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OBJECTIONS

TO SOME OF THE

CAPITAL DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY,

ANSWERED UPON THB

PRINCIPLES OF COMMON SENSE.

OBJECTIONS

TO SOME OF THE

CAPITAL DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY,

ANSWERED UPON THE

PRINCIPLES OF COMMON SENSE.

The Scriptures address themselves to the common sense of mankind, and speak, as far as the nature of the subjects will admit, in such térms as are commonly made use of. We ought, therefore, to make use of our common sense in interpreting the Scriptures : not to teach the Almighty what it is fit for him to reveal, but to understand the meaning of what he has revealed : and a proper application of the inaxims which common sense dictates will, I think, remove some of the principal difficulties contained in the system of Christianity.

The chief objections which lie against the christian scheme, according to the best observation I have been able to make, are those which the doctrines of original sin, and the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, give rise to.

It seems, at first sight, contrary to reason, that men should be depraved or holy in consequence of some exterior influence, something which does not originate from themselves. It seems, in such a case, as if men could not help being sinful or righteous ; whereas, common sense dictates, that nothing is good or bad in a man which is involuntary, or has no connexion with his own choice.

These appear to me to be the fundamental objections against the christian religion. The rest are either raised against other doctrines connected with these, chiefly on account of that connexion; or are the effect of antipathy to the purity of its moral precepts.

The following propositions contain a plain answer to these objections.

Proposition I. No man can justly be re

quired to do what is, properly speaking, out of his power; that is, what he cannot do, though he were ever so well inclined, and used ever such efforts to effect.

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This maxim is so plain a dictate of common sense, that it may seem needless to add any thing by way of illustrating or confirming it. But as I shall have occasion to make much use of it, and as the force of the terms in which it is expressed, may not be obvious to every reader; I shall add a few words to confirm its truth, and shall endeavour to remove all ambiguity from the expressions.

The Apostle St. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians concerning the measure of their liberality, builds his reasoning upon this maxim. • If there be a willing mind,” says he, “it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians viii. 12. There is no man, I believe, who can doubt of the reasonableness of this determination; and I would beg of any one who entertains the least scruple with respect to the proposition 1 have above laid down, to ask himself, why this determination is reasonable. Is it not because no one can justly be required to do what is out his power? Suppose, for a moment, that the Apostle had made a contrary determination, and had

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