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being cheated, in robbing and being robbed, in serving that he may command, and in repeuting of all that he does. The bulk of mankind are nothing more than a crowd of wretches, equally criminal and unfortunate, and the globe contains rather carcasses than men. I tremble upon a review of this dreadful picture, to find that it implies a complaint against Providence, and I wish that I had never been born."-VOLTAIRE's Gospel of the Day.*
THIRTIETH ARGUMENT. AND yet, О strange infatuation! Vain man will be * Wild error is often the guide, and glaring contradiction the badge, both of those who reject revelation, like Voltaire, and of those who indirectly set aside one half of it, like the Pharisees and Antinomians around us. See a striking proof of it. This very author, in another book, (0, see what antichristian morality comes to !) represents the horrible sin of Sodorn, as an “excusable mistake of nature," and assures us, that, “at the worst of times, there is at most upon earth only one man in a thousand that can be called wicked.” Now for the proof! “Hardly do we see one of those enormous crimes, that shock human nature, committed in ten years at Rome, Paris, or London, those cities where the thirst of gain, which is the parent of all crimes, is carried to the highest pitch:- If men were essentially wicked, we should find every morning husbands murdered by their wives, &c., as we do hens killed by foxes.” According to this apostle of the deistical world, it seems that the most intense thirst of gold is no degree of wickedness: That a woman, to be very good, needs only not cut her husband's throat while he is asleep; and that it even little matters whether she omit the dire murder out of regard to his life or her own. What moral philosophy is here! Why, if the sin of Sodom is a peccadillo, a frolicsome mistake; and nothing is wickedness, but a treacherous cutting of a husband's or a parent's throat ; I extend my charity four times beyond thee, O Voltaire; and do maintain, that there is not one wicked man in five thousand.
I insert this note to obviate the charges of severe critics, who accuse me of dealing in “gross misrepresentations, false quotations, and forgeries,” because I quote some authors, when they speak as the oracles of God; and do not swell my book with their inconsistencies, when they contradict the scriptures, reason, and the truths which they themselves have advanced in some happy moments; anıl because I cannot force my reason to maintain with them, both sides of a giaring contradiction.
Oye deistical moralists, let me meet with more candour, justice, and mercy from you, than I have done from the warm opposers of the second gospel axiom. It is enough that you discard scripture; do not, like them, make it a part of your orthodoxy, to murder reason, and kick common sense out of doors !
vise, and wicked man pretends to be righteous ! Far from repenting in the dust, he pleads his innocence, and claims the rewards of imaginary merit! Incredible as the assertion is, a thousand witnesses are really to confirm it.
Come forth, ye natural sons of virtue, who with scornful boasts attack the doctrine of man's depravity. To drown the whispers of reason and experience, sound each your own trumpet-Thank God, you are not as other men :'--Inform us, you “ have a good heart” and “a clear conscience:"-Assure us, you“ do your duty, your endeavours, your best endeavours,” to please the Author of your lives :-Vow, you guilty of any crime, never did any harm :”—And tell us, you hope to mount to heaven, on the strong pinions
good works and pious resolutions.” When you have thus acted the Pharisee's part before your fellow-creatures, go to your Creator, and assume the character of the Publican. Confess with your lips, you are “ miserable sinners," who “ have done what" you ought not to have done, and left undone what" you " ought to have done :” Protest, “there is no health in" you : Complain, “ that the remembrance of your sins is grievous unto you, and the burden of them intolerable :” But remember, O ye self-righteous formalists, that, by this glaring inconsistency, you give the strongest proof of your unrighteousness. You are, nevertheless, modest, when compared with your brethren of the Romish church.
These, far from thinking themselves ' unprofitable servants, fancy they are, literally, righteous overmuch.' Becoming merit-mongers, they make a stock of their works of supererogation, set up shop with the righteousness they can spare to others, and expose to sale indulgences and pardons, out of their pretended treasury. Nor are there wanting sons of Simon, who, with ready-money, purchase as they think, not livings in the church below; but, which is far preferable, seats in the church above, and good places at the heavenly court.
Was erer a robe of righteousness, (I had almost said
a fool's coat,) so coarsely woven by the slaves of imposture and avarice ; and so dearly bought by the sons of superstition and credulity ?
Oye spiritual Ethiopians, who paint yourselves all orer with the corroding white of hypocrisy, and after all, are artful enough to lay on red paint, and imitate the blush of humble modesty –Ye that borrow virtue's robes to procure admiration, and put on religion's cloak to hide your shameful deformity-Ye that deal in external righteousness, to carry on with better success the most sordid of all trades, that of sin; of the worst of sins, pride ; of the worst pride, that which is spi. ritual-Ye numerous followers of those, whom the Prophet of Christians called crafty serpents,' and soft
brood of vipers'Ye, to whom he declared, that'publicans and harlots shall enter the kingdom of heaven before you ;' if I call you in last, to prove the desperate wickedness of the human heart, it is not because I esteem you the weakest advocates of the truth I contend for; but because you really are the strongest of my witnesses.
And now, candid Reader, forget not plain matter of fact; recollect the evidence given by reason; pass sentence upon these last arguments, which I have offered to thy consideration; and say, whether mau's disposi. tion and conduct towards his Creator, his fellow-creatures, and himself, do not abundantly prove, that he is by nature in a fallen and lost estate,
The preceding arguments recommend themselves to the common sense of thinking Heathens, and the conscience of reasonable Deists; as being all taken from those two amazing volumes, which are open to, and legible by, all; the World and Man. The following are taken from a third volume, the Bible, despised by the wits of the age, merely because they study and understand it even less than the other two. " The Bible !" says one of them with a smile, save yourself the trouble of producing arguments drawn from that old legend, unless you first demonstrate its authenticity by the noble faculty to which you appeal in these pages.” For the sake of such objectors, I here premise, by way of digression, a few rational arguments to evince, as far as my contracted plan will allow, the divine authority of the scriptures.
1. The sacred
penmen, the prophets and apostles, were holy, excellent men, and would not,--artless, illiterate men, and therefore could not,-lay the horrible scheme of deluding mankind. The hope of gain did not influence them, for they were self-denying men, that left all to follow a Master, who had not where to lay his head ;' and whose grand initiating maxim was, ' Except a man forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.' They were so disinterested, that they secured nothing on earth but hunger and nakedness, stocks and prisons, racks and tortures; which, indeed, were all that they could or did expect, in consequence of Christ's express declarations. Neither was a desire of honour the motive of their actions; for their Lord himself was treated with the utmost contempt, and had more than
once assured them, that they should certainly share the same fate : Besides, they were humble men, not above working as mechanics for a coarse maintenance; and so little desirous of human regard, that they exposed to the world the meanness of their birth and occupations, their great ignorance and scaudalous falls.
Add to this, that they were so many, and lived at such distance of time and place from each other, that had they heen impostors, it would have been impracticable for them to contrive, and carry on, a forgery without being detected. And as they neither would nor could deceive the world, so they neither could nor would be deceived themselves : For they were days, months, and years, eye and ear-witnesses of the things which they relate ; and when they had not the fullest evidence of important facts, they insisted upon new proofs, and even upon sensible demonstrations ; as, for instance, Thomas, in the matter of our Lord's resurrection. (Joho 8x. 25.) And, to leave us no room to question their sincerity, most of them joyfully sealed the truth of their doctrines with their own blood. Did so many and such marks of veracity ever meet in any other authors ?
2. But even while they lived, they confirmed their testimony by a variety of miracles, wrought in divers places, and for a number of years; sometimes before thousands of their enemies, as the miracles of Christ and his disciples ; sometimes before hundreds of thousands, as those of Moses. These miracles were so well known and attested, that when both Christ and Moses appealed to their authenticity, before their bitterest opposers, mentioning the persons upon whom, as well as the particular times when, and the places where, they had been performed ; the facts were never denied, but passed over in silence, or maliciously attributed to the prince of the devils. By such a pitiful slander as this, Porphyry, Hierocles, Celsus, and Julian the Apostate, those learned and inveterate enemies of Christianity, endeavoured (as the Pharisees had done before them) to sap the argument founded upon the miracles