« PreviousContinue »
all is yours.
“inheritance" that is “incorruptible, and un- | by attracting attention, and awakening the surprise, defiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. i. astonishment, and talk of his cotemporaries and pos4), is yours; you have little in the stream, but terity, he yielded to speculations which carried him all in the fountain. God is yours, and in him scepticism; while the same vanity forbade him, after
from step to step, till he was landed in universal
he was once committed, to retract any of his stateO are these things true? Certainly; then ments, however untenable. This is no more than you have no reason to complain or to be dis- what Scripture would have led us to expect. The contented because of your poverty. Pray, desire of the glory of men is numbered by the Saunder heart-risings because of this, turn your viour among the causes of Infidelity among the edothoughts upon what hath been hinted, work cated men of his day; and the apostles guard against these and such like considerations home upon unbelief and apostasy. The late excellent Dr. Mar
false philosophy and vain speculations, as tending to your hearts, be intent upon them, weigh them tin, minister of Kirkaldy, a man of no common thoroughly; and I hope this will very much acuteness, relates, in a record of his experience settle and quiet your spirits under the lowness during a severe and protracted sickness, that for a of your estates.
season he was visited with the most painful darkness and universal doubt. He explains it by stating that
when a young man, and long before he had ever ILLUSTRATIONS OF INFIDELITY. heard of David Hume, or read any of his writings,
he had indulged in the same sceptical speculations; GENERAL LESSONS.
so that in reading Hume, he found himself familiar We conclude with a few general lessons suggested with the thoughts and arguments. Like a devout by the biography of Hume, and the parties with and penitent believer, he explained his mental whom he was associated.
darkness and dubiety long after, as a chastise1. One may see how vain and absurd is the plea on ment for the indulgence of scepticism in youtò. which many, under the Gospel dispensation, rest their While this is fitted to deprive Hume's admirers of hope of forgiveness and heaven. They say they expect their boasting, inasmuch as it shows that others, salvation, because they are free from gross vices, and and persons of much less pretension, could hit upon have always been kind and friendly. What does the the same thoughts (and the same might be added of case of Hume show? That even Infidels can often many young Hindus on the banks of the Ganges, in
plead the same. We have no reason to doubt that regard to Hume's speculations on miracles), it is Hume was correct in his private morals; and though fitted to warn good men, and especially the young, there were strange and bitter quarrels between him against indulging a spirit which the Scripture conand several of his friends, such as Blacklock, Oswald, demns.' Harmless as their speculations may often Rousseau, yet we have no cause to question the state- seem, the unhappy effect may appear in seasons of ments of his biographers, that he was very friendly weakness and suffering. The great adversary of and much liked—that he was inoffensive, obliging, man's peace may strike in, and feather his darts with instructive. Now, is it to be imagined that professed what was once a mere speculation, and had been alChristians are saved on grounds altogether indepen- most forgotten. Such was the judgment of good dent of Christianity, which are equally valid and Dr. Martin, founded on experience; and though he good, whether such a revelation as Christianity had was happily, ere long, released, the result may be been vouchsafed? Is it to be imagined that scoff- more serious with others. Llence the need of cauing Infidels, denying God's providence and exist- tion. Those who are at once metaphysical in their ence as well as his word, and rejoicing in death as taste, and vain-glorious in their temperament, require the annihilation of their being, are equally safe as to be specially guarded. Youthful vanity and the most devout, and holy, and useful believers, simply thoughtlessness may lay the foundation for serious because they did not happen to be immoral, and were conflicts at a season when the soul would most desire amiable and friendly in the intercourse of social life ? tranquillity. Does this not disparage Christianity, and exalt Infi- 3. Another suggested lesson is the insufficiency of delity in a way which would make most professed mere knowledge-literary, historical, philosophicalChristians tremble? And yet, do not multitudes rest to prevent crime, or to secure stable happiness. It is their hopes for eternity substantially upon this ground? | well known how confident many men are in regard to Surely that cannot be the way of salvation which is the reverse of the proposition. They think ignorance equally good for Christians and for Infidels--which the great source of all evil, and general knowledge makes no distinction in creed—which treats those the sure and universal remedy for its ills. But what who believe in God and those who deny him as the is the testimony of experience? Were Hume or his same, equally acceptable.
French Infidel friends happy, in the best sense of 2. We are reminded of the danger of indulging the term ? or were they armed against sinful temptavanity and sceptical speculation. There can be little tion ? We have already made full allowance for question that vain-glory was the root of Hume's the advantages of natural temperament and social system of universal doubt and flagrant Infidelity. He position, of which Hume could boast. After all, we may not have intended at first to become an Infide! have seen that his happiness was very limited and bordering on Atheism; but, to gratify his vanity qualified—that he was the advocate of sin and crime;
ILLUSTRATIONS OF INFIDELITY.
while in regard to his French friends it is notorious, rounded, is pronounced by a professed minister of the amid all their gaiety and wit, there was a vast Gospel, the most agreeable in the whole world! Anamount of real misery, combined with gross immo-other (Jardine), writes him: “The enemy had rality and corruption. Yet who can question that kindled such a flame, that the old burning bush was these parties were familiar with varied knowledge— like to have been consumed altogether. I know it far more knowledge than the mass of society, by all will give you pleasure to hear that my endeavours to schemes of mere secular education, can ever hope to preserve her have been crowned with success." What reach ? and how vain, then, is it to expect that mere could an Infidel think of such sentiments and knowledge, distinct from divine knowledge, will re- language from a minister of Christ, who perfectly knew generate and rejoice society? If it has failed in the his character and views ? hands of Hume and of his friends, is it likely to be Such notices in the Correspondence, and others could more successful with others ? Nay, may it not be be given, indicate, to say the least, a miserably low refeared that much at least of their knowledge, instead ligious tone---a blending of Christianity and Infidelity of contributing either to the purity or happiness of which could have no other result than to harden the man, will, and must, have the very opposite effect ? sceptic and the scoffer. What effectual remonstrance Who can question that the tendency of Hume's moral could either Blair or Jardine, or any clergyman of simiphilosophy is to the relaxation of moral ties ? and lar spirit, present to the progress of Infidelity? Their who can doubt, with the example of the French lite greatest strength must have been very weakness. Acrati of Hume's days and of subsequent revolutionary cordingly, there is a visible growth of Infidelity in sotimes before them, that knowledge, disjoined from ciety through the lifetime of Hume. At his startdivine revelation, is not only weak as a restraint ing, there was the greatest resistance; as he advancagainst evil, but may prove an encouragement to sin ? ed it lessened. In 1744, when aiming after a proLet none, then, deceive themselves and society with fessorship of moral philosophy, Hume says: The vain hopes. Where the Scriptures of truth are un- accusation of heresy, deism, scepticism, atheism, &c., known, general knowledge may be rendered subser- &c., was started against me, but never took, being vient, by Divine Providence, to moral restraint and borne down by the contrary authority of all the good usefulness; but where God's revelation is despised company in town.” Eight years after, in 1752, wlien and rejected, he is almost pledged to show the appointed, after a contest, librarian of the Advocates' vanity of any substitute of man's devizing, by allow- Library, he says: “What is more extraordinary, the ing even philosophers to fall into moral degradation. cry about religion could not hinder the ladies from
4. Our last remark respects the responsibility of being violently my partisans. I owe my success in the Christian Church for the Infidelity of the world. a great measure to their solicitations.” Twelve We apprehend that Hume stood so much upon in years after, 1764, Blair writes: “ The taste for French dependent ground of his own-was so much under literature grows more and more amongst us.” No the influence of vain-glorious selfishness, in his scep- one can question that such Infidel literature as the ticism, that scarcely any condition of the Christian French literature of that day could not increase in Church would have made much difference on the its popularity apart from the previous and simultastate of his personal convictions, or brought him neous spread of Infidelity; while the popular internearer to true religion; but we are strongly per- est and homage discovered at the Infidel's interment, suaded that the state of Christianity in his day, and and connected with the sepulchre, where," on a Sunhis own experience of professed ministers of Chris- day evening, the company from a public walk in the tianity, were well fitted to deepen and perpetuate his neighbourhood flocked in such crowds to the grave, personal Infidelity, and to give it strength and cur- that Mr. Hume's brother actually became apprehenrency, through his works, on society. The footing on sive upon the unusual concourse, and ordered the which Hume stood with Robertson, Blair, Jardine, grave to be railed in with all expedition,” bespoke Carlile, Home, and other ministers—their consenting the same unhappy progress. to be silent on religion—the warmth of their friend- There can be little question that the degeneracy ship, though he was busily subverting the foundations of the Church, or rather the Churches of Christ of all religion, natural and revealed-their sneers at -for, with slight exceptions, the decay was general the more serious and godly part of the brethren in-had an important share in the creation and disthe ministry—the freedom which they allowed him semination of the Infidelity of the age. Had the to use in his correspondence with them, and the Church boen evangelical and her ministry faithful service which they expected and received from him, and consistent, humanly speaking, the tone of society in connection with the distribution of Church could never have sunk so low. It is a melancholy patronage-must all have given him a very unfavour- fact, that the only man who seems to bave written able impression of the reality of their belief, or of to Hume on his death-bed, on the subject of relireligious principle at all. What could Hume have gion—and the letter, considering the party to whom thought of Christianity, when a minister of Christ it was addressed, was well fitted to awaken serious could write him in such terms as: “The society at thought-was not a minister, but a layman at a disParis,” says Dr. Blair, “to one who has all your tance, Mr. Strachan, the London bookseller. The advantages for enjoying it in its perfection, is, I am letter was probably too late to reach the dying fully convinced, from all that I have heard, the most man; but the fact, that it seems to have been the agreeable in the whole world.” The ungodly, infidel, only effort which was made to recall his mind to the immoral society of Paris, with which Hume was sur- idea of an unseen world, and that upon his own priu
ciples, is solemn in itself, and peculiarly so as indica- the powerful intellect of the greatest of Infidel phitive of the prevalence of irreligion and Infidelity. losophers, with all the lights and advantages of an. Where now were all his clerical friends ? The whole cient and modern times, could not penetrate its way is well calculated to show the connection between Ir- to the certain proof of immortality without rerelareligion in the Church and Infidelity in society; and, tion; or rather, arrived at the opposite conclusion of therefore, the responsibility of the Church for the settled materialism. Instructed by the darkness--, Infidelity of the land. We do not say that there may the moral and religious doubts—the misery of the not, or that there has not been, decided Infidelity in Bible rejecter—we grasp the Scriptures of truth with
the midst of the purest Christianity; the very suc- a firmer hand, more satisfied than ever of the neces cess of the work of the Spirit of God may call sity of divine revelation; and we pray more earnestis up the zeal of the spirit of darkness, but certainly that neither the character, the life, nor the death of the tendency of Irreligion is towards Infidelity, Hume, with all its worldly glory, may be ours, or that and the colder and more corrupt the Church, the of our children. arguments in behalf of Infidelity are always the stronger and the more popular. It is well for the Church of Christ to feel that her labour ought not TIIINGS SEEN, TEMPORAL; THINGS to be limited to the irreligious making a profession
UNSEEN, ETERNAL. of the Christian name-that the avowed Infidel has
How insecure our state! anon strong claims upon her-that a serious part of the responsibility of his unbelief, it may be, belongs to What we now enjoyed is gone! her.
Come, and I will tell to thee We have detained our Christian readers long with: What things likest to it be. these successive papers on Infidelity illustrated by facts. We are afraid that we may have wearied some;
A noble bark afloat I saw; but many important lessons are taught by the; lives She many wondering eyes did draw, and the deaths of Infidels. Christians should not
To admire her wondrous state, think that they are so far a-head of such scenes that Whereon tides and winds did wait. they have nothing to learn from them. In one sense Songs of gladness rose from her this is happily true, but much instruction may at the As she gallantly did steer same time be gathered from contrasts.
As the occa
Through the churned deep. With a frown sional study of Paganism, and Mohammedanism, and The black whirlwind stoopeth down. Judaism, and Popery is useful, these acting as a foil, Its fierce wrath an hour did last; the better to bring out the right spirit and character
But when it was gone and past, of Evangelical Truth; so is the occasional and serious On the waters I did note contemplation of Infidelity fitted to read the Chris
Some few wretched wrecks afloattian various and valuable lessons-lessons of bound
The fair ship no more was seen. less gratitude to God for divine revelation, with all
Such our mortal state, I ween; its incomparable blessings, especially for Christ and A few days of brightest gladness, his great salvation, with all the happiness, purity, A few dreams of highest hope; and hope which these imply-lessons of humility, Then, beneatio the storm of sadness, when Christians think that they can claim nothing
Into death's abyss we drop. of God, that it is he who makes them to differ from Infidels, and that their inconsistency and unfruitful- A fair forest I beheld, ness may have had a hand in making or in hardening And right pleasant 'twas to be the sceptic, and also when they compare their own In its shadow, there to mark defects, in particular points, with the attainments of The good estate of every tree. some unbelievers-lessons of deep sympathy for those Some were budding, some were clad involved in the temptations and snares of unbelief, With their blossoms white and red; whilst their Infidelity is condemned as criminal
Some with their full foliage made lessons of duty-as carnest desires and efforts to de- In the noon a twilight shade. liver. In short, the survey of Infidelity, in contrast The living brooks that here and there to Gospel Christianity, is well fitted to lead Chris- Strayed, like happy spirits, were tinns to prize their distinguishing privileges more Singing in the land of bliss highly, to hold fast by them in the face of all hos- Strains, all day, of happiness. tility, and to use means to extend the experimental Glad was eclio to prolong knowledge of them to others, even the most hardened In her rocky haunts that song. and hopeless. We feel that, if possible, our own In the bowers and branches high conviction of the truth and excellency of Evangelical There was endless minstrelay Christianity has been strengthened by reading the Of pairing birds, a thousand notes biography of Hume, and drawing up these papers as Piping through music-lined thronts. the result of our meditations. We have seen how The golden age! it has not gone, little Infidelity could do for its advocate, even at its We, my love, have lit upon best estate-how defective and miserable its attain- That joyful time; our life-tent here ments, even in the most inexceptionable cases-how Shall stand in peace for many a year!
RICHARD BAXTER TO THE ROMISH PRIESTS.
Brother! cheer thee, there is hope,
Scarce had I spoken, when a blight
ROMANISM AND HINDUISM COMPARED. A BRAHMAN, for the purpose of showing the folly of rejecting Hinduism and embracing the Roman Catholic religion, instituted the following comparison between the two systems:-“ Has the Feringhi cheap pardons ? So have we. Can the Romanist by the mass rescue his ancestors from purgatory? We, by ceremonies at Gaya, can do the same for ours. Can the priest change the bread and wine into flesh and blood ? Our muntras can impart divine attributes to images. Who are the Romish monks, but the counterparts of our Sunyasees? Do the Catholics count their beads ? So do we our malas. Do they pray to mother Mary? So do we to Ganga-mai. Do their priests eschew marriages ? So do our Gosalies. Have they nuns ? So have we our nach-girls, dedicated to the service of the temple. Do they boast their antiquity ? Compare eighteen hundred years, the period they claim as the age of their Church, with the four jugs of Hinduism.
RICHARD BAXTER TO ROMISH PRIESTS. One of your dissimulations which increaseth my dissatisfaction is, your pretending to the ignorant people that you are all of a mind, and there are no divisions among you, and making our divisions the great argument to raise an odium against our doctrine, calling us schismatics, heretics, and the like. When, indeed, no one thing doth so much turn away my heart from you as your abominable schism. Do we not know of the multitudes of opinions among you, mentioned by Bellarmine and other of your writers ? If you call me out to any more of this work, I mean the next time to present to the world a catalogue of your divisions among yourselves, that it may appear how notable your unity is ! If the Jesuits are to be believed, what a silly sottish generation are your secular priests! If your priests are to be believed, what a seditious, hypocritical, cheating pack are the
Jesuits ! I speak not the words of your Protestant world! I find in myself so great an inclination to adversaries, but of those of your own Church. Do I unity, and the title catholic is so honourable, in not know what Guliel. de Santo Amore and many my esteem, to them that deserve it, that if I had others say of your own Church? Do you think found you to have the unity and catholic religion and I never read Watson's Quodlibets, and the many Church which you boast of, it would have much inpretty stories of the Jesuit exploits there mention-clined me to your Church and way. But when I find ed by him? I do not think that you suffer many of you, like the Donatists, confining the Church to your your own followers to read these books that are writ- party, and making yourselves a sect and faction, and ten against one another by yourselves. But the unchurching and danning the far greatest part of great division among you, that quite overthrows your the Christians in the world, this left me assured that cause in my esteem, is that between the French and you are most notorious schismatics. When I saw Italian, in the very foundation which all your faith so much knowledge and holiness comparatively among is resolved into. You have no belief of Scripture, the Reformed Catholics, and so much ignorance and nor in Christ, no hope of heaven; you differ not from wickedness among the Papists (even here where are ! Turks and Infidels, but only upon the credit and au- but a remnant that adhere to their religion against thority of your Church; and this Church must be in- the course of the nation), and when I read so many fallible, or else your faith is fallible—at least it must plain promises in Scripture, " That whoever believeth be of sovereign authority. And when comes to the in Christ shall not perish, and that if by the Spirit wel upshot, you are not agreed what this Church is? One mortify the deeds of the body we shall live, and that saith it is the pope with a general council; and an- if we repent our sins shall be forgiven, yea that godother saith it is a general council, though the pope liness hath the promise of this life and that to come;" dissent. One saith the pope is fallible, and the other and then when I find that the Papists, for all these saith a council is fallible. One saith, a pope is above certain promiscs, do unchurch and damn us all, bethe council, and another saith the council is above cause we believe not in the pope of Rome as well as the pope. And now, what is become of your reli- in Christ, this satisfied me as fully that you are most gion? Nay, is it not undeniable that you are of two audacious schismatics, as I'am satisfied that you are Churches specifically different ? Certainly a body Papists. What! must I be a Papist on such grounds politic is specified from the summa potestas. And as these ? Must I believe because you tell me so, therefore, if the French make a council, the summa that all the most conscionable heavenly Christians potestas, the sovereign power, and the Italians make that I am intimately acquainted with are upsanctithe pope the sovereign, and a third party make the fied, ungodly, and in a state of damnation? When I pope and council conjunct only, the sovereign, are am a witness of the earnest breathings of their souls not here undeniably several Churches specifically dif- after more communion with God—when they would ferent?
not live in one of those sins that you call venial, for And then you have another deceit for the salving all the world; when they mortified the flesh, and live of all this, that increaseth my disaffection. You in the Spirit, and wait for Christ's appearance: and glory in your present judge of controversies, and tell yet that such as the Papist shall be saved that are so us it is no wonder if we be all in pieces that have no far below them, because they believe in the pope of such judge. And what the better are you for your Rome? Why, you may almost as well persuade me judge, when he cannot or dare not decide your con- to become a Papist, by telling me that you have eyes troversies? No; he dare not determine this funda- in your heads, and 'noses on your faces, and the rest mental controversy, whether himself or a council be of the world have none. Doth Christ say, “ He that! the sovereign power, for fear of losing the French believeth and repenteth shall be saved;" and must I and those that join with them. So that it must re- believe that all Protestants shall be damned, let them main but dogma theologicum and no point de fide, believe and repent never so much? This is to bid me what is the summa protestas; and yet all that is de fide; cease to believe Christ that I may believe the pope even our Christianity and salvation, must be resolved -cease to be a Christian that I may become a Papist. into it? And doth not this directly tend to Infide- | I am confident that I shall never be Papist, if it may lity? Would you have serious Christians deliver up not be done but by believing that all the godly that themselves to such a maze as this for the obtaining of I am acquainted with are ungodly, and in the way to unity? What the better are you for a judge of con- hell. troversy, in all those hundreds of differences that are And (to speak of the quantity as well as the quality) among yourselves, when your judge either cannot or I feel a kind of universal charity within me, extend. will not determine themAre not we as well with- | ing to a Christian as a Christian, and, therefore, to all! out him as you are with him? Plain things that are the Christians in the world, which will not give me past controversy have no need of your judge! It is leave to believe if a hundred popes should swear it, no controversy with us whether Christ be the Mes- that the far greatest part of Christians shall be siah; whether he rose, ascended, and will. judge the damned, because they are not subjects to the pope ! world; and if we go to darker points, your own judge The Papists are but a handful of the Christians in the will say nothing or worse. Why do you cry out so world, at least the smaller part by far! The most much against expounding the Scripture otherwise of them never acknowledged the sovereignty of your than according to the sense of the Church, when your pope. And a few ages ago, before Mohammedanism Church will give you no interpretation of them? Do and Heathenism diminished the number of Christians not your expositors differ about many hundred texts in Asia and Africa, the Papists were but a small proof Scripture, and neither pope nor council will decide portion. There are but lately taken off from the the controversies? These are, therefore, mere delu- Christian religion, it is probable, twice as many as all sions of the world, with the empty name of a judge the Papists in the whole world: if it were but the of controversies. And, indeed, you sometimes show kingdoms of Nubia and Tenduc, how far would they yourselves that you have no such high conceit of your go on this account? A bishop of your own, and le pope (whatever you would make the world believe) gate of the popes that dwelt in those countries, saith, as to trust his judgment.
that the Christians in the easterly part of Asia alone But yet I have not come to that point of your exceeded in multitude the Christians both of the schism which above all things in the world doth Greek and Latin Churches. And which is more, the alicnate my mind from your profession; and that is whole Church, for many hundred years after Christ, your separation from all other Christians in the were far from being the subjects of the pope of