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For NOV EM B È R, 1783.
Disquisition on rationai Christi. derate rashness expunged from the
new-teftament every divine declaraanity,
tion, which agrees not exa&ly with From a late Publication.
their own potions of truth and re&i
tode ; and this they have attempted o several learned and inge. by no other means, than by absurd gious writers, fome doc- explanations, or by bold assertions trines of the chriftian reli- that they are not there, in dire&
giog have appeared fo con- contradi&tion to the lense of language, tradictory to all the principles of rea- and the whole tenor of those writings ; Con and equity, that they cannot af- as some philosophers have ventured in fent to them, nor believe that they opposition to all men's senses, and can be derived from the fountain of even to their own, to deny the exiftall truth and justice. In order there. ence of matter, for no other reason, fore to satisfy themselves and others but because they find in it properties who muy labour vader the same diffi- for which they are unable to account. culties, they have undertaken the ar. Thus they have reduced christianity duous task of reconciliag revelation to a mere system of Ethics,and retain Lad reason; and great would have no part of it but the moral, which in been their merits, had they begun at fat is no characteristic part of it at the right end, that is, had they en- all, as this, though in a manner less deavoured to exalt the human under- perfect, makes a part of every religion finding to the comprehension of the which ever appeared in the world, sublime do&rines of the gospel, rather This ingenious method of converting this to reduce thore doctrines to the chriftianity into deism, cannot fail of low standard of human reason ; but, acquiring many respectable proselytes; Bafortunately for themselves and ma. for every virtuous and pious man, by others, they have made choice of who would be a Chriftian if he could, the latter method, and, as the Mortent that is, who reverences the name of way to effect it, have with incong. Christianity, but cannot affent to its
tenets, is glad to lift under the stand. reasonableneis of a revelation, is in ard of any leader, who can teach him fad to destroy it ; becaure a revelatito be a chriftian, without believing on imples information of something any one principle of that inftitution. which reason cannot discover, and
Whoever will look back into the therefore must be different from its theological annals of this country will deductions,or it would be no revelatifind, that during the last century, the on. If God had told us, that we come fashionable philosophers were for the into this world in a state of perfect inmost part Atheifts, who ascribed eve. nocence, void of all propenfities to ry thing to chance, fate or necessity ; evil; that our de pravity proceeds in. cxclofive of all intelligence or denga. tirely from the abuse of that free There mighty giants who fougat
will, with which he has been pleased against Heaven, being at leogth over
to endue us ; that if. in this life we thrown by the absurdity of the r own pursue a virtuous conduct, we have principles, and the superior abilities of a right to be rewarded, and if a vici their adversaries, retreated, about ous, we may expect to be punished in the beginning of tue prelent, to the another, except we prevent it by more tenable fort of dem ; but here
repentance and reformation, and that
there are always in our power : I again, being frequently worsted, they
God had informed us of nothing at last took shelter under the covert
more, this would have been no reve way of rational Chriftianity, where
lation, because it is juft what our rea they now make their stand, and attack revelation with less odium, and more
son, properly employed, might havi success, than from the open plains of
taught us; but if he has thought pra professed deism, because many are
per, by supernatural means, to assur ready to reject the whole (ubiance
us that our situation, our relations
our de pravity, our merits, and ou of the chriftian inftitution, who would be Mhocked at the thought of
powers, are all of a kind extremel relinquithing the name.
different from what we imagine ; an
that his dispensations towards us ar If christianity is to be learned out of the new teftament, and words have
founded on principles which canno
be explained to us, because, in ou any meaning affixed to them, the fun.
present state, we are unable to con damental principles of it are there---That mankind came into this world
prehens them; this is a revelaria
which we may believe, or not, al in a depraved and fallen condition ; that they are placed here for a while,
cording to our opinions of its auth to give them an opportunity to work
rity ; but let us not reason it into a
revelation at all. out their salvation, that is, by a vir
The writers of the new-teftamei tuous and pious life to purge off this
frequently declare, that the religio guilt and depravity, and recover their loft state of happiness and inno
which they teach, is a mystery, th
is, a revelation of the dispeolations cence, in a future life; that this they
- God to mankind, which without are unable to perform, without the
pernatural information we could a grace and affiftance of God; and that after their best endeavours, they can.
ver have discovered ; thus St. Pa
says, “ Having made known to not hope for pardon from their own
the mystery of his will.” What the merits, but only from the merits of
is this mystery? not the moral pr Chrift, and toe atonement made for
cepts of the gospel ; for they are i their transgressions by his sufferings and death.
more a mystery than the Ethics This is clearly the sum Ariftotle, or the offices of Cicero ; t| and fubiance of the christian dispen- myftery confifts alone in these vej sation ; and (o adverse is it to all the 'doctrines, which the rationalift e principles of human rearon, that, if plodes, because tney disagree with tl brought before her tribunal, it must conclusions of his reason ; that i inevitably be condemned. If we give becaure they are myfteries, as the no credit to its divine authority, any are a vowed to be by those who taug! attempt to reconcile them is useless ; them. and, if we believe it, presumptuous But there hold advocates for re in the highest degree. To prove the son, under fand not its extent, !
power, or the proper applications of it seems impoffible, that any people them. The utmolt perfe&tion of hu. under such wise regulations can possiman reason, is the knowledge of its bly fail of being happy, virtuous and own defeAs, and the limits of its own free; but experiment soon convinces confined powers, which are extreme. vs that they are inadequate to these ly narrow. It is a lamp which serves falutary purposes, and that, in prac. us very well for the common occupa. tice, they are produ&ive only of anartions of life, which are near at chy and confufion. Here our errors hand, but can fhew us no prospect at arise from reafoning on false premises, a diftance: On all fpeculative fubjects, that is, from suppofing that mankind it is exceedingly fallacious, but in will ad on principles incompatible none so frequently misleads as, as in with the vices, the follies, and the our religious and political enquiries; . Passions of human nature. If reason, because, in the former, we draw con- iherefore, is rofallible a judge in the clufions without premises; and in the little and low concerns of human polatter, upon false ones. Thus, for licy, with which the is daily converinftance, reason tells us that a Crea- fant, how absurd is the rationalift, tor, infinitely powerful and good, who constitutes her role arbiter in the could never permit any evil natural discussions of the moft sublime obor moral, to have a place in his jects, of which she has not the least works; because his goodness muft comprehension, the attributes and induce him and his power enable dispensations of the Almighty, our hm, to exclude them: This argu- relations to him, and our conne&tions ment is unanswerable by any thing, with past and future states of exift. but experience, which every hour ence! confutes it. Thus again, reason Of all men, who are called chrif. affures us, that sufferings, though tians, the rationalift seems to have they may be just puniments for past the least pretence to that denominati.. Crimes, and a means to prevent them on: The church of England acknowfor the future, can never be compene ledges the belief of all the do&rines of sations for them; much less can the this inftitution in her articles, though fofferings of one being atone for the in them they are ill explained and guilt of another : Against this no ob- worse expresied; the church of Rome jeation can be urge, except the be. aflents to them all, but adds many lief of mankind in all ages aud nati without fufficient authority ; the Calo ons, and the exprefs declarations of vinift denies :hem not, but disgraeeg Tevelation; which unanimously con them by harn, obfcure and absurd tradict it,and afford fufficient grounds comments; the Quaker admits them, for our concurrence. In these two but is bewildered by enthusiastic no. instances we are deceived by mirap. tions of partial inspirations ; and the ply.pg our reason to subjects in which, Methodift rubror bes to them all with we have no premises to reason upon; the utmost veneration, but (inconfift. for, being totally ignorant on what ently) depreciates the merit of moral plan the universal system is formed duties, at the same time that he inand supported, we can be no judges fifts on the pratice of the moft rigid; of what is good or evil with regard to but the racionalidt reprobates the the whole; and, as we know not whole, as impious, ridiculous, and for whatends either guilt or fuffer contradi&tory to the justice of God, ings were ever admitted, we must be and the reason of man. Nor is he unable to comprebend what connecti- less adverfe to the spirit, than to the ons between them may possibly be leiter of this religion : The true derived from those ends. In our po- chriftian is humble, teachable, and litical discuilions, rearon equally mil diffident ; the rationalist is affumiog, leads us ; in there, the presents us obftinate, and self-sufficient ; the with schemes of government, in which, chriftian hopeth all things, reareth hy the moft admirable contrivances, all things, believeth all things ; the juffice is so impartially adminiftered, rationalift hopeth for nothing, but property fo well guarded, and liberty from his own merits, feareth nothing to effe&ually secured, that in theory from his own depravity, and believe