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manner how it is produced: and it is much doubted whether the bdellium of the ancients be the same with the modern kind.
Thus, in the disputes about a drop of gum resin, the nature and production whereof perplex the most learned, we discover the weakness of human reason. We cannot dissect a fly; and we would fain comprehend the ways of Providence. We would fain found the un>fathomable ocean of the Christian religion, and' arraign its mysteries at the tribunal of a glimmering reason, when the small atom that swims on the surface, baffles our severest 'scrutiny.
I have the honour to be, &c.
O our modern philosophers, who set up the proud idols of their own fancies in opposition to the oracles of the Divinity,—and, endeavouring to discover absurdities in the Christian religion, fall into greater,—we can, without disclaiming our title to good manners, apply what St. Paul applied to the philosophers of his time: "They "became vain in their imaginations: profes"sing themselves to be wife, they became "fools." In order to sap the foundations of revealed religion,—and to make man the sport of chance, who neither lost any privilege by Adam's fall, nor gained any thing by Christ's redemption,—they endeavour to obtrude Moses on the public as an allegorical writer. Examine his character, and acknowledge their folly.
Besides his divine mission, in what historian does truth shine more conspicuous? He relates his personal defects, as Well as the extraordinary powers with which the Lord invested him; deduces a long chain of patriarchs from the first man down to his days; traces a genealogy, in
which which every chief is distinguished by his peculiar character. In quitting Egypt, the nursery of fiction, did it comport with the dignity of the legislator and commander of a chosen people, to write romances? In the space of five hundred years, from Noah's death to Moses'; time, could the fall of man and his expulsion from Paradise be forgotten? And, as he had enemies, would not they have charged him with imposture? Or was he the only person amongst the Jews, who was instructed by his father? In a word, it was out of his power to deceive the Jews; much less was it his inclination or interest.. All, then, is coherent in Moses: and to his genuine narrative we are indebted for the knowledge of ourselves: for, without the aid of revelation, man would ever be an inexplicable mystery. ,
In believing my descent from a father created in a state of perfection, from whence he fell, —a father on whose obedience or disobedience my happiness or misery depended,—I can account for the corruption of my nature, and all the train of evils which have descended to Adam's children. Without this clew to direct me, I must be for ever entangled in a labyrinth of perplexities. Let philosophy glory in levelling man with the brute, and say that there Was never any difference in his state; that he
was Was always the same, destined to gratify his appetites, and to die; 1 am really persuaded
that I must renounce common sense, if I believe that man is now the fame that he was in coming from his Maker's hands. The opposition between our passions and reason is too palpable, to believe that we were created in such an excess of contradictions. Reason dictates to be temperate, just, and equitable; to deal with others as I would fain be dealt by; not to infringe the order of society; to pity and relieve the afflicted: my passions, those tyrants so cruel, prompt me to raise myself on the ruin of others; to tread in the flowery paths of criminal pleasures; and to sacrifice my enemy to my resentment. If God, then, be the
author of reason, and that it is granted to
man to regulate and curb his inclinations,— misery and corruption were not our primitive state.
Philosophers, in a strain of irony, may deride our Bible and catechism, and laugh at our folly for believing that an apple could entail such miseries on mortals: but let them seriously consider the multitude and greatness of the evils that oppress us; and how full of vanity, of illusions, of sufferings, are the first years of our lives; when we are grown up, how we are seduced by error, weakened by pain, inflamed C by t>y lust, cast down by sorrow, elated with •pride:—and ask themselves whether the cause of those dreadful evils be the injustice of God ;orthe original sin of man.
The evidence of those miseries forced the spagan philosophers to say, that we were born only to suffer the punishment we had deserved •for crimes committed in a lise before this. They, doubtless, were deceived as to the origin and cause of our miseries: but still some '.glimmering of reason did not permit them to consider those calamities as the natural state of man. But religion resorms the error, and points out, that this heavy yoke, which the sons of Adam were forced to bear, from the time that their bodies 'are taken from their mother's -womb, to the day that they are to return to thewomb of their Common mother, the Earth, would not have been laid upon them, if they had not deserved it, by the guilt they contract 'from their origin.
'But religion, as far as it includes mysteries,
V. ^youi think yourself at liberty to discard: be
'icaufe.you "cannot conceive how God could
"require of man, a belief of any thing which
"he has not endowed him with powers to
"conceive."* Hence you reject the mystery
•Thoughts on Nature and' Religion, page 127.