uncleanness, and they worshipped, and served the creature instead of the creator!

Another objection is taken from the 14th Psalm, to my ideas: "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." This scripture has a reference to the moral conduct of man, and is not applicable to the present discussion, except in shewing the natural propensity of man to forget God. That it has a reference to moral conduct is obvious from the connection. "The fool saith in his heart there is no God. They are corrupt; they have done abominable work; there is none that doeth good. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no not one. Corruption produces spiritual blindness, and spiritual blindness corruption.

The second chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the 14th, and 15th verses, are the corner stone of natural religion. They stand thus: For when the Gentiles which have not the Law do by nature the things contained in the Law these having not the Law, are a Law unto themselves: which shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, &c.

This is one of the many passages of scripture in which the Word of God is adduced to prove what the meaning of the word will never authorise.

I will, in my observations upon this passage, employ many of the remarks, and arguments of a great Biblical Critic.

The Religion, and Law of Nature, are, by many, cried up with as much noise, and clamour, and perhaps with as little sense too, as the great Goddess Diana was by the Ephesians, when the "greater part" of those who were joined in the cry, "knew not wherefore they were come together. This religion, and law, are said to be eternal by many-that it is so exceeding clear in its principles, as to be the only true light "that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world." It is so universal in its extent, that it comprehends the whole race of mankind, &c. Now all these assertions seem to me very shocking positions, not only incapable of

being reconciled to the word of God, but of fatal tendency to strengthen the hands of those that oppose it.And in fact we find that the keenest arrows that have been shot against christianity, have been drawn from this quiver. What

some very good men have made the only foundation of our faith, other very bad men perhaps with less inconsistency, made the principle foundation of their infidelity. And if our divines will still tell them that unless all the great things contained in their Law of Nature are first known, and be lieved, the revelation of God himself can signify nothing; we cannot, I think, much wonder, that they should now at last tell our divines, that where all these great things are first known, and believed, revelation can signify little. For the very end of revelation, as I have frequently before observed, is to discover to us by a supernatural light from heaven, those things, and truths which we are naturally ignorant of, and not the truths which we naturally know.

I must here tell the reader in the plainest terms, that the passage of scripture above quoted, as the text from which natural religion is so often preached, is an erroneous translation; is contrary to the analogy of the scriptures, and di rectly opposed to the Apostle's meaning; and it is owing to an improper pointing in the original. When properly pointed, and literally translated, it stands thus: "When the Gentiles which have not the Law by nature, do the things contained in the Law, &c. The words thus arranged, are strong, and beautiful, and the sense of them plain, and obvious. I now proceed to prove by Paul himself, that the translation in our bibles is erroneous, and that the one above is correct. The Gentiles, according to the interpretation in the 14th, and 15th verses of the 2nd chapter of Romans, were those very Gentiles who continued under that apostacy, and revolt from God, which the first Gentiles in the preceding chapter began. Read over the 'large catalogue of stupendous sins to which the first Gentiles were abandoned by God upon their apostacy from him; and then compare them, and try if it is possible that those Gentiles who persevered in this apostacy from the true God could deserve to be in any sense capable of that character which St. Paul. gives them in the text. The former description presents us

with a ghastly scene of the greatest enormities that man can commit; the latter expresses, in a few words, the height of piety, and goodness. We are to recollect that St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles, sent "to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." The Gentiles in the text must be either those who were converted, or those who still "sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death," under the dominion of the Devil, "without Christ, without hope, and without God in the world." If they were Gentiles by nature, who were converted to Christ, the character which Paul gives them in the verses under consideration, is consistent with every text in scripture, which speaks of the first converts in as high terms; but if they were still under the power of Satan, you may as soon reconcile light, and darkness, Christ and Belial together, as to make the received interpretation of this passage consistent either with common sense or the Word of God.

What are the things contained in the Law? Is not the very first, and greatest commandment of all, "Thou shalt have no other Gods but me?" Is not the second "Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.-Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them?" Could the Gentiles, before they were converted, and turned from idols to serve the living God who made heaven, and earth, do the things contained in this Law? To say they could is a glaring contradiction.

Moses tells us "that whoever sacrificeth unto God save unto Jehovah only, shall be utterly destroyed." And were the Gentiles, who. Paul says, "sacrificed unto devils, and not unto God," the very same Gentiles who, the same Apostle tells us, "did the things contained in the Law?" It is absolutely impossible. But here it may be said that these laws were given to the Israelites only, and not to the Gentiles. I own it, and I plead for it: the strength of my argument against the boasted law of nature is from this irresistable, and the astonishing weakness of the plea for natural religion from the passage demonstrable. "God had shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes, and judgments unto Israel; but he had not dealt so with any other nation, neither had the



heathen any knowledge of his laws." No; it was in Ju dah only that God himself was known, his name was great in Israel; whereas all the gods of the nations were idols.

But where then, in the mean time, was this boasted Law of Nature, or what was the light thereof, which, during this long period of pagan darkness, could not distinguish an i dol from the living God, nor the creature from the creator? And shall we be still told that natural religion is the foundation of that which is revealed? So that where the being, and attributes of God, and other great points of morality, are not first known by the light of nature, revelation itself can sig rify nothing; and that it is ridiculous, in all respects ridicuyous, to pretend to prove these things by revelation? How comes it that an argument from the mouth of God shall be thought ridiculous, which in the mouth of a modern philosopher, and natural religionist, of a Voltaire, a Volney, a Paine, &c. shall carry the force of demonstration? Is not the Bible as good a book, and as sufficient too, for the conviction of an Atheist, as their writings? Cannot God, the Almighty Being, reveal himself to them that knew him not, discover himself to them that ask not after him? What! was not Christ then in truth "a Light to lighten the Gentiles,"" who knew not God? Or did he not indeed send his Apostles to open the eyes of these blind Pagans, "to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God?"

The great Apostle of the Gentiles had converted many thousands of them to the faith of Christ; but in every Epistle which he writes to confirm them in this faith, he never fails to remind them of the deplorable state they were in before their conversion to it. They were then "without strength, the servants of sin, and enemies in their mind by wicked works;" nay, they were even "dead in sins," and by nature the children of wrath, even as others." And is it possible that they could at the same time do, and that by nature too, the things contained in the Law? He tells them, that before their conversion, they lived as other Gentiles live, "in fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence," and all those sins "for which the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience."


were they at that time a sufficient law unto themselves? He reminds them that "in times past they walked as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understandings darkened, being alienated from the life through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts, who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." And can the wildest, and most superstitious imagination, believe that the same Apostle could affirm, that they did, at that time, "shew the work of the Law written in their hearts?" What a load of absurdities, and contradictions, does this single misinterpretation throw upon the great Apostle St. Paul? And yet, how greedily has it been catched at by some learned men to advance a favourite notion, which is inconsistent with, and plainly contradicted in, almost every passage of scripture; and which is demonstrably erroneous, from the very nature, and necessity of things. So far from Paul once thinking of this strange Law of Nature; so far from once speaking one single word in its favour; so far from asserting that the invisible things of God could ever be discovered by the bare light of nature, that he not only affirms over, and over, that "the Gentiles knew not God;" but moreover proves too that they never could have known him unless God in his infinite mercy had first sent his Apostles to preach, and reveal him unto them. This, in St. Paul's judgment, was the only mean by which God could ever be found of them who sought him not, or be made manifest to them that asked not after him. It is somewhat surprising that good christians should differ so widely from him;-in this they have erected the very citadel of infidelity. They deny the fact, that it is by the revelations of God's spirit in words, or that it is by the Word of God that the human race, circumstanced as they are, acquire the name, and knowledge of God-his character, and future purposes concerning them;-and they assert that the natural powers of the human mind, without spiritual light, can have spiritual perceptions, and thereby deny that the human mind is dependent upon God's word for spiritual ideas; (the world has not so learnt God through Jesus Christ.) It is on this account that revelation, the sole conveyer of spiritu

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