Imatges de pÓgina
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cient patrons. The knowledge which this author possesses of the frame and conduct of the human mind, must have led him to observe, that such attacks do their execution without enquiry. Who can refute a fneer? Who can compute the num= ber, much less; one by one, scrutinize the justice, of those disparaging insinuations, which crowd the

pages of this elaborate history? What reader suspends his curiosity, or calls off his attention from the principal narrative, to examine references, to search into the foundation, or to weigh the reason, propriety, and force of every transient sarcasm, and ly allusion, by which the Christian testimony is depreciated and traduced; and by which, nevertheless, he may find his persuasion afterwards unsettled and perplexed ?

But the enemies of Christianity have pursued her with poisoned arrows. Obscenity itself is made the vehicle of infidelity. The awful doctrines, if we be not permitted to call them the sacred truths, of our religion, together with all the adjuncts and appendages of its worship and external profession, have been sometimes impudently profaned by an unnatural conjun&ion with impure and lascivious images. The fondness for ridicule is almost universal; and ridicule to many minds is never so irresistible, as when seasoned with obscenity, and employed upon religion. But in proportion as these noxious principles take hold of the imagination, they infatuate the judgment; for trains of ludicrous and unchaíte associations adhering to every sentiment and mention of religion, render the mind indisposed to receive either conviction from its evidence, or impressions from its authority. And this effect being exerted upon the sensitive part of our frame, is altogether independent of argument, proof, or reason; is as formidable to a true religion as to a false one ; to a well-grounded faith, as to a chimerical mythology, or fabulous tradition. Neither, let it be observed, is the crime or danger less, because impure ideas are exhibited under a veil, in covert and chastized language.

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Seriousness is not constraint of thought; nor levity, freedom. Every mind which wilhes the advancement of truth and knowledge, in the most important of all human researches, must abhor this licentiousness, as violating no less the laws of reasoning, than the rights of decency. There is but one description of men, to whose principles it ought to be tolerable ; I mean that class of reasoners who can see little in Christianity, even supposing it to be true. To fuch ad

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versaries

versaries we address this reflection-Had Jesus Christ delivered no other declaration than the following: “The hour is coming, in the which “ all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, " and shall come forth; they that have done

good, unto the resurrection of life, and they " that have done evil, unto the resurrection “ of damnation;" he had pronounced a message of inestimable importance, and well worthy of that splendid apparatus of prophecy and iniracles with which his mission was introduced, and attested -a message, in which the wisest of mankind would rejoice to find an answer to their doubts, and rest to their enquiries. It is idle to say, that a future state had been discovered al- '. ready-It had been discovered, as the Copernican system was—it was one guess among many. He alone discovers, who proves; and no man can prove this point, but the teacher who testifies by miracles that his doctrine comes from God.

MORAL

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OVERNMENT, at first, was either pa

triarchal or military : that of a parent over his family, or of a commander over his fellow warriors.

I. Paternal authority, and the order of domestic life, supplied the foundation of civil government. Did mankind fpring out of the earth

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mature

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