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That is, replied I, you would have endeavoured to deceive me. But, Mr. Clifford, such a wife will be the most suitable for you, as will be far from being offended at greater faults than these ; and the world is full enough of such ladies.
He then told me, with a smile, that if he was such a sad .creature as I represented him, it would be an act of charity to take him, that he might be benefited by my example as well as by my precepts.
I assured him, with a determined tone, that it was not a jesting matter, and that he might depend upon it I should abide by what I had said; while at the same time I wished him much happiness with any other person, and should be always happy to see him as a neighbour.
I must confess, Miss Barnwell, cried he, you are something singular. Well! if I am so bad a commodity, I must endeavour to make the best of myself.
When we were at tea, this gentlernan had I believe the vanity to think he could make me and my friend proselytes to deism, or rather atheism. In speaking of his travels, he took occasion to observe, that to converse with men of different countries and religions was the best thing in the world to enlarge the mind, and to set it free from those prejudices which spring up in the nursery, and are watered by priests: all of whom, said he, if you will be. hieve them, propagate the only true religion, whether they be Catholics or Protestants, Greeks or Armenians, Turks or Gentoos.
Every man of sense, Sir, cried my fatherhas long been convinced, that priests of all religions are the same.
I do not know, said Mr. Clifford, whether, if we do them strict justice, we ought to rank them all together ; since the priests of those religions which have done the least damage to mankind ought to have the preference. I say, the least damage ; for the wisest men in all countries think it a disputable point whether any of them have done much good. . . .
. . Mr. Clifford, cried my father, looking at me, is a man
after my own heart. I have no fault to find with my girl, continued he, turning to that gentleman, except on account of some religious whims. With regard to myself, I think that honesty, if we talk for ever, is the sum of all religion.
Most religions, Sir, said Mr. Clifford, would fall dread. fully short, were they to be measured by that rule ; for honesty requires people to do as they would be done by.
Well, girls, cried my father, looking at Eusebia and me, what do you say to that?
We only say, Sir, replied my friend, that this gentleman is not obliged to prove his assertion ; if he were, he would be obliged to undertake a more difficult task than he is able to perform.
Observe, Mr. Barnwell, said he, that I have received a challenge.-Well, Madam, you will please to remember that I neither assert nor deny the truth of any religion. All that I have said amounts to this, that the different religions which have been propagated in the world have in general been unfriendly to mankind. I am sorry that truth obliges me to declare, that if that is the best which has been the least hurtful, this negative goodness will fall to the share of paganism. Paganism, at the time when Christianity first appeared, was the religion not only of the whole Roman empire, the beggarly province of Judea excepted, but also of the whole globe. The inhabitants of the most distant climes, whose customs were the most one posite to each other, who worshipped the Deity under different names and characters expressive of his various attributes, and who showed their respect to him by ceremonies peculiar perhaps to the country in which they had been educated, were rendered so friendly and sociable by the charitable and humane principles of their religion, that they either worshipped and venerated each other's gods, or they agreed to differ, and worship their own, leaying others to do the like, without any heart-burnings or. ill-will on account of their being of different sentiments.“ I might make the same observation concerning the reli
gion first introduced by Mahomet, the extent of which is far greater than that of Christianity. The founder of this sect professedly taught from the first, that it was the will of God that the Mahometan faith should be propagated by the sword. Yet wherever he or his followers turned their victorious arms, those who could not be persuaded to embrace their tenets were only compelled to pay a trifling tax; so that Christians of every denomination may now live in the exercise of their various modes of worship with greater safety in the dominions of the Grand Seignior, than in any country in Christendom, the L'nited States of Ameri. ca excepted. Now, ladies, behold the contrast. Since Christianity has been introduced into the world, the most inhuman cruellies have attended its footsteps. Wherever it has been received, nation has been against nation, province against province, sect against sect, family against family, and one part of a family against the other. I am not insensible that much may be said against paganism, especially by Christians, whom I acknowledge the pagans used with severity, though not on account of their professing a different religion, for nothing of that kind gave them offence. The Romans laughed at the Egyptians for worshipping gods that grew in their gardens, and they carried their resentment no further: but the Christians and Jews they abhorred on account of their narrow, bigoted. principles; for they would allow none to be the favourites of heaven but themselves. The same narrow, bigoted senti. ments, which rendered them odious in the eyes of the pagans, have caused them to exercise the most inhuman cruelties upon each other: so that wherever Christianity has gained a settlement, superstition, avarice, and hatred, the three worst furies that ever plagued mankind, have set up their balesul empire ; and fires, tortures, gibbets, and prisons, have followed in their train. The question, therefore, concerning any or all of these religions, is not, and ought not to be, whether they are true, but what good they have done; since every thing is valuable in proportion as it is useful
Here the champion of paganism and the false prophet stopped. That which grieved me most was, my father showed his approbation by crying, Bravo ! and clapping his hands. He also said, These are facts; there is no deny. ing of facts : facts are stubborn things.
. True, Mr. Barnwell, replied my friend; but before you pass judgment it becomes you to hear the other side. :
Mr. Clifford, continued she, I have attended to all that you have said, which indeed is all that can be said to the prejudice of Christianity with any colour of justice. You have shown that the first Christians were so unsociable, that they would worship no God but their own, and that they suffered persecution on that account. This their Founder taught them to expect. At the same time he prohibited them from returning any thing but good for evil, and blessing for cursing, and commanded them to pray for those who evil intreated and persecuted them. You have acknowledged that Christians have been perse. cuted by pagans, who appear to be your favourites ; but you have not proved that pagans have been persecuted by Christians. . . . .
Be it so, said he, you must acknowledge that Christians have persecuted each other. :. · Whom do you call Christians ?. replied my friend. If you give that name to all that have been so denominated by themselves or others, I grant your conclusion.
Pray, Madam, said Mr. Clifford, whom do you call Christians ?
Those, replied Eusebia, who imbibe the doctrine,, the precepts, and the example of Christ. Did he by any of . these teach his followers to destroy, or injure those who believed not?.
Indeed, Madam, answered he, I cannot, I will not charge him with any such thing. But will you deny,all those to be Christians who have been concerned, in persecution?..
I might, said she, deny the far greater part of them to be such, without doing them any wrong. And if some few good men have been drawn into those practices, it has been
because they “knew not what manner of spirit they were of." What they have done of this kind, they have done not only without, but against the authority of Christ ; Christianity, therefore, is not chargeable with their inconsistencies.
I acknowledge, Madam, said he, you seem to have the better of the argument; but if the case be as you have represented it, there are but very few Christians.
There are just so many, Sir, said she, as there are persons who are habitually influenced by the spirit and tem. per of Christ. It is to be lamented that Christians are not constantly so influenced; but that unhappily there have been instances in which they have been guilty of the gross. est sins, and of persecution among the rest, and have thereby deviated from the Christian character.
And pray, my kind instructress, cried Mr. Clifford, where do Christians live? I have travelled over a considerable part of Europe, and I never found any, except indeed I have found them now.
You need not wonder at that, Sir, replied she, if you consider that it is one of the properties of the servants of Jesus Christ to be unknown. The Jews did not know their Messiah, and therefore crucified him ; and the apostle John observed, that the world knew them not, because it knew him not.
All this, cried he, is new to me, I assure you, Madam : but pray what do you think of the bulk of those who are denominated Christians ?
O, cried my father, I can tell you that : they give us all to the devil.
I beg, Mr. Barnwell, interrupted Mr. Clifford, that you will permit this amiable lady and me to finish our conversation ; for these are very important matters. Pray, Madam, be kind enough to answer my question?
The world, Sir, replied my friend, is represented in Scripture as the kingdom of Satan; and the bulk of mankind are his subjects, and are engaged in the service of their father and sovereign. To this great company those