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species wore, at the fame time they direct us to love every individual of it less. In pursuit of this chimerical project, which, to the shame and disgrace of this country, has found advocates in England, as well as in France, gratitude, humility, conjugal, parental, and silial affection, together with all the lovely train of domestic virtues, are ridiculed and degraded, as too low and vulgar for the attention of enlightened philosophers; virtue is consined solely to a certain vague and enthusiastic ardour for the general good, and the affections for the social circle in which we live are violently transferred to distant countries and unknown multitudes. But surely it is natural to inquire, when all the common charities are thus deadened and destroyed, when the flame that communicates its genial warmth and brightness to social life is extinguished, and all the ties that now bind man to man are torn asunder by the hand of the modern Philosophises—surely it is natural to inquire from whence is this ardent affection for the general good to spring? And when they have completed their work of insensibility, or rather of infatuation; when they have taught their disciple to look with perfect indifference upon his nearest connexions; when he has estranged himself from his friends, insulted his benefactors, and silenced the voice of gratitude, pity, and charity, will he be better prepared for the love of his species? Will he become a true philanthropist, in proportion as he labours to suppress the feelings, and neglects the duties of a parent and a friend? Rather may Vol. i. F we
we not conclude with certainty, that in this attempt to revive a species of Stoicism, and to banish all the feelings which soften, humanize, and resine our hearts, that selsishness, morofeness, and cold and sullen apathy will assume the empire of the soul, and sink the human character to the loweft state of degradation and wretchedness? Rather may we not be certain that under pretence of advancing the general and universal good— terms that are so indesinite as to be almost unintelligible, when applied to creatures of limited capacities like man, endued with limited powers, and moving in narrow spheres of action—terms belonging to an object to which imagination may give innumerable shapes—rather may we not be certain that-he will be prepared for the breach of every duty, and the perpetration of every crime? ■But if those who indulge in thefe wild speculations, and thus sport with humanity as well as reason, were to examine the holy Scriptures, they would perceive that Revelation is in perfect harmony with the order of nature, which instructs us by our own feelings that universal benevolence is •the last and molt perfect fruit of the social affections. Such is the voice of nature, and such is Jhe principle. of ancient philosophy resined, enlarged, and perfected by Christianity. The solid arguments of the great Roman Orator, when reasoning upon this subject, hi his Treatise on the Duties os' Man, in which lie comprises the wisdom of all former ages, coincide with the precepts of holy Writ.. Thus do Reason and Revelation unite to
cdnsirm the order of Nature, which leads in all things from particulars to generals, from private to public affections, from the love of parents, brothers, and sifters, to those more extensive relations, which, beginning with our native place, extend to our country, and from thence proceeding, comprehend the vast society of the human race. An attempt to reverse this order is as absurd as to build without a foundation, to expect a copious and perennial stream after the source of a river has been exhausted, or to think to attain the height of science, without acquiring the sirst elements of knowledge.
From whatever causes the doubts and cavils of modern Insidels arise, whether from a desire to gain the reputation of superior sagacity, a love of novelty, an ambition to soar above vulgar notions, or the indulgence in such practices as are inconsistent with the purity of the Christian character; it is clear, they are imperfectly acquainted with the real nature of the religion itself, and the various proofs by which it is supported. They condemn not so much what they do not understand, as what they do not give themselves the trouble to investigate.
A due attention to ancient history might have a happy effect in removing their doubts, and preparing the way for their conversion. Let them inquire into the ignorance and depravity of the world, before the coming of Christ; the super
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stition and cruelty of Pagan worship, and the insufsiciency of philosophy, as a guide to moral excellence: let them consider, whether it was not highly probable, that under such circumstances an all-wise and an all-merciful Being would impart his will to mankind: let them ask themselves seriously, whether it is reasonable to conclude, that, after ages of ignorance of his true character, this all-wife and all-merciful Being would at length six upon falsehood, and that alone, as they pretend Christianity to be, for the effectual method of making himself known to his creatures: and that •what the honest and ardent exercise of reason by the wisest men, such as Socrates, Plato, and Cicero, was not permitted to accomplish, he should allow to be effected by fraud, delusion, and imposture8. Let them proceed to examine the leading facts attending the origin and progress of Christianity;—facts that reft entirely upon independent proofs to establish their truth; such as the humble birth of our Lord, the sublime nature of bis G ospei, absolutely irreconcilable with the prejudices of his countrymen, and extremely unpalatable to the Cientiles; and more particularly the total want of all human aid to ensure its reception, and promote its success. The religion was sirst propagated when nearly all the nations of th» ancient world were reduced under one covernment, and were, comparatively with the preceding times, in a state of tranquillity; and when a more
* Hall's Sermon, p. 48.
secure secure and more general intercourse took place between them, in consequence of the Roman power and civilization, very recently introduced. The Religion was embraced and professed by Constantine the Great, and thus acquired countenance and stability, after it had, for a long time, endured every species of examination and persecution, and, a very Jhort time before the Northern Barbarians overran the Empire. Do these very particular eras look like the effects of acciden't, tending as they do so directly to favour the rife and the establishment of the Gospel. And is it not utterly inconsistent with common fense to suppose that such savourable conjunctures were brought about by human means, when the powers of the world were decidedly hostile to the cause? Were unbelievers to apply their minds seriously to the subject, would they not, we may considently alk, sind these, and many other arguments tending to the fame point? And might not their curiosity then lead them to extend their researches into all its direct and positive evidences?
Among other instances that might be mentioned, the conduct of Soame Jenyns, the author of "a View of the internal Evidence of the Christian Religion," gives us full authority to answer these questions in the afsirmative. He has stated with great candour the progress of his conviction of the truth of Christianity; and makes his acknowledgments in its favour in a manner, which shews the strength and the effect of its evidences, when exgmined with care and attention.
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