Page images

The late Lord P-, after he turned deist, took every opportunity to shew his contempt of religion. The clergyman and parishioners of the place where his lordship's seat in Northamptonshire stood, usually passed in sight of the house, in their way to church. At the time of going and returning he generally ordered his children and servants into the hall, for the vile purpose of laughing at and ridiculing them. He pursued this course for some time, but at length drew near the close of life. Upon his dying pillow his views were altered. He found, that, however his former sentiments might suit him in health, they could not support him in the hour of dissolution. When in the cold arms of death, the terrors of the Almighty were upon him. Painful remembrance brought to view ten thousand insults of. fered to that God, at whose bar he was shortly to stand ; and, conscience strongly impressed with the solemnity of that day, he but too justly feared the God he had insulted would then spurn him to hell. With his mind thus agitated, he cailed to a person in the room, and desired him to go into the library, and fetch “ the cursed book,” meaning that which had made him a deist. He went, but returned, saying “ he could not find it.” The nobleman then cried with vehe. mence, " that he must go again, and look till he found it; for he could not die till it was destroyed.” The person, having at last found it, gave it into his hands. It was no sooner committed to him, than he tore it to pieces, with mingled horror and revenge, and committed it to the flames. Having thus taken vengeance on the instrument of his own ruin, he soon breathed his last.

The Deist Confounded. A deist on a visit to his friends, among other topics of conversation, was pleased to enlarge considerably on the sufficiency of reason, separate from Divine assistance, to guide us to happiness. To whom the relative present, who was a farmer, made the following reply. “ Cousin, when you were about 14 years of age, you were bound apprentice to a—, and having served the appointed time, you soon became a master, and have now continued in business about twelve years.

I wish to know whether you could not prosecute your trade at this time to greater advantage than when you first embarked in it.” The tradesman admitted that his experience in business was of considerable value to him ; but asked “ What re-, lation that had to the present topic of discourse ?" The farmer answered, “You were come to the perfect use of your reason, and have been for a long time taught how to manage your trade; and if, therefore, your reason without experience was insufficient to preserve you from many errors, in so plain and easy a business as your's, how can you imagine that it should be sufficient, without any Divine assistance, to guide you to heaven?": The deist was nonplussed. How forcibly are right words! Job. vi. 25.

It has often been a matter of wonder that the principles and reasonings of infidels, though frequently accompanied with great natural and acquired abilities, are seldom known to make any impression on sober people. It is said of a gentleman lately deceased, who was eminent in the literary world, that in early life h track deeply mto the free-thinking scheme. He and one of his

66 it never

companions of the same turn of mind often carried on their conversations in the hearing of a religious but illiterate countryman. This gentleman afterwards becoming a serious christian, was concerned for the countryman, lest his faith in the christian religion should have been shaken. One day he took the liberty to ask him, Whether what had so frequently been advanced in his hearing had not produced this effect upon him? “ By no means," answered the countryman; made the least impression upon me.”

No im. pression upon you!” said the gentleman. “Why, you must know that we had read and thought on these things much more than you had any opportunity of doing.” “O, yes,” said the other; " but I knew also your manner of living : “ I knew that, to maintain such a course of conduct, you found it necessary to renounce christianity.”

If we look at the writings and conduct of the principal adversaries of christianity, we shall form no very favourable opinion of their system as to its moral effects. " The morals of Rochester and Wharton,” says one, “need no comment. Woolston was a gross blasphemer. Blount solicited his sister-in-law to marry him ; and, being refused, shot himself. Tindal was originally a protestant, then turned papist, then protestant again, merely to suit the times; and was at the same time infa. mous for vice in general, and the total want of principle. He is said to have died with this prayer in his mouth: If there be a God, I desire that he may have mercy on me.' Hobbes wrote his Leviathan to serve the cause of Charles I; but, finding him fail of success, he turned it to the defence of Cromwell, and made a merit of this fact

to the usurper, as Hobbes himself unblushingly declared to lord Clarendon. Morgan had no regard for truth, as is evident from his numerous falsifications of scripture, as well as from the vile hypocrisy of professing himself a christian in those very writings in which he labours to destroy christianity. Voltaire, in a letter now remaining, requested his friend D'Alembert to tell for him a direct and palpable lie, by denying that he was the author of the Philosophical Dictionary. D'Alembert, in his answer, informed him that he had told the lie. Voltaire has, indeed, expressed his own moral character perfectly, in the following words : ‘Monsieur Abbe, I must be read; no matter whether I am believed or not,' He also solemnly professed to believe the Catholic religion, although, at the same time, he doubted the existence of a God. Hume died as a fool dieth. The day before, he spent in a pitiful and affected unconcern about this tremendous subject; playing at whist, reading Lucian's Dialogues, and making silly attempts at wit, concerning his interview with Charon, the heathen ferryman of Hades. See Dr. Dwight's excellent Discourses on the Nature and danger of Infidel Philosophy, p. 45-47.

Collins, though he had no belief in christianity, yet qualified himself for civil office by partaking of the Lord's Supper : Shaftesbury did the same; and the same is done by hundreds of infidels to this day. Yet these are the men who are continually declaming against the hypocrisy of priests!

“ I shall conclude this catalogue with a brief abstract of the Confessions of J. J. Rousseau. After a good education in the Protestant religion, he was put apprentice. Finding his situation disagreeable to him, he felt a strong propensity to vice, inclining him to covet, dissemble, lie, and at length to steal ; a propensity of which he was never able afterwards to divest himself. 'I have been a rogue,' says he,' and am so still, sometimes, for rifles which I had rather take than ask for.'

“ He abjured the Protestant religion, and entered the hospital of the Catechumens at Turin, to be instructed in that of the Catholics : For which, in return,' says he, 'I was to receive subsistence. From this interested conversion,' he adds, nothing remained but the remembrance of my having been both a dupe and an apostate.

“ After this, he resided with a Madame De Warren, with whom he lived in the greatest possible familiarity.' This lady often suggested that there would be no justice in the Supreme Being, should he be strictly just to us; because, not having bestowed what was necessary to render us essentially good, it would be requiring more than he had given. She was, nevertheless, a very good Catholic, or pretended, at least, to be one, and certainly desired to be such. If there had been no Christian morality established, Rousseau supposes she would have lived as though regulated by its principles. All her morality, however, was subordinate to the principles of M. Savel (who first seduced her from conjugal fidelity, by urging, in effect, that exposure was the only crime,) or rather she saw nothing in religion that contradicted them. Rousseau was far enough from being of this opinion, yet he confessed he dared not VOL. III.


« EelmineJätka »