Imágenes de páginas

tants revile catholics.(7) One sect of protestants anathematizes another sect; every one holding forth

(7) What a horrible curse has popery been to christendom in point of population! France alone before the revolution, contained upwards of 366,000 secular and regular clergy, besides an immense number of nuns. This vast body of males and females, were all enjoined by the laws of the church, to continue in a state of celibacy. In the whole of christendom, there was not less than 225,444 monasteries, about a century ago. How much greater the number before the reformation? Now, reckoning twenty persons only to one monastery, there must be, in these several sinks of sin and pollution-upwards of 4,500,000 souls debarred from all the comforts of the married state, and living in direct opposition to the great law of nature-Increase and multiply. Hasten the completion of the 1260 years, O God, which thou hast determined for the reign of the man of sin, and let us see his destruction with our own eyes; so will we praise thy name, and shout, hallelujah! hallelujah! Babylon is fallen! is fallen! with concordant hearts and voices !*

When William the conqueror came over into England, he found about a third part of the lands in the possession of the clergy.

Upwards of three thousand one hundred and eighty religious houses were suppressed by Henry VIII, and his predecessors.

It is computed that fifty thousand persons were contained in these several religious houses.

Such a number of persons, living in a state of celibacy, when the country did not contain more than three or four millions of inhabitants, must have had a most pernicious effect upon its

popu. lation.

The sum total of the clear yearly revenue of the several religious houses, at the time of their dissolution, of which we have an ac. count, was 149,785 pounds, six shillings and three pence threefarthings. And as the value of money is now seven or eight times what it was in the days of Henry the eighth, we cannot reckon the whole at less than a million sterling a year.

Besides this, there were many other religious foundations dis. solved, of which we have no account. The plate and goods of different kinds, which came into the hands of the king, at the same time, were of immense value.

According to the royal census of Spain, taken in the year 1801, there were in that country 2,434,772 male inhabitants between the age of fifteen and sixty: of these 152,585 were regular and secular clergy, making about one for every fifteen men in the country. Strange prostitution of the sacred office ! Pbil. editor.

[ocr errors]

the peculiar doctrines of their own party as the truths of God, in opposition to the peculiar doctrines of those who differ from them. Instead of turning our zeal against the immoralities of the age, we have frequently turned it against men, who, in every moral and religious point of view, were, perhaps, better than ourselves. A spirit of infallibility, in a greater or less degree, pervades all parties. In this unchristian strife, the pure spirit of the gospel has been banished from the great bodies of professors, and has taken up its abode among a few solitary individuals, dispersed through the several churches of Christendom.. Men of discernment, seeing this to be the state of things through all denominations, are led to suppose that there is no truth among any of them. The fact, however, is directly the contrary. They have all gotten the saving truth, if they hold it but in piety, charity, and righteousness. They all believe in a Saviour of the world. Let them only observe the moral and religious precepts of his gospel, and I do not see what more is necessary to entitle them to our Christian regards. They may not come up to the full orthodox belief of the gospel; but they are such characters as our Saviour himself would not have treated with severity. And till religion is reduced to the simple form in which he left it, there never will be an end to the bickerings and uncharitableness of party, and infidelity will of course prevail.

The general wickedness and immoral conduct of Christians, so called, is another grand cause of infidelity.--For let men profess what they will, they never can persuade any thinking person that they believe their own principles, while they are seen to transgress every rule of moral and religious obligation, and in various transactions between man and man, conduct themselves in a manner, of which abundance of the heathen, both ancient and modern, would be ashamed.

All these circumstances, with others of a similar kind, are the causes why so many persons are now found, who reject the divine mission of Jesus Christ.(8)

But, can we justly argue from the abuse to the disuse? Is Jesus, the most moral and divine of characters, an impostor, because many of his ministers and servants have proved unfaithful and treacherous ? Were the other eleven apostles all knavės, because Judas was a traitor? Are the eternal truths of the gospel to be exploded, because men have been presumptuous enough to adulterate them with the profane mixtures of human ordinances?(9)

Or doth our obstinacy alter the nature of the evidence, and render the situation of unbelievers more secure? The course of things is fixed and unchangeable. The sun will shine, fire will burn, water will drown, the wind will blow, time will fly, the tides will flow, maugre all the scepticism of philosophers.

The inoral relation of things is not less invariable ; and our being inconsiderate enough to deny those relations, and the obligations that arise from them, will neither destroy them, nor render our situation more secure. My being so foolish as to reject the existence, of God, and so infatuated as to suppose that there is no Redeemer; no Sanctifier, no heaven, no hell, no devil, no soul, no angel, no spirit, and that

(8) Newton said, that infidelity will overrun Europe, before the millenial reign of Christ commences. The corruptions of religion in all the Christian establishments cannot easily be purged away in any other manner. They must be subverted by violence and blood ; it will be impossible to remove them in any other way.

(9) " Who that ever really professed the Christian religion, from the times of the apostles to the present moment, ever con. sidered it as a hunian establishment, the work of particular men, or nations, subject to decline with their changes, or to perish with their falls

the Bible is all a grievous imposition upon mankind, doth not prove, either that there is no God, or that there is no reality in the representations made by the gospel.(50) Every man must allow that it is possible for the Almighty to reveal his will to the world, if he thinks proper so to do. It will be further granted, that some such revelation seems desirable to allay the fears, and confirm the hopes of men.

If then it ever should be made, what stronger evidence could be produced of its coming from God, than that with which the present Sacred Writings are attended? The very errors of professors, and the corrupt state of religion in every christian country, are the literal accomplishment of several prophecies, and so far are they from being any just objection to the gospel, that

(50) If the various opinions, sects and parties, which prevail among Christians, be considered by unbelievers as an objection to the gospel itself, let them call to mind, that there is not a smaller number of contradictory opinions prevalent among those who reject christianity: - The author of the Connoisseur hath thrown together a few of the unbeliever's tenets, under the contradictory title of

The Unbeliever's Creed,

or no.

“ I believe that there is no God, but that matter is God, and God is matter; and that it is no matter whether there is any God

I believe also, that the world was not made ; that the world made itself; that it had no beginning; that it will last for ever,' world without end. I believe that a man is a beast, that the soul is the body, and the body is the soul; and that after death there is neither body nor soul. I believe there is no religion ; that natural religion is the only religion; and that all religion is unnatural. I believe not in Moses; I believe in the first philosophy; I believe not the Evangelists; I believe in Chubb, Collins, Toland, Tindal, Morgan, Mandeville, Woolston, Hobbes, Shaftsbury; I believe in lord Bolingbroke; I believe not St. Paul. I believe not revelation; I believe in tradition; I believe in the Tal. mud; I believe in the Alcoran ; I believe not in the Bible; I be. lieve in Socrates; I believe in Confucius; I believe in Sanchonia. thon; I believe in Mahomet; I believe not in Christ. Lastly, I believe in all unbelief."

they are a strong proof of the divine mission of its great Author.

But could it even be solidly evinced, that Jesus was an impostor, that the virgin Mary was a bad woman, that the Scriptures are false, and that the scheme of redemption therein contained is a cunningly devised fable, yet still it is found true in fact, that a lively believer in Christ Jesus, who hath done justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God; is much happier than the most accomplished infidel that ever existed, both in life, and at the approach of death. Turn your attention to Chesterfield: in him you see a finished character, all that rank, honour, riches, -learning, philosophy can make us. But was he happy? And are you more at rest in your spirit! What is your life !-- You eat, and drink, and sleep, and dress, and dance, and sit down to play. You labour, toil, transact business. You attend the theatre, the card table, the assembly, the ball, the club, the tav

In what manner do you spend your time at any of these places? You talk; make your observations; look upon one another; dance, play, trifle like the rest of the triflers there. And what are you to do again to-morrow? The next day? The next week? The next year? You are to eat, and drink, and sleep, and labour, and dance, and transact business, and dress, and play, and engage in small-talk!(1)


(1) The man of fashion is described by Mr. C. Wesley, in the following manner.

" What is a modern man of fashion?
A man of taste and dissipation :
A busy man, without employment,
A happy man without enjoyment.
Who squanders all his time and treasures
On empty joys, and tasteless pleasures ;
Visits, attendants, and attention,
And courtly arts, too low to mention.
In sleep, and dress, and sport, and play,
He throws his worthless life away;

« AnteriorContinuar »