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meet again to part no more, but to congratulate their inutua lelicities for ever. Then, () my son, lay bold of religion, and secure an interest in those biessed hopes that contribute so much to the virtues and the joys of life.”
Father,” said Ben with a sigh, “I know that many people nere in Boston think I never had any religion; ur, that if I had I have apostatized from it."
God forbiu! But whence, my son, could these prejudices have arisengo
“Why, fạther, I have for some time past discovered that there is no effect without a caugi'. These prejudices have been the effect of my youthful errors.
You remeinber father, the old story of the pork, don't you?”
"No child; what is it, for I have forgotten it?”
“I trougiit so, father, i thought you had been so good as to forget it. But I have not, nor ever shall forget it"
6. What is it, Bew?".
“Why, tather, when our pork, one fall, lay salted and ready for the barrel, I begged you to say grace over it all at once; adding that it would do as well and save a great deal of time."
“Psnaw, Ben, such a trifle as that, and in a child tog con not be remembered against you now.
“Yes father, I am afraid it is. All are not so loving, and so torgetful of my errors as you.
It was at the tine inserted in the Boston News LETTER, and is now recollected to the discredit of my religion. And they have a prejudice against me on another account. While I lived with you, father, you always took me to meeting with you; but when I left you and went to live with ту
bro. ther James, I often neglected going to meeting; prefering to stay at home and read iny books » “I am sorry to hear that, Ben; very sorry
you cou'd neglect the preachings of Christ."
"Father, I never neglected them. I look on the preaching of Christ as the finest system of morality in the world; and his parables, such as "The Prodigal Son -"the Good Samaritan?_"the Lost Sheep,'&c. as models of divine goodness. And if I could only hear a preacher take these for his texts and paint them in those rich colors they are capable of, I would never
from meeting. But now, father, when I go, instead of those benevolent preachings and parables which Christ so deJighted in, I hardly ever hear any thing but lean, chaffy discourses about the TRINITY, and BAPTISMS, and ElfcTions, and REPROBATIONS, and Final PERSEVERANCES, and COVENANTS, and a thousand other such things which do not strike my fancy as religion at all, because not in the least calculated, as I think, to sweeten and ennoble men's natures, and make them love and do good to one another."
“There is too much truth in your remark, Ben; and I have often been sorry that our preachers lay such stress on these things, and do not stick closer to the preachings of Christ."
-Stick closer to them, father! O po, to do them justice, sir, we must not charge them with not sticking to the text. for they never take Christ for their text, but some dark passage out of the prophets or apostles, which will better suit their gloomy ellucation. Or if they should, by some lucky hit, honor Christ for a text, they quickly give him the go-hy and luy in Calvin or some other angry doctor; and then in place of the soft showers of Gospel pity on sinners, we have nothing but the dreadful thunderings of eternal hate, with the unavail. ing screams of little children in hell not a span long! Now, father, as I do not look on such preaching as this to be any ways pleasing to the Deity or profitable to man, I choose to stay at home and read my books; and this is the reason, I suppose, why my brother James and the council-men here of Boston think at I have no religion"
Your strictures on some of our ministers, my son, are iu rather a strong style: but still there is too inuch truth in them to be denied. However, as to what your brother James and the council think of you, it is of little
consequence, provided you but possess true religion.”
"Aye, True RELIGION, father, is another thing; and I should like to possess it. But as to such religion as theirs, I must confess, father, I never had and never wish to have it "
* But what do you mean by their religion, my son?" “Why, I mean, father, a religion of gloomy forms and
notions, that have no tendency to make men good and happy, either in themselves or to others."
"So then, my son, you make man's happiness the end of religion."
“Certainly I do, father.”
"Our catechisms, Ben, make God's glory the end of religion.”
“That amounts to the same thing, father, as the framers of the catechisms, I suppose, placed God's glory in the happiness of man."
“But why do you suppose that so readily, Ben?“
“Because, father, all wise workmen place their glory in the perfection of their works. The gunsmith glories in his rifle, when she never misses her aim; the clockmaker glories in his clock when she tells the time exactiy. They thus glory, because their works answer the ends for which they were marte. Now God, who is wiser than all workmen, had, no doubt, his ends in mak. ing man. But certainly he could not have made him with the view of getting anything from bin, seeing man has nothing to give. And as God, froin his own minite riches, has a boundless power to give; and from his infinite benevolence, must have an equal delight in giving, I can see no end so likely for his asking man as to make him happy. I think, father, ail this looks quite reasonable."
"Why, yes, to be sure, Ben, it does look very reasonable indeed.”
• Well then, father, since all wise workmen glory in their works when they answer the ends for which they designed them, God inust glory in the happiness of man, that being the end for which he made him.”
so'This seems indeed, Ben, to be perfectly agreeable to reason."
“Yes, sir, not only to reason but to nature too: for even nature, I think, father, in all her operations, clearly teaches that God must take an exceeding glory in our happiness; for what else could have led him to build for us such a noble world as this; adorned with so much beauty; stored with such treasures; peopled with so many fair creatures; and lighted up as it is with sucla gorgeous luminaries by day and by night?”
“I ain glad, my son, I touched on this subject of religion in the way I did; your mode of thinking and reasoning on it pleases me greatly. But now taking all this for granted, what is still your idea of the true religion.”
“Why, father, if God thus places his glory in the happiness of man, does it not follow that the inost acceptable thing that man can do for God, or in other words, that the true religion of man consists in his so living, as to attain the highest possible perfection and happiness of his nature, that being the chief end and glory of the Deity in creating himp"
"Well, but how is this to be done?”
“By imitating him, child! but how are we to imitate him?"
In his goodness, father." *But why do you pitch on his GOODNESS rather than on any other of his attributes?”
“Because, father, this seeins, evidently, the prince of all his other attributes, and greater than all."
"Take care child, that you do not blaspheme. How can one of God's attributes be greater than another, when all are infinite!!
Why, father, must not that which moves be greater than that which is moved?"
“What am I to understand by that, Bene”
“I mean, father, that the power and wisdom of the Deity, though both unspeakaby great, would probably stand still and do nothing for men, were they not mov. od to it by his goodness. His goodness then, which comes and
power and wisdom into motion, and thus fills Heaven and earth with happiness, must be the greatest of all his atributes."
“I dont know what to say to that, Ben; certainly his power and wistom must be very great too."
“Yes, father, they are very great indeed: but still they seem but subject to his greater benevolence which enlists then in its service and constantly gives them its own delightful work to do.
For example, father, the wisdom and power of the Deity can do any thing, but his benevolence takes care that they shall do noting but for good. The power and wisdom of the Deity could have made changes both in the earth and heavens
widely different from their present state. They could, for instance, have placed the sun a great deal farther off or a great deal nearer to us. But tlien in the first case W- should have been frozen to icicles, and in the second scorched to cinders. The power of the Deity could have given a tenfoid force to the winds, but them in tree could have stood on the land andi no ship couhiave sailed on the seas. The power of the D-ity could also have made changes as great in all other parts of nature; it could have made every fish as monstrous as a whale, every bird dreadful as the condor, every beast as vast as the elephant, and every tree as big as a mountain. But
then it must strike every one that these chianges would .: all have beew utterly for the worse, rendering these no
ble parts of nature comparatively useless to us.- I say the
power of the Deity could have done all this, and might have so done but for his benevolence, which would not allow such discords, but has, on the contrary, established all things on a scale of the exactest harmony with the convenience and happiness of inan. Now, for example, father, the suil, though placed at an enormous distance from us,is placed at the very distance he should be for all the important purposes of light and heat; so that the carth and waters, neither frozep nor burnt, enjoy the temperature fittest for life and vegetation. Now the meadows are covered with grass; the fields with corn; the trees with leaves and fruits; presenting a spectacle of universal beauty aud plenty, feasting all senses and gladdening all hearts; while man, the favored lord of all, looking around hiin amidst the mingled singing of birds and skipping of beasts and leaping of fishes, is struck with womer at the beauteous scenery, and gratefully acknowledges that benevolence is the darling attribute of the Deity.”
“I thank God, my son, for giving you wisdom to rea. son in this way. But what is still your inference from all this, as to the true religiou?"
"Why, my dear father, my inference is still in confirmation of my first answer to your question relative to the true religion, that it coisists in our imitating the Deity in his goodness. . Every wise parent, wishing to alJure his children to any particular virtue, is careful to set them the fairest examples of the same, as known