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that is calculated to afford them present indulgence, and free them from apprehensions of future danger. THOMAS PAINE's deistical principles may buoy up the minds of persons
this character, while health and prosperity smile upon them, but they will generally fail us in seasons of adversity, and especially in the views of approaching dissolution * Give me a Religion that will stand by me at all seasons, in prosperity and adversity, in sickness and health, in time and eternity. [ would not give a rush for Religion, which will only serve my turn when the sunshine of worldly favour illumines my steps, and fail me when I stand in the greatest need of its support, This is the case with Deism, as many have found to their ex treme sorrow, wben the eternal world drew near, and dawned upon their astonished sight. More than one of the unhappy Mutineers, who have lately been executed on board his Majesty's ships of war, found themselves in this awful predicament, as their fate approached. Corrupted by Paine's Age of Reason, when they conceived themselves free from danger, they gloried in their shame; but when the King of Terrors came to stare them in the face, they saw their folly, repented, believed, and trembled in the views of the eternal world. Different, indeed, was the conduct of many other of these unhappy men, some of whom were, apparently at least, equally regardless of life or of death. So we read of multitudes of our fellow creatures both in our own, and in a neighbouring country, who, set free from the salutary restraints of Religion, and the government of the Divine: Being, by a daring and uncontrouled spirit of Infidelity, destroy themselves, and rush into the presence of the ALMIGHTY without dismay +.
* "You have been used," said good Mr. M. Henry, a little before his death, to a friend, " to take notice of the sayiogs of dying men. This is mine, 'tliat a life spent in the service of God, and communion with him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that any one can live in this world.”
† The general practice of duelling, among the higher orders of 'society in this country, is a sure indication, that a spirit of Infidelity is alarmingly gone abroad. A Christian fight a duel? Impossible! True valour forbids it. And to mend the maiter, upon the Lord's day too! Still more impossible! Every principle of his religion prowore reasonable and becoming surely is the conduct of those who, when brought to a sense of their sin and folly, fear and tremble before this DREAD SOVEREIGN., This seeins to have been the case with the late Lord P This NOBLEMAN after he turned Deist, took every opportunity to shew his contempt of Religion. The clergyman and parishioners of the place where his Lordship's seat in Northamptonshire stood, usually passed in sight of the house in their way to church. At the time of going and returning, he frequently ordered his children and servants into the hall, for the vile purpose of laughing at and ridiculing them. He pursued this course for some time, but at length drew near the close of life. Upon his dying pillow his views were altered. He found, that, however his former sentiments might suit him in health, they could not support him in the hour of dissolution; when in the cold arms of Death, the terrors of the ALMIGHTY were heavy upon him. Painful remembrance brought to view ten thousand insults offered to that God, at whose bar he was shortly to stand; and conscience being strongly impressed with the solemnity of that day, be but too justly feared that the God he had insulted would then consign him to destruction. With his mind thus agitated, he called to a person in the room, and desired him “ to go into the library, and fetch the cuRSED BOOK,” meaning that which had made him a Deist. He went, but returned, saying he could not find it. The NobleMan then cried with vehemence, that “he inust go again, and look till he did find it, for he could not die till it was destroyed.” The person having at last met with it, gave it into his hands. It was no sooner committed to him, than he tore it
hibits the impious deed.-How much pain of mind did not the conduct of a certain most respectable character give, to all the serious part of the nation, on a late unhappy occasion of this sort? Religion, good morals, sound policy, true patriotism, all forbad the unchristian rencounter.- Stake his life against the life of a
! Were we to act thus in common life, a state of confinement would be thought essentially necessary for our welfare, and the public good.- Can nothing be done, no measures taken, to put a stop to this infamous practice, this pational opprobrium?--- Let those whom it concerns consider,
to pieces with mingled horror and revenge, and committed it to the flames. Having thus taken vengeance on the instrument of his own ruin, he soon after breathed his soul into the hands of his CREATOR*.
Affecting as this example is, that of a WILLIAM Poře, of Bolton in Lancashire, is much more so. At this place there is a considerable number of deistical persons, who assemble together on Sundays to contirm each other in their Infidelity. The oaths and imprecations which are uttered in that meeting are too horrible to relate, while they toss the Word of God upon the floor, kick it round the buse, and tread it under their feet. This WILLIAM POPE, who bad been a steady Methodist for some years, became at length a professed Deist, and joined himself to this hellish crew. Atter he had been an associate of this company some time, he was taken ill, and the nature of bis complaint was such, that he confessed the hand of God was upon him, and declared he longed to die, that he might go to hell: many times praymg earnestly for damnation. Two of the Methodist preachers, Messrs. Rhodes and BARROW CLOUCH, were sent for to talk to and pray with the unhappy man. But he was so far from being thankful for their advice and assistance, that he spit in their faces, threw at them whatever he could kay bis hands upon, struck one of them upon the head with all his might, and often cried out, when they were praying, LORD, do not hear their prayers! If they said, Lord, sade his soul! He cried, LORD, damn my soul! often adding, My damnation is sealed, and I long to be in hell! In this way he continued, sometimes better, and sometimes worse, till he died. He was frequently visited by his deistical brethren daring his illness, who would fain have persuaded the public he was out of his senses ; which was by no means the case. The writer of this account saw the unhappy man once, but never desired to see him again. Mr. Rhodes justly said, He was as fall of the devil as he could hold. This melancholy business happened in the course
* See Evan. Mag. for June 1797, where it is declared this anecdote may be depended upon, as it came from the lips of a personi who was present at the scene,
of the present year, and made a great noise in the town and neighbourhood of Bolton*,
These are shocking instances of the dreadful effects of Iní delity upon the minds of our fellow-creatures, in those seasons when we stand in most need of support and consolation. If living witnesses to the truth and importance of Religion and the Sacred Writingst might have any consideration with such of my readers as are deistically inclined, I could produce many of the first characters of the age, from among all the contending denominations of Christians. The late JACOB BRYANT, Esq. who was unquestionably one of the deepest inquirers into the original of things, and, NO PRIEST, bath not only written a treatise professedly to prove the authenticity of the New Testament, but hath also, in another of his learned investigations, made the following declaration in favour of these incomparable and invaluable writings:
“ This investigation” (a work written to prove that Troy never existed) “ ( more readily undertook, as it affords an excellent contrast with the Sacred Writings. The more we search
* Mr. RHỌdes has since published an account of the sickness and death of thiş unhappy man in the Methodist Magazine, for August 1798, which is one of the most affecting on record.
† It becomes every objector to the Sacred Writings to reflect, that “ the moral and natural evils in the world were not introduced by the Gospel ; why then must the Gospel be called upon to account for them, rather than any other Religion, or sect of philosophy? If there never had been an Old Testament, never a New one, mankind would have been at least as corrupt and miserable as they are at present. What harm then have the Old and New Testament done to you, that you perpetually challenge them to account to you for the evil you suffer? You dislike perhaps the story of ADAM and Eve, and can by na means digest the account of the Serpent's tempting, and prevailing against our first parents: very well; let this account be laid aside, and what are you now the better? Is there not the same Evil remaining in the world, whether you believe, or believe not the story of the Fall? And if so, what account do you pretend to give of it? For if you pretend to any Religion, you are as liable to be called to this account, as any professor or teacher of the Gospel. No body is exempt in this case, but the Atheist; and his privilege comes from hence, that he has no account to give of any thing; for all dificulties are alike upon his scheme."-SHERLOCK an Prophecy, p. 233.
into the very ancient records of Rome or Greece, the greater darkness and uncertainty ensue.' None of them can stand the test of elose examination. Upon
Upon a minute inspection, all becomes dark and doubtful, and often inconsistent: but when we encounter the Sacred Volume, even in parts of far higher antiquity, the deeper we go, the greater treasure we find. The various parts are so consistent, that they afford mutual illustration; and the more earnestly we look, the greater light accrues, and consequently the greater satisfaction. So it has always appeared to me, who have looked diligently, and examined; and I trust I have not been mistaken*."
Various similar testimonies have been adduced in the course
* “ When I was in camp with the Duke of MARLBOROUGH," says this truly learned and respectable man, in another place, “an officer of my acquaintance desired me, upon my making a short excursion, to take him with me in my carriage. Our conversation was rather desultory, as is usual upon such occasions; and among other things, he asked me, rather abruptly, what were my notions about Religion. I answered evasively, or at least indeterininately, as his enquiry seemed to proceed merely from an idle curiosity: and I did not see that any happy consequence could ensue from an explanation. However, some time afterwards be made a visit at my house, and stayed with me a few days. During this interval, one evening he put the question to me again; and at the same time added, that he should be really obliged if I would give him my thoughts in general upon the subject. Upon this I turned towards him, and after a short pause told him that my opinion lay in a small compass: and he should have it in as compendious a manner as the subject would permit. Religion, I said, is either true, or false. This is the alternative: there is no medium. If it be the latter: merely an idle system, and a cunningly devised fable, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. The world is before us, let us take all due advantage, and choose what may seem best: for we liave no prospect of
life to come ; much less any assurances. But if Religion be a truth, it is the most serious truth of any with which we can possibly be engaged; an article of the greatest importance. It demands our most diligent enquiry to obtain a knowledge of it; and a fixed resolution to abide by it, when obtained. For Religion teaches us, that this life bears no proportion to the life to come. You see, then, my good friend, that an alternative of the utmost consequence lies before you. Make, therefore, your election, as you may judge best; and Heaven direct
determination!He told me that he was much affected with the crisis, to which I brought the object of enquiry: and I trust that it was attended with happy consequences afterwards."