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the principles and opinions of barbarous nations. The savage tribes of AMERICA, AFRICA, and Asia are all idolaters. Not a single exception to this rule. Insomuch, that, were a traveller to transport himself into any unknown region ; if he found inhabitants cultivated with arts and science, though even upon that supposition there are odds, against their being theists, yet could he not cafely, till farther inquiry, pronounce any thing on that head : But if he found them ignorant and barbarous, he might beforehand declare them idolaters ; and there scarcely is a possibility of his being mistaken.
It seems certain, that, according to the natural progress of human thougkt, the ignorant multitude must first entertain some groveling and familiar notion of superior powers, before they stretch their conception to that perfect Being, who bestowed order on the whole frame of nature. We may as reasonably imagine, that men inhabited palaces before huts and cottages, or studied geometr y before agri. culture; as assert that the Deity appeared to them a pure spirit, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, before he was apprehended to be a powerful, though limited being, with human passions and appetites, limbs, and organs. The mind rises gradually, from inferior to superior: By abstracting from what is imperfect, it forms an idea of
perfection : and slowly distinguishing the nobler parts of its own frame from the grosser, it learns to transfer only the former, much elevated and refined, to its divinity. Nothing could disturb this natural progress of thought, but some ob. vious and invincible argument, which might immediately lead the mind into the pure principles of theism, and make it overleap, at one bound, the vast interval which is interposed between the human and the divine nature. But though 1 allow, that the order and frame of the universe, when accurately examined, affords such an argument; yet I can never think, that this consideration could have an influence on mankind, when they formed their first rude notions of religion.
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EXPLANATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF DEISM. RINCIPLES, opinions, and doctrines are frequently
, considered in a destructive point of light, because they are not well understood. It is a duty which the mind owes to the dignity of its character, to examine and discriminate previous to an ultimate decision, by which sentiments are to be condemned or applauded. Deism is a word which sounds terrible in the ears of those who have been accustomed from early life to contemplate theological opinions, of a nature entirely opposite. Prejudices are in some measure unavoid. able appendages of imperfect powers, and when reiterated efforts are made for the purpose of exciting a rancourous spirit against any particular opinions, the mind loses that just equilibrium which leads to fair inquiry, and honest judgment.
It hence becomes necessary in developing the prin. ciples of a subject that has received any considerable share of popular odium, to state with simplicity, and delineate with correctness the prominent features of such principles. With a view to this point, we proceed to explain the properties of a subject, which has so often excited in christian minds such extreme abhorrence-in doing this there is no intention to impos a creed upon men whose sentiments are similar-we know that among those who believe that the religion of nature is the only true religion, there are shades of difference in their opinions ; but these differences are inconsiderable less, much less, than those which are every day exhibited in every part of the christian world. Be this as it may, how. ever, we have an unquestionable right to state our ideas upon this interesting subject, conceding to all others the same right. "Deism declares to intelligent man the existence of one perfect God, creator and preserver of the universe-that the laws by which he governs the world, are like himself immutable, and of course, that violations of these laws, or miraculous inteference in the movements of nature, must be necessarily excluded from the grand system of universal existence that the creator is justly intitled to the adoration of every intellectual agent throughout the regions of infinite space—and that he alone is intitled to it, having 'no' co-partners who have a right to share with him the homage of the intelligent world. Deism also declares that the practice of a pure, natural, and uncorrupted virtue is the essential duty, and constitutes the highest dignity of man.
That the powers of man are competent to all the great purposes of human existence that science, virtue and happiness are the great objects which ought to awake the mental 'energies, and draw forth the moral affections of the human
;* These are some of the outlines of pure Deism, which christian superstition so dreadfully abhors, and whose vota
, But it is built upon a staunch foundation, and will triumphantly : diffuse happiness among the nations of the earth, for ages af
ter christian superstition and fanaticism have ceased to spread desolation and carnage through the fair creation of God.”
CHARACTERS IN THE CHRISTIAN DRAMA.
of nature is a source of solid reflection to all sedate and contemplative minds. It is bottomed upon the visible universe and furnishes indestructable data for correct theological argumentation. The case however is materially altered if we turn our attention to a system of religion which claims exclusively divine origin; every thing is distorted
both in character and in principle, but in nothing more than .; the variety of characters which possess a diversified influence
in the accomplishment of objects, destined in many respects after all to ultimate failure, The christian God appears first and invites reflection and remark. In the records of scripture his character appears suspicious—while he is declared
good, he is represented possessing a malignant temperament, issuing murdering commands, deciding upon important questions in haste, and recinding his resolutions immediately after, as may be proved in the matter of creation. He first declares it is all very good and soon after that it repented him that he had made man upon the earth and it grieved him at his heart. If it was so excellent in the commencement of the business, by what means did it become so detestable, so very detestable as to excite in the bosom of Jehovah the deepest grief? Christian believers, you ought to solve one question ; if the opinion of your God upon the first view of creation was a correct opinion, and formed upon a comprehensive view of the subject, was there any consistency in subsequent lamentation ? To escape from the difficulty it will not do to affirm that man, the noblest part of the creation, apostalised from his God, and this became the ground of his grief;--no if he was omnicient, he knew all this before, and it is loading him with the imbecilities of an imperfect being to make him susceptible of repentence. It represents him in the light of a mechanic trying experiments, and finding at last that all
' his projects failed, he places a bitter anathama upon the whole, and
says that he wishes he had never had any thing to do with it. Who does not see in the character of such a divinity the whimsis cal description of religious folly and fanaticism! as there are: many facts in the old testament which are at war with the moral cliaracter of God, and as these facts have been ably commented upon by several writers in defence of deism or the true religion of nature, we shall pass them over for the present and take another view of the extraordinary characters whose natures and conduct have produced such a .commanding influence upon the christian world. There is a strange connection and relationship existing between God the father, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We shall endeavour to make a statement of this business, conformable to the doctrines of revelation, and the opinions of the church. It will then be seen more clearly what Judgment ought to be formed concerning the theism of the gospel. If its theism be incorrect or defective, the system itself must be pronounced to be radically erroneous. God is believed to be the creator and author of all things ; christians believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotton son of God and coequal in every point of view with his father ; the Virgin Mary was the mother of Jesus, and as the Roman catholics call her the mother of god. This appellation of the ancient church ought not to be considered as improper; for God is equal to Jesus and Jesus is equal to God they are co-essenin tial and coetemal in their existence-the one is as old as the other, and yet'God is the father of Jesus, the Virgin Mary is the mother of both of them, and God is the creator of the Virgin Mary! The Holy Ghost is also the father