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and adultery ;-I do not ask if he is dissatisfied with the Christian evidence.
I see a third, after composing a work full of hypocrisy and deceit on the subject of religion, publishing it to the world on the persuasion of having heard a voice from heaven. I observe another explaining away the historical narrative of the Old Testament as a mere mystical representation of the signs of the zodiac. I see a late noble poet betraying throughout his profligate writings, caprice and vanity; self-conceit and misanthropy, together with an abandonment of all moral feeling.--I want no one to explain to me the sources of the unbelief of such writers.?
I turn to our modern historians, and I mark their blunders in whatever relates to religion, their inconsistencies, their misrepresentations, the impurities which defile their pages, their vanity and self-confidence, and the malice and spleen with which they pursue the followers of Christ.-I ask no further questions.
I open the works of the German infidels, and find the index of their true temper in the follies and absurdities with which they are content to forsake all common sense in their comments on the sacred text, and to exhibit themselves as the gazing-stocks of Christendom.'
5 Lord Herbert. 6 Sir W. Drummond. 7 Lord Byron.
& Hume and Gibbon.
I cast my eye on the flippancy of the French school of irreligion, and see such entire ignorance of the simplest points of religious knowledge, such gross impurities, connected with blasphemies which I dare not repeat. I see such an obvious attempt to confound truth and falsehood on the most important of all subjects, and such a bitterness of scorn, a sort of personal rancour, against the Christian religion and its divine Founder, as to betray most clearly the cause in which they are engaged. I take the confession of one of their number, and ask whether, in such a temper of mind, any religious question could be soundly determined ? “I have consulted our philosophers, I have perused their books, I have examined their several opinions, I have found them all proud, positive, and dogmatical, even in their pretended scepticism; knowing every thing, proving nothing, and ridiculing one another."...“If our philosophers were able to discover truth, which of them would interest himself about it? There is not one of them, who if he could distinguish truth from falsehood, would not preser his own error to the truth that is discovered by another. Where is the philosopher, who for his own glory would
9 The German Neologists.
not willingly deceive
the whole human
race ?” 10
If from the literary and scientific unbelievers, we turn to THE UNIN FORMED AND NEGLIGENT CLASS OF YOUNG PERSONS, who have imbibed, or profess to have imbibed, the tenets of scepticism, what is their state of mind ? I do not ask what are their arguments—those we may hereafter notice--but I ask what is their obvious temper of mind? In what sort of disposition have they approached the sacred subject? Have they ever shown a single mark of docility and candour ? Have they ever taken pains, serious pains, about the question ? Have they ever acquired any sound information on the subject of religion? Have they ever made themselves thoroughly acquainted with the New Testament? Do they know what the Christianity is which they oppose? Is there any thing of devotion, and a spirit of prayer to the great and glorious God, to illuminate and guide their minds? What is their spirit and temper? This, this is the key. Ask their parents, their families, their neighbourhoods. The case speaks for itself. Their unbelief is not the result of honest and laborious enquiry, but the careless vanity and indifference of a mind inflated and corrupted by immoral pleasure, and which has
10 Rousseau, Emile, liv. iv. p. 264, 5.
never seriously examined the subject. They have glided into infidelity by the lapse of time and the current of the passions. They are not, properly speaking, unbelievers. They do not know enough of the Bible. Their vices and pride have occasioned doubts indeed, but they dare not trust to them; their ignorance has adopted these doubts, but they do not understand them. Their vanity boasts of these doubts, but they are not able to make them a resource."
If from this vapid class we turn to the low AND PROFANE, and what I may call, without a breach of charity, the RUFFIAN unbelief which is propagated among the dregs of society in the present day, shall I stop to insult the ears of a devout audience, by asking, whether the obvious temper of mind which animates them, and which, if it were to spread, would break out into open violence against the peace of society, can consist with a dispassionate and candid search after religious truth? What, when I see all the first principles of our moral nature outraged, the foundations of virtue overturned, civil order and subjection openly invaded, and adultery and assassination vindicated-what, when I see the most daring blasphemies vomited forth in the face of day, not against the God of the
11 See a noble Sermon of Massillon, Carême, Mardi de la Quatrième Semaine, Des doutes sur la Religion.
Bible only, but against the God of nature- did I say against the God of nature?—Alas! they deny the very being of a God, and have proceeded to the frightful and unparalleled impiety of exhibiting to public view a wretched caricature.-I use the only appropriate word to describe the fact—nothing else than a wretched caricature—with the design of ridiculing the ineffable glory and attributes of that omniscient God, before whose face the earth and the heavens flee away, and no place is found for them.12
IIJ. The force of this preliminary argument against infidelity, drawn from the temper of mind which it manifests, will be increased, if
12 It will not be believed by posterity, that in the year 1827, in a public street of the metropolis of a Christian empire, a print, such as I have described, was actually exhibited. I have spoken of the writings of this class of infidels from actual knowledge. I have sent for a specimen of their books. I have looked into them. I cannot trust myself to speak of that monstrous compound of folly, absurdity, and profligacy, that disgusting mass of open irreligion—I should rather say, atheism-united with unblushing effrontery in contradicting the best-established facts, and a direct pandering to the lowest passions of the common people, which is there exhibited, and which leaves the French school of infidelity far behind it,—except as it wants the talent, the wit and elegance of style, the occasional readiness to support oppressed innocence, and the illustrations and defence of natural philosophy, which must be conceded to have belonged to some of the French infidel writers. It is a glory to Christianity to be opposed by such adversarics.