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but which I think gives one no advantageous Opinion of the Sincerity and Candour of his Mind. He frequently speaks with great seeming Regard of our Saviour, of divine Faith, and of the Grace of God and his Holy Spirit. He makes much use of Phrases that have been employed by good Persons in a pious Sense; but it is plain, that all this is manag’d so as to expose Religion and Faith to the Derision and Contempt of Mankind. He carries the Ridicule so far, as to mix it with his Ad-, dresses to the Supreme Being. He formally pretends to offer up his most ardent Prayers in behalf of his Friend at the Throne of Grace, that God would be pleased himself to illuminate and irradi-. ate bis Mind with a perfect and thorough Conviction of the Truth of his holy Gospel; that the same Holy Spirit, that
first dičtated that divine Law, would powerfully set to his Seal, and attest its Authority in his Heart. With more to the fame purpose *.
Now, supposing what can scarce be doubted from the whole of his Pamphlet, that he does not believe the Truth and divine Original of the Gospel, and that he looks upon the Influence of the Holy Ghost to be meer absurd Cant and Enthusiasm, to pretend in a solemn manner to apply to God to illuminate him with a perfect and thorough Conviction of the Truth of his holy Gospel, and to send his Holy Spirit to attest its Authority in his Heart, seems to me to be a carrying Profaneness to a great height. Nor can I well conceive, how any Man that believes there is a Supreme Being, who is a Lover of Truth and
* P. 112.
Goodness, and who concerns himself in the Affairs of Men at all, can allow himself to be guilty of such a solemn Grimace and Mockery.
You may perhaps think this Censure a little severe ; but I cannot help adding, that it me upon the most close and impartial Consideration, that the Tendency of his Pamphlet is to destroy all Religion and Reason itself, and to take from Men all Principles of every kind, those of natural Religion as well as reveal’d. With regard to Christianity, or the Faith of the Gospel, that it is his Design to expose it to Ridicule, I think no. Man that reads his Pamphlet with any Attention can doubt. It is, according to the Representation he gives of it, such a strange and inconsistent, thing, that no Man can tell what to make of it. It is a Believing without Understanding, without rational Conviction and Evidence; a Believing we know not why, and not only without Reason, but against it. It is a Faith that has nothing to do with historical Evidence or moral Certainty, or with the Scripture-Account of Facts relating to our Saviour; a Faith that cannot be taught, and which it requires no Time to attain. And therefore no Man should trouble himielf to look for a Reason for believing, or take any pains either to get Information himself, or to instruct others in the Faith ; and I think the manifest Tendency of this Scheme, if pursued, would be to banish Faith and Christianity out of the World.
But if he endeavours to banter us out of our Faith, perhaps he leaves us Reason and natural Religion to guide us. No: this he also effectualiy discards.
The Strain of his arguing is to shew, that no Religion can be rational, that is not founded on a free and impartial Examination and Enquiry. And at the same time, he does all he can to thew, that a free and impartial Examination is an impofiible thing. That the Generality of Mankind are under a natural Incapacity for Reasoning themselves, or understanding it when proposed by others, and are incapable of judging if there be the least of Indiction or Inference in the case *. And that the ablest and best of Men are disqualified for fair Reafoning or impartial Judging by their natural Prejudices; the Power of which he represents to bę to great, that it is as absolute a Disqualification for such a Trial as the greatest natural Incapacity. From whence it follows, that no Man living is capable of reasoning fairly or judging truly. He takes a great deal of pains, to shew that Reason can not be certain of any thing nor of force enough to controul and govern the Pasions; that it is ever varying and unitable, and can never come to a fixed Determination in any one Point whatsoever : And indeed, considering the Representation he makes of it, I cannot fee but that he had as good deny all Men any Use of Reason or the intellectual Faculty at all; fince, according to him, it must be of little or no advantage, and only tends to perplex Mens Minds with endless Uncertainties and Distrusts. Accordingly he has chosen to adorn his Title-Page with a Passage of Cotta in Cicero, where he is disputing againit Reason and against Providence ; and the Design of which is to Thew, that Reason is an useless and even a pernicious thing. Several Several Parts of his Pamphlet seem to be particufarly levelled against what has been usually thought of great advantage and importance, early Instruction and Education. He frequently argues, that if Religion be supposed to be a rational Thing, it would be a wicked Attempt to endeavour to instruct Children in it; for this would be to prejudice and prepossess their tender Minds, and destroy that free Enquiry which Reason prescribes. And as to Faith, they cannot be instructed in it, since this is a thing that cannot be taught, and the Understanding has nothing to do with it. All Men therefore must be left entirely to themselves without Instruction, under pretence of leaving them to the Grace of God, and to the Guidance of his Spirit. And if this also be exploded, as there is great reason to think it will, by this Gentleman and his Associates, as unintelligible Cant and Enthusiasm ; and such it certainly is, according to the Description he gives of it, and which undoubtedly was intended by him to expose it to Contempt and Ridicule: I say, if this also be discarded as well as Faith and Reason, then I see nothing left to guide Men but their Passions, to which they must be given up without reserve, and the Force of which he so feelingly describes. *
* P. 17, 18. † P. 23:
And now we may see what a hopeful way Mankind would be in, if they were to follow the Tendency of this Writer's Scheme. And
what Foundation such Gentlemen as these can let
for Benefactors to Mankind, who endeavour to set them loose from all Principles, and to ridicule Rea
* P. 30, 31.
son and Religion out of the World ; or what Good they can propose to Society or to their Country by it, is hard to see. Some others that have appeared against Revelation, have at least in shew pretended to fet
UP Reason and Natural Religion for a sufficient Guide: But this Gentleman gives such an account of Faith and Reason too, and plays the one in such a manner against the other, that it looks as if it were his Design to destroy all Regard to cither of them, and to set aside all Religion at once, Natural as wel] as Reveal’d. The manifest Tendency of his Performance, is to
engage Mankind to give themselves no Concern about any Religion at all, or to educate their Children in any Principles, the natural Confequence of which would be a giving them up to Vice and Barbarisım. But it is to be hoped, that when once People are made sensible of the Tendency of such a Scheme, it will in a great meafure prove an Antidote to the Poison of it, and that Piety and Good Sense is not so far lost in the World, that Men will lightly suffer themselves to be banter'd out of their Religion and Reason too, Such Attempts, one would be apt to think, should, with Persons that will allow themselves time for Reflection, turn to the advantage of Christianity. For it is natural to conclude, that if the Enemies of Chriftianity are oblig'd to use Arguments against it, which, if good for any thing, would be equally good against all Religion, it is a strong Presumption of its Truth, and that all Religion must stand or fall with it. For would any Man in his Senses, that understands Argument at all, or that is in any degree a Judge of good Reasoning, endeavour to