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destination, election, and grace; were words upon which he had often heard the changes rung, without deriving any information which his reafon could approve. He had read how widely the Christian world had differed in their opinions concerning the religion they taught; and the horrid fcenes of inhuman cruelty which thofe differences had occafioned but he could not conceive, how a religion which had, as all true religions must have, morality for its basis, could tolerate, much lefs fuggeft, encourage and approve enormities which justly rendered it the deteftation of the most senfible Pagans; and therefore he concluded that ambition, luft, and avarice, clad in prieftly robes, had in the Chriftian, church (as they before had done in most others) misled, fatally misled the bulk of mankind by fubduing their reafon; palming upon them their own abfurd, unintelligible, diabolical dogmas, as the equitable, clear, divine precepts of their God. But ftill a difficulty remained;---if the Christian, which he apprehended was an oral law grafted upon the Mofaic, was taught by the Son of God in a clear and explicit manner fo as not to be mistaken, and recorded by four witneffes under divine inspiration; how mankind, with those records in their hands, could be fo deceived; and how it was that there ftill fubfifted fuch a diverfity of opinions, each of which, however contradictory to others, derived fupport from fome portion of the faid records called the Scriptures. A ftrict, free, and impartial examination, of thofe fcriptures, was the only method by which those difficulties could be removed, and by which only he could justly determine his future conduct with refpect to religious ceremonies. This method he pursued with an unbiaffed mind in fearch of truth; and a fincere defire to promote the honour of God: and the refult has been------That the faid fcriptures contain many things which appear to be untrue, contradictory to reason, and derogatory to the honour
of God: a founded fuppofition that those offensive matters were not in the original scriptures, but have been interpolated by wicked or ignorant men: and a plain perception that those interpolations, with precedents founded upon them, have misled the compilers of the feveral fervices for the Proteftant church, fo as to render its religion neither plain, confiftent, or rational.------And these confiderations have induced him to withdraw himself from that church whofe ceremonies he cannot go through, as he thinks, without facrificing truth, fincerity, and the honour of God: which, with gratitude and contrition, are certainly the effence of devotion.
If in this examination, the author hath mistated any facts; he avers that it was not designedly: if he hath drawn any false conclufions from the general or particular premifes, he is open to conviction, and will readily retract them and if he hath determined wrong with respect to his own conduct resulting from this enquiry; he will gratefully acknowledge his great obligation to any that will fet him right. But if none of these can be proved; and the author is not materially wrong, his ardent wish and fincere hope is, that those who have power or influence may promote and obtain another reformation, whereby the Christian religion, through the medium of reason, may the general and approved profeffion of all mankind,
July 21, 1787.
THE Tranflator flatters himself, he has done justice to the original. A copy of the French was put into his hands by a dignified clergyman at Paris, at the fame time, recommending it in terms of strong approbation. This induced him upon his return to Geneva, where (though an Englishman) he has refided fome time for the benefit of his health, to read it with attention. He found it at once candid and powerfully convincing. It is really aftonishing that the abfurdities and contradictions which this writer has pointed out, have not been expofed before; the author, upon enquiry, appears to have been for many years an eminent Silk manufacturer at Lyons, where he acquired a fortune, and is now retired to the neighbourhood of BERN, in Switzerland, where he can, without dread of arbitrary power, or listening to the abfurd opinions of bigots, give REASON (as he has done in this work) fair play.
January 1, 1789.