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glory of God," and of his Son Jesus Christ, from whose merits alone he looks up to the mercy of God for pardon of his sins, and the hope of everlasting life.
. a man
The author of the elegant and pious Essay “ On some of the Causes by which Evangelical Religion has been rendered unacceptable to persons of cultivated taste," has treated this subject in so admirable a style, that a few extracts from it cannot but prove acceptable. Το. . (says he) who had long observed the influences which tyrannise over human passions and opinions, it would not perhaps have appeared strange, that when the Grand Renovator came on earth, and during the succeeding ages, a number of the men whose superior talents were to carry on the course of literature, and guide the progress
of the human mind, should reject his religion. But it might have been expected, that all the intelligent men, from that hour to the end of time, who should readily admit this religion, would perceive the sovereignty and universality of its claims, and feel that every thing unconsonant with its ought instantly to vanish from the whole school of literature, and to keep as absolutely aloof, as the Israelites from the boundary that guarded mount Sinai. It might have been presumed, that all principles
which the new dispensation rendered obsolete, or declared or implied to be wrong, should no more be regarded as belonging to the system of principles to be henceforth received and taught, than dead bodies in their graves belong to the race of living men. To retain or recall them would therefore be as offensive to the judgment, as to take up these bodies and place them in the paths of men, would be offensive to the senses; and as absurd as the practice of the ancient Egyptians, who carried their embalmed ancestors to their festivals. It might have been supposed, that whatever Christianity had actually changed, abolished, or supplied, would therefore be practically regarded by these believers of it as changed, abolished, or supplied; and that they would, in all their writings, be at least as careful of their fidelity in this great article, as a man who adopts the Newtonian Philosophy, would be certain to exclude from his scientific discourse, all ideas that seriously implied the Ptolemaic or Tychonic system to be true. Necessarily, a number of these literary believers would write on subjects so completely foreign to what comes within the cognizance of Christianity, that a pure neutrality, which should avoid all interference with it, would be all that could be claimed from them in its behalf; though at the same time, one should feel some
degree of regret, to see a man of enlarged mind exhausting his ability and his life on these foreign subjects, without devoting one short interval to the service of that which he believes to be of far surpassing moment,”*
“ But the great number who chose to write on subjects that came within the relations of the Christian System, as on the various views of morals, the distinctions and judgments of human Character, and the theory of happiness, with almost unavoidable references, sometimes to our connection with Deity, to death, and to a future state, ought to have written every page under
. I could not help feeling a degree of this regret in reading lately the memoirs of the admirable and estimable Sir William Jones. Some of his researches in Asia have incidentally served, in a very important manner, the cause of religion; but did he think the last possible direct service had been rendered to Christianity, that his accomplished mind was left at leisure for hymns to the Hindu gods? Was not this event a violation of the neutrality, and an offence, not only against the gospel, but against theism itself? I know what may be said about personification, license of poetry, and so on; but should not a worshipper of God hold himself under a solemn obligation to abjure all tolerance of even poetical figures that can seriously seem, in any way whatever, to recognise the pagan divinities, or abominations, as the prophets of Jehovah would have called them? What would Elijah have said to such an em. ployment of talents in his time? It would have availed little to have told him that these divinities were only personifications (with their appropriate representative idols) of objects in nature, of elements, or of abstractions. He would have sternly replied, And was not Baal, whose prophets I destroyed, the same ?
the recollection, that these subjects are not left free for careless or arbitrary sentiment, since the time that “God hath spoken to us by his Son;" and that the noblest composition would be only so much eloquent impiety, if not concordant. with the dictates of the New Testament. Had this been the prevalent recollection amidst the studies of the fine writers of the Christian world, an ingenuous mind might have read alternately their works, and those of the Evangelists and Apostles, without being confounded by a perception of some deadly antipathy between the inspirations of genius, and THE INSPIRATIONS OF HEAVEN."
“ Consider how small a portion of the serious subjects of thought, (proceeds this Christian writer) can be detached from all connexion with the religion of Christ, without' narrowing the scope to which he meant it to extend, and and repelling its intervention where he intended it to intervene. The Book which' unfolds it, has exaggerated its comprehensiveness, and the first distinguished Christians had a delusive view of it, if it does not actually claim to mingle its principles with the whole system of moral ideas, so as to impart to them a specific character, in the 'same manner as the element of fire, interfused through the various forms and combina
tions of all other elements, produces throughout them, even when latent, a certain important modification, which they would instantly lose, and therefore lose their perfect condition, by its. exclusion."
.6. It must be obvious in a moment, thaç the most general doctrines of Christianity, such as those of a future judgment, and immortality, if believed to be true, have a direct relation with every tlting that can be comprehended within the widest range of moral speculation and sentiment. It will also be found, that the more particular doctrines, such as those of the moral pravity of our nature, an atonement made by the sacrifice of Christ, the interference of a special divine influence in renewing the human mind, and educating it for a further state, toge: ther with all the inferences, conditions and motives resulting from them, cannot be admitted and religiously regarded, without combining themselves in numberless instances with a man's ideas on moral subjects. - The writer must therefore have retired beyond the limits of an immense field of important and most interesting speculations (must indeed have retired beyond the limits of all the speculations most important to man) who can say that nothing in the religion of Christ bears, in any manner, on any part of his subject.”