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HINTS ON THE INSUFFICIENCY
THE LIGHT OF NATURE.
The light of nature looms largely in all our treatises
the evidences of religion, forming in most of them a sort of groundwork upon which the fabric of revelation rests; and is esteemed of material importance in consulting the real glory of our nature, and its happiness through all the states of being which lie before it.
Its value is highly overrated, and that which I propose to prove, is, the utter insufficiency of unassisted reason to make those discoveries concerning God, ourselves, our duties, and our destination, which are simply necessary to our happiness, and, therefore, the absolute
need of a special communication, on all these particulars, from God himself; which communication we call Revelation.
This general position has much hostility to encounter. A great number of men, of whom there is no lack in our own country, deem what they term natural religion, or those deductions which we are able to make, by the force of our reason alone, from the works of creation and providence, concerning their Divine Author and our relations to him, and the duties required of us, to be amply sufficient for all the
purposes of instruction and blessedness.
These men are distinguished by the name of Deists, i. e. who admit the being and government of God, but utterly deny the reality or necessity of a special revelation.
Of these there are, or have been two classes, known by the names of mortal and immortal Deists; the first bearing a strong resemblance to those philosophists of the French revolution, who pronounced Death to be an eternal sleep; the second, more sober and modest, conceding the immortality of the soul and a state of future rewards and punishments. Our debate is chiefly with these, the mortal Deists being rather Atheists than any thing else, (and for an Atheist I know of no more suitable argument than a shaven head and a blistering cap-a straight waistcoat and a maniac's cell.)
There is great and confident talk about natural religion even in the Christian world. The advocates of it here, it is true, expressly deny its sufficiency to lead men to eternal happiness; but they make it to contain a great many
fundamental truths, and represent them as the discoveries of mere reason. The effect has been, and must be, the converting of the schools of natural religion and moral philosophy into mere hotbeds of Deism; and thus, with the very best intentions, good and upright men have in various parts of the world been undermining the foundations of that divine religion which is taught in the scriptures.
But that we may not do these worthy men injustice, we must remove a mistake into which they have fallen in supposing that the scriptures bear them out in their doctrine of this natural religion.
They read in their Bibles that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork. They read that that which
may be known of God is manifest in them who hold the truth in righteousness, because God hath showed it unto them: (For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhcad :) so
THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE.