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Application.—On reading Volney's Ruins, I discoy. ered two main pillars supporting the whole superstructure. I shall present them for observation one after the other.
1st Pillar.—The first great pillar which he shapes out is, that a man is born a Christian, or he is born a Mohamedan, or he is born a Pagan.
Now this is almost true: with some slight variation it is what the Bible taught several thousand years be. fore the author of Ruins of Empires was born. I knew whilst I was reading, that if a child was born of Mohamedan parents, and these parents trained the child in re. ligion, it would be a sincere follower of that prophet. I knew that the same was true of Paganism. I knew that a child born of Christian parents might be a sincere Christian, and was more ready to become such in proportion to his faithful training. But it is true that he is not as ready to become a sincere Christian as he is a sincere Pagan, or Mohamedan, because men prefer darkness to light; they have not that natural relish for Christianity which they have for false religions. Mr. Volney's plainest inference I did not see so clearly. The amount of his inference or deduction, seemed to be, that if any number of parents, at any time or place, might teach their families any amount of false religion, therefore there was no true religion. A large portion of his page was true. It was urging the same doctrine which Moses said Jehovah spoke aloud to the people from the top of Sinai, long ago. A small part of his text only seemed false. Some declare that the most dangerous falsehoods on earth are those presented in company with a large measure of truth. They say that poison by itself' might be rejected, because of its bitter
taste, but if presented in a large quantity of pleasant and healthful food it may be taken. In this way a production having one part falsehood, and nine parts truth, or correct principle, is very captivating. The truth quiets apprehension, and the lie is the salt to an appe. tite for darkness rather than light. Even where we do not love truth, we look around for a portion of it to keep the conscience calm. In short, I found the French philosopher urging protractedly that which I had read, or heard read from the scriptures from infancy, (like fathers, like children.) I do not know what influence his work would have had on me if I had not from boyhood known this to be one of the Bible's principal doc. trines, and one of God's prominent threatenings. Iam inclined to believe (judging whilst observing others) that this book would have drawn me after its author with great attraction. As it was, it informed me of nothing new, and it gave me no prop for my infidelity. I knew that if God existed, he must do right; that as sure as he existed he always had declined, or refused to interfere in any way, to prevent falsehood descending to the children of false teachers, and that this was what the Bible said he had declared he would do. I confess. ed to myself that I did not see any thing more strange in his saying he would do a thing, than in his actually doing it. I knew that, although sitting on a throne of Omnipotence, he did not interpose, and he did permit the lies of the fathers to visit the children to the third and fourth generation, and there would have been no more harm in his saying that he would thus act, than in acting it. Having always been familiar with the fact that I could teach my child a false creed and an evil practice, if I chose, I was not so well prepared to adopt
the rest as logical inference and fair deduction, that one creed was as true as another.
I thought that if the Maker of the world had said in his denunciatory threatenings, “ If you do set fire to your house and your granaries, in your wanton madness, it shall not end with yourself, for your children shall suf. fer the gnawings of hunger to as many generations as are under your roof;" it would have been only saying that which is fact; and I could not say that therefore one practice was as good as another, or that the different opinions concerning parental conduct, one was as correct as another.
I thought that if the Creator had said, “ If you do paint your soul black, the minds of
children as far down as your influence reaches, shall be stained with the same falsehood,” it would only have been telling us what has been and still is; but I could not be certain that this proves that no one knows truth from falsehood, or correct principle from error.
2d Pillar.—The following is the amount of the other great principle which supported his system, viz., that all religions, (as well as Christianity,) present their prophets, their sacred books, their martyrs, and their mira. cles; and who is to decide between their claims? or in other words, we are not expected to decide between va. rious and plausible claims, zealously and tumultuously attested. Does God expect every one to be a critical judge?
I thought there was something very forcible in this. I was ready to exclaim, I have some support here. I was only determined to examine it closely from this re. collection:that a principle seemingly directed toward the mark of truth, varies more from it, (sometimes, the
farther it is pursued. Just so the man who aimed his rifle against the mark with perfect accuracy, and then varied it only the tenth part of an inch,—could not per. ceive the differerce unless he looked along the gun; but the farther the false track for the ball was pursued, the wider was its variation from the proper course.
I con. cluded to extend the essence of this second principle, (or pillar of our author's,) to other things, and notice the result. I did so, and I should still have been pleased, and should still have floated along smilingly on the cur. rent of the author's thoughts, had it not been for a few facts which I could neither persuade, nor cut, nor drag out of my way. These stubborn, ungainly, and antisoporific facts, I must reserve for the next chapter.
MEANS OF RESCUE-COUNTERFEITS
A man once handed me a piece of silver coin ; it looked very bright and beautiful. One with whom I was about to exchange it, suspected its purity. This called for the judgment of others. Some pronounced it genuine; others called it counterfeit. At length it was taken to a man in whose judgment all confided, and found to be impure! There was a school teacher need. ed at a certain point, and one offered whose qualifica. tions seemed to be sufficient. He was employed, and afterwards it become evident that his literary preten. sions were all unfounded and the community suffered because they were not better judges in the first instance.
Some pronounced him incompetent at once, but others he deceived.
A poor man became possessed of a large bank-note. It looked well in his eye, but it was spurious. His chil. dren felt the loss which he sustained by being over- reached. When he thought or when he conversed on the subject, he remembered or he heard the following sentiments, viz., that things most precious, are most counterfeited ; and that of course our interest in every thing is threatened in proportion to its value, from art or deception. Secondly, in every case under the sun, we decide for ourselves, and if we judge incorrectly, we take the consequences.
There was a man who appeared to be one of worth and of modesty. He solicited the hand of a young fe. male in marriage. Some told her that they believed him to be destitute of principle, and that his seeming vir. tues were all counterfeits. Her parents judged different. ly, and she thought differently. She became his, and lost her property, and her health, and her peace, to the last item of each. To see her sink, blighted all the earthly enjoyments of her parents.
The following are the plain facts which I have mentioned as standing in my way:
1st. We are acquainted with nothing valuable which has not its counterfeits. We might offer a reward to any one who would point us to an exception. We know that all the virtues, and all the correct sentiments or doctrines, togeiher with every excellent trait of charac. ter or lovely grace, may be counterfeited: therefore piety, or true religion, can not be made solitary exceptions; for they are made up of correct principles, lovely doc. trines, and lovely graces or traits of character. WIf