« AnteriorContinuar »
THIS IVork was completely finished, and on the point of being published by the Author, when death prevented him, in March 1799. His Executors, from motives not generally interesting, hesitated on the propriety of making the IVork public. His Son, Mr. D. Simpson, being now of age, and the Edition and Copyright belonging to him, he thinks it his duty to perform the intentions of his Father. The Author's resolution will be as highly applauded by some, -as it will be condemned by others; and had he lived to put it into execution, there are but few who would not hare lamented his resigning the sphere of uncommon usefulness in which he was placed. At the same time, the principles he had gradually imbibed rendered that step essential; and whatever may be thought of the measure itself, the sterling integrity, the manly for. titude, and the noble attachment to principle it discovers, cannot fail of exciting the highesi admiration.
London, 30th June 1802.
“ in times when erroneous and noxious tenets are diffused, “ all men should embrace some opportunity to bear their testimony against them.” It will be allowed by every dispassionate observer, that, if erroneous and noxious tenets were ever diffused among men in any age, they are eminently so in the present. I am so far, however, from considering this in the light of a misfortune to the general cause of truth, that I am persuaded purposes of the most important nature are to be answered by it, in the course of Divine PROVIDENCE. But, notwithstanding this persuasion, I have thought it my duty, in the following pages, to bear a decided testimony against some of the most pernicious of those errors which prevail among us, and to stand forward as an advocate in behalf of Religion in general, and the Sacred Writings in particular. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
One might suppose, prior to experience, Infidelity was a thing of so gloomy and uncomfortable a nature, that nó man of the least decency of character could be found, who would embark in the desperate scheme. But, when we consider the many awful threatenings recorded in the Bible against persons of a certain description, the numerous passages apparently liablo to very serious objections, the natural darkness of the human understanding, the perverseness of the human will, and the imperious calls of contending passions, we need not be surprised, that a large proportion of irreligious characters, who have little to hope from divine mercy, and much to fear from divine jus
tice, should be induced to embark in any scheme 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 of 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. I would not give a rush for a 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 supports. This is the case with Deism, as many have found to their extreme sorrow, when 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 t.
* “ You have been used,” said good Mr. M. Henry, a little before his death, to a friend,“ to take notice of the sayings of dying men. This is mine, that a life
spent in the service of God, and communion with him, is the most comfort“ able 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 matter, upon the Lord's day too! Still more impossible! Every principle of his religion prohibits 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