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Judge of men and angels shall interpose to decide it.
To this true state of things the gospel is adapted: the religion proper for man must be built
upon the history of man; as the best account of natural causes must be drawn from the history of nature; all the rest is but sophistry and delusion. The clergy especially, who are so often called upon to heal the distempers of the soul, should be well acquainted with its history and constitution; and the science is as requisite to them, as the anatomy of the human frame is to a common physician.
And now, if the fall of man is really the leading fact, to which our faith is adapted; what a preposterous, unnatural, useless, dangerous system of religion must that be, which either omits, or denies it! The scheme of Deism, which calls itself Natural Religion, is this very system. For the fall of man is a fact, which (though reason and experience may easily justify it when known) uninformed reason cannot find out; therefore the religion of nature takes no notice of it, but proceeds as if man were now in the state in which the Creator left him. Corruption and renovation are the two articles which run through every branch of our faith; but natural religion has neither of these. The salvation of man is the result of the triumph of Jesus Christ over Satan : natural religion knows nothing of either party. Our whole life here upon earth is a struggle against temptation from the powers of darkness,, under which the grace of God only is able to support us ; but natural religion says not one word either of grace or temptation. So that upon the whole, if there is a doctrine among Christians, which can render their whole creed ineffectual and impertinent, it is this, that religion (properly so called) is natural to man: from which the inferences are obvious, that nature has been encroaching upon religion, and undermining civil society, ever since its claims were set on foot by some speculating divines, and taken up, on their authority, by the Deists.
How we shall get back again from nature to Christianity, God Almighty knows! The progress is
ир hill, and therefore difficult and doubtful. The case of the Heathens at the propagation of Christianity was not nearly so bad as that of Christians, relapsed, by this road, into infidelity. They saw and confessed, that nature had carried them into error and misery: that they were become fools by pretending to be wise:
and so they were glad to take a better guide. But when men have taken the blind guide as the best of all, and think they can see every thing by their own light; they will go on in their own way till it is too late to turn back. All we can do, with hope of success, is to warn others not to follow them.
The clergy of this church are admonished by the canons, to preach against Popery four times in a year; but if they were now to preach forty times in a year against this modern religion of nature, it might be more to the purpose.
Moralists, then, may boast of their dignity as they please: our religion is made for men who have lost their dignity; and it will succeed only upon those, who glory in their infirmities, and determine to know nothing but Christ crucified. He who sets up his dignity, independent of revelation and divine graće, hath forgotten that he was baptized ; and hath invented a new gospel, as subversive of the old, as the vain traditio the Scribes and Pharisees were subversi- pe Mosaic Law. The wise men of this
as they think as call themselves) err giving us represen
hum much differing
Apon this swa
pastoral, with all the artificial ornaments of poetry, differs from the ignorance and rusticity of real, life. In this our modern rrasoners are condemned by the Heathens, who have left us true and striking descriptions of human corruption. They never pretended that their religion was natural: their gods were traditional; they were the gods of their fathers; they signified the different powers of the created world, and their whole ritual was a system of expiation by sacrifice, such as natural religion never owned nor thought of. Let scholars consider this fact *.
Another * Heathens did not allow of a light of nature as a suffi. cient guide in religion or civil life: and their writings abound with testimonies of its insufficiency and corruption. Nec natura potest justo secernere iniquum.
Hox. Sat. Lib. i. 3. Περον εν παλες πινεσι τον πλανoν η 8; παλες πινεσιν, εφ. • Do all mankind drink of the cup of error when they come into life? Yea, said he, they all drink of itCebes id
* ας μεν πρώία θιες, νομω ως διακετα
immortal Gods as it is laid drwy by
take this precept, Fhuc at of heatbenism. mmg zit called natural riu. Foru the law of 7 Tier te