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pired, undeplored and detested by his adopted countrymen.1 A conduct like this proves that there was one spark of horror in the souls of these antagonists of revelation which all their philosophic efforts were unequal to extinguish.

The whole of the atheist's creed, with respect to the future world, is comprised in the following summary: that his body, begun by chance or necessity, is continued without design, and perishes without hope; that his soul is a mere attribute of his body, useless and worthless while he lives, and destined at his death to rottenness and corruption: and that, the sooner it is returned to its parent mould the better. And, by his mandate, he consigns mankind to the dark and desolate regions of annihilation. By this sweeping sentence, which he passes on all the human race, he takes away from himself and his fellowmen, every motive, furnished by the fear of future punishment or by the hope of future rewards, to virtuous, upright, or amiable conduct.

On the other hand, how glorious are the Christian's views of the future world. From the promise of his Creator, he learns that his body, sown here in corruption, weakness, and dishonour, shall be raised, beyond the grave, in incorruption, power, and glory, with so many attributes of mind or spirit, as to be denominated by Him, who made it, a spiritual body. Ever young, active, and undecaying, it shall be re-united to the immortal mind, purified from every stain and every error. This perfect man shall be admitted, with an open and abundant entrance, into the heaven of heavens, the peculiar residence of Infinite Majesty, and the chosen seat of infinite dominion. In this noblest of all habitations, this mansion of everlasting joy, he shall be united with an innumerable multitude of companions like himself, sanctified, immortal, and happy. Enrolled among the noblest and best beings in the universe, a child, a priest, a king in the house of his Heavenly Father, his endless and only destination will be to know, love, serve and enjoy God; to interchange the best affections and the best offices with his glorious companions: and to advance in wisdom, virtue, and happiness, . . . FOR EVER.2

This is no ideal picture. Hopes and consolations like these, have, in every age of Christianity, supported the minds of millions of Christians, in the humble and retired walks of life, as well as in exalted stations. They cheered and animated the minds of such men as the Lord Chief Justice Hale, Pascal, Newton, Boyle, Locke, Addison, Boerhaave, Lord Lyttleton, Baron Haller, Sir William Jones, Beattie, and very many other distinguished laymen (divines are designedly omitted), both British and foreign, who applied their mighty intellects to the investigation and elucidation of the evidences of the Christian records; and whose lives and writings will continue to instruct and edify the world, so long as the art of printing shall perpetuate them.

1 See Cheetham's Life of Paine, pp. 153-160. (8vo. London, 1818.) which is reprinted from the American publication. What must have been the agony of that man's mind, who could exclaim as Paine did on one occasion: "I think I can say what they make Jesus Christ to say,— My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?" Ibid. P. 157. 2 Dwight's System of Theology, p. 55.

Such are the effects which the Christian revelation has actually produced on the happiness of nations, as well as of individuals. Philosophy and infidelity (we have seen), are alike inadequate to accomplish them. An evil tree, we know, bringeth not forth good fruit. If therefore this revelation were not of God, it could do nothing,



Peculiar advantages of Christianity over all other religions.-I. In its perfection. II. Its openness.—III. Its adaptation to the ca pacities of all men.-IV. The spirituality of its worship.-V. Its opposition to the spirit of the world.-VI. Its humiliation of man and exalting of the Deity.-VII. Its restoration of order to the world. — VIII. Its tendency to eradicate all evil passions from the heart. IX. Its contrariety to the covetousness and ambition of mankind.-X. Its restoring the Divine Image to men. — XI. Its mighty effects.

ALL the truths stated in the preceding pages will appear still more evident, if we consider the Christian revelation, as it stands opposed to all other religions or pretended revelations. The excellency of the Christian revelation consists in this, that it possesses advantages which no other religions or revelations have, at the same time that it has none of the defects by which they are characterised.

We affirm, that no other religion or revelation has advantages equal to those of the Christian revelation or religion: for no other can pretend to have been confirmed by antient prophecies. Even Mohammed thought it better to oblige men to call the Scriptures in question, than to derive any arguments from them, which might serve to confirm his mission. There are indeed several religions, which have had their martyrs, but of what description? - Superstitious men, who blindly exposed themselves to death, like the ignorant East Indians, thousands of whom prostrate themselves before the idol Juggernauth, and hundreds of whom devote themselves to be crushed by the wheels of the machine that carries the colossal image of their idol. But no religion, besides the Christian, was ever confirmed by the blood of an infinite number of sensible understanding martyrs, who voluntarily suffered death in defence of what they had seen; who from vicious and profligate persons, became exemplary for the sanctity of their lives, upon the confidence they had in their master; and who at length being dispersed throughout the world, by their death gained proselytes; and making their blood the seed of the church, cheerfully suffered martyrdom, having certain assurance of being crowned after their death: a certain assurance which they derived from what they themselves had formerly seen.

We find other religions, which pretend to be confirmed and authorised by several signs and extraordinary events from heaven. Thus

the Romans used to attribute to their religion all the advantages they obtained over other nations; and the Mohammedans pretend that the great successes, which God was pleased to give their prophet, were so many certain and undeniable marks of the truth of their religion. But to pretend that temporal prosperity is a certain character of a true religion, or adversity that of a false one, is to suppose that the most profligate wretches, provided they are happy in this world, are the greatest favourites of God. But certainly it is not prosperity or adversity simply considered, but prosperity or adversity as foretold by God or his prophets that is a certain character of true religion and when we affirm that several extraordinary events bear witness to the truth of Christianity, we mean only those events which had been foretold by the prophets; as, for instance, the calling of the Gentiles, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the establishment of the Christian church. Finally, there may be several religions that may deceive, but it is only the Christian religion that can truly satisfy mankind. There are some religions grounded upon fabulous miracles, and confirmed by witnesses easily convicted of imposture; but it is only the Christian religion that is firmly and solidly established upon true miracles and valid testimonies. It appears then, that no religion in the world has such extraordinary qualifications as the Christian religion; of which it must also be affirmed, that it is free from all such defects as are incident to other religions.

No deep research, no great sagacity or penetration of mind is necessary to discover this truth; for it is manifest that the Christian religion is not designed for the satisfaction of the carnal and worldly appetites of men, as that of the present Jews, who aspire only after temporal prosperity and worldly pomps: nor is it a monstrous medley, like that of the antient Samaritans, made up of a ridiculous mixture of the pagan and Jewish religion: nor has it any of the faults or extravagant superstitions of the pagan religion. But as it would extend this chapter (already perhaps too long) to a disproportionate length, were we to oppose it particularly to all the errors of other religions, we shall confine our comparison to showing the advantages possessed by the Christian religion over all the rest, in the following respects.

I. Other religions, as being principally of human invention and institution, were formed by degrees from the different imaginations of several persons, who successively made such additions or alterations as they thought convenient. The Greeks, for example, added several things to that religion which they received from the Egyptians; and the Romans to that which they had received from the Greeks. Menander improved upon the senseless impieties of Simon Magus; and Saturninus and Basilides added to those of Menander.' And the reason is, because men are never weary of inventing, nor the people of believing novelties. But it is not so with the Christian religion, which was wholly delivered by Christ, is entirely contained in 1 See an account of these false teachers of Christianity, in Dr. Lardner's History of Heretics.

every one of the Gospels, and even in each epistle of the apostles. Whatever alterations men have thought fit to make in the doctrine which Christ brought into the world only corrupted its purity and spirituality, as appears by the great disproportion there is between the apostolical doctrine and the ordinary speculations of men.

II. Other religions durst not show themselves openly in full light, and therefore were veiled over with a mysterious silence and affected darkness. Some of the Gnostics chose the night to cover the impurity of their abominable mysteries. And the Romans exposed themselves to the satirical raillery of their poets, by being so careful to conceal the worship they paid to their goddess Bona. Julian and Porphyry exerted all their talents, either to set off the ridiculous and offensive ceremonies of paganism, or to palliate their superstition, by several various explanations of it; as when they positively affirmed, that they worshipped one only supreme God, though they acknowledged at the same time other subordinate deities depending one upon another; and when they endeavoured to justify the worship they paid to their idols, by using many subtle and nice distinctions.

It is certain that there is a principle of pride in the hearts of men, which is the reason why they cannot endure to be accused of entertaining any absurd and extravagant opinions; so that, whenever their passions have made them embrace a religion which seems not very reasonable, they employ all their ingenuity to make it at least appear consonant to reason. But the Christian religion requires no veil to cover it, no mysterious silence, no dark dissimulation, or close disguise, although it proposes such kinds of objects to us as are vastly contrary to all our prejudices and received opinions. The apostles freely confess that the preaching of the Gospel is as it were an apparent folly; but yet they assure us that God was resolved to save the world by that seeming folly. They knew that the death of Christ became a scandal to the Jew, and a folly to the Greek; yet they publicly declared, that they were determined not to know any thing save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And how comes it then that they did not in the least degree extenuate, or endeavour to soften the sense of that seeming paradox, (so far were they from concealing it,) but were strongly and fully persuaded of the truth of that adorable mystery, and the abundance of their understanding served only to make them more fully comprehend the efficacy of the cross?

III. If we were strictly to consider some religions, we should find that they were at first, for the most part, instituted either by poets or philosophers; and that they generally sprang from the sportive conceits or witty speculations of the understanding; which is the reason why they were not so universally approved. The philosophers always derided the religion of the vulgar; and the vulgar understood nothing of the religion of the philosophers. Socrates ridiculed the religion of the Athenians; and the Athenians accused Socrates of impiety and atheism, and condemned him to death. The Christian religion alone is approved both by the philosophers and also by the vulgar people, as neither depending upon the ignorance of the latter, nor proceeding

from the learning of the former. It has a divine efficacy and agreeable power, suitable to all hearts: It is adapted to the capacity of the most simple and ignorant, though infinitely raised above the philosophy of the wise it is sublime without being nicely speculative, and simple without being mean; in its sublimity preserving its clearness, and in its simplicity preserving its dignity. In a word, there is nothing so great nor so inconsiderable in human society, but what may some way fall under its consideration, and it is equally approved of and admired by all.

IV. Other religions brought men from spiritual objects to those which were corporeal and earthly: the Christian religion brings them from the objects of sense to those of the understanding. We all know that when the heathens deified men, or worshipped a deity under a human shape, they were so far from paying to that deity a worship due to a spiritual nature, that their adoration consisted in several games, shows, and divers exercises of the body. The Jews and Samaritans, by their eager disputes whether God was to be worshipped in Jerusalem or on mount Gerizim, extinguished charity, the true spirit of religion, in their violent defences of the external part of it. Nay, the prophets complained formerly, that the Jews made a true fast to consist in bowing down their heads as a bulrush, and putting on sackcloth and ashes. And the Holy Scripture observes, that the priests of Baal were wont to cut themselves with knives and lances, when they sacrificed to him, as if there were no other way to make their god hear their prayers, but by inflicting such punishments on their own bodies. The modern Jews cannot be persuaded that we have been called to the knowledge of the true God (though they find we all profess to put our trust and confidence in him), because they perceive not that we use any corporeal ceremonies. And the Mohammedans, more irreligious than superstitious, make their religion and its happiness depend chiefly on their senses. When they worship, they turn themselves towards Mecca, as the Jews did towards Jerusalem, and earnestly desire of God that he would gratify their senses; and though they have a sort of religious respect for the letters that compose the name of God, and the paper on which it is written, yet they are enjoined to oppress men that bear the image of God, by their religion, which breathes nothing but violence, fury, and oppression.

The reason why men thus usually refer every thing to their senses, is, because a worship that is corporeal and sensual, is far more easy; it is much easier for a man to take the sun for a god, than to be continually occupied in seeking after a God that is invisible; to solemnize games and festivals in honour of a pretended deity, than to renounce himself for the sake of a true one: it is much easier for him to fast, than to renounce his vices; to sing spiritual songs, or bow to a statue, than forgive his enemies. It appears then, that the Christian religion bears a more excellent character, as it gives us for the object of our worship, not a god under an human shape, but a God that is a spirit, as it teaches us to honour him, not with a carnal, but with a * 1 Kings xviii. 23.

1 Isa. Iviii. 5.

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