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The Discourses contained in this volume may be considered as supplemental to those which I delivered in England relating to the same subject, just before I left that country, and which have been re-printed in this. Being requefted to preach in this city, I thought I could not make choice of
subjects more unexceptionable, or more useful, than of such as relate to the evidences of revealed religion, in an age abounding with unbelievers, many of whom have become so merely for want of better information. Being unwilling to go over the same ground that I had been upon before, I have made these discourses interfere as little as possible with the former. Some of the same observations will, no doubt, be found in both; but they are not many, and of such particular importance, that they cannot be too much impressed on the minds of Christians.
As I had no intention of publishing these discourses, at least at this time, I did not note the authorities I have made use of in them, as there could not have been any propriety, or use, in reciting them from the pulpit; and being at a distance from my library, I cannot add them now. But they are such I am confident, no person at all acquainted with the fubjects will call in question. They were by no means originally collected by myself. The far greater part of them have been frequently quoted, and their accuracy never disputed. I had little to do befides collecting, arranging, and applying them, in a manner somewhat more adapted to my present pura pose. The greater part of them will be found in Leland's Necesity of Revelation, Young's Discourses on Revelation the Cure of Superstition, and the Letters of some Jews to Voltaire, all which works I would recommend to the attentive perusal of my readers. The doctrines of the heathen philosophers were almost all copied verbatim from Brucker's Hiftory of Philosophy abridged by Dr. Enfield, a truly valuable, accurate, and well digested work. The account of the Grecian oracles, and various of their superstitions, will be found of it as ap
* in Potter's Antiquities of Greece, a common, but most excellent work.
The Second Part of Mr. Paine's Age of Reason being published in this city during the delivery of these Discourses, I thought proper to animadvert upon such parts peared to me most deserving of notice. I had once thought of replying to this part of the work more at large, as I did to the first
part; but I afterwards thought that affertions so extravagant and ill-founded as Mr. Paine's generally are, may be safely left to have their full effect, as it can only be upon the minds of persons so extremely ignorant and prejudiced, that no refutation would be attended to by them, so that it would only be throwing pearls before swine.
So great is Mr. Paine's ignorance with respect to subjects of this nature, that he maintains, page 35, that the book of Job has “ all the circumstantial evidences of being an « original book of the Gentiles," principally because he finds in it the mention of Orion, ArEturus, and the Pleiades, which are Greek words; when these terms occur only in translations, those in the original being quite dif
ferent. Surely he had access to some unbelievers, who could have informed him better.
Without deigning to reply to any thing that had been advanced against the first part of his work, Mr. Paine in this proceeds with an air of infolent triumph, as if all the advocates of revelation lay prostrate at his feet, whereas they are looking down upon him, and feel no emotions but those of pity for himself, and his deluded followers, the blind led by the blind.
There are, however, unbelievers more ige norant than Mr. Paine. M. Volney, Laquinio, and others in France, say that there never was such a person as Jesus Christ, and therefore, though they may have heard that there are such books as those of the New Testament, I conclude that they cannot have read them. Surely such ignorance as this does not mark the Age of Reafon.
I have more than once observed that the disbelief of revelation makes the belief of the being of God of no practical use, and that it has, in Francé, led to fpeculative atheism. In a tract published at Paris in 1793, entitled A Letter to a Senfible Woman, is the following parapraph, p. 25. 6
“ Theism is an opinion respectable for the “ genius, and the virtues, of men who have " embraced it” (referring in a note to. Socrates and Rousseau), “no less than for the
advantage which this first step towards “ reafon, on abandoning the prejudices of in“ fancy, has been of to mankind. But, afe “ ter all, it is but a first step, and no persons “ would stop there, if they would frankly give
way to the impulse they have received. “ No person remains in this intermediate
system but through want of reflection, ti
midity, passion, or obstinacy. Time, expe“rience, and an impartial examination of our
ideas, will undeceivę us. Voltaire, who “ was long the apostle of theism, profelled to “ doubt towards the close of his life, and re
pented that he had been too confident. " Many others have experienced the same.”
If, then, any person be in a state of mind in which he is shocked at the idea of absolute atheism, let him pause before he abandon revelation, and give way to what this writer calls the first impulse. But on no account let any obstruction be laid in the way of free enquiry. With the apostle (1 Theff.