Page images
PDF
EPUB

quence of an universal conformity to a civil eftdblishment of religion. It is, it has been the cafe every where, all the world over.

And yet, many invidious reflextions are cast on the whole body of protestant-disenters ; as if they were all Enthusiasts, Schismatics, Heretics, yea, Fanatics!

Accufations, much more easily brought, than supported. For how will the charge of Enthusiasm have place, where the Scriptures are acknowle ged to be the sole rule of faith and praEtice; and reason confessed to be the fole judge of that rule ? --or, can those men be justly reputed. Schismatics, who are of peaceable and charitable dispositions ; and whose separation from the Established Church, is upon the very fame principle, on which the re- formation from popery had its existence?-or can men be guilty of Heresy, who are not immoral ? and with a very ill grace does the Bigot call you Fanatics, who, in your religious profession, own but one Lord; and who are not fettered with subscriptions to any human creeds, or chained down to the observance of human rites and ceremonies.

The genuine principles of a consistent non-confor. mity, are truth and liberty; however weakly or wickedly many protestant disenters may have mistaken or perverted them.

To the absurd tenets, and inconsistent conduet of such, I am inclined to attribute the growth of Infidelity, or that disgust which some have taken of the Christian profession.

Not that the unbeliever is bereby excused. For upon a thorough examination he would have known,

that

that no abuses to which Christianity is liable, nor any absurdities in its profesors can refle&t the least dishonour on either its doctrine or precepts.

Mr. Chubb, not having duly examined, prefumes, in his Posthumous-works, to impeach even the system of Christian morals! which has induced me to make the following observations.

He has frequently taken cover in Scepticism, that most comfortable refuge of the unbeliever! which surely is not very becoming the right state of a rational mind, in its mature age and capacity: nor worthy the state of the evidence respecting religion, i. e, a man's concern with his Maker. The evidence here, will not require him to hang long in fufpence, and grope his way throlife, burrowing like the mole, whose greatest peril and terror is in light. This would refieit great dishonour on God, considered as a moral Governor. But he has shewn thee, Oman, what is good : and what the Lord thy God does require of thee.-The grace of God, that bringeth salvation unto all men, hath appeared, teaching. '

The Title which I gave a former treatise, viz. Truth and modern deism at variance; offended Mr. Chubb; tho I told him, that by modern, I did not intend, true deism. Nevertheless, he has said, fuch indeed is the penetration of some men, " that they can discover connections and relations " where there are none in nature; and such are " their abilities, that they can constitute and diffolve conneciions and relations at pleasure; and " that merely to exhibit an ill-natured reflextion, or for the sake of a gibe." Pofthumous-works, Vol. II. p. 379.

Ilbat

What more virulent censure can any pen deliver ? and yet, how heavily do the unbelievers complain of the foverity of their opponents ?

I desire not to recriminate : but will observe, that the proposition which makes the head-title to this tract, viz True deism the basis of Chri. stianity, may be thus explained. " True deism, « confi:ered objcetively, is, God's love of the “ world: considered subjectively, or in man, is his “ firm belief of God's love of the world: but it is " the chief design of the Christian revelation to exbibit God's love of the world; therefore true de“ ism is the basis of Christianity.-- But to deny " or disvelieve that God has made any express reso velation of his love to the world, in the teachings of Christ and bis apostles, is, modern deso ilm fairly stated."

relation of n; hat God has made_But to deny

The unbeliever can with no juftness claim the appellation of Deist, but from his professing to believe in Got, and from his owning moral obligation. Far if there be no fuch thing as moral obligation, there can be no God; i. e. no fupreme moral Governor. But if God be a moral governor, then we mufi attribute to him moral perfeétions : such as justice, equitys goodness, truth, and faithfulness. The confideration of his being the patron of these branches of moral charaEter in his creatures, and the avenger of the contrary vices, is the great operating principle, which balanceib the pasions of mankind so far as to preserve that degree of order which fubfis in this world of ours.

1 tuman lacus and maxims of government extend no fariher ihan justice and equity. Goodness, in ibe forins of mercy, lenity, and compassion, so nea

cessary

cessary to the welfare of mankind, is not under the fan&tion of civil government. It remains therefore necessary, that goodness Jould have bad the ene. forcement of divine authority, which will infer an express revelation. For with respect to those voluntary engagements which men lay themselves under from the principle of benevolence, how would these bave appeared of such importance, if God bad not been known to be a God of truth and faithfulpess? But men could not have bad this idea of him, if he had never made any express promises, in the accomplishment of which, his truth and faithfulness have been manifeft. So that the scheme of the unbelievers, by denying that any express revelation has ever been made, does deny that truth and faithfulness are moral perfečtions of the Deity.

It is very assuming in a modern deist, not to suppose that a Christian may be as capable of seeing evidence, and as solicitous to form a just eftimate of its importance, as he himself can be. And yet, if we form a judgment by some late perfor'mances, there is nothing more ridiculous than the faith and religious profesion of Christianity. Tbo' the ridicule has no better foundation, than in the misrepresentations of it by some christians.

My design is to vindicate the reputation of the sacred writers; and to pew, that pure, genuine Christianity, as expressed in the New Testament writings, is no other than a plain, rational, divine scheme; supremely calculated to promote the rectitude and bappiness of mankind! and incapable of having any absurdities or contradictions juftly father'd upon it.

The first thing attempted, is, an essay to demonstrate the truth and certainty of a particular

pro

providence. The denial of which doctrine, unbelievers have thought very necessary to render their Scheme plausible.

The subsequent remarks on Mr. Chubb's objections, have marginal titles affixed to their distinet seations. But I did not well know how to throw them into a just arrangement, or give an orderly digest of them. Some are noticed with great brevity; others are more largely considered, just as I tonceived the subječt would require.

That system which I have endeavoured a defence of, has, besides all its extrinsic, these intrinsic criteria or marks of truth, viz, “ it teacheib, that a love of God cannot be demonstrated, but by a love

of all men; that a love of all men, must be divt re&ted by a rational love of ourselves And because Jesus exemplified this in bis do&trine, spi"git and conduct; he was thereupon exalted to do" minion. Hence it is, that Christians are obliged " to exemplify their love of Christ, in their imitae tion and obedience of him. In the doing of << which, their hopes of eternal life, thro' bis mi. nistrations, are justified.

- This is the very scheme of divine truth and goodness, which the unbelievers defpifé and rejet ! Would to God I might be the instrument of convincing any one of them. For, if I know myself, I could willingly, with St. Paul, be accursed from Christ, i.e. be an anathema, a devoted thing, or give my life a sacrifice, by the authority, or example of Christ, if it might be the means of favįng these rejetters of Cbristianity.

May

« PreviousContinue »