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place, and he was far advanced in years; yet his heart was manifestly overwhelmed with his fubject. There is reason to think that the things which Mr. Paine attempts to ridicule, drew tears from his eyes while he narrated them; as an ingenuous mind will find it difficult to review the narrative without fimilar sensations.
Mr. Paine is pleased to say, “ Any person that “ could read and write might have written such a “ book as the Bible:" but nothing can be farther from the truth. It were saying but little, to affirm that he could not produce a single page or sentence that would have a similar effect. Stranger, as he has proved himself to be, to the love of God and righteousness, he could not communicate what he does not feel. The croaking raven might as well endeavour to imitate the voice of the dove, or the fong of the nightingale, as he attempt to emulate the Holy Scriptures. Mr. Paine's fpirit is sufficiently apparent in his page, and that of the facred writers in theirs. So far from writing as they wrote, he cannot understand their writings. That which the Scriptures teach on this subject is fufficiently verified in him, and all others of his spirit: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can be know them, for they are spiritually difcerned. As easily might the love. liness of chastity be perceived, or the pleasures of a good conscience appreciated by a debauchee, as the things of God be received by a mind like that of Mr. Paine.
Finally, If the Bible be the word of God, it may be expected that such an authority, and divine fanction should accompany it, that while a candid mind thall presently perceive its evidence, those
who read it either with negligence or prejudice, fhall only be confirmed in their unbelief. It is fit that God's word should not be trifled with. When the pharisees captiously demanded a fign, or mivacle, they were fent away without one. They might go, if they pleased, and report the inability of Jesus to work a miracle. The evidence attende ing the resurrection of Christ is of this description. He had exhibited proofs enow of his divine miffion publicly, and before the eyes of all men ; but feeing they were obstinately rejected, he told his enemies that they should see him no more till he should come on a different occafion :* and they saw him no more. They might infift, if they pleased, that the testimony of his disciples, who witneffed his resurrection, was insufficient. It is thus that heresies, offences, and scandals are permitted in the Christian church, that they who are approved may be made manifeft; and that occasion may be furnished for them who feek occasion, to reproach religion, and persist in their unbelief. choose delusion, God also will choose to give them up to it. The scorner fall seek wisdom, and shall not find it ; and the word of life shall be a favour of death unto death to them that perish. Mr. Paine, when he wrote the First part of his Age of Reason, was without a Bible. Afterwards, he tells us, he procured one; or to use his own schoolboy language,
a Bible and a Testament; and I have “ found them, he adds, to be much worse books. " than I had conceived.”+ In all this there is nothing surprising. On the contrary, if such a
* Matt. xxiii. 39.
# Age of Reason, Part II. Pref.
fcorner had found wisdom, the Scriptures themfelves had not been fulfilled. *
If an infolent coxcomb had been of opinion that Sir Isaac Newton was a mere ignoramus in philofophy, and had gone into his company that he might catechize, and afterwards, as occafion fhould offer, expose him ; it is not unlikely that this great writer, perceiving his arrogance, would have suffered him to depart without answering his questions, even though he inight know at the time that his unfavourable opinion of him would thereby be the more confirmed. Let us but come to the Scriptures in a proper fpirit, and we shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God: but if we approach them ina cavilling humour, we may expect not only to remain in ignorance, but to be hardened more andi more in unbelief.
CH A P IV..
The consistency of the Christian doctrine, particularly
that of salvation through a Mediator, with fober: Reafon.
If there be a God who created us; if we
F have all finned against him ; and if there be rear fon to believe that he will call us to account for our conduct, all which principles are admitted by Mr. Paine;a gloomy prospect must needs present itfelf, fufficient indeed to render man “ the flave of
* Prov. xiv. 6.
terror.” It is not in the power of this writer, nor of any man living who rejects the Bible, to assure us that pardon will have any place in the divine government, and however light he may make of the fcripture doctrine of hell, He that calls men to account for their deeds will be at no loss how or where to punish them. But allowing that God is disposed to fhew mercy to the guilty, the question is, Whether his doing fo by or without a Mediator be most consistent with what we know of fitness or propriety?
That pardon is bestowed through a mediator in a vast variety of instances among men, cannot be denied ; and that it is proper it should be so must be evident to every thinking mind. All who are acquainted with the common affairs of life must be aware of the necessity of such proceedings, and the good effects of them upon society. *
It is far less humbling for an offender to be pardoned at his own request, than through the interposition of a third person : for in the one case he may be led to think that it was his virtue and penitence which influenced the decision; whereas in the other he is compelled to feel his own unworthiness: and this may be one reason why the mediation of Chrift is so offensive. It is no wonder indeed that those who deny humility to be a virtuet should be disgusted with a doctrine, the profeffed object of which is to abase the pride of man.
As forgiveness without a mediator is less humbling to the offender, so it provides less for the honour of the offended, than a contrary proceeding.
* See Pres. Edward's Remarks on important Theological Controvere, fees, Chap. VI.
† Volney's Law of Nature, p. 49,
Many a compassionate heart has longed to go forth, like David towards Abfalom; but, from a juft fense of wounded authority, could not tell how to effect it; and has greatly desired that fome common friend would interpose, and save his honour. He has wished to remit the sentence; but has felt the want of a mediator, at the instance of whom he might give effect to his desires, and exercise mercy without seeming to be regardless of justice. An offender who fhould object to a mediator would be justly confidered as hardened in impenitence, and regardless of the honour of the offended : and it is difficult to fay what other construction can be put upon the objections of finners to the Mediation of Christ.
Again, To exercise pardon without a mediator, would be fixing no such stigma upon the evil of the offence, as is done by a contrary mode of proceeding.
. Every man feels that those faults which may be overlooked on a mere acknowledgment, are not of a very heinous nature: they are fuch as arise from inadvertence rather than from ill design ; and include little more than an error of the judgment. On the other hand, every man feels that the calling in of a third person is making much of the offence, treating it as a ferious affair, a breach that is not to be lightly passed over. This may be another reason why the Mediation of Christ is fo offensive to the adversaries of the Gospel. It is no wonder that men who are continually speaking of moral evil under the palliating names of error, frailty, imperfe&tion, and
the like, should spurn at a doctrine, the implica· tion of which condemns* it to everlasting infamy.
Finally, To bestow pardon without a mediator
* Rom. viii. 3.