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Free-thinkers so often introduce on the stage, as paragons of wisdom, in order to play the dazzling glass in the eyes of the unwary, by making reason their only oracle, and painting religion as priest-craft ? Some doubted of their own existence, and consequently of the exiisi ence of a God. Scr'ne figured to themselves an indolent God, who never concerned himself in the affairs of mortals, equally indifferent about vice or virtue ; who, to use the words of Lucretius, " ne'er smiles at good, ne'er frowns " at wicked deeds." Some considered the' Supreme Being as the slave of destiny. Others as incorporate with the universe, and a part of a world which is the work of his hand.
What extravagant notions concerning the na-' ture of the soul! In one school it was an assemblage of atoms; in another it was subtile air; in athird school it was a something which after its separation from one body entered into another ; roaming from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven, without any permanent abode ; alternately swaying the sceptre of authority in the hands of the monarch, and animating the body of a beast of burden. Their great reme* dy against the terrors of death, consisted in a false but flattering way of reasoning. " Either the u soul dies with the body, or survives it. If it '* dies with the body it cannot suffer. If it sure
C 33 vivea " vives it, it will be happy." Not reflecting that the horrors of sm, and infinite justice, may appoint an intermediate fiate, wherein man is eternally miserable. Hence all the reins were flackened, and the most abominable crimes honoured with priests, altars and temples. Public worship became a public prostitution. Incest, impurity, drunkenness, hatred, pride, were deified under the fictitious names of Jupiter, Juno, Venus, Mars, &e. and criminal Gods were worshipped with crimes. '
It was not the mountain inhabited by the rude and uncivilized, which alone was polluted with the smoak of profane incense : the nations most renowned for learning and refinement,-_
Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians,-in the midst,
of their cities, saw sumptuous edifices consecrated to the Paffions which the gospel condemns. By their mistakes and errors, it is easy to perceive the weakness of reason, and the neceffity of revealed religion. '
' _ Your Philosophers whom our Modern Freethinkers are ever extolling, with a view to degrade the Christian religion and its ministers, never escaped the general contagion. Your Cato, besides suicide, was guilty of levities of a ' softer nature than the steel with which he killed himself. Your Socrates, whom you would; 'flain obtrud'e' on the ignorant, as a' martyr to I' '' si ' i truth
truth and the original religion of nature, acknpwledges in his defence, that he worshipped the Gods of his city, and was seen on public festivals sacrificing at their altars. His wrestling naked with hisv pupil, Alcibiades, was an altitude ill.'a suited to the character of a man, entitled to a' place in the calendar of faints. What shallI say of the Cynics, who laid aside all the natural 'restraint's of shame' and modesty ? Of Chrylippus, the advocate of inter-mar'ri'a'ges between fathers and daughters? the Persian Magi, who married their mothers ? Of Seneca, playing the moralist in public, debauching his sove< reign's wife in private, and preferring his pretended wise man to God himself P What shall I say of the divine Plato, who annihilates the lnstitution of connubial ties? Who by introducing a cornmunity of women, and refusing the husband any exclusive property inthe marriage bed, would fain introduce a hor'rid cond fusion amongst men ; confound all paternal
rights, which nature' itself respected, and pea.
ple his republic with inhabitants, uncertain of
their origin ; without tendemess, affection, or t
humanity; Whereas in such a state it would have been' impossible for the son to know his
Such is-the'boasted reason you take for your r
ide. and' lo, the great, luminaries it has progu , C 2 * duced!
duced! A set of proud men, bewildered in a labyrinth of the most monstrous errors. If our modern philofophers are more refined than those antient savages, it is to the Christian relio gion, which they would fain overthrow, to the Writings of its doctors, whom they deride, and
to the first principles of a Christian edueation,
which they cannot entirely forget, that- they are indebted for their superiority.
Before revealed religion dispelled the mist, reason was overspread with error, in the breasts of the greatest men. It is no more than a bare capacity to be instructed ; an engine veering at every breath ; equally disposed to minister to vice as well as to virtue, according to the variety and customs of different climates. It did not hinder the Egyptian from worshipping leeks and Onions, nor the Athenian, Socrates, from offering a cock to Esculapius.
. . But is man to be debarred the use of his rea
son, or has he any thing to dread for not believing mysteries he cannot comprehend? Make
_ full use of your reason, not with a design to
fallinto scepticism, but with a sincere desire to come at the knowledge of the truth. Reason is never better employed than in dishovering the will of its author: and when once we discover that it is his will we should believe, rea. son itself suggests that it is our duty to submit;
otherwise we are guilty of rebellion against the firfi of sovereigns: and to deny his power to punish the disobedience of his creatures, is more than you have attempted.
This important enquiry should be attended
with a pure heart and fervent prayer. How- '
ever a philosopher may laugh at the hint, a: Cato 'would laugh he met a priq/I. i It was after a fervent prayer Solomon received his wisdom : after a fervent prayer, Cornelius the Centurion, obtained the privilege of becoming the first convert from amongst the Gentiles. Even the heathen, Democritus, who figured so much amongst the literati of his time, constantly prayed the Gods' to send him goodimages. Religion would not seem so absurd, the number of Free-thinkers would not be so great, if we made'it our business to purify the heart, and earnestly to beg of the Divinity to enlighten our understandings. For the paffions of the heart, and too much confidence in ourselvcs, pave the way for the errors of the mind. Solomon became dissolute and voluptuous before he fell into Idolatry. We ever and always lose our innocence before we laugh at our catechism.
But a philosopher requires argument, and leaves prayer to the vulgar. Reason is too precious a gift to he offered at the shrine of reli
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