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Academic SCEPTICISM, only added one more disorder to the human Mind; but being the last of its misbegotten issue, it became, as is usual, the favorite of its Parent.

Our blessed MASTER himself was the first to encounter its attacks, and the infolence of that School has kept the Church in breath ever since.

When Jesus was carried before Pilate as a Criminal of State, for calling himself King of the Jews, he tried to shorten the intended process by pleading that his Kingdom was not of this World. But Pilate, alarmed at the names of King and Kingdom, asked, art thou a King then? The other replied,--For this cause came 1 into the World, that I would bear Witness unto the TRUTH. Pilate faith unto him, WHAT IS Truth! And when he said this, he went out again *. For when he found that the Kingdom claimed by the supposed Criminal, was a Kingdom merely Spiritual, or, in the Roman Governor's conceit, a Kingdom only

* John chap. xviii. ver. 38.

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in idea, he considered the Claim as no proper subject of the civil tribunal. So far he acted well, and suitably to his public Character. But when he discovered his indifference to, or rather contempt of, TRUTH, when offered to be laid before him as a private Man, by one who, he knew, had the repute of exercising every superior Power proper to enforce it, he appears, to me, in a light much less excusable.

The negligent air of his insulting question will hardly admit of an Apology.“ You tell me (says he) of Truth, a word 66 in the mouth of every Leader and Fol. 66 lower of a Sect; who all agree (though “ in nothing else) to give that name to “ their own Opinions; While TRUTH, if, " indeed, we allow of its Existence, still “ wanders at large, and in disguise. Nor 66 does the Detection seem worth the Pains “ of the Search, since those things which ** Nature intended for general use she made

plain and obvious, and within the reach 15 of all men."

Sentiments like these bespoke the Ruler of an Afiatic Province, who had heard so much

of

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of Truph in the Schools of Philosophy;
and had heard of it to so little purpose.
This corrupt Governor, therefore, finding
a Jewish Sage talk of bearing Witness to the
Truth, (the affected Office of the Grecian
Sophists), was ready to conclude that Jesus
was one of their mimic Followers. For it
was now become fashionable amongst the
learned Rabbins to inlist themselves into
one or other of those celebrated Schools,
Thus the fanious Philo was an outrageous
PLATONIST : And Jesus calling himself a
KING, together with the known Purity and
Severity of his Morals, probably made Pi.
late consider him as one of the STOICAL
wise men, who alone was free, and happy,
and a King
“ Liber, honoratus, pulcher, Rex deni-

que Regum.”
Now, as on the one hand, the Character
of the Greek Philosophy, which was of an
abstract nature, and fequestered from civil
business, made Pilate conclude, that these
Claims of Jesus had nothing in them dan.
gerous or alarming ; so, on the other hand,

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its endless disputes and quarrels about Truth, and which of the Sects had her in keeping, made Men of the World, and especially those in public Stations, whose practice declined the test of

any

moral System whatsoever, willing to be persuaded, and ready to conclude, that this boasted Truth, which pretended to be the sole Directress of human conduct, was indeed no better than a shifting and fantastic Vision.

This, I presume, was the light in which Pilate considered the SaviouR OF World. Had he suspected Jesus of being the Founder of a public and a popular Religion, which aimed to be erected on the ruins of the established Worship, the jea: Jousies of the Roman Court, since the loss of public liberty, had, doubtless, made this servile Minister of Power very attentive, and even officious, to suppress' it in its birth.

But if the ill usage of Truth by the Philosophers could so disgust the Politician of old, as to indispose him to an acquaintance of this importance, what must we

part of

think will be her reception amongst modern Statesmen, whose views are neither more pure nor more generous ; and whose penetration, perhaps, does not go much beyond the busy Men of Antiquity; when they see her so freely handled by those, amongst us, who call themselves her Ministers, and profess to consecrate her to the Service of Religion? Amongst such, I mean of the active no less than of the idle the fashionable World, Pilate's fcornful question is become proverbial, when they would infinuate, that TRUTH, like Virtue, is nothing but a name.

What is this TRUTH, say they, of which the world has heard so much, and has received so little satisfaction ? But above all, what is that GOSPEL TRUTH, the pretended Guide of life, which its Ministers are wont so much to discredit in their very attempts to recommend ? For while objections to Religion lie level to the capacities of the Vulgar, the solution of them requires the utmost stretch of parts and learning in the Teacher to excogitate, and equal application and attention in the Learner to com

prehend.

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