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velation, he will prove that God gave to man a faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong with such correctness, that his own immediate revelation added no lights to those, which the powers of reason had already discovered. Let us grant therfore for a moment, that Christ's religion revealed to the world no new truths in morality, nor removed any
errors, and what triumph accrues to the deist by the admission? The most he gains is to bring reason to a level with revelation, as to its moral doctrines; in so doing he dignifies man's nature, and shews how excellant a faculty God gave his creatures in their original formation, to guide their judgments and control their actions ; but will this diminish the importance of revealed religion? Certainly not, unless he can prove one or both of the following positions; viz.
First, That the moral tenets of Christianity either fall short of or run counter to, the moral tenets of natural religion; or,
Secondly, That Christ's Mission was nugatory and superfluous, because the world was already in possession of as good a system of morality as he imparted to mankind.
As to the first, I believe it has never been attempted by any heathen or deistical advocate to convict the Gospel system of false morality, or to allege that it is short and defective in any one particular duty, when compared with that system which the world was possest of without its aid. No man, I believe, has controverted its truths, though many have disputed its discoveries: No man has been hardy enough to say of any of its doctrines—This we ought not to practise; though many have been vain enough to cry out--All this we knew before.Let us leave this position therefore for the present, and pass to the next, viz. Whether Christ's mis
sion was nugatory and superfluous, because the world already knew as much morality as he taught them.'
This will at once be answered, if the Gospel assertion be established, that life and immortality were brought to light. We need not adduce any other of the mysteries of revelation; we may safely rest the question here, and say with the apostle to the Gentile world— Behold! «I shew you a mystery : We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, (for the trumpet shall sound) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Mark to how short an issue the argument is now brought! Either the apostle is not warranted in calling this a mystery, or the deist is not warranted in calling Christ's mission nugatory and superfluous.
It now rests with the deist to produce, from the , writings and opinions of mankind antecedent to Christianity, such a revelation of things to come, as can fully anticipate the Gospel revelation, or else to admit with the apostle that a mystery was shewn; and if the importance of this mystery be admitted, as it surely must, the importance of Christ's mission can no longer be disputed; and though revelation shall have added nothing to the heathem system of morality, still it does not follow that it was superfluous. and nugatory.
Let the deist resort to the heathen Elysium and the realms of Pluto, in search of evidences, to set in competition with the Christian revelation of a future state; let him call in Socrates, Plato, and as many more as he can collect in his cause; it is but lost labour to follow the various tracks of reason through the pathless ocean of conjecture, always wandering, though with different degrees of deviation. What does it avail, though Seneca had taught as good
morality as Christ himself preached from the Mount? How does it affect revealed religion, though Tully's Offices were found superior to Saint Paul's Épistles ? Let the deist indulge himself in declaiming on the virtues of the heathen heroes and philosophers ; let him ransack the annals of the Christian world, and present us with legions of crusaders drenched in human blood, furious fanatics rushing on each other's throats, for the distinction of a word, massacreing whole nations, and laying nature waste for a metaphysical quibble, it touches not religion; let him array a host of persecuting Inquisitors, with all their torturing engines, the picture indeed is terrible, but who will say it is the picture of Christianity.
When we consider the ages which have elapsed since the introduction of Christianity, and the events attending its propagation, how wonderful is the history we contemplate! we see a mighty light spreading over all mankind, from one spark kindled in an obscure corner of the earth: An humble persecuted teacher preaches a religion of peace, of forgiveness of injuries, of submission to temporal authorities, of meekness, piety, brotherly love, and universal benevolence; he is tried, condemned, and executed, for his doctrines; he rises from the tomb, and, breaking down the doors of death, sets open to all mankind the evidence of a life to come, and at the same time points out the sure path to everlasting happiness in that future state: A few unlettered disciples, his adherents and survivors, take up his doctrines, and going forth amongst the provinces of the Roman empire, then in its zenith, preach a religion to the Gentiles, directly striking at the foundation of the most splendid fabric Superstition ever reared on earth: These Gentiles are not a rude and barbarous race, but men of illuminated minds, acute philosophers, eloquent orators, powerful reasoners, eminent in arts and sciences, and armed with sovereign power: What an undertaking for the teachers of Christianity! What a conflict for a religion, holding forth no temporal allurements! On the contrary, promising nothing but mortification in this world, and referring all hope of a reward for present sufferings, to the unseen glories of a life to come.
The next scene which this review presents to us, shews the followers of Christianity suffering under persecution by the heathen, whom their numbers had alarmed, and who began to tremble for their gods: in the revolution of ages the church becomes triumphant, and, made wanton by prosperity, degenerates from its primitive simplicity, and running into idle controversies and metaphysical schisms, persecutes its seceding brethren with unremitting fury; whilst the Popes, thundering out anathemas and hurling torches from their throne,
seem the vicegerents of the furies, rather than of the author of a religion of peace: the present time affords a diferent view; the temper of the church grown milder, though its zeal less fervent; men of different communions begin to draw nearer to each other; as refinement of manners becomes more general, toleration spreads; we are no longer slaves to the laws of religion, but converts to the reason of it; and being allowed to examine the evidence and foundation of the faith that is in us, we discover that Christianity is a religion of charity, toleration, reason, and peace, enjoining us to have compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that we are thereunto called, that we should inherit a blessing.'
DARK and erroneous as the minds of men in gene-
idea of God, nor think of him as of a corporeal being, such as thyself; he is inscrutable to man, now ap