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a future state, are all most important truths as connected with the other peculiar doctrines of Christianity; but without these peculiar doctripes, of what practical avail are they? Where are the certain proofs of the immortality of the soul? Where the terms of pardon? Where the relief for the alarmed conscience? Where the standard of truth and duty ? Where the recovering principle to rescue from the gulf of moral ruin? Where the institutions of religion, and a provision for the instruction of mankind ?
All is a blank. Natural religion, if you set it up for a moment, totters instantly to its fall. The Deists have travelled by a torch snatched from the temple of God; but its light has been insufficient whilst it lasted, and has gone out ere they could boast of following it. To illustrate the importance of revelation, we point to the ignorance, the fluctuations, the unsanctioned and uninfluential tenets of our modern unbelievers, even when sustained and illuminated by the vicinity of the Christian doctrine, and say that if we want an additional argument to prove the absolute and indispensable necessity of a divine revelation, we have only to plant our foot upon this very spot, cultivated by modern scepticism, and show its hopeless sterility, the utter absence of life and fruitfulness there.
III. But let us now turn our eyes for a moment to THE DIFFERENT HEATHEN COUNTRIES OF THE PRESENT DAY.
'If the light of nature under any circumstances be sufficient to guide man to his duty and happiness, we shall find the proof somewhere. If the force of conscience be'capable of illuminating the path of man, we shall doubtless discover its irradiations, either in the more cultivated and civilized parts of the heathen world, or in the more unrefined. . . . .
To begin with the polished and civilized 'regions of paganism, what, I ask, is the moral and religious state of India ? Is the temple of natural religion to be found there? Does the torch of unassisted reason enlighten and sanctify those countless tribes? The dominion of Britain enables us to speak with full knowledge of the case, and we affirm that a grosser state of vice, idolatry, cruelty, and lewdness, was never seen in any of the Heathen nations before the coming of Christ. Take the testimony of the learned and accomplished Bishop Heber, 4 who not two years since thus wrote--" Of all the idolatries I ever read or heard of, the religion of the Hindoos really appears to me the worst, in the degrading notions which it gives of the Deity, in the endless round of its bur
+ Letters in Quarterly Review, No. Ixx.
thensome ceremonies”...“ in the filthy acts of uncleanness and cruelty, not only permitted but enjoined, and inseparably interwoven with those ceremonies.”—Let this trait be carefully noted, their religion inculcates, encourages, compels them to vice.-" In the total absence of any popular system of morals, or any single lesson, which the people at large ever hear, to live virtuously, and do good one to another.”— Let this again be noted. “In general all the sins which a Soodra is taught to fear are, killing a cow, offending a Brabmin, or neglecting one of the many frivolous rites by which their deities are supposed to be conciliated. Accordingly, I really never have met with a race of men whose standard of morality is so lowwho feel so little apparent shame in being detected in a falsehood, or so little interest in the sufferings of a neighbour, not being of their own cast or family, whose ordinary and familiar conversation"-mark this, I entreat you—“is so licentious, or, in the wilder and more lawless districts, who shed blood with so little repugnance. The good qualities that are among them, (and thank God there is a great deal of good among them still,) are in no instance, that I am aware of, connected with or arising out of their religion; since it is in no instance to good deeds, or virtuous habits of life, that the
future rewards in which they believe are promised.”
Such is the testimony of an eye-witness, with which all other travellers and writers of credit agree. So that the eloquent and nervous language of a distinguished statesman,' in alluding to this subject, is fully supported—“In India we behold all around us smeared with blood and polluted with lust and cruelty, scenes of such detestable barbarity as seem to be intended for the very purpose of displaying the triumpb of infidelity over all the instincts of human nature; rendering parents destroyers of their children, and children of their parents : in short, in every way of horror that can be conceived, mocking and rioting in deadly triumph over all the tender feelings of the human heart, and all the convictions of the human understanding.”
If from these we turn to the uncivilized nations of Western or Southern Africa, where shall we find the pure and virtuous self-taught people, who exhibit the law of nature in any real force, and demonstrate that revelation has little to teach them? Let any candid person peruse the accounts of the native tribes of Western Africa, from the Senegal to the Congo, or of the Hottentots from the Cape to the Tro
Mr. Wilberforce, in 1819.
pic of Capricorn, and say what it is which nature has done for them? Where are the lessons of primitive piety and virtue to be found ? Are we to look for them in the frightful idolatries, the Devil's houses, the murder of children and the aged, the indiscriminate intercourse of the sexes, the horrible cannibalism, the total want of any notion of conscience, sin, holiness—of any code of morals or sanction of duty ?
Or shall we betake ourselves to any other Heathen nations, the Pagan tribes of the Russian empire, of the North and South Americas, of the vast tracts of China, or the numerous islands of the Pacific Ocean—where,' I still ask, is the proof of the innate power of man, without the grace of revelation? Do we not see everywhere the frightful traces of depravity and misery?
And, what adds force to the whole argument, do we not see an uniformity in the vices of all the heathen nations now, with those before the promulgation of Christianity, stamping on fallen man one impress of degradation and woe! Is not the multiplication of deities in India the same as in Rome and Greece? Are not like monstrous and impure fables attached to them? Is not the infanticide of China of a similar character with that of the old world? Is there