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And are there not also many strange and unaccountable things in the book of Nature, and in the administration of Divine PROVIDENCE, the design and use of which we cannot seě? Nay, are there not even some things which to us seem wrong and ill-contrived? Yet we own the world was created by God, and that he is the GOVERNOUR thereof. And why then shall we not allow that the Scriptures may be from God, notwithstanding these difficulties, and seeming incongruities? Indeed, a revelation, which we could fully comprehend, would not appear the production of an infinite mind; it would bear no resemblance to its heavenly author; and therefore we should have reason to suspect it spurious. It is extremely probable, that the three grand volumes of nature, providence, and grace, should all, in some respect or other, bear the stamp of their being derived from one source. Many things in the volumes of Nature and
ficing any one of its mysterious doctrines. There is no need that we should carry our candour and complaisance so far, to gain the approbation of any man, or set of men whatever.
The mysterious doctrines of religion have caused some sceptical men to reject those scriptures in which they are contained; others have explained and refined them away. So, because the doctrines of religion have been abused to superstition and folly, abundance of our fellow creatures, without due consideration, are disposed to cast off all religion whatever. Ill judging men! What is human nature without religion? How horrible the state of the world, without religion ? Let CICERO speak its importance to human happiness : Religione sublata, perturbatio vitae sequitur, et magna confusio. Atque haud scio, an pietate adversus Deus sublatâ, fides etiam et societas humani generis, et una excellentissima virtus, jusitia, tollatur. De Nat. Des. 1. 2.
How strongly is this exemplified in the state of France at this moment!
* What if there should be some incomprehensible doctrines in the Christian religion; some circuinstances, which in their causes, or their consequences, pass the reach of human reason ; are they to be rejected upon that account ?
-Weigh the matter fairly; and consider whether Revealed Religion be not, in this respect, just upon the same footing with every other object of your contemplation. Even in mathematics, the science of demonstration itself, though you get over its first princi. ples, and learn to digest the idea of a point without parts, a line without breadth, and a surface without thickness, yet you will find yourselves at a loss to comprehend the perpetual approximation of lines, which can never meet; the doctrine of incommensurables, and of an infinity of infinities, each infinitely greater, or infinitely less, not only than any finite quantity, but than each other. In physics, you cannot comprehend the
Providence far exceed our highest powers to comprehend *; it is not improbable, therefore, that the volume of Divine Grace should be under a similar predicament. What doth the wisest man upon earth know of the nature of God, but what the Scripture hath told him? Extremely little. It primary cause of any thing ; not of the light, by which you see ; nor of the elasticity of the air, by which you hear; nor of the fire, by which you are warmed. In physiology, you cannot tell what first gave motion to the heart; nor what continues it ; nor why its motion is less volun. tary than that of the lungs; nor why you are able to move your arm, to the right or left, by a simple volition : you cannot explain the cause of animal heat; nor comprehend the principle by which your body was at first formed, nor by which it is sustained, nor by which it will be re: duced to earth. In natural religion, you cannot comprehend the eternity or omnipresence of the Deity; nor easily understand how his prescience can be consistent with your freedom, or his immutability with his go. vernment of moral agents ; nor why he did not make all his creatures equally perfect ; nor why he did not create them sooner ; in short, you cannot look into any branch of knowledge, but you will meet with subjects above your comprehension. The fall and the redemption of human kind, are not more incomprehensible than the creation and the conservation of the universe ; the infinite AUTHOR of the works of providence, and of nature, is equally inscrutable, equally past our finding out in them both. And it is somewhat remarkable, that the deepest inquirers into nature have ever thought with most reverence, and spoken with most diffidence concerning those things which, in revealed religion, may seem hard to be understood; they have ever avoided that self-sufficiency of knowledge, which springs from ignorance, produces indifference, and ends in Infidelity.
“ Plato mentions a set of men, who were very ignorant, and thought themselves extremely wise : and who rejected the argument for the being of a God, derived from the harmony and order of the universe, as old and trite. There have been men, it seems, in all ages, who in affecting singularity, have overlooked truth: an argument, however, is not the worse for being old; and surely it would have been a more just mode of seasoning, if you had examined the external evidence for the truth of Christianity, weighed the old arguments from miracles, and from prophecies, before you had rejected the whole account, from the difficulties ou met with in it. You would laugh at an Indian, who in peeping into in history of England, and meeting with the mention of the Thames being rozen, or of a shower of hail, or of snow, should throw the book aside, s unworthy of his further notice, from his want of ability to compreend these phænomena.” Bishop Watson's Apology for Christianity.
* The, dispensations of Divine Providence are ably vindicated from he objections of Sceptics and Infidels by Dr. SHERLOCK, in his valuable reatise on that subject. The reader will also find a very pleasing paer in the Spectator to the same purpose, which he would do well to asult. It is No. 237, in the third volume.
The authenticity of those books is unquestionable, and has been amply vindicated by men every way furnished for the inquiry *.
..“ Though some parts of the books of Moses are « written with great beauty and simplicity, yet many " of his laws are trifiing, and unworthy of a great legis. “ lator?"
This objection arises from a want of due attention to the state of the people for whom those laws were enacted. When the circumstances of the Jews are properly considered, the Mosaic institutions will appear to be adapted with the most consummate propriety to those circumstances of. It is extremely hard the Bible should be made accountable for our ignorance.
“ The character and conduct of DAVID, who is called
a man after God's own heart, can never be defended " by any person who has the least regard to truth and “ moral excellency?”
It is not the business of these papers to enter into a minute defence of all those parts of the Bible which may seem objectionable. The character of David, however; stands high in our estimation, except in the case of URIAH; and as it has been virulently attacked by some considerable men, so it has been no less ably defended. And to such defence, we beg leave to refer those readers who find themselves concerned 1.
* See PRIDEAUX's Connettiin, b. 6; KIDDER's Commentary on the Books of Myses; Witsu Miscellanea Sacra; Marsh's Discourse on the Authenticity of those Books, and Du Pr'n's Bibliotheca.
+ Consult LowMan's Dissertation on the Civil Government of the HEBREWS, and Dr. RANDOLPH's Excellency of the Jewish Law vindia cated. See too Forbes's Thoughts on Religion.
# Delany's Historical Account of the Life and Reign of David is valuable. Bishop Porteus's Sermon on the CharaEter of David abounds with just remarks.-But CHANDLER's Critical History of the Life of David enters at large into the subject, and is particularly satisfactory. Another learned man says :
“ If we consider David, in the great variety of his fine qualifica. tions; the ornaments of his person, and the far more illustrious endow. ments of his mind ; the surprising revolutions in his fortune ; sometimes reduced to the lowest ebb of adversity; sometimes riding upon the highest tide of prosperity ;-his singular dexterity in extricating himself froin
“ The characters and manners of the ancient Prophets * were uncouth, and unworthy of the God who is said or to have sent them?”
In general, they were moral and religious men; and their manners were in perfect conformity to the times in which they lived, and the people among whom they conversed. Besides, it is not essential to the character of a prophet of the true God, that he should be a good nian. BALAAM is an instance to the contrary. Gup, indeed, in the course of his providence, frequently uses bad men as instruments to accomplish his own purposes.
“ But there are many actions ascribed to the servants of * God in the Old Testament, which very much wound the
feelings of every good man. Noah was guilty of inof toxication ; ABRAHAM of dissimulation; JACOB of
lying ; AARON of idolatry ; JAEL of treachery and “ murder; DAVID of adultery and murder; SOLOMON of
idolatry and lewdness; and many others of crimes of “ several kinds ?"
The relation of all these instances of wickedness in the servants of God, is a proof of the disinterestedness and impartiality of the sacred historians ! and these crimes are recorded, not for our imitation, but for our adınonition. If we attend to the consequences of these several transgressions, we shall see no good reason to imitate them. It is not any where recorded, that these faulty parts of their conduct met with the approbation of HEAVEN.
“ How may the horrible destruction of the nations of “ Canaan be reconciled with the principles of mercy and goodness ?”
ifficulties, and peculiar felicity in accommodating himself to all cir. umstances ;---the prizes he won, as a youthful champion ; and the vicries he gained, as an experiencrd general ; his masterly hand upon the irp, and his inimitable talent for poetry ;-the admirable regulations of s royal government, and the incomparable usefulness of his public ritings ;-the depth of his repentance, and the height of his devotion ; the vigour of his faith in the divine promises, and the ardour of his re to the divine MAJESTY :--If we consi these, with several other rks of honour and grace, which ennoble the history of his life; we 11 see such an assemblage of shining qualities, as perhaps were never ted in any other merely human character,"
Just child, and annihilated the Devil-wonderful feats! worthy of all praise !--you must not stop here. There is no safety for you, till you have annihilated the MAKER and GoVERNOUR of the world also. Atheism must be your dernier resort *. For if there is a God, every immoral man will be, ere long, a miserable man. You must, therefore, to be consistent, and obtain composure in your irreligious courses, plunge headlong into the gulf of Atheismuj. -But.
* AntiPHANES, a very ancient POET, who lived near a hundred years before Socrates, hath strong!y expressed his expectation of future existence: "Be not grieved,” says he, " above measure for thy deceased “ friends. They are not dead, but have only finished that journey “ which it is necessary for every one of us to take. We ourselves must go “ to that great place of reception in which they are all of them assembled, " and, in this general rendezvous of mankind, live together in another state of being.
Spectator, No. 289. + Books proper to be consulted against Atheism, may be these that follow :-NIEUWENTYT'S Religious Philosopher--Adams's Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy-Clarke's Discourse concerning the Being and Attributes of GoD-BAXTER's Mathe-Neckar's Importance of Religious Opinions-Bishop CUMBERLAND on the Laws of Nature-BENTIEY's Boyle's Lectures-Ray's Wisdom of God in the Works of Creation--WOLLASTON's Religion of Nature-Wesley's Survey of the Wisdom of Gon in the Creation--DERHAM's Physico and Astro-TheologyCUDWORTH’s True Intellektual System-Bishop WILKINS on Natural Res ligion--STURM's Refle&tions on the Works of GoD-Spe&tacle de la Nature, by LE PLUCHE-and Fenelon's Demonstration of the Existente, Wisa dom, and Omnipotence of God, drawn from the knowledge of Nature, particularly of Man, and fitted to the meanest capacity. This is a fine little work, and worthy of its great author. To these may be added also
SWAMMERDAM's Book of Nature.-BONNET's Philosophical Researches, I and Pierre's Studies of Nature, abound with much ingenious matter, in proof of the Divine ExistenCE.
I transcribe the names of such a variety of authors both here, and on former pages, not out of any vain and foolish ostentation, but to inform the less experienced reader to what books he may have recourse, if he finds it necessary for the peace and satisfaction of his own mind. But there is no proof of the existence of God, and the truth of Christianity's so consolatory, as the experimental and heartfelt knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus CHRIST. Indeed, all other proofs, without this, are to little purpose, and this is independent of every other argument; for though it cannot with propriety be adduced for the conviction of Unbea lievers, it is calculated to yield more satisfaction to our own bosoms than the most laboured arguments that reach the understanding only. Poor people, whose minds have taken a religious turn, usually rest their salvation upon this experimental conviction alone,