Page images
PDF
EPUB

cs by proof, but require those who come to us to de“ pend on faith alone."

The advocates of modern infidelity have not failed to revive this accusation against Christianity, and to fupport it with their utmost ingenuity. Lord & Shaftesbury opens his works with a letter on enthufasm; and after remarking, that the blood of the martyrs was the feed of the church, he ludicrously observes how much more than “ heathenishly cruel are " those tolerating Englishmen, for not contented with " denying the prophesying enthusrasts of our days the 45 honours of a persecution, we have delivered them « over to the cruellest .contempt in the world. I am “ told for certain that they are at this time the subject " of a choice droll or puppet shew at Bartlemy Fair; " and while Bartlemy Fair is in possession of this

priviledge I dare stand surety to our national s church, that no feet of enthusiasts, no new ven“ ders of prophecy or miracles, shall ever get the “ start, or put her to the trouble of trying her “ strength with them in any case.” So far well ; but the true object of his Lordship in these observë tions soon discovers itself. « I never heard, fays he, " that the antient Heathens were so well advised in " their ill purpose of suppressing the Christian reli“ gion in its first rise, as to make use, at any time, « of this Bartlemy Fair method. But this I am

$ Shaftesbury Characterstics, vol. 1, p. 27, 28, 6 edit. 1737.

“ persuaded persuaded of, that had the truth of the gospel " been any way surmountable, they would have bid “ fairer for filencing it, if they had chosen to bring

our primitive founders upon the stage in a plea“ santer way than that of bear-skins and pitched so barrels.” He proceeds with more in the same strain, insinuating, that the ill success of the Jews, in not rooting out Christianity at its first original, arose from their being “ too dull and cloudy a people

to exercise raillery on religious opinions, &c.” It cannot but be painful to a Christian mind to dwell on such passages as this. This noble Lord made ridicule the test of truth; to employ reason fuited not his taste or his cause; in another place he tells us of this pro, “ phesying sect, who maintained that the antient “ prophets had the spirit upon them under extacy,

with divers strange gestures of body, demon“ strating them madmen or enthusiasts, as appears “ evidently from the instances of Balaam, Saul, “ David, &c, and who proceeded to justify this by the « practice of the apostolic times, and by the regula« tions which the apostle himself applies to these

seemingly irregular gifts, so frequent and ordinary

(as our author pretends) in the primitive church, “ on the first rise and spreading of Christianity ;” and he assures us, “ that he had seen this gentleman “ under an agitation, as they call it, uttering pro“ phecy in a pompous Latin stile, of which, out of 6 his extacy, it seems he is wholly incapable.” Whether his Lordship meant this assertion should

“ pass pass for a jest, I will not here pretend to determine; but that he introduced it to discredit the gift of tongues, with which scripture declares the apostles were endowed, will not, I presume, be denied. But objections such as this, which this celebrated writer thought fit only to insinuate, more hardy infidels have not hesitated to avow.

he tells us,

Mr. "Morgan, who distinguished himself by the title of the Moral Philofopher, assaults the character of St. Paul with peculiar virulence. The vision spoken of in the ad Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. xii. “is, in this $ writer's opinion, an evident i mark of enthusiasm, or there are no marks of it in the world.” And again

" this faint had too much heat to reason “ coolly, and too great a crowd of tumultuous ideas « to range them in good discipline, as the incohefc rence of his writings, the sudden change of subs jects, and darkness of expression shew, he was too “ full of allusions, types and figures, to consider

rightly of realities. And against Christianity in general he advances the same charge. « If Chrifti.

anity be not effentially enthusiasm, wherein does, - the essence of Christianity confift? And again, $ if Christianity teaches to believe and act contrary to nature, is it not enthusiasm k?” That it does, this author attempts to prove, both by the speculative and the moral doctrines of the gospel.

h Morgan's Character of St. Paul examined, p. 45 and 51.

i Vid. in answer, infra, ch. v. throughout, but particularly section the 3d. Also, Lord Lyttleton on the Conversion of St. Paul.

66 that

These charges which had been brought forward against the gospel, irregularly and immethodically, were collected and arranged by another labourer in the cause of infidelity, who, under the semblance of a friend to Christianity, undertook to prove “ it was not founded on argument, but faith alone; ç and that the only means of coming at the know

ledge of divine truths, is by a constant and parti“ cular revelation, imparted separately and fuperna“ turally to every individual.” . In the course of his reasoning on this subject, this author does not hesitate to assert, “ that our Saviour did not lay the

argu, “ ments and proofs of his mission before his disci

ples, nor give them time to consider calmly of " their force, and liberty to determine thereon as " their reason should direct them : nay, he goes " so far as to assert, that "Christ had no intention to prove

his own truth and character by his miracles, « and that he was always remarkably upon the “ reserve in that respecto wherever he happened “ amongst unbelieving company, and took particu" lar care to prevent their coming to public

k Vid. in answer, c. vi. of the following work.

Christianity, not founded on Argument, p. 36. m Vid. Infra, p. 9-13, in confutation of this, * Vid. Infra, p. 48. in confutation of this. • Vid. Infra, chap. i fect. 3, p. 29 to 31.

notice,

f notice, by dismisfing most of the company and « attendants before he began to proceed to the ope

ration, and that he would not suffer his grateful

patients to proclaim the benefits they had received, " but enjoined them the strictest filence. Tell no man, was generally the charge."

And again, P that our Saviour would not work his miracles without ftipulating constantly before-hand for pre☆ vious confidence and persuasion-believe you

that " I am able to do this, is the language of the gospel." He even afferts, that whenever we find these “ favours conferred, it was still perceiving that the " 'patient hath faith to be healed. He imputes the ! conversion of the apostles to an internal and irre“ fistible impulse, without the help of reason or “ evidence ; and says, that when at our Lord's call. " St. Matthew forsook all and followed him, it

would seem strange, humanly considered, that he

should thus precipitately desert a beneficial em“ployment for he knew not whom,” and, as he insinuates, they were converted without evidence, he also states, that they converted others in the same manner. "They too (we are told) tread perpetually

p Vid. Infra, p. 29 to 3i, and the references in the Appendix.

9 P. 49, 50, of Christianity not founded on Argument. In confutation of this, Vid. Infra, p. 18 to 21.

r Vid. Infra, p. 15 to 18, and the Appendix.
· Vid. Infra, the entire first chapter, in answer to this.
+ Vid. Infra, p. 65.

” Ib. p. 38 and 39, in answer. Vid. Infra, the entire second chapter, particularly fection 1 and 4.

« PreviousContinue »