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Of the Mixed Systems of Morality and Religion
The note, our mutual friend has conveyed to you, would lead you to expect, about this time, an answer to your letter; which, I should indeed have noticed sooner, but that every day's consideration of the subject to which it refers, has impressed me with a deeper sense of the importance and difficulty of the task you have imposed upon me. I will, however, no longer hesitate to give you such suggestions as my reading and reflections supply; and I shall sincerely rejoice, if they tend, in any measure, to deliver your mind from its present embarrassment.
I can fully enter into the feelings which you so well describe yourself to have experienced when compelled to listen, to what, by a very
erroneous application of terms, are called liberal views of Christianity; nor is it difficult to comprehend the mental effort, which must have been occasioned by your unwillingness to assent to objections against the authority of that Book, on which our most hallowed anticipations depend; and the fear, lest the specious and daring manner in which those objections were urged, should even, for one moment, delude you belief of their validity.
That you may not be disheartened, however, by the fear that this is, by any means, an uncommon case, I can assure you, from my own experience, that many others have to contend with similar difficulties; and, indeed, it does not often happen that they, who have the opportunity, possess also the power of answering the cavils which are brought against religion. Nor is it
any individual, however gifted, to contend with those cavils, in the unsubstantial form which they commonly assume in mixed society; for it is, you know, “ impossible to confute a sneer;"> and scepticism does not often present itself in a more questionable shape. Under these circumstances, it does not imply any diffidence in your powers, and still less the slightest distrust of the sacred cause you are anxious to maintain, when I recoinmend you to decline a contest with so subtile and unfair an adversary : for I have the warrant of Scripture for believing, that