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of error end here. They may indeed find more difficulty in giving up the name of Christianity than its truths, but the same impulse which beforepressed them forwards, still urges them on. The regions of darkness lie open and interminable before them; they have only to continue to admit nothing contrary to their reason, and the divine government and the divine existence will appear to them encumbered with still greater absurdities than the revealed religion which they have left far behind; and they will arrive at the ultimate bourne to which their philosophic strength of mind is conducting them,a grave without a resurrection, and a world with
out a God. //
OPPOSITION BETWEEN THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE.--THE VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE. – II. PRACTICAL INFIDELS MANY ; SPECULATIVE FEw. —III. INFIDELITY, ANCIENT AND MODERN.— IV. SPIN0ZA, OR ANTI-SUPERNATURAL PANTHEIsM. —v. BAYLE, OR AcADEMIC DOUBTs.-vi. HUME, OR ABSOLUTE SCEPTICISM.–VII. VOLTAIRE, OR RIDICULE.—VIII. GIBBON, OR HISTORICAL SCEPTICISM.–IX. ROUSSEAU, OR SENTIMENTAL INFIDELITY.-X. PECULIAR ARGUMENT FOR CHRISTIANITY FROM INFIDEL WRITINGS.—XI. FIRST SOURCE OF INFIDELITY –THE CORRUPTION OF THE HEART. —XII. SECOND SOURCE, THE NARROWNESS OF THE UNDERSTANDING...— XIII. THIRD SOURCE, THE IMPERFECTION OF KNOWLEDGE.-XIV. PROOFS OF CHRISTIANITY PERMANENT ; OBJECTIONS VARYING...—XV. EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY INDEBTED TO UNEELIEVERS.–XVI. INCREASE OF INFIDELITY. —XVII. CONSEQUENT INCREASE OF CHRISTIANITY.
MAN upon this earth is placed in a state of trial;
and the essence of his probation consists in having to choose between a small present advantage, and a large future one ; while, by the constitution of his mind, that which is minute and present as powerfully affects his senses, as that which is great and remote does his understanding. Thus, to those who live by sense, and not by truth, the future is sacrificed to the present, in things which relate solely to this earthly and sensible life. Much greater are the temptations, when the advantages we pursue are invisible and future. Then, a gratification, within our immediate reach, though its pleasure be acknowledged to be base as well as perishing, assumes greater attractions to the eye of sense, than the solid and ever-during happiness of heaven. Thus unbelief is natural to the animal and sensible life of man. We require no arguments to make us sceptical concerning futurity. We have only to neglect the evidences upon which the importance of future and invisible advantages rest, and the fleeting and shadowy scene around us displaces from our minds the thought of any more durable existence, and engrosses every care. On the contrary, it requires a perpetual effort of mind to overcome the true “Maya,” or delusion of the finite intellect, the perpetual error that whatever is near to us is great and important, and that whatever is remote is also insignificant. The mind as well as the eye must be making continual allowance for the diminishing effects of distance, if it would enter into the true order and proportion of things. II. Thus, practical infidels are many. It is the besetting temptation of the human mind to care only for present and earthly things; to walk in a vain show, and disquiet itself in vain, regardless of those unseen glories which are realised, even now, to the view of faith, and which, to the conviction of the most sensual and sceptical, eternity will speedily disclose. In the meantime, there are multitudes, who, though they verbally assent to the truths of Christianity, and would reject with disgust any arguments which were brought against them, are no more affected by them than if they were the veriest fables. They contrive, without the aid of infidelity, to live with a philosophic indifference to futurity. The things of time and sense occupy their minds entirely, and free them from every thought and every concern about the invisible, as completely, and even more so, than if they were masters of every sceptical argument which has been adduced against Christianity from the days of Celsus to those of Voltaire. The infidels who were made so by reflection, when collected and embodied together from every age and country, shrink into nothing when compared with the multitudes, who under the silent but effectual teaching of their fallen nature, have, without disputing or sophisms, taken this world as their portion, and have turned their back on the gracious invitations of the Gospel. Speculative infidels, though comparatively few, yet being more clamorous and busy, excite a much larger share of attention, than the multitudes whose silent denial is passed over almost unnoticed, and when infidels are mentioned, the mind naturally turns to the writers who have passed from the quiescent state of unbelief, to assail revelation with their arguments, or cover it with their ridicule. Infidels may be divided into the ancient and modern, or those before and after the establishment of Popery. There is a great difference between them. Generally speaking, the ancient infidels admitted the miracles of the Saviour. The infidel Jews attributed them first to Beelzebub, afterwards to the possession of the secrets of the Cabala. The Gentiles, without rejecting the miracles of Jesus, excused themselves for not submitting to the Christian religion, by alleging the greater wonders said to have been wrought by Esculapius or other deities, The philosophers who opposed Christianity, sought to disparage rather than invalidate the works performed by the Saviour, and attempted to depreciate them, in comparison with the marvellous stories, which were feigned of their ancient sages, and by discoursing of the supernatural powers that might be obtained by intercourse with the demons. Thus, the admissions of the earliest opponents of Christi