Page images

The Apostles have not only given us sketches of their general character, but of their propensity to 'SATIRE AND RIDICULE -of the INCONSISTENCIES of those opinions which they propose to substitute for the principles of Christianity and of their ATTEMPTS to subvert the truth of the MOSAICAL HISTORY by the DISCOVERIES of MODERN PHILOSOPHY, and the inven. tion of NEW THEORIES OF THE EARTH.



The persons predicted by St. Peter to appear in the last days, eminent for their hostility to the Christian name, are score FERS—those who, in their attacks upon it, exercise the sneers of sarcasm, and the taunts of mockery, where the sacred nature of the subject peculiarly demands the gravity of argument, and the most perfect seriousness of attention. To whom can this characteristic mark of the Apostle be applied fo appositely, as to those who ridicule the Scriptures, and deride the professors and teachers of Christianity, as well as its peculiar doctrines and precepts ? Such has been the invariable practice, and such the prominent feature in the works of Voltaire, of Gibbon, and of Paine. They have employed every engine of mockery and VOL. II.

Scoffing jcoffing against the facred bulwarks of Rea velation ; and they have in every part of their works combined every image that was ludicrous, and every idea that was gross and profane, with the truths of the Gospel.


[ocr errors]

The most celebrated of these “ false teachers” are sometimes at variance with themselves, and sometimes with each other, whilst they endeavour, by the aid of their own reason only, to settle the first principles of religion, or to Thew that none can be found. Hume' in one passage of his dialogues entertains no doubt as to the existence of a Supreme Being; and in another asserts, that he has met with nothing but a blind nature impregnated with a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive offspring.--Shaftesbury asserts, that the Deity is a good Being; whereas Bolingbroke maintains that he is not a good Being. With respect to the origin of the world, Hume concludes, from the appearances of the universe, and from some historical facts, that the world was framed at no remote era. Voltaire, on the contrary, infers from facts likewise, to which he gives the most implicit faith, that its origin is to be carried back to a period far beyond the Scriptural chronology.-Bolingbroke, when considering the nature of man, maintains that his soul is mortal, and that it dies with the body ; but Hume asserts that man has no soul, but is a piece of ingenious mechanism constructed by a blind nature.—“ Even in the first letters of Frederick II. King of Prussia, there appears, with the ridiculous pride of a pedantic King, all the versatility and hypocrisy of a sophist. Frederick in 1737 denies, when Voltaire supports, liberty. With Voltaire, man, in 1771, is a pure machine: Frederick then maintains that man is free. In one place we are free precisely because we can form a clear idea of freedom. In another, man is all matter; though one can hardly form a more confused-idea, than that of matter thinking, free, or arguing, though it were with Frederick's own versatilitys.” Voltaire at nearly fourscore considers scepticism concerning a Deity and a soul, as the most rational state

• See Ogilvie on Scepticism.


[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

of mind. Frederick thinks “ we have a fufficient degree of probability to constitute a certainty that death is an eternal sleep;" and maintains that man is not twofold, but only matter animated by motion ; that there exiits no relation between animals and the supreme Intelligence, and is certain that matter can think as well as have the property of being ele&tric.--Frederick had written that the Christian religion yielded none but poisonous weeds ; and Voltaire had congratulated him “ as having above all princes fortitude of soul, and sufficient insight and knowledge, to see that for the 1700 years past, the Christian feet had never done any thing but harm." Yet we afterwards find Frederick the opponent of that infamously profligate work, “ the System of Nature,” and “ tempted to accuse its author of want of sense and skill, when calumniating the Christian religion, he imputes to it failings that it has not. How (alks he) can its Author with truth affert, that religion can be the cause of the misfortunes of mankind? What is there reprehensible in the morals of the Commandments? The forgiveness of injuries, charity, humanity; were not these preached by Jesus in his excellent Sermon on the mount ?" And

: a short

a short time after such a direct acknowledgment of the excellence of this religion, we find this fame Frederick complimenting Voltaire on being its scourge, and communicating to him his plans for its destruction !“ Voltaire would blafpheme the law of Christ, retract, receive the Sacrament, and press the conspirators to “ crush the wretchi!I shudder while I write these horrors !—“ Rousseau would lay aside Christianity, or resume it again, and with Calvin would partake the last supper; write the most sublime encomiums on Christ, that human eloquence could devise, and then finish by blafpheming Christ as a fanatico.”-On surveying this conflict of difcordant opinions, this vain sport of prostituted and wandering reason, we have the plainest indications that the Philosophists Speak great swelling words of vanitythey are ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truththey Speak evil of the things they understand notthey Sport themselves with their own deceivings, they turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables *.

+ See Barruel, p. 11-13. u Barruel, p. 280. * 2 Peter ii. 18. 12, 13. 2 Tim. ii. 4.

I. 3

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »