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captivating to man's imagination grateful to his hopes, and most important to his well-being : when we consider, that they treat of deliverance from the miseries of sin-of the means of pleasing God—of a shelter against the storms of life of hope in the prospect of death of a rescue from the devouring grave; when we consider that they proffer life, and happiness, and glory, and immortality,--we cannot but, acknowledge that they hold out the strongest inducements to the belief of man... And when, again, we reflect, that the reputed doctrines of Christianity are early instilled into the infant mind-enforced in the lessons of youth, and recommended to man's attention, by innumerable metlio's, during the whole period of riper years, the causes must be great and powerful, which could separate men from what was thus lisped in infancy, conned in youth, and rehearsed in age;--from what was wont to discipline their passions, sooth their sorrows, and temper, their joys.
The first and most powerful cause of this defection, is, the unreasonableness of the doctrines held forth as the truths of the Christian revelation. Full often and earnestly, is it contended, that the seeming unreasonableness of a doctrine, is no evidence of its spuriousness. In fact, it too often seems to be the aim of the Christian advocate to enforce chiefly, those parts of his creed, which recede farthest from the light of reason, or the analogy of any created thing: and a blind submission of the understanding to doctrines, at which, reason stands. aghast, and faith herself is
half confounded, is deemed to be an infallible sign of much spiritual attainment. Such a representation of our Christian faith is attended with lamentable consequences in our native land; but still more lamentable are its effects in those countries of Europe, wherein, what are called,
mysteries of religion, are most frequently held up to public view in their grossest forms: wherein pomp, and ceremony, and penance, and processions, are substituted for the piety of the heart and life. There does infidelity spread like a pestilences there does it flourish and abound. Neither, as it seems to me, can any other result obtain. If a man, being already a professor of religion, begin to examine the principles of his faith, he finds his religious creed speaking one language, and nature and reason, another. He
: finds that a system is recommended, as divine, which is utterly repugnant to every better feeling of his neart—which, without any seeming tendency to make men better members of society, requires him to proclaim the everlasting perdition of the greater portion of his fellow creatures : and seeing this, and deeming it to be a true representation of the Christian faith, he chooses rather to revert to the unwritten faith of nature; and thus does he fall into unbelief. If he be one, who has never, paid much attention to religion, but who, from some cause, iş, induced to do so, and he begin to inquire, “what must I do to be saved ??--he finds that he must, at the very threshold of the inquiry, surrender up his reason, and submit to the control of a system of faith, of which, no man
can give a satisfactory explanation. He is introduced into a new world---not' peopled, like the one to which he has been accustomed, with natural shapes; but he, every where, meets the uncouth forms of an imaginary creation, 'Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire:' he listens no longer to the well known voice of nature and reason, but his ears are assailed with the discors dant tones of mystery and incomprehensibleness. Can it be expected, that, under such circumstances, he should espouse the cause of religion?
Secondly; the persecuting spirit of the professors of Christianity, is a prominent cause of infidelity. • Time,' indeed, would fait me,' to recount the crvelties which have been perpetrated in the name of religion: time would fail me to tell of' those sons of perdition, and inquisitors of what. soever creeed, who tyrannize over the consciences of men, opposing and exalting themselves above all that is called God, or that is worshiped blasphemously sitting in the judgment-seat of God, and dealing out damnation to their fellow creatures: time would fail to tell of the noble of their kind, who have perished unpitiéd in the dungeon's sickly gloom, or at the martyr's fiery stake,--to recount the miseries inflicted, the som cieties annihilated, the countries depopulated, the ties, and affections, and principles, of humanity, defied, or abused, or broken, under the sacred name of religion: neither have I inclinaa tion to engage in the heart-rending task.
In fact, the professors of religion have been
cruel to themselves: they have substituted fasts, and penances, and bodily torture, for the plain and natural precepts of Jesus; and, as à necessary consequence, they have been cruel to others. They have adopted a cruel system; and their self-love has induced them to force it upon their brethren, with all the rancour of bigotry and the wantonness of power.-Hail! knowledge, thou mighty agent of the Eternal Wisdom, which art the inseparate companion of true religion: thou hast, in thy resistless course, swept away the weapons and the office of the inquisitor; mayst thou speedily destroy the shadowy remnants of his power, and the unholy relics of his spirit!
Thirdly; the indifference and insincerity of the professors of Christianity, are causes of infidelity. When a man designates himself by a name common to any sect, party, or profession, he does, virtually, pledge himself to a line of conduct, characteristic of the title, by which he has chosen to be distinguished, or of the profession to which he has determined to attach himself. If he fail in his duty herein, he can be deemed only an ineffi, cient and unworthy member. Conduct, so inconsistent with his professions, is a strong proof that he is guided by convenience, or fashion, or some other secret motive, rather than by his conviction of the importance of the duties attached thereunto, or of the necessity of his diligently performing them. As it is in the ordinary affairs of life, so is it in the things pertaining to religion. · If we, making a profession of religion, and, asserting
that Jesus is our forerunner and pattern, nevertheless, neglect the duties of this profession, and be beedless of conforming ourselves to our great exemplar: if we, pretending to found our hopes of a future state, on the religion of Christ, and to qualify ourselves for entering upon it, by a due observance of his precepts, and a steady and ac. tive support of his cause amongst men, do, never theless, devote ourselves, chiefly, to the pursuits and pleasures of this fleeting life, and mind nothing so much as worldly things :-we do, in fact, adopt a name and a profession to whose duties we are indifferent --we speak of a leader for whom we have no genuine respect. Alas! my brethren, how many are there, who act thus inconsistently. Yea, who are not only indifferent, as to the proper duties of their religious profession; but who seem to be indifferent also, as to what system of docu trines they support. How many add to indifference, insincerity !-in fact, the one is the parent of the other. How many are there, who, instead of earnestly inquiring, what is truth ?' and of consistently adhering to what they deem to be truth, do, on the contrary, give their support, to systems which they despise, and their hearing, to doetrines which they mentally condemn! How lamentable are the effects of such conduct to themselves and to society! By it, they deprive themselves of the true, consolations of religion, and sink in their own estimation, inasmuch as they are conscious of neglecting a chief branch of the duties of life. By it, they are prevented