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duced! A set of proud men, bewildered in a labyrinth of the most monstrous errors. If our modern philosophers are more refined than those antient sages, it is to the Christian religion, which they would fain overthrow, to the writings of its doctors, whom they deride, and to the first principles of a Christian education, which they cannot entirely forget, that they are s indebted for their superiority.
Besore 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 Efculapius,
But is man to be debarred the use of his reason? or has he any thing to dread sor not believ-r ing-mysteries he cannot comprehend? Make full use of your reason, not with a design to fall into scepticism, but with a sincere desire to come at the knowledge of the truth. Reason is never better employed than in discovering the will of its author: and when once we discover that jt, is his will we should believe, reason itself suggests gests that it is our duty to submit; otherwise we are guilty of rebellion against the first 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. However a philosopher may laugh at the hint, as Cato would laugh if he met a priest. 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 fend him good images. Religion would not (eem 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 passions of the heart, and too much confidence in ourselves, 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 cious a gift to be offered at the shrine of religion: yet from St. Paul, to whom the Roman governor said that too much learning had turned his head, down to John Locke, the great historian of the human understanding, the greatest men the world ever produced, have believed mysteries beyond their comprehension. They all knew that God cannot lie, nor deceive mortals, but that man is liable to error. If then my reason discovers, that the motives of credibility are sufficient to induce me to believe, that God has proposed such and such a doctrine; the same reason immediately whispers, believe your Qod^orhecan do more than you can comprehend.
In denying mysteries, because we cannot comprehend them, we may as well deny our ex-v istence. For our very existence is a mystery we can never comprehend. How many valves and springs, how many veins and arteries, what an assemblage of bones, muscles, canals, juices, nerves, fluids, tubes, vessels, requisite to make that frail being called man? Great partizans of nature and reason (words often used to veil your ignorance), take a handful of dust and shape it into the figure of a man, bore the veins and arteries, lay the sinews and tendons, fit the joints and blow into its nostrils you?
philosophical philosophical breath, make it move, walk, speak, concert plans, form schemes; make it susceptible of love, fear, joy, hope, desire, &c. then we will recognize' your comprehensive knowledge of the imperceptible progress, and divin« mechanism of the human frame. For the formation of each of us is as wonderful' as the for-f mation of the first. Your very bodies of which you are so fond, are myjierics in which your reason is lost; and you would fain have a religion which proposes nothing but what your reason comprehends. Thousands of years elapsed before Hervey discovered the circulation of the blood. Thousands will elapse before the delicate texture of the human frame is known.
Disengage yourselves, if-you can, from the impenetrable folds and darknesses of your own frames. Take a survey of all the objects that surround you, you plunge into an abyss overspread with darkness and obscurity. Explain to us how one and the same water paints and dyes the different flowers into various colours, the pink, the lily, the tulip, the rose; or how from an inodorous earth they draw their sweet perfumes! The ceil of the bee, which that little insect makes according to the nicest rules of geometry, without studying the mathematics, and in the construction whereof, the curious have observed all the advantages which geometers de
rive from Newton's doctrine of fluxions, the minima and maxima, and the extraordinary contrivance, whereby a less quantity of surface is sufficient to contain a given quantity of honey, which saves that creature much wax and labour. The cell of the bee,—the granary of the ant,—■ the heart, lungs, liver, &c. of the mite,—baffle your learned researches.
i From the immense bodies swimming in the azure fluid above, to the blade of grass which springs under your feet, every thing is a mystery to man.
If you range in the boundless region of the abstract sciences, what a fathomless ocean of truths which you must acknowledge, without comprehending! Lines eternally drawing near to each other, without ever meeting! Motion for ever slackening, without ever coming to a point of rest! The infinite divisibility of matter, whereby a small grain of wheat incloses in itself as many parts (though lesser in proportion) as the whole world! The smallest part as the same grain containing another world, and the least part of that part, as small, with respect to the grain, as the grain is, with respect to the entire frame of the universe, and so on, to infinity!