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which is loving, gentle, and easy to be entreated. His polemic spirit is fingularly proud and acrimonious; and so has been the spirit of many of his controversal predecessors and successors.
How amiable and gentle, on comparison, the language and sentiments of Voltaire * and Rousseau ! Compare them with the mean, narrow, selfish sentiments of a time serving preferment hunter, or the political caution and hypocrisy of a facerdotal COURTIER. Voltaire and Rousseau would have loved Christianity, and probably believed it, if it had not been distorted and disfigured by the malignant paslions of angry defenders of it, who shewed their love of Christ, by hating their brother, and who appeared by their actions to mean little by their professions, besides the gratification of pride and avarice.
Religion is beautiful. Full of grace are her lips. She shall speak for herself to the hearts of unbelievers, and the busy, thoughtless world :
Spirit, he has the following note on Mr. WILLIAM Law, who, if mifakın, is allowed to have been a fincere Christian, and a very good as well as ingenious man :
“ This poor man,” (says the great Prelate,) “ whether milled. 66 by his fanaticism or his fpleen, has here fallen into a trap which « his folly laid for his MALICE.”
There is then no malice in this observation, no pride, no revenge.
*" In the writings of Voltaire, who never fails to have a taunt. " ing hit at the clergy, the curE' is generally an amiable per" fonage, a charitable man, a friend to the poor and unfortunaie, a “ peace-maker, and a man of piety and worth.
RoBison's Proofs of Conspiracy.. Voltaire saw in the cure' (or parish priest) real Christianity--in the court clergy of France, hypocrily, villainy, pride, and CRUELTY,
Would not the true spirit of Christianity reprobate such men, hiding the foul fiend under the white robes of religion ? I bear my testimony, in the strongest terms, against the general tendency of Rousseau's and Voltaire's writings; but think much of their evil is to be attribuied to the COURT CLERGY of France.
« Come unto me, all ye that labour and are “ heavy laden, and I will refresh you. I call you, o not for the sake of promoting any worldly inte“ rest, not for political purposes, not for an ec« clesiastical party, not to maintain the riches or “ grandeur of any corrupt establishment; but that “ I may make you happy; that I may dispel the or clouds of trouble and doubt which darken your “ paths, and shew you the sunshine of Heaven. “ Mine is a spirit of love. I am a lover of men. • I seek to do you good. I bring the glad tidings « of the Gospel; that is, I disclose to you that s God Almighty, in pity to suffering and erring « mortals, sends a COMFORTER, the Holy Ghost, “ descending like a dove, all peaceable, gentle, « lovely. I fill you with hope ; and hope is « a cheerful passion. I tranquillize your agi« tated bosoms, and lead you, rejoicing on your “ way, to the filent grave, whither you must go, " whether you make your journey to it cheerful « and pleasant, as you may, under my guidance, " or dismally dark, as it will ever be, when I with" draw my lustre.”
Would not such a mode of address be more likely to conciliate men who reject Chriftianity, than all the angry, taunting language which has been used, not only against profeiled infidels, but against believers, who disagreed a little in matters of indifference * South, Bentley, Warburton, and fome able writers in recent times, have shewn, in their zealous defences, the pride of pedantry, the fierceness of barbarians, the subtlety of Machiavelian politicians, but quite forgot the gentleness which characterizes the wisdOM FROM Heaven, and which alone can win fouls by the charms of soft persuasion, affifted by the holy spirit of love.
* " Holy wars have ever been the worst of wars; and scriptural
debates the most intemperate : what is gained in argument is per« haps loft in piety-in charity undoubtedly."
It is said of Dr. Johnson, that he used to declare, he loved a good HATER. Many polemical divines have shewn themselves capable of this parfion of HATRED in its liighest perfection. But hatred begets hatred; and Dr. Johnson's declaration is among those inconsistencies in his life, which prove a great man still but a man. I am forry that this saying Mould be recorded of liim; for Dr. Johnson professed himself a zealous Chriftian, and Christ taught us to love even an enemy: According to the Christian rule, an enemy, instead of being hated, is to be melted to love and kindness by good usage.
The odium theologicum, or the rancour of the clergy to each other, when they discuss controverfial points of divinity, is, in my opinion, the greatest opprobrium theologicum. A blot in the theological character not to be wiped off by the officious hand of the most partial apologist *. Warburtonian infolence and ill-nature have done more injury to the church, and to the cause of Christianity, than any of the writers whom they were intended to gall and mortify.
See Warburton's dedication to freethinkers, and many parts of his works : fpecimens of great levity, bitter invective, gross farcasm, and total carelessness for the state, both present and final, of those unhappy persons, whom he juftly represents as miferably mistaken. Does the good shepherd worry the stray sheep with bloodhounds, or bruise them with his crook? The crozier, or pastoral itaff, of Warburton became in his hands a bludgeon or a rod o firon.
Of the inadequate Idea entertained by many respectable
Persons concerning Christianity ; with a Suggestion on the Expediency of their considering the true Nature of Christian Philosophy. T°
abstain from gross, enormous, open, and
scandalous vices, to comply with the outward ceremonies of the Church, and to reciprocate the usual and formal civilities of life, constitutes, in the opinion of multitudes, not only a very respectable member of society, but a very good Christian. Concerning the DOCTRINES of Christianity, such persons give themselves little concern, but plume themselves on decently practising the DUTIES; by which they understand nothing more than a very imperfect kind of heathen morality, and the avoidance of such conduct as might expose them to the animadversion of law, or to the loss of reputation. The duties of Christianity thus limited, they think easily discernible, without study or reading, by common observation and common sense. Doing as others do, as far as the decorum of established manners allows and prescribes, is the grand rule. Such persons pass through life with great credit, paying their way, (as it is expressed,) and making themselves agreeable in company, and are feldom mentioned but with the praise of very good sort of people.
Exactly such sort of people they might have been if Christianity had never existed. They hold no opinion, they adopt no practice peculiar to Christianity. The Gospel, which they profess to
embrace, is a leaden rule, an accommodating guide, an humble companion, that must obfequiously stand on one side, whenever it is in the
way of a fashionable practice. Gaming, duelling, and many modes of gratification inconsistent both with the letter and spirit of the Gospel, seem to receive no check from this convenient species of Christ. ianity.
Any thoughts which may occasionally intrude of a very serious kind, are laughed away by the surrounding circle, as vapours, fancies, the effects of morbid melancholy, or of nervous indisposition. Company, public places, public diversions, are immediately proposed as a sovereign remedy; and indeed they certainly are so far a remedy, that they banish serious thoughts, but they also banish that happy disposition, (for happiness is serious,) which might have caused the visitation from on high, and obtained, for the weary and fick heart, the sweetlyrefreshing cordial of divine grace.
Attendance at polite places of public worship seems to constitute the piety of such persons; and public subscription to fashionable or political contributions thews their charity. It seems fair to infer, that their piety and charity are thus circumscribed, because their actions, on other occasions and at other places, seem inconsistent with piety
* Where hell is not mentioned to ears polite, wbere the ear is « pleased and the heart untouched, which,” says Bishop Stillingfleet, “ seems to be like Stroking the consciences of people with “ feathers dipt in oil."-" In certain finical sermons of some great " pulpit haranguers,” says Dr. Edwards, " the name of God is " elleemed low and mean. I could quote some of them who avoid that " word, as if it were not fine enough for them, but must be ex. “ changed, in all their discourses, for the divine Being, the Almighty, “ the Autbor of all Things, the Governor of the World; and so so they seldom use the word Christ, but subtitute fome other title. " Some pronounce the word God, Gad, and l.ord, Lud,” &c.
Dr. John EDWARDS.