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“ About this time Mr R. T-nl-y advised me to read the · Memoirs of John Buncle, which I soon procured and read through. This pernicious work, (for such I now think it to be,) at once not only eradicated the remains of Methodism, but also nearly the whole of Christianity.
• Faults in the life breed errors in the brain,
CowPER. “ After the heterogeneous example of John Buncle, I indulged myself in the practice of many things which were inconsistent with the character of a Christian; and yet, like him, I was not willing to suppose those practices were at variance with the most exalted notions of rational Christianity.
Having, like John Buncle, given up the doctrines of the trinity, original sin, atonement made by Christ, the obligation of the sabbath, &c., and having become negligent of Christian duties, and a little relaxed in morals, it was not likely that I should stop here.
“ I think it was in this year (1776) that I became acquainted with one whom I shall call Jack Jolly, and some of his acquaintance, all downright infidels; but otherwise shrewd, sensible men. Of these I learned the names of such authors as had written on the side of infidelity, and also the titles of their pernicious productions.
“ I think it was the witty sarcasms and vile misrepre tations of Voltaire that first made me entirely give up my bible, from which I had in past years derived so much real comfort in the most distressing circumstances of great poverty and very great affliction. That precious book enabled me to breakfast, dine, and sup, on watergruel only, not barely with a contented mind, but also with a cheerful countenance
and a merry heart. It was the bible which supported me under the several years’ affliction of a beloved wife, in which I truly suffered with her; it was that book which enabled her, although young, to die with joy, and in full and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. When this charming young woman died, I also was given over ; my soul was, as it were, hovering on my lips, just ready to depart. In this awful crisis, my amiable wife gone, all around me expecting the moment when time to me should be no longer
-The dim lamp of life just feebly left
sink back again.' In this awful situation I remained a long time, how long I know not, perhaps a week or weeks ; yet even in this state, although more dead than alive, did the divine promises contained in the sacred pages support and comfort me, so that at that time I was filled with inexpressible pleasure. In those moments I could believe that I was
' A glorious partner with the Deity
Say, ye infidels ! in your thoughtful moments, why would you deprive your poor fellow mortals of that which alone can support them amidst the complicated miseries to which we are exposed ?
“Notwithstanding I had, as I have observed before, been some time relaxing in religious principles and duties, yet no tongue or pen can describe what I felt at times, on relinquishing the volume which con. tained the words of eternal life : but it was wrenched from me.
For I was so destitute of knowledge and abilities, as not to be able to answer the witty and
artful objections of that arch infidel Voltaire, and others whose works soon after I read. I must confess, that I felt it very hard to part from this old constant companion of mine; and should have been glad to have retained its divine consolations, without being bound to obey all its precepts. But as that could not be, after many struggles, I took my leave of that inestimable treasure of wisdom and knowledge.
“ Having quite done with the word of God, I soon entirely neglected the public worship of God. Before this I went at times to one or other of Mr Wesley's chapels, or to some parish church. But now I was taught to believe, that as the whole world was God's temple, I could pay my devotions to him at any time and in any place; the consequence you may easily imagine; the divine Being was soon too much out of my thoughts; the sabbath-day was spent in reading pernicious books, or in writing my catalogues, arranging my books, casting up my profits, visiting, &c. And it was not long before I could make a hand at cards on that day.
“ As soon as I had gone through Voltaire's pieces, I procured other works of the same tendency, and in reading them I employed most of my spare hours for several years. And although I did not devote so much time to them after this, but read also history, voyages, travels, poetry, novels, &c., yet I often had recourse to them, and took every opportunity of purchasing new publications which had the same perni. cious tendency, and also every old one that I was not before possessed of; so that at last I had got nearly the whole of this species of writing which had been published in the English language. I not only procured them, but read them, and some of them several times over, with a pencil in my hand to put marks to the most particular passages,
“I also procured a bible interleaved with blank paper, and transcribed many of the remarks and ob. jections of infidel writers to various texts; and oppo
site to some texts I even wrote my own objections. Having had such a long acquaintance with the authors in favour of freethinking, I am able to remark that Thomas Paine, and other modern infidels, instead of consulting the bible, have copied the objections to it from those authors that preceded them, which objections have been ably answered, over and over again, by men of deep learning and great ability; those answers I, like other freethinkers, neglected to read until a few years since. Now I have read them, I am ashamed of having been so easily duped and cheated out of my Christianity.
· Vast bodies of philosophy
Cowley. ! “ I will now relate the progress of one of my acquaintance from serious godliness to infidelity. I will call him Dick Thrifty; and I assure you, it is nearly the case with many in the infidel
I must first inform you, that most of the freethinkers that I have known in the lower and middle ranks of society, were influenced by religion, at least in appearance.
“ Dick Thrifty was near thirty years since, like your old friend, a truly pious man; at least, I am fully persuaded he was perfectly sincere in his religious profession, he being of an open, honest-hearted disposition, incapable of practising any deceit. About the year 1774 and 1775 he read a good deal of polemical divinity, and by this means lost that simplicity and gentleness of disposition so essential to the Christian character. He then got acquainted with some, who having given up one point of Christian doctrine after another, had in the end become downright infidels. These acquaintances advised him to read the
works of Chubb, Tyndal, Morgan, Collins, Shaftesbury, Voltaire, Bolingbroke, Hume, &c. Before Dick had read a quarter part of those books, he, like me and others, quitted his religious connexions. For a short time Dick boasted of being a rational Chris. tian, and talked much of Chubh as being a very sensible, clear writer. After Dick had read Tyndal, Collins, Morgan, and Shaftesbury, he was then a Christian deist. Before Dick had gone through Voltaire's deistical pieces, he gave up Christ entirely, and was a philosophical deist; and pitied the poor ignorant Christians for suffering themselves to be kept in the dark. But Dick had not quite finished Bolingbroke's philosophical works before he was, from a dignified philosopher, sunk down to a reasoning brute. He had lost his immortal, immaterial part in the labyrinths of metaphysics. Voltaire's 'Ignorant Philosopher' made Dick a sceptic; Helvetius and Hume gave the finishing stroke to the picture; poor
Dick was then an atheist !
OGILVIE's Providence. Although Dick did not long remain a downright atheist, yet he long continued in a state of distracting doubt and uncertainty; at one time a deist, then doubting of everything, even of his own existence, Now there must be two eternal substances, matter and spirit; and then there can be hut one, which must be matter. Sometimes he is quite sure that there is one self-existent being, and that he has an immaterial soul to adore him; then again he is perplexed and distracted with doubts.
• Your crabbed rogues that read Lucretius