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and displayed the various, and sometimes contradictory arguments of these opponents, in a light suited to the design of proving Christianity itself vague and uncertain, both in its principles and its evidences. . Morality was decked in her most bewitching attire (for Revelation had furnished her with ornaments which ancient Philosophy could never procure), and held up to the world as the sole object worth attention, while Religion was represented as Bigotry, Intolerance, Priestcraft, Ignorance, or any hideous form their forcery could conjure up. And thus Morality became the theme of every tongue. Religion was supposed to consist of doctrines too abstruse, and ceremonies too unimportant to be understood or observed by mankind in general. Faith was ridiculed, and compliance with the institutions of the church (except from political motives) was deemed superstition. Even many of the appointed preachers of the Gofpel, forgetting that what “ God hath joined together no man can put asunder” with impunity, were betrayed by the terms practical religion, liberality of opinion, and general philanthropy, to deliver moral essays from the pulpit, instead of “preaching Christ and
him crucified.” The sublime doctrines of religion were feldom taught, left they should “ offend a brother” who differed from their creed; or, left they 1hould be fufpected of a dogmatical spirit. Alas ! What is the wisdom of man but foolishness with God? What have been the consequences of these temporizing measures ? What! but the common fate of a building whose foundation is neglected!
It has been justly observed, that “ we cannot exceed the limits prescribed for human knowledge, without involving ourselves in contradictions and absurdity h;" and that “ nothing has produced more pernicious mischief to fociety, than the pursuit of principles in themselves good, far beyond the bounds in which they are good.” Examined by the light of these observations, and the testimony of experience, it will appear that “ the writings of Lockek, though himself a worthy and religious man, led to a scepticism eventually hurtful to religion ; and though a loyal subject, that his political writings generated doctrines hurtful to monarchical government, and indeed to all civil fociety.” “ The Essay on the Human Understanding, in itself so profound and so useful, with a considerable degree of erroneous theory, as might be expected from a man even of the greatest genius exploring untrodden, intricate, and arduous paths, brought a greater accession to men of knowledge of those powers by which he is peculiarly distinguished, than any book that had ever been written. It tended also to sharpen and invigorate the faculties. But the caution with which it examined different species and degrees of evidence, a caution right as far as it merely prevented error, sometimes refused to admit truth; fought proof of a different kind from that which the nature of the subject required ; doubted', where, in the plain judgment of common sense, no doubt could exist, and afforded supposed data from whence ingenious men might form the most visionary theories m.»
h Warburton. .
i Mackintosh. k Gillies's Pref. to his Translation of Aristotle. K 2
1 He denied that we had any certain evidence for the existence of any objects but ourselves individually, and of the Deity. m Berkeley and Hume, pursuing Locke's principles, trines
Thus the prevalence of metaphysical disquisitions powerfully assisted the growth of Infidelity in those countries where the liberal spirit of the reformation tolerated discussion upon religious and political subjects. Considered as matters of mere fpeculation, and admired as enlarging the sphere of knowledge, the tendency of these writings was not always perceived by minds which Religion guarded from the mischief. They saw the dazzling meteors shoot harmless into space. But Infidelity faw clearly how their course might be directed to guide mankind to her dominions; and the dissensions that prevailed among the numerous fects which sprung from the doc
denied the existence of external objects. His hypothefis respecting governments being foundid on a fiction, is necessarily inconclusive in point of reasoning. But the writings of the Whigs during the reigns of George I. and Il. assumed the existence of the supposed original compact, as an axiom as indisputable as any of Euclid's; and while practically wisely and vigorously supporting our excellent Constitution, theoretically defended prin. ciples, according to which all existing governments might be subverted; and upon which the French Philofophists have founded their system of anarchy and misery. I am indebted for these excellent remarks to a very able writer in a periodical publication. See the Anti-Jacobin Mag. No. II.
trines of Luther and Calvin, unhappily assisted the execution of this design.
It is said, with a design of disgracing our country, that the doctrines of the Englith Infidels, Toland, Tindal, Hobbes, Collins, and Bolingbroke, inspired the first ideą, of abolishing Christianity and disorganizing fociety; and that it was in England Voltaire conceived the hope of being able to extirpate religion. But do we, as a nation, deserve this opprobrium? To say nothing of the Manichean origin of this idea, we have only to look at the impiety and licentiousness which had uninterruptedly reigned in the courts of Rome and Italy, from a much earlier period than the age of Voltaire, and to recollect the names of Aretin, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Descartes, and above all, perhaps, of Bayle, to trace the source from whence our English Infidels derived their opinions. It is certain that in the fixteenth century there lay concealed in different parts of Europe, several persons who entertained a virulent enmity against religion in general, and in a more especial manner against the religion of the Gospel ; and who, both in their writings and in their private conversation, fowed the seeds