive their infidel “Parts, like balf sentences, confound; the
creed from the study of scientific sub· whole
jects, the lines of Pope may be justly Conveys the sense, and God is anderstood.” applied.
What, it might be asked, would be “A little learning is a dangerous thing; thought of the man who should have Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring. the hardihood boldly to attack an There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain; established truth of any particular
Bat drinking largely sobers us again.” science, wbile he openly confessed, or Dr. Isaac Watts, in his excellent unbappily betrayed, his ignorance of Treatise on the Improvement of the its fundamental principles? He would Mind, says, that “a slight acquaintbe treated with contempt by every ance with the arts and sciences has a enlightened and unprejudiced indi- strong tendency to lead to infidelity;" vidual.
and the great Lord Bacon accounts - Now, as Hume, who may be justly for this, by observing, that, “ in the considered the great leader of modern threshold of philosophy, the mind, infidels, candidly confessed that he dwelling on secondary causes, is apt was but superficially acquainted with to overlook the first cause; but that the doctrines of the Christian religion, by proceeding a little farther, and his opposition to its truths can be marking the dependence and concateaccounted for on no reasonable or nation of the great series of causes, it konograble principle, but must be ex I would be brought to see and believe
that the highest link is fixed in the fmitted, it is not irrational to conceive, Supreme Being." Were those who that this Being should have adopted have formed their infidel principles some means to reveal his will to man. from the study of the sciences, more The above remarks can be fully intimately acquainted with primary borne out by an appeal to facts. While causes, they would be led to abandon the names of individuals are produced, their atheistical creed, by looking who pretend to bave derived their “through nature up to nature's God." atheistical opinions from scientific · It would be easy to produce a long studies, it would be easy to enumerate catalogue of eminent philosophers, a goodly number of the most distinwho have been cured of their infidel guished philosophers which any age sentiments by a more thorough ac or country has produced, who have quaintance with scientific philosophy; not only been speculative, but likebut the name of Galen, one of the most wise practical, believers in the great celebrated physicians among the an- | truths of Christianity; and until the cients, sball suffice. This man, by names of Boyle, Bacon, Locke, M‘Laucontemplating the anatomy of the hu- rin, and Newton, shall be forgotten, man frame, was so struck with the Christianity may enjoy her triumphs. wonderful mechanism and harmony of It may be urged, in opposition to this its various parts, that he was con- reasoning, that some of those who verted from his atheistical opinions, have been the greatest adepts in scienand brought to acknowledge the ab- tific philosophy, have embraced an solute necessity of a first intelligent atheistical creed ; and in support Cause, and also to believe in the divine of this assertion, Bayle, Voltaire, origin of the holy scriptures.
D'Alembert, and others, have been It appears morally impossible, that brought forward. But their adoption any rational being, whose mind is not of infidel principles may be traced to shackled by the most obstinate pre- grounds that have po connexion with judices, can possess an intimate ac- their scientific researches. Dissoluto quaintance with scientific philosophy, and depraved habits generate prejuwithout seeing in all around bim the dices against that religion which so most visible and convincing traces | severely condemns them. These, and of a primary intelligent Cause. The an anxious wish, arising from vanity, sciences of astronomy and chemistry to distinguish themselves from the appear to be admirably calculated for rest of their species, by an affectation producing this end. The former can- of superior talents and learning, may not fail to impress on the mind of an sufficiently account for their rejection unprejudiced student, the necessity of of divine revelation. some all-wise and almighty Cause, to The apparent inequalities observacall into existence, place in their vari- ble in the moral government of the ous situations, propelinto motion, and world, has been another cause of infipreserve in their orbits, those innumer. delity. It will be readily admitted, able worlds, which, with such amazing that this objection wears an imposing rapidity and invariable regularity, re- aspect. Every day of our existence volve through the regions of space; it comes under our actual observation; and, at the same time, the contempla- and when we behold the wicked riots tion must fill the mind with the most ing in abundance, and the righteous exalted conceptions of that glorious frequently languishing in adversity, Being who is capable of performing we are not much disposed to wonder, such mighty actions. The science of that the human mind, especially when chemistry too, which develops the na- stimulated by an evil agency, should ture of those unalterable laws which well nigh doubt the existence of a regulate our material world, is most benevolent, intelligent, and omnipoadmirably adapted to prove the neces- tent Governor of the world. Such sity of an all-wise, intelligent, and considerations as these have often omnipotent Author. In short, the nearly staggered the faith even of the whole circle of scientific philosophy, Christian believer himself. if studied with suitable feelings, has But it should be seriously impressed an irresistible tendency to impress the on the minds of such objectors, that it unbiassed mind with a conviction of is not for limited faculties like ours, the necessity of some intelligent Being; to penetrate the skies, and fathom the and when this primary truth is ad- designs of Heaven. Those dispensar tions of Providence which to gs are, direct variance with their principles, for the present, dark and mysterious, that therefore the principles of the are, no doubt, intended to accomplish whole body of professing Christians purposes which shall redound to the must also necessarily be bad. It should glory of God, and prove in the highest ever be recollected, that they are not degree beneficial to the immortal in. all Israel which are of Israel ; in the terests of man. We have more reason purest society of Christians which to suspect our own powers, than to have ever existed, there have been a question the economy of God; and it greater or less number of hypocrites. should ever satisfy the inquiring mind, There was in the company of our Sathat what we know not now, we shall viour, while in this world, a Judas in know hereafter, when the light of the number of his few chosen apostles; eternity shall dispel the shadows of and we have reason to apprehend, time, and the attributes of Deity shall that it will continue so to be until the shine forth in all their splendour. end of time. But, besides this, it is to · The dissolute manners of professing | be feared, that there are belonging to Christians, and especially of the mi- | every denomination of Christians, and nisters of the gospel, bave contributed even invested with the ministerial much to advance the cause of infideli- character, some masked infidels, who ty. Modern infidels have triumphantly have assumed the name, and who susexhibited to the gaze of the world, the tain the profession, for no other purnames and conduct of religious pro- pose than to forward their sinister fessors, particularly suoh as have filled views. It should also be remembered, the important office of the Christian that as a state of absolute perfection ministry, and, by the profigacy of their is not attainable by man, many of those behaviour, have belied their profes- imperfections which characterize the sions. They have presented the world lives of individuals, are to be attributwith a catalogue of the names anded to the force of temptation, opératorimes af ministers belonging to the ing on the weakness of human nature; churches of Scotland and England, they should not therefore be brought the Methodists, the Independents, the forward to impugu those principles Baptists, and, in short, to every body, which constitute the Christian creed. of professiog Christians who have been The barsh and gloomy sentiments guilty of impieties. “We see,” they which some Christians have entertainabserve, “some new instances of their ed, and zealously defended, have furshocking immorality and dissolute nished another powerful reason with inanners, in the every-day occurrences many for adopting an atheistical creed. of the professedly religious world. We There are many well-meaning Chriss see them perpetrating the most atro tians, who think that there can be no cious crimes-crimes which disgrace genuine religion, where the professor humanity, and which merit the severest of it does not evince a melancboly punishment which it is possible for disposition, and practise austerity in human ingenuity to devise.” From the whole of his conduct. Pointed as facts like these they infer, tbat because Christianity is againstall sinfulamusethe practices of such professing Chris- ments, the religion of Jesus does by tians have been base, their professed no means prohibit us from indulging principles cannot be true.
in innocent cheerfulpess, or even from That these charges brought against amusing ourselves with such employs nominal Christians are true with re-ments as, from their very nature, can gard to many, is a fact which cannot bave po manifest tendency to injure be depied; and we are fully persuaded the morals. On the contrary, nothing it has contributed more to promote the can be better calculated to exhilarata cause of infidelity than the sarcastic the spirits and rejoice the heart, than sneers of Gibbon, the refined sophistry those exercises, which it allows and of Hume, or the coarse ribaldry of sanctions. It is therefore an entire Paine. But while we admit the truth stranger to that sullen moroseness of the premises, we must decidedly which is so discernible in the deportprotest against the validity of the con- ment of many professing and sincere clusion. It is repugnant to every Christians; and the rejecters of divine known rule of logic, and just principle revelation would do well to consider, of reasoning, to infer, because the con that the forbidding gloom which they duct of a few individuals bas been at despise, is not to be attributed to the
nature or spirit of the Christian reli- ditional reprobation, they have repregion, but to the mistaken views of its sented the Deity as cruel and vindice disciples.
tive-delighting in the everlasting torBut, perbaps, the harsh opinions ments of those whom he has created which many Christians have enter and preserved, thus directly contra-. tained, and zealously laboured to vin | dicting that passage of scripture, and dicate, bave done more for the cause a thousand others of the same nature, of infidelity, than even their melan wherein he has declared, that “he choly deportment. So far as harsh hath no pleasure in the death of him opinion may be inferred from practice, that dieth, but would rather that all the church of Rome has, by her per- should turn and live.” On these secuting spirit, proved herself the speculative points, and their tendency enemy of Christ. But those deeds of to anti-christianism, the writer would darkness by which that community is simply observe, that in order to be. distinguished, can never be considered come a Christian, it is by no means as the offspring of gospel light. The necessary to subscribe to the absurd torturing rack, the bloody scaffold, and and unscriptural dogmas of any sect; the flaming stake, have not originated and if infidels would but attentively in the religion of Jesus, and its princi- search the scriptures for themselves, ples are no more chargeable with they would be convinced, that those these enormities, than they are ac- harsh doctrines are not to be found countable for the robberies and mur- within the whole compass of divine ders which some of its nominal profes- | revelation, sors commit.
The diversity of opinion which exIt must also be confessed, that the ists among the various sects of prospirit of persecution has sometimes fessing Christians, into wbich the been manifested by those who have Christian world is divided, has likebeen most warmly attached to the wise contributed, in no small degree, interests of the Protestant religion. to increase the votaries of jufidelity. This ought to cause the deepest hu- It is a cause of unfeigned sorrow, that miliation in such as are the true disci there should be such diversified sentiples of Jesus, who should use every ments entertained by those who prolawful exertion in their power, to crush fess to follow the same Master, and to the rising symptoms of such a spirit. derive their faith from the doctrines But this disposition is not to be at of the same sacred volume. But while tributed to religion, but to the frenzied we participate in the sorrow which feelings of misguided zealots, whose such a circumstance is calculated to fierce and enthusiastic notions have produce in the mind, we must endealeft both reason and revelation far be-vour to vindicate the records of truth hind them ; nor can the most acute from those aspersions, which, on that infidel, by searching the pages of the account, bave been unjustly thrown New Testament, find, either in the upon them. Infidels, availing themprecepts or example of Christ or his selves of these diversities, have streapostles, a single sentence which au- nuously argued, that the Bible cannot thorizes Christians to cherish a per- be a divine revelation, because so secuting spirit.
many different sentiments, some of Another species of harshness which them diametrically opposite in their has promoted the cause of infidelity, nature, are collected from it, and supis, the appalling views wbich areported by it. To this objection it must maintained by bigh Calvinists, regard- be replied, that those various and op ing the nature and attributes of the posite tenets are by no means to be Deity. Those who are acquainted attributed to the Bible, but to the errwith these opinions must be well | ing judgments and prejudiced minds aware, that Calvin, and many of his of those who have perused and studied modern followers, have propagated it. It will readily be acknowledged, doctrines, relative to the eternal de- that there are many passages containcrees of God, which have not only ed in holy-writ, difficult to be undermade many turn away from divine stood; and these passages have, no revelation with disgust, but have even doubt, a tendency to generate conflictshocked the feelings of multitudes | ing opinions; but the general tenor of whose Christianity has never been divine revelation, and especially of doubted. By their notions of uncon- | those doctrines which are more essen
tially necessary to be known, is so sided within the city of Athens, laid it plain and obvious, “that he may run down as an incontrovertible axiom, tbat that readeth it;" so that the different nothing could proceed from nothing; opinions which have been formed, re- and hence they endeavoured to prove, garding some of the doctrines of the that the pre-existence of a material Christian religion, only prove the cause was not less necessary to the weakness and imperfection of the hu- | formation of the world, than the preman mind.
existence of an omnipotent mind; thus But as those individuals, who are representing the supreme Being as the most ready to bring forward this possessed of a material form ; or raobjection against the religion of Jesus, ther, confounding God and nature, and generally make the greatest preten- making them the same. sions to superior judgment and learn- The opinion of Thales cannot now ing, why do they not pursue the be ascertained; but his immediate same plan against those literary and disciples rejected the doctrine, that scientific subjects on which they be-mind was the primary principle of stow the most intense and incessant material creation, and insisted on the study, and reject them altogether ? eternity of matter. Are there not impenetrable myste- Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucreries and phenomena in astronomy, tias, with a great many others, adopted chemistry, electricity, the mathema the atomical hypothesis of the creatics, and, in short, in almost every tion of the world, and Epicurus, after science which has ever engaged the having represented atoms as the eleattention of philosophers? Upon the ments of which all things are comsame principle, therefore, these ob- | posed, tells us, that a finite number of jectors ought to reject every science atoms tumbling through the vacuum as false, which is attended with a sin ---for previous to this it would appear gle difficulty, or on which a diversity that there had been nothing but atoms of opinion has obtained. In the mean and vacuum-were collected, in conwhile they may rest assured, that, as sequence of their sluggish motion, into soon as they have satisfactorily ac- an indigested mass, which constitutes counted for every mystery and diffi- the world as it exists at the present culty in scientific philosophy, they day. shall obtain from the advocates of As it respects the existence of a Christianity a clear solution of all God, the opinions of the ancient infithose sublime mysteries attendant on dels were not less various. Zeno and the doctrine of the Tripity, the incar- his followers, indeed, acknowledged a nation of Christ, and indeed on every supreme Being; but they maintained, subject within the compass of divine that God, in creating the world, was revelation.
not influenced by his own free will, But there is, perhaps, a still more but by an invincible necessity of naeffectual method of answering the ob- ture. Some there were, who admitted jection thus brought against the Chris- the existence of a supreme Being ; but tian religion, and that is, hy urging they likewise believed in a great numtheir diversity of opinion against what ber of inferior divinities. Others inthey call natural theology. Will infidels sisted, that those substances which have the hardihood to deny, that they they had themselves formed accordare not as far from being agreed among ing to their fancies, were gods. A themselves, with regard to their natu- third class deified the various vegetaral theology, as Christians are respect- ble productions of nature. A fourth ing the religion of Jesus! Let the fol-class represented Night and Chaos as Jowing short statement of the absurd | the sole creators of all things; while a opinions that have been entertained fifth, among whom may be numbered on the leading points of natural reli- Thales and his followers, maintained gion, answer the question.
the opinion, that if there were gods, Among the ancient Greeks and they must either be air, or the progeny Romans, some sentiments were em of air. In short, so various and nubraced, regarding the creation of the merous were the deities that figured world, wbich the inmates of Bedlam in the mythology of the ancients, that might be ashamed to own. Plato, upwards of thirty thousand have been Anaxagoras, and Aristotle, three of enumerated! the greatest philosophers whicheverre-! Nor have modern infidels bcen less