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destination, election, and ġrace; were words upon which he had often heard the changes rung, without deriving any information which his reason could approve. He had read how widely the Christian world had differed in their opinions concerning the religion they taught; and the horrid scenes of inhuman cruelty which those differences had occasioned: but he could not conceive, how a religion which had, as all true religions must have, morality for its basis, could tolerate, much less suggest, encourage and approve enormities which justly rendered it the detestation of the most sensible Pagans; and therefore he concluded that ambition, lust, and avarice, clad in priestly robes, had in the Christian church (as they before had done in most others) misled, fatally milled the bulk of mankind by subduing their reason ; palming upon them their own absurd, unintelligible, diabolical dogmas, as the equitable, clear, divine precepts of their God. But still a difficulty, remained ;---if the Christian, which he apprehended was an oral law grafted upon the Mosaic, was taught by the Son of God in a clear and explicit manner so as not to be mistaken, and recorded by four witnesses under divine inspiration; how mankind, with those records in their hands, could be so deceived; and how it was that there still subsisted such a diversity of opinions, each of which, however contradictory to others, derived support from fome portion of the said records called the Scriptures. A strict, free, and impartial examination, of those scriptures, was the only method by which those difficulties could be removed, and by which only he could justly determine his future conduct with respect to religious ceremonies. This method he pursued with an unbiassed mind in search of truth; and a fincere desire to promote the honour of God: and the result has been------Thạt the said scriptures contain many things which appear to be untrue, contradictory to reason, and derogatory to the honour of God: a founded supposition that those offensive matters were not in the original scriptures, but have been interpolated by wicked or ignorant men : and a plain perception that those interpolations, with precedents founded upon them, have misled the compilers of the several services for the Protestant church, so as to render its religion neither plain, consistent, or rational.------And these considerations have induced him to withdraw himself from that church whose ceremonies he cannot go through, as he thinks, without sacrificing truth, sincerity, and the honour of God: which, with gratitude and contrition, are certainly the essence of devotion.
If in this examination, the author hath mistated any facts; he avers that it was not designedly: if he hath drawn any false conclusions from the general or particular premises, he is open tò conviction, and will readily retract them: and if he hath determined wrong with respect to his own conduct resulting from this enquiry ; he will gratefully acknowledge his great obligation to any that will fet him right. But if none of these can be proved ; and the author is not materially wrong, his ardent with and sincere hope is, that those who have power or influence may promote and obtain another reformation, whereby the Christian religion, through the medium of reason, may be she general and approved profeffion of all mankind.
BERN, July 21, 1787.
AD VERTISEMEN T.
THE Translator flatters himself, he has done justice to the original. A copy of the French was put into his hands by a dignified clergyman at Paris, at the same time, recommending it in terms of strong approbation. This induced him upon his return to Geneva, where (though an Englishman) he has resided some time for the benefit of his health, to read it with attention. He found it at once candid and powerfully convincing. It is really astonishing that the absurdities and contradictions which this writer has pointed out, have not been exposed before; the author, upon enquiry, appears to have been for many years an eminent Silk manufacturer at Lyons, where he acquired a fortune, and is now retired to the neighbourhood of Bern, in Switzerland, where he can, without dread of arbitrary power, or listening to the absurd opinions of bigots, give REASON ( as he has done in this work) fair play.
Geneva, January 1, 1789.