תמונות בעמוד

Private ene mies of the

ready, than the protestant doctors, to admit into their com munion proselytes, who have nothing of Christianity but the name.

We have but imperfect accounts of the labours of the Russian clergy, the greatest part of whom lie yet involved in that gross ignorance that covered the most unenlightened ages of the church. We learn nevertheless from the modern records of that nation, that some of their doctors have employed, with a certain degree of success, their, zeal and industry in spreading the light of the gospel in those provinces that lie in the neighbourhood of Siberia.

v. While the missionaries now mentioned exposed them: selves to the greatest dangers and sufferings, in order to diffuse the light of divine truth in these remote and darkened

nations, there arose in Eu- gospel. rope, where the gospel had obtained a stable footing, a multitude of adversaries, who shut their eyes upon its excellence, and endeavoured to eclipse its immortal lustre. There is no country in Europe where infidelity has not ta haled its poison; and scarcely any denomination of Christians among whom we may not find several persons, wbo either aim at the total extinction of all religion, or at least endeavour to invalidate the authority of the Christian system. Some carry on these unhappy attempts in an open manner, others under the mask of a Christian profession; but nowhere have these enemies of the purest religion, and consequently of mankind, whom it was designed to render wise and happy, appeared with more effrontery and insolence, than under the free governments of Great Britain and the United Provinces. In England, more especially, it is not uncommon to meet with books, in which not only the doctrines of the gospel, but also the perfections of the Deity, and the solemn obligations of piety and virtue, are impudently called in question, and turned into deri

E c This observation, and the examples by which it is supported in the following sentence, stand in need of some correction. Many books bave indeed been published in England against the divinity, both of the Jewish and Christian dispensations ; and it is justly to be lamented, that the inestimable blessing of religious liberty, which the wise and good have improved to the glory of Christianity, by setting its doctrines and precepts in a rational light, and bringing them back to their primitive simplicity, has been so far abused, by the pride of some, and the ignorance and licentiousness of others, as to excite an opposition io the Christian system, which is both designed and adapted to lead men, through the paths of wisdom and virtue, to happiness and perfection. It is nevertheless carefully to be observed, that the most eminent of the English unbelievers were far from renouncing, at least in their writings and profession, the truths of what they call natural religion, or denying the unchangeable excellence and obligations of virtuó

Atheists and Deists.


sion. Such impious productions have cast a deserved re-
proach on the names and memories of Toland, Collins,
Tindal, and Woolston, a man of an inauspicious genius,
who made the most audacious, though senseless attempts,
to invalidate the miracles of Christ. Add to these Morgan,
Chubb, Mandeville, and others. And writers of the same
class will soon be found in all the countries of Europe,
particularly in those where the reformation has introduced
a spirit of liberty, if mercenary booksellers are still allowed
to publish, without distinction or reserve, every wretched
production that is addressed to the passions of men, and
designed to obliterate in their minds a sense of religion
and virtue.
vi. The sect of atheists, by which, in strictness of speech,

those only are to be meant who deny the exist

ence and moral government of an infinitely wise and powerful Being, by whom all things subsist, is reduced to a very small number, and may be considered as almost totally extinct. Any that yet remain under the influence of this unaccountable delusion, adopt the system of Spinoza, and suppose the universe to be one vast substance, which excites and produces a great variety of motions, all uncontrollably necessary, by a sort of internal force, which they carefully avoid defining with perspicuity and precision,

The Deists, under which general denomination those are comprehended who deny the divine origin of the gospel in particular, and are enemies to all revealed religion in general, form a motley tribe, which, on account of their jarring opinions, may be, divided into different classes. The most decent, or, to use a more proper expression, the least extravagant and insipid form of deism, is that which aims at an association between Christianity and natural religion, and represents the gospel as no more than a republication of the original law of nature and reason, that was more or less obliterated in the minds of men. This is the hypothesis of Tindal, Chubb, Mandeville, Morgan, and several others, if we are to give credit to their own declarations, which indeed ought not always to be done without caution. This also appears to have been the sentiment

and morality. Dr. Mosheim is more especially mistaken, when he places Collins, Tindal, Morgan, and Chubb, in the list of those who called in question the perfections of the Deity, and the obligations of virtue ; it was sufficient to put Mandeville, Wools fon, and Toland, in this infamous class.

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of an ingenious writer, whose eloquence has been ill employed in a book, entitled Essential Religion distinguished from that which is only Accessory;" for the whole religious system of this author consists in the three following points : That there is a God; that the world is governed by his wise providence; and that the soul is immortal; and he maintains, that it was to establish these three points by his ministry, that Jesus Christ came into the world.

vii. The church of Rome has been governed, since the commencement of this century, by Clement XI. Innocent XIII. Benedict XIII. Clement XII. and The Romish Benedict XIV.who may be all considered as men ita pontifs. of eminent wisdom, virtue, and learning, if we compare them with the pontiffs of the preceding ages. Clement XI. and Prosper Lambertini, who at present fills the Papal chair under the title of Benedict XIV. stand much higher in the list of literary fame, than the other pontiffs now mentioned; and Benedict XIII, surpassed them all in piety, or at least in its appearance, which, in the whole of his conduct, was extraordinary and striking. It was he that conceived the laudable design of reforming, many disorders in the church, and restraining the corruption and licentiousness of the clergy; and for this purpose held a council, in the palace of the Lateran, in the year 1725, whose acts and decrees have been made public. But the event did not answer his expectations; nor is there any probability that Benedict XIV. who is attempting the execution of the same worthy purpose, though by different means, will meet with better success.

We must not omit observing here, that the modern bishops of Rome make but an indifferent figure in Europe, and exhibit little more than an empty shadow of the authority of the ancient pontiffs. Their prerogatives are diminished, and their power is restrained within very narrow bounds. The sovereign princes and states of Europe, who embrace their communion, no longer tremble at the thun

Di The original title of this book, which is supposed to have been written by one. Muralt, a Swiss, author of the “Lettres sur les Anglois et sur les François," is as tollows: "Lettres sur la Religion essentielle a l'Homme, distinguee de ce qui n'en est que l'accessoire." There have been several excellent refutations of this book published on the continent, among which the "Lettres sur les vrais principes de la Religion,” in two volumes 8vo. composed by the late learned and ingenious Mr. Bouiller, deserve particular notice.

IT e This history was published while Benedict XIV. was yet alive.

All prospect

der of the Vatican, but treat their anathemas with indifference and contempt. They indeed load the holy father with pompous titles, and treat him with all the external marks of veneration and respect; yet they have given a mortal blow to his authority, by the prudent and artful distinction they make between the court of Rome and the Roman pontiff

. For, under the cover of this distinction, they buffet him with one hand, and stroke with the other; and, under the most respectful profession of attachment to his person, oppose the measures, and diminish still more, from day to day, the authority of his court. A variety of modern transactions might be alleged in confirmation of this, and, more especially the debates that have arisen in this century, between the court of Rome, and those of France, Naples, Sardinia, and Portugal, in all which that ghostly.court has been obliged to yield, and to discover its extreme insignificancy and weakness. viu. There have been no serious attempts made in later

times to bring about a reconciliation between the ofian reconcili. Protestant and Romish churches; for, notwithiba konstant standing the pacific projects formed by private

persons with a view to this union, it is justly con

sidered as an impracticable scheme. The difficulties that attend its execution were greatly augmented by the famous bull of Clement XI. entitled Unigenitus, which deprived the peacemakers of the principal expedient they employed for the accomplishment of this union, by putting it out of their power to soften and mitigate the doctrines of Popery, that appeared the most shocking to the friends of the reformation. This expedient had been frequently practised in former times, in order to remove the disgust that the Protestants had conceived against the church of Rome; but the bull Unigenitus put an end to all these modifications, and in most of those points that had occasioned our separation from Rome, represented the doctrines of that church in the very same shocking light in which they had been viewed by the first reformers. This shows, with the utmost evidence, that all the attempts the Romish doctors have made, from time to time, to give an air of plausibility to their tenets, and render them palatable, were so many snares insidiously laid to draw the Protestants into their communion; that the specious conditions they proposed as the terms of a reconciliation, were

communions entirely removed.

Intestine di.

perfidious stratagems; and that consequently there is no sort of dependence to be made upon the promises and declarations of such a disingenuous set of men.

ix. The intestine discords, tumults and divisions, that reigned in the Romish church, during the preceding century, were so far from being terminated vision in the in this, that new fuel was added to the flame, and church. the animosities of the contending parties grew more vehement from day to day. These divisions still subsist. The Jesuits are at variance with the Dominicans,and some other religious orders, though these quarrels make little noise, and are carried on with some regard to decency and prudence; the Dominicans are on bad terms with the Franciscans; the controversy concerning the nature, lawfulness, and expediency of the Chinese ceremonies still continues, at least in Europe ; and were we to mention all the debates that divide the Romish church, which boasts so much of its unity and infallibility, the enumeration would be endless. The controversy relating to Jansenism, which was one of the principal sources of that division which reigned within the papal jurisdiction, has been carried on with great spirit and aninrosity in France and in the Netherlands. The Jansenists, or, as they rather choose to be called, the disciples of Augustin, are inferior to their adversaries the Jesuits, in numbers, power, and influence ; but they equal them in resolution, prudence, and learning, and surpass them in sanctity of manners and superstition, by which they excite the respect of the people. When their affairs take an unfavourable turn, and they are oppressed and persecuted by their victorious enemies, they find an asylum in the Netherlands. For the greatest part of the Roman Catholics in Spanish Flanders, and all the members of that communion that live under the jurisdiction of the United Provinces, embrace the principles and doctrines of Jansenius. Those that inhabit the United Provinces have almost renounced their allegiance to the

D f This assertion is too general. It is true, that the greatest part of the Roman catholics in the United Provinces are Jansenists, and that there is no legal toleration of the Jesuits in that republic. It is nevertheless a known fact, and a fact that cannot, be indifferent to those who have the wolfare and security of these provinces at heart, that the Jesuits are daily gaining ground among the Dutch papists. They have a flourishing chapel in the city of Utrecht, and have places of Worship in several other cities, and in a great number of villages. It would be worthy of the wisdom of the rulers of the republic to put a stop to this growing evil, and not to suffer in a Protestant country, a religious order which has been suppressed in a Popish one, and declared enemies of the state.

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