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versy, really believed, in many instances, that the persecution of infidels was agreeable to the will of God. Cicero believed it to be right to have a civil war kindled in Rome, that he might return from exile. Numbers of people in Copenhagen, at a certain time, believed it to be right to murder their neighbours, that, under the horror of an approaching death, themselves might be induced certainly to repent of sin, and to gain eternal life. Alexander, with full conviction of the rectitude of his designs, wasted the Persian empire, and demanded divine homage to himself.
None of those with whom I am disputing will pretend, that all these persons were justified in their designs and conduct by the reality of their belief of its rectitude.
It will be further said, as it often has been by others beside Mr. Chubb, that what a man believes is of no importance. Infidel writers ought never to advance this doctrine, for their conduct in labouring so earnestly to destroy the faith of Christians, and to establish that of infidels, gives the lie to the declaration. If the assertion be true, a man may, according to the opinion of the assertors themselves, as well be a Christian in his belief as an infidel. But the assertion is not true; and they prove, by every page of their writings, and by every sentence of their conversation, that they feel it to be false ; for they labour with the greatest industry and ardour to change the tenets of their fellow-men.
All the volitions of the mind are of course accordant with the prevailing dictates of the understanding; and all the actions of men spring from their volitions. Such, then, as is the moral nature of the opinions of a man, will be the nature of his moral conduct. Obedience to error is vice; obedience to truth is virtue. All men hold errors; and all men hold probably some moral truths. Good men obey mainly the truths which they receive, and not the errors. Wicked men wholly obey, in their moral conduct, the errors which they adopt, and reject truth as a rule of conduct.
Complete virtue is formed by the reception and obedience of truth only. Such is the virtue of the heavenly inhabitants. In the present world such virtue does not exist; for truth is not received by any man unmixed with error, nor is the truth which is received, alone and perfectly obeyed. The most perfect earthly orthodoxy is, therefore, mingled with error, and the most perfect earthly virtue with vice. Hence extensive room is furnished for the exercise of charitable regards to such as differ from us in many moral doctrines.
But this charity has its limits. The truths holden must, in this case, be fundamental truths, or those on which virtue can rest; and the errors must not be fundamental errors, or opinions subversive of all virtue. The man who seriously believes in the rectitude of lying, cruelty, fraud, lewdness, and impiety, cannot be virtuous.
The man who is pleased with error, is, in the exercise of that emotion, guilty. To love the means of vice, or sin, is the same thing in a moral view as to love sin. Error is the certain means of sin in every sense. As a rule of conduct, it leads to nothing but sin; as a temptation to sin, it is of incalculable power; as a justification of sin, it is of all opiates to the conscience, and of all supports to the heart, beyond measure the greatest. The man who loves it is, therefore, a guilty enemy to himself, a dishonourer of the God of truth, and a destroyer of his own well-being. The man who devises, publishes, and with ingenuity defends it, is the common enemy of God and mankind. To the evil which he does to the universe no bounds can be fixed; and with all this evil he is chargeable. The ravages of Alexander were probably less injurious to the human race, and less guilty before God, than the ravages of the moral world by Hume, or Voltaire.
Herbert, Hobbes, Shaftesbury, Woolston, Tindal, Chubb, and Bolingbroke, are all guilty of the vile hypocrisy of professing to love and reverence Christianity, while they are employed in no other design than to destroy it. Such faithless professions, such gross violations of truth, in Christians, would have been proclaimed to the universe by these very writers as infamous desertions of principle and decency. Is it less infamous in themselves ? All hypocrisy is detestable; but I know of none so detestable as that which is coolly written, with full premeditation, by a man of talents, assuming the
character of a moral and religious instructor, a minister, a prophet, of the truth of the infinite God. Truth is a virtue perfectly defined, mathematically clear, and completely understood by all men of common sense.
There can be no haltings between uttering truth and falsehood, no doubts, no mistakes, as between piety and enthusiasm, frugality and parsimony, generosity and profusion. Transgression, therefore, is always a known, definite, deliberate villainy. In the sudden moment of strong temptation, in the hour of unguarded attack, in the flutter and trepidation of unexpected alarm, the best man may, perhaps, be surprised into any sin; but he who can coolly, of steady design, and with no unusual impulse, utter falsehood, and vend hypocrisy, is not far from finished depravity.
The morals of Rochester and Wharton need no comment. Woolston was a gross blasphemer. Blount solicited his sisterin-law to marry him, and, being refused, shot himself. Tindal was originally a protestant, then turned papist, then protestant again, merely to suit the times ; and was at the same time infamous for vice in general, and the total want of principle. He is said to have died with this prayer in his mouth, “ If there is a God, I desire that he may
mercy on me. Hobbes wrote his Leviathan to serve the cause of Charles I.; but, finding him fail of success, he turned it to the defence of Cromwell, and made a merit of this fact to the Usurper, as Hobbes himself unblushingly declared to Lord Clarendon.* Morgan had no regard to truth, as is evident from his numerous falsifications of Scripture, as well as from the vile hypocrisy of professing himself a Christian in those very writings in which he labours to destroy Christianity. Voltaire, in a letter now remaining, requested his friend D'Alembert to tell for him a direct and palpable lie, by denying that he was the author of the Philosophical Dictionary. D'Alembert, in his answer informed him, that he had told the lie.t Voltaire has indeed expressed his own moral character perfectly in the fol
* See Deism Revealed.
lowing words, “ Monsieur Abbe, I must be read, no matter 66 whether I am believed or not." He also solemnly professed to believe the Catholic religion, although at the same time he doubted the existence of a God. Hume died, as a fool dieth. The day before his death he spent in a pitiful and affected unconcern about this tremendous subject, playing at whist, reading Lucian's dialogues, and making silly attempts at wit concerning his interview with Charon, the heathen ferry-man of Hades.*
It will easily be supposed, that my information concerning the private lives of these men must be distant and imperfect: what has been said will however furnish any one at all acquainted with the human character with just ideas of their morality. I shall only add, that Rousseau (Jean Jacques) is asserted to have been guilty of gross theft, perjury, fornication, and adultery, and of abjuring and assuming alternately the Catholic and the Protestant religion, neither of which he believed.
Thus have I summarily exhibited to you the nature and the actual state of this philosophy. From this view of it, I think you will unite with me in a full conviction, that if the Gospel had been liable to so many and so serious objections, it would, instead of exciting and sustaining a controversy through eighteen centuries, have solicited the faith and obedience of mankind in vain; would have been smothered in its birth, and only added one to the numerous moral systems which have for ages slept the sleep of death in the regions of oblivion.
* Smith's Life of Hume.
THE NATURE AND DANGER OF INFIDEL PHILOSOPHY.
COLOSSIANS II. 8.
“ Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain
deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Second, I shall now endeavour to show you, that vain and deceitful as this philosophy is, both in its nature and in fact, you are still in danger of becoming a prey to it. This danger will arise from several sources.
I shall specify those which appear to me to be of chief importance.
I. You will be exposed to this danger from the arguments brought by philosophers against the Scriptures.
Infidels will probably triumph, and you may be surprised to find arguments mentioned as a source of danger. But your surprise and their triumph are both without foundation.
Wherever arguments are fairly adduced, and questions thoroughly explored by reasoning, there can be no danger to truth, or to the friends of truth; for, in every such investigation, truth must have decisive advantages over falsehood. But