« AnteriorContinuar »
to light, and the means clearly pointed out by which we may obtain everlasting hap. piness. With the records of such a revelation in their hands, is it not then astonish. ing that mankind do not earnestly, and so. licitously, and with all their faculties, ap. ply themselves to enquire into the authenti. city of writings which profess to reveal truths to them so interesting and momentous ! Truths so important, that in comparison therewith, all other concerns vanish, or seem “trifles light'as air ?” Orato express myself in the appropriate and elegant language of a liberal divine, whose amia. ble manners, piety and learning, reflect hunor on a dignified station; “ Is it not a very wonderful thing, that a being such as man, placed on a little globe of earth, in a little corner of the universe, cut off from all communication with the other systems which are dispersed through the immenfity of space; imprisoned as it were on the spot where he happens to be born ; almost whol. ly ignorant of the variety of spiritual exist.
(d) Richard Wation, D. D. F. R. S. and Bishop of Landafi,
ences, and circumscribed in his knowledge of material things by their remoteness, mag. nitude, or minuteness; a stranger to the nature of the very pebbles on which he treads ; unacquainted, or but very obscurely informed by his natural faculties of his condition after death;-is it not wonderful that a being such as this, should reluctantly receive, or fastidiously reject, the instruction of the Eternal God! or, if this is say. ing too much, that he should hastily, and negligently, and triumphantly conclude, that the Supreme Being never had condescended to instruct the race of man? It might properly have been expected, that a rational being, so circumstanced, would have sedulously inquired into a subject of such vast importance; that he would not have suffered himself to have been diverted from the investigation, by the pursuits of wealth, or honor, or any temporal con. cern; much less by notions taken up with. out attention, arguments admitted without examination, or prejudices imbibed in ear. ly youth, from the prophane ridicule, or
impious jestings of fenfual or immoral men."
Nor is it sufficient, in an affair of such infinite importance, that we take a superficial view of the subject. It is an old, but very just observation, that a little learning is, in many cases, more dangerous to its poffessor than ignorance itself, and in no instance can this be more true, than in that of Religion. If a man is already prejudiced against the Christian Revelation, a fu. perficial view of the matter will be more likely to confirm, than to banish those prejudices ; or, if he was not before prejudiced, it is not improbable, but he will, by that means, become so. An acute reasoner, fpeaking on this subject to " those busy or idle persons, whose time and thoughts are wholly engrossed by the pursuits of business or pleasure, ambition or luxury; who know nothing of this religion, except what they have accidentally picked up by defultory conversation, or fuperficial reading, and have thence determined with them.
(e) Preface to "a Collection of Theological Tracts,' by.Dr. Watson,
felves, that a pretended revelation, founded on so strange and improbable a story, so contradictory to reason, so adverse to the world and all its occupations, so incredible in its doctrines, and in its precepts so impracticable, can be nothing more than the imposition of priest-craft upon ignorant and
illiterate ages, and artfully continued as an , engine well adapted to awe and govern the
superstitious vulgar;"— speaking to persons of this description, an acute reasoner has said, “I am ready to acknowledge that these gentiemen, as far as their information reaches, are perfectly in the right; and if they are endued with good understandings, which have been entirely devoted to the bu. siness or amusements of the world, they can pass no other judgment, an 1 must revolt from the history and doctrines of this religion. The preaching Christ crucified, was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness ;fand so it must appear to all, who, like them, judge from established prejudi. ces, false learning, and superficial know
(f) s. Cor. i. 26.
ledge ;; but if they would go more deeply into the subject ; if such persons would lay aside their prejudices, and give themselves the trouble carefully to examine the re
cords of the christian religion, and the his"torical evidence by which it is supported;
if they would consider the fublimity of its do&rines, the beauty and justness of its moral precepts; enter into the wonders of its dispensations, follow the chain of its prophecies, and mark their exact fulfil. ment; if they would further consider who are the authors of this religion, the means by which it was propagated, the rapidity with which it fpread, and its speedy establishment, under circumstances the most adverse; they would then, I conceive, see the matter in another light, and form a very different conclufion ; they would then perceive the impossibility of such a religion having been invented or propagated by such persons ;--of events of such vast magni. tude, having been accomplished by means To insignificant ;-of effects so astonishing,
(g) See « A view of the internal evidence of the Christian Religion," by Soape Jepyas.