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to arrange two words without offending against the rules of grammar, or to associate two ideas without shocking common sense, how do you expect to sustain a character, which the greatest geniusses are incapable of supporting?
IV. Yet, as no man is so unreasonable as not to profess to reason; and, as no man takes up a notion so eagerly as not to pique bimself on having taken it up after a mature deliberation; we must talk to the infidel as to a philosopher, who always follows the dictates of reason, and argues by principles and consequences. Well then! Let us examine his logic, or, as I said before, his way of reasoning ; his way of reasoning, you will see, is his brutality, and his logic constitutes his extravagance.
In order to comprehend this, weigh in the most exact and equitable balance, the argument of our prophet. He, that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He, that formed the eye, shall he not see? He, that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? Ile, that teache!h man knowledge, shall not he know? These are, in brief, three sources of evidences, which supply the whole of religion with proof. The first are taken from the works of naiure; He, who planted the ear; He, who formed
The second are taken from the economy of Providence; Ile, that chastiseth the heathen. The third are taken from the history of the church; lle, that teacheth man knowledge.
The first are taken from the wonderful works of nature. The prophet allegeth only two examples ;. the one is that of the ear, the other that of the eye. None can communicate what he hath not, is the most incontestible of all principles. He, who communicateth faculties to beings, whom 'he
createth, must needs possess whatever is most noble in such faculties. He, who empowered creatures to hear, must himself hear. He, who imparted the faculty of discerning objects, must needs himself discern them. Consequently, there is great extravagance in saying, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.
The same argument, which the structure of our ears, and that of our eyes, affords us, we derive also from all the wonderful works of the Creator. The Creator possesseth all those great and noble excellencies, in a supreine degree, the faint shadows of which he hath communicated to creatures. On this principle, what an idea ought we to form of the Creator? From what a profound abyss of power must those boundless spaces have proceeded, that immeasurable extent, in which imagination is lost, those vast bodies, that surround us, those luminous globes, those flaming spheres, which revolve in the heavens, along with all the other works that compose this universe ? From what an abyss of wisdom must the successions of seasons, of day, and of night, have proceeded, those glittering stars, so exact in their courses, and so punctual in their duration; along with all the different secret springs in the universe, which with the utmost accuracy answer their design? From what an abyss of intelligence must rational creatures come, beings, who constitute the glory of the intelligent world ; profound politicians, who pry into the most intricate folds of the human heart; generals, who diffuse themselves through a whole army, animating with their eyes, and with their voices, the various regiments, which compose their forces; admirable genuisses, who develope the mysteries of nature, rising into the heavens by dioptrics, descending into the deepest subterranean abysses ; quitting continental con
finement by the art of navigation; men, who across the waves, and in spite of the winds, contemn the rocks, and direct a few planks fastened together to sail to the most distant climes? Who can refuse to the author of all these wonderful works the faculty of seeing and hearing?
But I do not pretend to deny, an infidel wilk say, that all these wonderful works owe their existence to a Supreme cause ; or that the Supreme Being, by whom alone they exist, doth not himself possess all possible perfection. But I affirm, that the Supreme Being is so great, and so exalted, that his elevation and inconceivable excellence prevent him from casting his eyes down to the earth, and paying any regard to what a creature so mean and so indigent as man performs. A being of infipite perfection, does he interest himself in my conduct? Will he stoop to examine, whether I retain or discharge the wages of my servant? Whether I
: be regular or irregular in my family ? and so on. A king, surrounded with magnificence and pomp, Irolding in his powerful hands the reigns of his empire; a king, employed in weighing reasons of state, in equipping his fleets, and in levying his armies; will he concern himself with the demarches of a few worms crawling beneath his feet?
But this comparison of God to a king, and of men to worms, is absurd and inconclusive. The economy of Providence, and the history of the church, in concert with the wonderful works of nature, discover to us ten thousand differences between the relations of God to men and those of a king to worms of the earth. No king hath given intelligent souls to worms : but God hath given intelligent souls to us. No king hath proved, by ten thousand avenging strokes, and by ten thousand glorious rewards, that he observed the conduct of
worms : but God, by ten thousand glorious recom penses, and by ten thousand vindictive punishments, hath proved his attention to the conduct of men. No king hath made a covenant with worms: but God hath entered into a covenant with us. No king hath commanded worms to obey him : but God, we affirm, hath ordained our obedience to him. No king can procure eternal felicity to worms: but God can cominunicate endless happiness to
A king, although he be a king, is yet a man; bis mind is little and contracted, yea infinitely contracted; it would be absurd, that he, being called to govern a kingdom, should fill his capacity with trifles: but is this your notion of the Deity? The direction of the sun, the government of the world, the formation of myriads of beings, which live througla universal nature, the management of the whole universe, cannot exhaust that intelligence, who is the object of our adoration and praise. While his thoughts include, in their boundless compass, all real and all possible beings, his eyes sur
, vey every individual, as if each were the sole object of his attention.
These arguments being thus stated, either our infidel must acknowledge, that they, at least, render probable the truth of religion in general, and of this thesis in particular, God regardeth the actions of men : or he refuseth to acknowledge it. If he refuse to acknowledge it; if he seriously affirm, that all these arguments, very far from arising to demonstration, do not even afford a probability in favor of religion ; then he is an idiot, and there remains no other argument to propose to him, than that of our prophet, Thou fool, when wilt thou be .wise?
I even question whether any unbeliever could eyer persuade himself of what he endeavors to persuade others; that is, that the assemblage of truths, which consti-ute the body of natural religion ; that the heavy strokes of justice avenging vice, and the extatic rewards accompanying virtue, which appear in Providence; that the accomplishment of numerous prophecies ; that the operation of countless miracles, which are related in authentic histories of the church; no, I cannot believe, that any
1 infidel conld ever prevail with himself to think, that all this train of argument doth not form a probability against a system of infidelity and atbeism.
But if the power and the splendor of truth forcehis consent; if he be obliged to own, that, although my arguments are not demonstrative, they are, however, in his opinion, probable; then, with the prophet, I say to him, O thou most brutish among the people ?
V. Why? Because in comparing his logic with his morality, (and this is my fifth article,) I perceive, that nothing but an excess of brutality can unite these two things. Hear how he reasons. « It is probable, not only that there is a God, but 66 also that this God regardeth the actions of men, “ that he reserves to himself the punishment of or those, who follow the suggestions of vice, and
the rewarding of them who obey the laws of virtue.
The system of irreligion is counter« balanced by that of religion. Perhaps irreligion
may be well grounded: but perhaps religion « may be so.
In this state of uncertainty, I will “ direct my conduct on the principle, that irreligion « is well-grounded, and that religion hath no foun« dation. “ I will break in pieces," ver. v. (this was the language, according to our psalmist, of the unbelievers of his time, “ I will break in