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it, as you suppose. You allow, in express terms, that there s no act of the child at all, and that it believes nothing. E. this consists with its having a perfect faith wrought in its ot at once, is not possible for me to conceive. I must therefore conclude, that you meant nothing more than to expose is practice, as you elsewhere expose persecution, by intimang that it cannot be defended, unless your doctrine were to be granted; whence you are sure, every thinking man, who yes to this part of your argument, will conclude, that it cannot be defended at all. On the other hand, it seems sufficient for me here to have shewn, that your notion is not connected wa christianity, even allowing infant-baptism to be a part of it. May the time at length come, when a zeal for the honour of the gospel shall more effectually engage all its ministers, to adhere to the purity both of its doctrines and institutions, and not to overload it with those additions of their own, which furnish its adversaries with matter of triumph! In the mean time, may those adversaries consider, that they are answerable to God for the impartiality, with which they enquire into the contents of christianity, and that they are to take their notions of it from the New Testament alone! which if you, Sir, had been pleased to have done, you would never have mentioned this argument; nor from any thing you could have met with there, could you ever have thought of it.

Having thus dispatched the three grand articles of your pamphlet, I do not remember any thing very material in it, which I have left untouched; for little slips, which neither affect the main argument, nor the honour of the scripture, are not proper for the notice of one, who values his own time and his reader's, and seeks not to insult his antagonist, nor to expose him to any unnecessary contempt. Yet I cannot close without a remark or two, on what you insinuate, with so much disdain, concerning "the ingenious contrivance," (as you are pleased to call it,) "of abating the degree of evidence, to leave the more room for the merit of volunteers; with the duty of cultivating a pious propensity to the affirmative, soliciting the assent of our own minds, and endeavouring to help our unbelief." (p. 111.) This manner of representation is so ludicrous, that it is not easy to determine your meaning. But I suppose it to be this. Some considerable writers in favour of our religion have often said, what indeed many passages of scripture scem to favour, "that the degree of evidence attending it was wisely adjusted in such a manner, as to make it as a touch-stone to the temper of those to whom it came; and that instead of quarrelling with providence

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for not giving it the greatest possible evidence, we ought rather to adore its wisdom in such an adjustment." This seems to be the notion you ridicule; and if it be, I wish, that for your own security from the rebound of ridicule ill-placed, you had condescended to shew its absurdity.-Seriously to maintain that such a sentiment is contemptible, would indeed be another stab at natural religion, as well as revealed. Do you imagine it, Sir, impossible, that the blessed God should have given any more convincing proofs of his Being and Perfections, than those which every man now actually sees? I grant, these proofs are sufficient, to convince any reasonable person: But I ask it again, whether God could not contrive any which should be more striking, and in fact more effectual? To say, that he could not, is limiting the Holy One of Israel in so foolish and so profane a manner, that I hope, Sir, you would abhor the imputation of it: And to own, that he could have done it, and yet has omitted it, if at the same time he acts wisely, is in effect owning the notion you so scornfully reject; or, in other words, owning that an evidence attempered and abated in a certain degree is such, as it is fit for God to give, and to prefer, in many instances, to higher degrees in their own nature very possible.-And where, I beseech you, Sir, is the absurdity of thus trying men's integrity, any more than of trying their other virtues in the course of life? Is it not possible, there may be a certain degree of pride, or of licentiousness, so odious to God, that he should give even to his own revelation, only such a degree of evidence, as he knows such persons will, through the free and criminal abuse of their own faculties, be ready to reject with scorn; while persons of a more humble and ingenuous temper will see and submit to it? Nay, I will add, must it not of course be so in the nature of things, that the internal evidence of any revelation must strike those minds most, which have the truest taste of moral excellency.—One would have thought, that what the sagacious author of the analogy between reason and religion has there said on this subject, might have engaged any one who has read it, as you intimate you have done, to treat the topic with more respect; and I shall remit you to a repeated perusal of that solid and useful treatise, with only this one farther question; "Whether you do not think there is such a thing in the human heart, as the counter-part to the character you deride,-an impious propensity to the negative, a soliciting the dissent of our own minds, and an endeavouring to promote our own unbelief?" If you think, the will has no remote influence upon the understanding as to its enquiry 4 D 2

ruth, and that corrupt affections never lead a man into er, from which (had his heart been more upright,) he might Lave been preserved, you contradict not only yourself, pare p. 63, 64.) but the common sense and experience of mai; and introduce an universal fatality, that worst of es, watch will swallow up virtue and religion together, and were the mind an easy prey to every error, and to every lowe its cheap victory to the air of irresistibility, at makes its appearance.



<... Sir, after all, the situation, in which you would the mind of your reader? or is it such a situation benevolent man, would think it worthy of his

to endeavour to bring his own mind, and that .:; I would intreat you, Sir, at parting, seriously how far you would have reason to rejoice in the you have written, if it should be thus successful. ching more instructive and edifying to you, than or the consequences. You would indeed thereby gain But would you if you were a soldier, for the sake a veer country in ruins? And what else would your controversy do? Let us suppose men convinced, we christianity, nor natural religion, are capable of xmoord v defended, or (if you like the expression better,) anged en argument: And what follows? You would in206. „Jenter Love some, for whom it is possible you may have NGE POELLAS COcern, from the anxiety which the secret apNe son of religion give them, in the pursuit of their proreases: Yet could you not secure them entirely from oings of heart, and anguish of conscience, which will scades be thrown into convulsions even by these very opiAcast, in the intervals of these agonies, you would coecven them to lay the reins on the neck of appetite and swich, where human laws, or an innate generosity of tempedd not restrain, would trample down every other obstacle,






dove on to the ruin of society. And as for those who are travegous, you would, as Tully speaks, on supposition of a much smaller evil, (the ruin of friendship,) take the very sun out of tài, heaven. You would destroy the entertainment of tacit sortude, the cement of their friendship, the joy of their post, the support of their adversity, the light of their life, De top of the r death; and would leave the most pious mind, ecalogers the most desolate. For what desolation can be et eta, or comparable, to that of falling from so high o so glorious a prospect, into the gloomy, cheerless,

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and hopeless state, in which a mind destitute of religion must of necessity find itself? If this, Sir, were to be the certain effect of reading your book, (as I think it must be, if the principles of it were to be admitted, and its consequences pursued ;) what a calamity must it have been to any wise and good man to meet with it? I shall not aggravate at large, but only add, that to have been, though ever so undesignedly, the instrument of such mischief, the fatal occasion of grieving the good, of hardening the bad, of subverting religion, and, by an inseparable consequence, of dishonouring God, and of ruining men, is certainly to be numbered among the most lamentable evils.

It is possible, indeed, that you did not lay a plot for all this. If you will permit me, Sir, to speak with all plainness and freedom, I am ready in my own judgment to conclude, from comparing one thing with another, that you are a kind of humorous sceptic, who intended chiefly to amuse the world, and to shew your address in puzzling the cause, and attacking christianity in a peculiar disguise, which you apprehend you could manage artfully, on a side which seemed to you most open. Perhaps you attended to no farther consequence, than that some of your readers would smile, and some of them would be confounded, and many say you had played your part in a dexterous manner, and cut out work for divines, who, amidst the variety of forms you assume, might find it more difficult to deal with you, than with an enemy who more openly declares war, and wears a habit by which he may more certainly be known. Views like these may amuse and animate a light imagination, and it may look no farther. But the effect of action depends not on our foresight. This is certain; either religion, both natural, and revealed, must be judged irrational; or your book, whatever were meant by it, must be judged pernicious, and must draw after it a very solemn account in the presence of God. I heartily pray, you may be thoughtful of that account in time, and dismiss you, as you did your young correspondent, with a text of scripture, which contains an admonition, the weight of which no intelligent heathen could question. How gaily soever you may have affected to sport yourself, with these important topics, Be not deceived, for God is not mocked; but whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. A harvest of future glory, I suppose, no man in our age and country expects to secure by opposing christianity; and I will venture to say, that, so far as I can learn, few of its enemies, various as their forms, and specious as some of their pretences may have been, have for the present raised

the character of their knowledge, or of their virtue, among the best judges and examples of both, by any attack they have made upon it. And if you, Sir, how considerable soever your natural talents may be, should prove the first exception to this general remark, it will be a great surprise to

Your most humble Servant,

Northampton, March 4, 1742-3.



a hope,

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