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as he says, "of the New Testament," still, he insinuates reflections on the character of the Saviour, and endeavors to invalidate the attestation given to Christianity, by the bestowment of miraculous powers. He represents the apostles as preaching different gospels, and the New Testament as a jumble of inconsistent religions. Doctors Tindall and Morgan
honored themselves and their followers with the appellation of Christian Deists.
In the posthumous writings of Mr. Chubb, notwithstanding all his professions to the contrary, he clearly shows himself an enemy to Christianity. He does not allow a particular providence, or admit that prayer to God is a duty. He seems in doubt with respect even to-a future state of existence. He absolutely rejects the Jewish Scriptures, but cxpresses a very favorable opinion of the religion of Mahomet.
In the year 1742, Mr. Dodwell published his famous pamphlet, entitled “ Christianity not founded on Argument." Under the semblance of great zeal for the Christian religion, he endeavors to show, that this religion has no foundation in reason, but rests on a constant and particular revelation or inspiration, imparted separately and supernaturally to each individual.”
Near akin to this were the sentiments of Mr. Hume, as expressed in the conclusion of his Essay on Miracles. He represents those as “ dangerous friends or disguised enemies to the Christian religion, who undertake to defend it on the principles of hunan reason. Our most holy religion," says he, “is founded on faith, not on reason, and it is a sure method of exposing it, to put it to such a trial, as it is by no means fitted to endure.” That Mr. Hume discarded the Christian revelation, there can be no doubt. The probability is, that he went much farther than this, questioning even the Divine existence, and laboring to subvert the deep foundations of morality and truth. He involved himself, and strove to involve others, in a universal skepticism.
Lord Bolingbroke was a vain, flippant, arrogant, outrageous infidel, though, like most who preceded him, he endeavored to cloak his infidelity under professions of regard for the Christian religion. Thus, while he tells us, in one place, that "genuine Christianity is taught in the gospel”ihat " it is the word of God," and as such “requires our strict conformity to it,” he proceeds to say, that “it is no less than blasphemy to assert the Jewish Scriptures to have been divinely inspired,” and that those who attempt to justify them are worse than Atheists, though they may pass for saints.” He charges the Apostle Paul with “dissimulation, falsehood, and even with madness.” He asserts that Paul's “gospel was different from that of Christ, and contradictory to it;"—that "he writes confusedly, obscurely, and unintelligibly ;"—and that where his writings are intelligible, “they are often absurd, profane, and trifling." The real sentiments of Bojingbroke were not fully disclosed, until the publication of his works, subsequent to his decease.
The attacks of Gibbon on Christianity were rather in a way of sneer and sarcasm, than of direct argument or assertion. It would be hard to convict him of palpable falsehood, in any of the statements in his learned history ; and yet his statements are often so discolored, not to say distorted, as to have all the effect of falsehood on the mind of the reader.
It should be added here, that as these infidel writers appeared, one after another, on the stage, they were met by able and successful opponents, who removed their objections, exposed their sophisms, and solidly refuted their specious reasonings. The following are the names of those who distinguished themselves in this protracted infidel controversy : Baxter, Halyburton, Whitby, Ward, Clark, Warburton, Chandler, Sherlock, Lardner, Stackhouse, Lowman, Doddridge, Benson, Littleton, Campbell, Watson, and West
. I have dwelt the longer on the names and works of the older English infidels, because on them rests the responsibility of opening a fountain, whose poisonous streams have deluged half Europe. From them, the virus was conveyed into France, and from France into Germany, and back again into England, and to the United States; and it is of the Lord's mercies that the foundations of religion and of social order have not, by this means, been utterly subverted.
It is a remarkable fact that, until within the last half century, nearly all the infidels in the civilized world have thought proper to cloak their infidelity under professions of regard for the Christian religion. Thus did all those, without an exception, whose names have been mentioned. They talked of the excellent morality of the gospel, and of its Divine author. Instead of declaring themselves to be infidels, some of them insisted that they only were to be regarded as wise and consistent Christians. They were clearing away the rubbish by which Christianity had been obscured, and laboring to restore it to its primitive purity. Even Voltaire “ always professed himself a Christian, and continued to do so on his death-bed. He seldom enters into direct and serious argument against the gospel, which he did not understand, but throws the shafts of his ridicule all around him, and treats Judaism with the utmost contempt.”
The same also may be said of Rousseau. He was first a Protestant, then a Catholic, and afterwards a Protestant again ; and all this confessedly to answer a sinister, secular design.
The same policy, or rather hypocrisy, is still practised extensively in Germany. Not a few of the Christian teachers and theological professors of that once favored land are at this moment Deists, if not Atheists. One of them tells us that “the prophets delivered the offspring of their own brains, as divine revelations.” Another says, “the narrations in the New Testament, true or false, are only suited for ignorant, uncultivated minds, who cannot enter into the evidence of natural religion.” A third speaks of St. John's portion of the New Testament as "inconsistent with itself, and made up of allegories.” A fourth glories in having given "a little light to St. Paul's darkness; a darkness," he thinks,
industriously affected.” A fifth represents Joshua's account of “ the conquest of Canaan as fictitious ;" the books of Samuel as "containing a multitude of falsehoods;" and Daniel as “full of stories, contrived, or exaggerated by superstition.” A sixth insists, that “God could not have required of Abraham so horrible a crime as the offering up of his son, and that there can be no palliation or excuse for this pretended command of the Deity.” A seventh explains the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost as an electric gust, and the effects which followed as enthusiasm. An eighth suggests that Peter stabbed Ananias, which, says he, “ does not at all disagree with the vehement and easily exasperated temper of Peter.” A ninth teaches, that “the Pentateuch was composed about the time of the captivity; that the Jewish ritual was of gradual formation, accessions being made to it by superstition ; and that the books of the Chronicles, which are filled with scraps and inconsistencies, were
foisted into the canon by some of the priesthood, who wished to exalt their own order." I surely need not adduce farther evidence, that many of the professed teachers of religion in Germany, in the last age and in the present, are no better than infidels.
I might here advert to the acknowledged fact, that no small part of the educated Romish clergy in France, and in other parts of the world, are disguised infidels. They know no other Christianity than that of Rome, and they soon come tɔ adopt the sentiment of Leo Xth, that this is a fable, though to them a gainful one.
Thomas Paine was one of the first, in modern times, who set the example of open, avowed infidelity. His example was soon followed by the political infidels of France, under whose direction the Bible was burnt, in a public square, by the common hangman; the Christian Sabbath was abolished; the houses of public worship were shut up; the sacramental vessels were mounted on the back of an ass, and paraded through the streets; and an inscription was written on the gate of their burying-place, “Death is an eternal sleep."
The writings of Paine, and the example of the revolutionary infidels of France, exerted a powerful influence in this country.
At the commencement of the present century, infidelity was decidedly popular and alarmingly prevalent in the United States. The chief magistrate of the Union was well known to be an infidel. Dr. Franklin was generally believed to be a secret supporter of the same doctrine. In many of our colleges, infidelity not only existed, but triumphed; in consequence of which a large proportion of our educated young men came forth into the world infidels.
It is said, in the life of the late Dr. Dwight, that at the time of his inauguration to the Presidency, "infidelity was decidedly fashionable and prevalent in Yale College. A considerable proportion of the students had assumed the names of the principal English and French Infidels, and were more commonly known by them, than by their own. An impression existed generally among the students, that Christianity was supported by authority, and not by argument, and that their instructers were afraid to meet the question of the inspiration of the Scriptures, in the field of open and fair discussion.” This impression Dr. Dwight took care very early and effectually to dissipate ; and it is due to the memory
of this great man to say, that he did more, probably, than any other individual, to check the growth of infidelity in this country.
There is undoubtedly much lurking infidelity still existing in Great Britain and the United States. It gives me pleasure, however, to be able to say, that I think there is less of it, than there was forty years ago. Certainly it appears with a less imposing aspect—with a less bold and
front. It shuns, rather than seeks the light, and prefers to be known by some name more respectable than its own.
It becomes those who are set for the defence of the gospel to bear in mind, however, that the enemy is not dead, but sleepeth. Or perhaps I might better say, he does not sleep. He merely watches his opportunity to come forth, join battle under more favoring auspices, and retake the strong holds from which he has been driven.
Let all those who stand on the walls of our Zion be ready for the onset. The weapons of their warfare have been often tested. Their shield and sword and helmet have been thoroughly proved. If the enemy is permitted to gain any new advantage, the fault will be all their own.
THE RELIGIOUS CHARACTER OF A NATION THE ELEMENT
OF ITS PROSPERITY.
By Rev. George Duffield, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Detroit, Michigan.
The practical infidelity of modern times is nowhere more conspicuous, than among our public men, who have the direction of our great national interests. The dreamings of this and the other political economist are heeded, in preference to the sober maxims inculcated in the sacred Scrip
To be swayed by the truths they teach, and to avow their influence on the opinions and judgments they form, with respect to the policy and administration of the gove ernment, are accounted weakness and superstition. The