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in their own favour, to which the rest of mankind are confined, and study only to excel in substituting jests for solid arguments. Dis. pute as long as we will with a man of this character, we can never obtain an exact answer. His first reply is a bit of historical erudition. Next he will quote one line from Horace, and two from Juvenal, and, by eluding in this manner our arguments and objec tions, he will think himself the victor, because he knew how to avoid the combat, and he will, therefore, think himself authorized to persist in infidelity.
The same reflections which regard the negligent infidel, are appplicable to him, whom we oppose in this article. It is neither agreeable to the justice, nor to the wisdom of God, to employ new evidence in his favour. Not to his justice; for how can a man who is profane by profession, a man who, for the sake of rendering himself agreeable to his companions, and of procuring the reputation of ingenuity, ridicules the most grave and serious truths, declares open war with God, and jests with the most sacred things; how can a man of this character be an object of the love of God? Why should God alter the economy of his Spirit and grace in his favour? Neither is it agreeeble to his wisdom but, as what we have said on the foregoing article may be applied to this, we pass to the fourth class of unbelievers, whom we have denominated interested infidels; infidels, the gratifications of whose passions render the destruction of Christianity necesary to them.
ed, first, whether he, who saw the apparition, were free from all disorder of mind when he saw it; or whether it were not the effect of a momentary insanity, or of a profound reverie. It must be examined farther, whether the apparition really came from the other world, or whether it were not exhibited by the craft of some head of a party, like those which are seen in monasteries, like those which were rumoured about at the reformation to impose on the credulity of the popu lace; many instances of which may be seen in a treatise on spectres, written by one of our divines. On supposition that it were a dead person sent from the other world, it would be necessary to examine, whether he were sent by God, or by the enemy of our salvation, who, under a pretence of reforming us, was setting snares for our innocence, and creating scruples in our minds. If it were proved that the vision came from God, it must still be inquired, whether it were an effect of the judgment of that God, who judicially hardens some, by sending them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie, because they received not the love of the truth,' 2 Thess. ii. 2; or whether it were an effect of his grace condescending to smooth the path of religion. All these questions, and a thousand more of the same kind, which naturally belong to this matter, would require time, and study, and pains. They would require the merchant to suspend his commercial business, the libertine to lay aside his pleasures, the soldier to quit for a while his profession of arms, and to devote himself to retirement and meditation. They would require them to consult reason, Scripture, and history. The same fund of carelessness, that now causes the obstinacy of our infidel, would cause it then; and would prevent his undertaking that examination, which would be absolutely necessary in order to determine whether the apparition proved the truth of that religion which it attested, and whether all the difficulties that attended it could be removed. We may then say in regard to idle infidels, they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.' 3. The same observations which we have just now made, in regard to negligent people, are equally applicable to a third order of persons, whom we have called witty infidels, and we class them by themselves, only on account of their rank in the world, and of the ascendancy which they know how to obtain over the hearts of mankind. We denominate those witty infidels, who agreeably to the taste of the last age, have not cultivated their genuises with a sound and rational philosophy; but have made an ample collection of all the tinsel of the sciences (pardon this expression), and have polished, and enriched their fancies at the expense of their judgments. They are quick at repartee, smart in answering; their wit sparkles, and their railleries bite; and, being infatuated with a conceit of their own superiority, they dispense with those rules of examination,
4. Infidels through depraved passions, it must be granted, are very numerous. I cannot help asking, why, on every other article but that of religion, our infidels content themselves with a certain degree of evidence, whereas on this they cannot see in the clearest light? The more we examine, the clearer we perceive, that the reason originates in the passions; other subjects either very little, or not at all, interest their pas sions: these they see; religion sways the passions; to religion therefore they are blind. Whether the sun revolve around the earth, to illuminate it; or whether the earth revolve around the sun, to beg, as it were, light and influence from it: whether matter be infinitely divisible; or whether there be atoms, properly so called: whether there be a vacuum in nature; or whether nature abhor a void take which side we will of these questions, we may continue covetous or ambitious, imperious, oppressive, and proud. Pastors may be negligent, parents careless, children disobedient, friends faithless. But whether there be a God; whether he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness,' Acts xvii. 31; whether an eye, an invisible eye, watch all our actions, and discover all our secret thoughts: these are questions, which shock our prejudices, attack our passions, thwart and disconcert the whole of our system of cupid. ity,
Unbelievers, whose passions are interested in infidelity, are affected in this manner; and nothing can be easier to prove than that the resurrection of a dead person would pro
duce no conviction of truth in them. Enter, into your own hearts, my brethren; the proof of our proposition may be found there. The sentiments of the heart have a close connexion with the ideas of the mind, and our passions resemble prisms, which divide every ray, and colour every object with an artificial hue.
belief. Thus our interested infidels reject the clearest arguments. It is a fixed point with them, that the religion which indulges their passions is the best religion, and that which restrains them most, the worst. This is the rule, this is the touchstone, by which they examine all things. The more proofs we produce for religion, the more we prejudice them against religion; because the more forcible our arguments are, the more effectually we oppose their passions; the more we oppose their passions, the more we alienate them from that religion which opposes them.
I appeal to experience. The Scripture affords us a plain example, and a full comment, in the behaviour of the unbelieving Jews who lived in the time of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ preached; he condemned the prejudices of the synagogue; he subverted the favourite carnal systems of the Jews; he attacked the vices of their superiors; he preach. ed against the irregularity of their morals; he unmasked the hypocritical Pharisees. These attacks were sufficient to excite their rage and madness; and they, being disposed to gratify their anger, examined the doctrine of Jesus Christ only for the sake of finding fault with it. Jesus Christ must be destroyed; for this purpose, snares must be laid for his innocence, his doctrine must be condemned, and he must be proved, if possi ble, a false Messiah. They interrogate him on articles of religion and policy; but Jesus Christ gives satisfactory answers to all their questions. They examine his morals; but every step of his life appears wise and good. They shift his conversation; but every expression is always with grace seasoned with salt,' Collos. iv. 6. None of these schemes will effectuate their designs. The man, say they, preaches a new doctrine; if he were sent of God, he would produce some proof of his mission: Moses and the prophets wrought miracles, Jesus Christ performs miracles; he heals the sick, raises the dead, calms the winds and the waves, and alters all the laws of nature. He operates more than enough to persuade impartial minds. But their passions suggest answers. This fellow doth not cast out devils,' say they, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils,' Matt. xii. 24. But Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, and who is now
For example: employ a sensible Christian to reconcile two enemies, and you will admire the wise and equitable manner in which he would refute every sophism that passion could invent. If the ground of complaint should be exaggerated, he would instantly hold the balance of equity, and retrench what anger may have added to truth. If the offended should say, he has received a grievous injury, he would instantly answer, that between two jarring Christians, it is immaterial to inquire, in this case, the degree of iniquity and irrationality in the offence; the immediate business, he would say, is the reasonableness of forgiveness. If the offended should allege, that he has often forgiven, he would reply, this is exactly the case between the Judge of the world and his offending creatures, and yet, he would add, the insulting of a thousand perfections, the forgetting of a thousand favours, the falsifying of a thousand oaths, the violating of a thousand resolutions, do not prevent God from opening the treasures of his mercy to us. If the complainant should have recourse to the ordinary subterfuge, and should protest that he had no animosity in his heart, only be is resolved to have no future intimacy with a man so odious, he would dissipate the gross illusion, by urging the example of a merci ful God, who does not content himself with merely forgiving us, but, in spite of all our most enormous crimes, unites himself to us by the tenderest relations. Lovely morality, my brethren! Admirable effort of a mind, contemplating truth without prejudice and passion! But place this Arbitrator, who preaches such a morality, in different circumstances. Instead of a referee, make him a party; instead of a mediator between contending parties, put him in a place of one of them. Employ his own arguments to convince him, and, astonishing! he will consider each as a sophism, for all his arguments now stand at the tribunal of a heart full of wrath and revenge. So true it is, that our passions alter our ideas; and that the clearest arguments are divested of all their evidence, when they appear before an interested
Do you seriously think, that the divines of the church of Rome, when they dispute with us, for example, on the doctrines of indulgences and purgatory, do you really think they require proofs and arguments of us? Not they. The more clearly we reason against them, the more furiously are they irritated against us. I think I see them calculating the profits of their doctrines to themselves, consulting that scandalous book, in which the price of every crime is rated, so much for a murder, so much for assassination, so much for incest; and finding on each part of the inexhaustible revenue of the sins of mankind, arguments to establish their
* Mr. Saurin means the tax-book of the Roman chancery, which we have mentioned in the preface to the 1st vol. p. 7. This scandalous book was first printed at Rome in 1514, then at Cologne in 1515,
at Paris in 1520, and often at other places since. It is
entitled, Regule, Constitutiones, Reservationis Cancellarie S. Domini nostri Leonis Pape decimi, &c.
There we meet with such articles as these. Absolution for killing one's father or mother 1 du
Ditto, For all the acts of lewdness committed by a clerk-with a dispensation to be capable of taking orders, and to hold ecclesiastical benefits, &c.
36 tourn. 3 duc. Ditto, For one who shall keep a concubine, with a dispensation to take orders, &c.-21 tour. 5 duc. 9 carl. As if this traffic were not scandalous enough of itself, it is added, Et nota diligenter, &c. Take notice particularly, that such graces and dispensations are not granted to the poor; for, not having wherewith to pay they cannot be comforted.
The zeal of the reformers against the church of Rome ceases to appear intemperate in my eye, when I consider these detestable enormities.
deniable proof of the truth of my assertion is his eagerness in publishing and propagating infidelity. Now this can proceed from no thing but from a principle of vainglory. For why should his opinion be spread? For our parts, when we publish our systems, whether we publish truth or error, we have weighty reasons for publication. Our duty, we think, engages us to propagate what we believe. In our opinion, they who are ignorant of our doctrine are doomed to endless misery. Is not this sufficient to make us lift up our voices? But you, who believe neither God, nor judgment, nor heaven, nor hell; what madness inspires you to publish your sentiments? It is, say you, a desire of freeing society from the slavery that religion imposes on them. Miserable freedom! a freedom from imaginary errors, that plunges us into an ocean of real miseries, that saps all the bases of society, that sows divisions in families, and excites rebellions in states; that deprives virtue of all its motives, all its inducements, all its supports. And what, pray, but religion, can comfort us under the sad catastrophes to which all are subject, and from which the highest human grandeur is not exempt? What, but religion, can conciliate our minds to the numberless afflictions which necessarily attend human frailty? Can any thing but religion calm our consciences under their agitations and troubles? Above all, what can relieve us in dying illnesses, when lying on a sick-bed between present and real evils, and the frightful gloom of a dark futurity? Ah! if religion, which produces such real effects, be a deception, leave me in possession of my deception; I desire to be de
This is a natural image of a passionate infidel. Passion blinds him to the most evident truths. It is impossible to convince a man, who is determined not to be convinced. One disposition, essential to the knowing of truth, is a sincere love to it: The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him,' Ps. xxv. 14. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,' John vii. 17. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,' chap. iii. 19. 5. We come, finally, to the philosophical infidel; to him, who, if we believe him, is neither blinded by prejudices, nor prevented by negligence, nor infatuated by his imagination, nor beguiled by irregular passions. Hear him. He assures you the only wish, that animates him, is that of knowing the truth, and that he is resolved to obey it, find it where he will: but after he has agitated a thousand questions, after he has undertaken a thousand investigations, and consulted a thousand volumes, he has found nothing satisfactory in proof of Christianity; in short, he says he is an unbeliever only because he cannot meet with any motives of belief. Can it be said to such a man, 'neither wilt thou be persuaded though one rose from thedead?'ceived, and I take him for my most cruel enemy who offers to open my eyes.
But let us give a more direct answer. You are a philosopher. You have examined religion. You find nothing that convinces you. Difficulties and doubts arise from every part; the prophecies are obscure; the doctrines are contradictory; the precepts are ambigu
We will reply presently. But allow us first to ask a previous question. Are there any infidels of this kind? Is the man, whom we have described, a real, or an imaginary being? What a question! say you. What! can a man, who devotes his whole life to meditation and study, a man, , who has searched all the writings of antiquity, who has dis-ous; the miracles are uncertain. You require entangled and elucidated the most dark and some new prodigy, and, in order to your full difficult passages, who has racked his inven- persuasion of the truth of immortality, you tion to find solutions and proofs, who is nour- wish some one would come from the dead ished and kept alive, if the expression may be and attest it. I answer, if you reason conseused, with the discovery of truth; a man, be- quentially, the motive would be useless, and, sides, who seems to have renounced the having resisted ordinary proofs, you ought, if company of the living, and has not the least you reason consequentially, to refuse to berelish for even the innocent pleasures of so- lieve the very evidence which you require. ciety, so far is he from running into the gross- Let us confine ourselves to some one article est diversions; can such a man be supposed to convince you; suppose the resurrection of to be an unbeliever for any other reason than Jesus Christ. The apostles bore witness because he thinks it his duty to be so? Can that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This is any, but rational motives, induce him to dis. our argument. To you it appears jejune and believe? futile, and your undetermined mind floats between two opinions; either the apostles, you think, were deceived; or they deceived others. These are your objections. Now, if either of these objections be well grounded, I affirm you ought not to believe though one rose from the dead' to persuade you.
The apostles were deceived you say. But this objection, if well-grounded, lies against not only one, but twelve apostles; not only against twelve apostles, but against more than 'five hundred brethren; not only against more than five hundred brethren, 1
living among you, speaks in favour of Jesus Christ; Lazarus must be made away with; he must be a second time laid in the tomb; all the traces of the glory of Jesus Christ must be taken away; and that light which is already too clear, and which will hereafter be still clearer, must be extinguished lest it should discover, expose, and perplex us.
Undoubtedly; and it would discover but little knowledge of the human heart, were we to imagine, either that such an infidel was under the dominion of gross sensual passions, or that he was free from the government of other, and more refined passions. A desire of being distinguished, a love of fame,the glory of passing for a superior genius, for one who has freed himself from vulgar errors; these are, in general, powerful and vigorous passions, and these are usually the grand springs of a pretended philosophical infidelity. One un
Cor. xv. 6, but against all who attested the miracles wrought in favour of the resurrection of Christ: all these persons, who in other cases were rational, must have been insane, had they thought they had seen what they had not seen, heard what they had not heard, conversed with a man with whom they had not conversed, wrought miracles which they had not wrought. They must be supposed to have persisted in these extravagances, not only for an hour, or a day, but for forty days, yea, for the whole course of their lives. Now, I demand, since an illusion produced a persuasion so clear and full, how could you assure yourself that you was not deceived in examining that new evidence which you require? If so many different persons may be justly taxed with absence of mind, or insanity, what assurance would you have that you was not thrown into a disordered state of mind at the sight of an apparation?
Let us reason in a similar manner on your second supposition. If the apostles were impostors, there must have been in the world men so contrary to all the rest of their species, as to suffer imprisonment, punishment, and death, for the support of a falsehood. This absurdity must have intoxicated not only one person, but all the thousands who sealed the gospel with their blood. The apostles must have been destitute of every degree of common sense, if intending to deceive the world, they had acted in a manner the least likely of any to abuse it; marking places, times, witnesses, and all other circumstances, the most proper to discover their imposture. Moreover, their enemies must have conspired with them in the illusion. Jews, Gentiles, and Christians, divided on every other article, must have all agreed in this, because no one ever confuted: What am I saying? No one ever accused our sacred authors of imposture, although nothing could have been easier, if they had been impostors. In one word,a thousand strange suppo!sitions must be made. But I demand again, if those suppositions have any likelihood, if God have given to falsehood so many characters of truth, if Satan be allowed to act his part so dexterously to seduce us, how can you assure yourself that God will not permit the father of falsehood to seduce you also by an apparition? How could you assure yourself afterward that he had not done it? Let us conclude, then, in regard to unbelievers of every kind, that if the ordinary means of grace be inadequate to the production of faith, extraordinary prodigies would be so too.
Let us proceed now, in brief, to prove, that motives to virtue are sufficient to induce men to be virtuous, as we have proved that motives of credibility are sufficient to confound the objections of infidels.
We believe, say you, the truths of religion: but a thousand snares are set for our innocence, and we are betrayed into immorality and guilt. Our minds seduce us. Examples hurry us away. The propensities of our own hearts pervert us. A new miracle would awake us from our indolence, and would reanimate our zeal. We have two things to
1. We deny the effect which you expect from this apparition. This miracle will be
wrought either seldom, or frequently. If it were wrought every day, it would, on that very account, lose all its efficacy; and as the Israelites, through a long habit of seeing miracles, were familiarized to them till they received no impressions from them, so it would be with you. One while they saw waters turned into blood,' another they beheld the first-born of Egypt smitten; now the sea divided to open a passage for them, and then the heavens rained bread, and rivers flowed from a rock; yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies,' Ps. lxxviii. 44. 51. 56. You yourselves every day see the heavens and the earth, the works of nature, and the properties of its ele mentary parts, a rich variety of divine work. manship, which, by proving the existence of the Creator, demand the homage that you ought to render to him; and as you see them without emotions of virtue, so would you harden your hearts against the remonstrances of the dead, were they frequently to rise, and exhort you to repentance.
Were the miracle wrought now and then, what you experience on other occasions would infallibly come to pass on this. You would be affected for a moment, but the impressions would wear off, and you would fall back into your former sins. The proofs of this conjecture are seen every day. People who have been often touched and penetrated at the sight of certain objects, have as often returned to their old habits when the power of the charm has abated. Have you never read the heart of an old miser at the funeral of one of his own age? Methinks I hear the old man's soliloquy: 'I am full fourscore years of age, I have outlived the time which God usually allots to mankind, and I am now a pall-bearer at a funeral. The melancholy torches are lighted; the attendants are all in mourning, the grave yawns for its prey. For whom is all this funeral pomp? What part am I acting in this tragedy? Shall I ever attend another funeral, or is my own already preparing? Alas! if a few remains of life and motion tell me I live, the burying of my old friend, assures me I must soon die. The wrinkles which disfigure my face; the weight of years that makes me stoop; the infirmities which impair my strength; the tottering of my enfeebled carcase; all second the voice of my deceased friend, and warn me of my approaching dissolution. Yet, what am I about? I am building houses, I am amassing money, I am pleasing myself with the hopes of adding to my capital this year, and of increasing my income the next. O fatal blindness! folly of a heart, which avarice has rendered insatiable! Henceforth I will think only about dying. I will go and order my funeral, put on my shroud, lie in my coffin, and render myself insensible to every care except that of dying the death of the righteous,'' Numb. xxiii. 10. Thus talks the old man to himself, as he goes to the grave, and you think, perhaps, his life will resemble his reflections, and that he is going to become charitable, liberal, and disinterested. No, no, all his reflections will vanish with the objects that produced them, and as soon as he returns from the funeral, he will forget he is morta'.
In like manner, the return of one from the dead would perhaps affect you on the spot; you would make many fine reflections, and form a thousand new resolutions: but, when the phantom had disappeared, your depravity would take its old course, and all your reflections would evaporate. This is our first
ating than the most violent agonies here, worse than the gout and the stone, less tolerable than the sufferings of a galley-slave, the breaking of a criminal on the wheel, or the tearing asunder of a martyr with red-hot pincers of iron. I believe these things; and I am, I know, in the case of them, against whom these punishments are denounced: freedom from all these is set before me, and I may, if I will, avoid the bottomless abyss,' Rev. ix. 1, but, no matter, I will precipitate myself headlong into the horrible gulf. A small pittance of reputation, a very little glory, an inconsiderable sum of money, a few empty and deceitful pleasures, will serve to conceal those perils, the bare ideas of which would terrify my imagination, and subvert my designs. Devouring worm! chains of darkness! everlasting burnings! infernal spirits! fire! sulphur! smoke! remorse! rage! madness! despair! idea, frightful idea of a thousand years, of ten thousand years, of ten millions of years, of endless revolutions of absorbing eternity! You shall make no impressions on my mind. It shall be my fortitude to dare you, my glory to affront you.'
Thus reasons the sinner who believes, but who lives in impenitence. This is the heart that wants a new miracle to affect it. But, I demand, can you conceive any prodigy that can soften a soul so hard? I ask, If so many motives be useless, can you conceive any others more effectual? Would you have God attempt to gain an ascendancy over you by means more influential? Would you have him give you more than immortality, more than his Son, more than heaven? Would you have him present objects to you more frightful than hell and eternity?
We know what you will reply. You will say, We talk fancifully, and fight with shadows of our own creation. If the sinner, say you, would but think of these things, they would certainly convert him; but he forgets them, and therefore he is more to be pitied for his distraction, than to be blamed for his insensibility. Were a person to rise from the dead, to recall, and to fix his attention, he would awake from his stupor. Idle sophism! As if distraction, amidst numberless objects that demand his attention, were not the highest degree of insensibility itself. But why do I speak of distraction? I have now before me clear, full, and decisive evidence, that even while sinners have all those objects in full view, they derive no sanctifying influence from them. Yes, I have made the experiment, and consequently my evidence is undeniable. I see that all the motives of love, fear, and horror, united, are too weak to convert one obstinate sinner. my brethren, will you believe it? are your My evidences, selves. Contradict me, refute me. Am I not now presenting all these motives to you? Do not speak of distraction, for I look at you, and you hear me. I present all these motives to you: this God, the witness, and judge of your hearts; these treasures of mercy, which he opens in your favour; this Jesus, who, amid the most excruciating agonies, expired for you. To you we open the kingdom of heaven, and draw back all the veils that hide futurity from you. To you, to you we present
2. We add, secondly. A man persuaded of the divinity of religion, a man who, notwithstanding that persuasion, persists in impenitence, a man of this character has carried obduracy to so high a pitch, that it is not conceivable any new motives would alter him. He is already so guilty, that far from having any right to demand extraordinary means, he ought rather to expect to be deprived of the ordinary means, which he has both received and resisted. Let us dive into the conscience of this sinner; let us for a moment fathom the depth of the human heart; let us hear his detestable purposes. I believe the truth of religion; I believe there is a God: God, I believe, sees all my actions, and from his penetration none of my thoughts are hid; I believe he holds the thunder in his hand, and one act of his will is sufficient to strike me dead; I believe these truths, and they are so solemn, that I ought to be influenced to my duty by them. However, it does not signify, I will sin, although I am in his immediate presence; I will provoke the Lord to jealousy,' as if I were stronger than he,' 1 Cor. x. 22, and the sword that hangs over my head, and hangs only by a single thread, shall convey no terror into my mind. I believe the truth of religion; God has for me, I think, 6 a love which passeth knowledge; I believe he gave me my existence, and to him I owe my hands, my eyes, my motion, my life, my light; moreover, I believe he gave me his Son, his blood, his tenderest mercy and love. All these affecting objects ought indeed to change my heart, to make me blush for my ingratitude, and to induce me to render him love for love, life for life. But no; I will resist all these innumerable motives, I will affront my benefactor, I will wound that heart that is filled with pity for me, I will crucify the Lord of glory afresh,' Heb. vi. 6. If his love trouble me, I will forget it. If my conscience reproach me, I will stifle it, and sin with boldness. I believe the truth of religion; there is, I believe, a heaven, a presence of God in which there is a fulness of joy and pleasure for evermore,' Ps. xvi. 2. The idea of felicity consummate in glory ought, I must own, to make me superior to worldly pleasures, and I ought to prefer the fountain of living waters before my own 'broken cisterns that can hold no water,' Jer. ii. 13, but it does not signify, I will sacrifice the things that are not seen to the things that are seen,' 2 Cor. iv. 18, the glorious delights of virtue to the pleasures of sin,' and the exceeding and eternal weight of glory,' Heb. xi. 25; 2 Cor. iv. 17, to momentary temporal pursuits. I believe the truth of religion; there is, I believe, a hell for the impenitent, there are chains of darkness, a worm that dieth not, a fire that is never quenched,' 2 Pet. ii. 4; Mark ix. 44. In hell, I believe, there are pains far more excruci