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the doctrine of incommensurables, and of an infinity of infinites, each infinitely greater, or infinitely less, not only than any infinite quantity, but than each other. In physics, you cannot comprehend the primary cause of any thing; not of the light by which you see; nor of the elasticity of the air, by which you hear; nor of the fire, by which you are warmed. In physiology, you cannot tell what first gave motion to the heart; nor what continues it; nor why its motion is less. voluntary than that of the lungs; nor why you are able to move your arm to the right or left, by simple volition; you cannot explain the cause of animal heat; nor comprehend the principle by which your body was at first formed, nor by which it is sustained, nor by which it will be reduced to earth. In natural religion, you cannot comprehend the eternity or omnipresence of the deity; nor easily understand how his presence can be consistent with your freedom, or his immutability with his government of moral agents; nor why. he did not make all his creatures equally perfect; nor why he did not create them sooner: in short, you cannot look into any branch of knowledge, but you will meet with subjects above your comprehension. The fall and the redemption of human kind, are not more incomprehensible, than the creation and the conservation of the universe; the infinite author of the works of Providence, and of nature, is equally inscrutable, equally past our finding out in them both. And it is somewhat remakable, that the deepest inquirers into nature, have ever thought with most reverence,
and spoken with most confidence, concerning those things, which, in revealed religion, may seem hard to be understood; they have ever avoided that self-sufficiency of knowledge, which springs from ignorance, produces indifference, and ends in infidelity. Admirable to this purpose, is the reflection of the greatest mathematician of the present age, when he is combating an opinion of Newton's, by an hypothesis of his own, still less defensible than that which he opposes;-Tous -les jours que je vois de ces esprits-forts, qui critiquent les vérités de notre religion, et s'en mocquent même avec la plus impertinente suffisance, je pense, chétifs mortels! combien et combien des choses sur lesquels vous raisonnez si légèrement, sont-elles plus sublimes, et plus elevés, que celles sur lesquelles le grand Newton s'égare si grossièrement?
Plato mentions a set of men, who were very ignorant, and thought themselves supremely wise; and who rejected the argument for the being of a God, derived from the harmony and order of the universe, as old and trite; there have been men, it seems, in all ages, who in affecting singularity, have overlooked truth: an argument, however, is not the worse for being old; and surely it would have been a more just mode of reasoning, if you had examined the external evidence for the truth of Christianity, weighed the old arguments from miracles, and from prophecies, before you had rejected the whole account, from the difficulties you met with in it. You would laugh at an Indian, who, in peeping into a history of England, and meeting with the mention
of the Thames being frozen, or of a shower of hail, or of snow, should throw the book aside, as unworthy of his further notice, from his want of ability to comprehend these phenomena.
PREVALENCe of infidelITY, WITH A SPECIMEN OF ITS WEAKNESS IN THE UNBELIEVER'S CREED.
THE publication of lord Bolingbroke's posthumous works has given new life and spirit to freethinking. We seem at present to be endeavouring to unlearn our catechism, with all that we have been taught about religion, in order to model our faith to the fashion of his lordship's system. We have now nothing to do, but to throw away our Bibles, turn the churches into theatres, and rejoice that an act of parliament, now in force, gives us an opportunity of getting rid of the clergy by transportation. I was in hopes the extraordinary price of those volumes would have confined their influence to persons of quality. As they are placed above extreme indigence and absolute want of bread, their loose notions would have carried them no further than cheating at eards, or perhaps plundering their country: but if these opinions spread among the vulgar, we shall be knocked down at noon-day in our streets, and nothing will go forward but robberies and murders.
The instances I have lately seen of free-think ing in the lower part of the world, make me fear, they are going to be as fashionable and as wicked
as their betters. I went the other night to the Robin Hood, where it is usual for the advocates against religion to assemble and openly avow their infidelity. One of the questions for the night was, 'Whether lord Bolingbroke had not done greater services to mankind by his writings, than the apostles or evangelists?-As this society is chiefly composed of lawyers' clerks, petty tradesmen, and the lowest mechanics, I was at first surprized at such amazing erudition among them. Toland, Tindal, Collins, Chubb, and Mandeville, they seemed to have got by heart. A shoemaker harangued his five minutes upon the -excellence of the tenets maintained by lord Bolingbroke; but I soon found that his reading had not been extended beyond the idea of a patriot king, which he had mistaken for a glorious -system of free-thinking. I could not help smiling at another of the company, who took pains to show his disbelief of the gospel by unsainting the apostles, and calling them by no other title than plain Paul or plain Peter. The proceedings of this society have indeed almost induced me to wish that (like the Roman Catholics) they were not permitted to read the Bible, rather than that they should read it only to abuse it.
I have frequently heard many, wise tradesmen settling the most important articles of our faith over a pint of beer. A baker took occasion, from Canning's affair, to maintain, in opposition to the Scriptures, that man might live by bread alone, at least that woman might; for else, said he, how could the girl have been supported for a whole -month by a few hard crusts? In answer to this,
a barber-surgeon set forth the improbability of that story; and thence inferred, that it was impossible for our Saviour to have fasted forty days in the wilderness. I lately heard a midshipman swear, that the Bible was all a lie; for he had sailed round the world with lord Anson, and if there had been any Red Sea he must have met with it. I know a bricklayer who, while he was working by line and rule, and carefully laying one brick upon another, would argue with a fellow-labourer, that the world was made by chance; and a cook, who thought more of his trade than his Bible, in a dispute concerning the miracles, made a pleasant mistake about the first, and gravely asked his antagonist what he thought of the supper at Cana.
This affectation of free-thinking among the lower class of people, is at present happily confined to the men. On Sundays, while the husbands are toping at the alehouse, the good women, their wives, think it their duty to go to church, say their prayers, bring home the text, and hear the children their catechism. But our polite ladies are, I fear, in their lives and conversations, little better than free-thinkers. Going to church, since it is now no longer the fashion to carry on intrigues there, is almost wholly laid aside: and I verily believe, that nothing but another earthquake can fill the churches with people of quality. The fair sex in general are too thoughtless to concern themselves in deep inquiries into matters of religion. It is sufficient that they are taught to believe themselves angels. It would therefore be an ill compliment, while we talk of the heaven they bestow, to persuade them into the Mahome