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pride of reason-a salvation with all its blessings without human merit and the commands of God are too pure for your inclination.
We parted, and he promised to see me again.
The following market-day he called on me as usual, and began thus:
You often refer to the human soul; I have dissected many human bodies, and never found a soul in any one of them.
Mr. C. Nor did you find a principle of animal life in them after death and you could no more find a human soul in the body after its dismission from the body, than you could find me in my house at Maidenhead, when I had left it and arrived in London.
Phy. But I never saw a human soul.
Mr. C. Did you ever see the wind? Will you therefore say there is no wind? You have seen the operations, the effects, of the wind, and of the human soul.
Phy. But the brutes appear to have souls and passions as truly as man are they accountable and immortal? I suppose you will say this is more nice than wise.
Mr. C. No, I object not to an observation because it is nice, if it be just. Brutes are not accountable and immortal as man. They are subject to man, and formed to serve him. God hath granted to man dominion over them, saying, "have thou dominion over the beasts of the field." And this accounts for what is daily seen-a boy directing a flock of sheep, or a drove of oxen.
Phy. But they sometimes kill him: a cow by a thrust, or a horse by kicking or throwing him.
Mr. C. True; man often abuses them by pride and passion; and when he makes them serve his lusts, they often throw off the yoke of their masters, to punish them for throwing off the yoke of God.
Phy. You say the brutes are governed by instinct: I say, they are governed by reason; and there is no higher principle
Mr. C. Man is in possession of a moral capacity—a conscience-a power of reflecting on the past and the future. His moral capacity qualifies him for four things, which distinguish him from the most sagacious animals: man is capable of the knowledge of God-the likeness of God-the enjoyment of God-the service of God-and this renders him an accountable creature. "The soul of the brute goeth downward, but the soul of man goeth upward."
Phy. I have never entertained such a difference.
Mr. C. Perhaps not; for a plain reason: you have never seriously, candidly, and impartially, considered the subject. Solomon asks "Who knoweth," that is, considereth seriously; "The soul of a beast that goeth downward to the earth, and the soul of a man that goeth upward?" It is as if he had said, "but few consider the difference between them, in their respective capacities, their worth and their duration."
Phy. What, then, constitutes the difference in the capacities of the soul of a brute and the soul of a man?
Mr. C. Chiefly, the moral capacity. Many brutes have great natural sagacity, highly improved by man; but no mere animal is capable of these four things:-the knowledge of God, a resemblance of God, the enjoyment of God, and devotion to God.
Phy. Well, I see you are determined I shall be condemned. Mr. C. No, sir; this is your own determination; you condemn the Bible, because the Bible condemns you.
Phy. I have often silenced your believing Christians.
Mr. C. Possibly you may have conquered the weak arguments of weak Christians, without conquering their faith; but your restlessness proves, that your have never conquered your own fears.
Mr. C. Yes, a wicked man, from his guilty conscience and his criminal passions, is "a troubled sea which cannot rest." Phy. My time is expired; I will see you again.
Three weeks after this conversation this physician was detected in adultery, which his wife declared to be the sixth instance within her knowledge; and he left the country.
It is an honour to the Bible to have such a man for its enemy !
ANOTHER CONVERSATION WITH A DEIST.
[The following notes bear no date, and contain no reference or clue by which we can determine, whether the Deist, who appears here, was the person with whom the former conversation was held. Mr. Cooke is well known to have had many such discussions, both with strangers in travelling, and with infidels among his neighbours. He rather sought than shunned intercourse with such persons, and was eminently successful in convincing several of "the error of
their ways." From these facts, as well as from the absence, in this conversation, of all allusion to the medical profession, I am disposed to think that the Deist here, is a different person from the physician who appears in the former article.
The reader may possibly detect a want of connexion and sequence in some parts of the dialogue, and will observe that it is incomplete. The explanation and apology which I have to offer, will, it is hoped, be readily admitted. The Manuscript is written on separate papers, and is not paged. In consequence, it had fallen into some disorder, probably in the author's own hands, but, at all events, before it came into mine. The attempts I have made to restore the papers to their original and natural order, have not been altogether satisfactory to myself. I trust, however, no material defects will be discoverable. The abrupt termination is a subject of greater regret. It is probable the author had completed it; but I have been unable to discover the termination among his papers, and was, therefore, obliged either to suppress it, or give it as a Fragment. Its defects of form did not appear so formidable as to prohibit its insertion, while its general excellence and adaptation to usefulness, imperatively forbad its suppression.]
Deist. I pity the weakness of those who receive the Bible as a revelation from God.
Mr. Cooke. Weakness, sir! Are men of the finest talents, the most extensive learning and unblemished character, so weak as to be incapable of understanding the arguments of common sense? Will you thus censure those prodigies of human intellect, who were universally esteemed conscientious, and had no worldly interest to serve? Did a Bacon, a Boyle, a Newton, a Locke, seriously, frequently for years, examine and receive the Bible as a revelation from God, whilst you reject it without impartial examination? I pity your weakness, despise your vanity, and tremble for your rashness.
D. Tremble for me?
C. Yes; as a reasonable and immortal being. I esteem you as a fellow creature ;-as a fallen man I pity you, and exhort you to believe in an 'Almighty Saviour;-but as a fallen man, unwilling to be saved from your sins, I tremble for you.
D. Do you consider how many you condemn in these assertions?
C. "There is no respect of persons with God," and his word. The Bible condemns all kinds of sin, and reveals no REMEDY for any who reject Christ, and "make light" of his great salvation."
D. Perhaps error is not quite so dangerous as you deem it to be.
C. If you think error innocent, why do you attempt to convince Christians of their error? And if Christians think revealed truth of infinite importance, why do you wonder at their endeavours to convince you? We both acknowledge the importance of truth; and yet you contend that error is a harmless thing!
Be serious and impartial. Did the errors of the Deists, ever produce that humble and elevated devotion,-that benevolent and ardent zeal,-those self-denying and persevering exertions, that calm resignation in suffering,-that substantial peace of conscience, and those enlivening prospects, whieh faith in the promises of God has afforded?
D. You are soaring!
C. And you are grovelling!
D. But you must allow me to possess a general knowledge of men and things.
C. I do allow it but an unsanctified knowledge, a knowledge which does not "renew your mind," putleth up,swells you with self-conceit,-gratifies your pride of understanding, and renders you indifferent to the humbling and purifying knowledge of the Gospel; what the Apostle terms, "the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ."
D. I read, think, and write much perhaps more than you do; and I desire to know. If after all my studies I am mistaken, pity me.
C. I do pity you; and endeavour to convince you, as one, "ever learning, but not coming to the knowledge of the truth."
D. How do you account for my ill success?
C. From the pride of reason and the love of sin. You despise holiness, and the truth, which produces it; as it is written, "a scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not."
D. If I always possessed the feelings, which you describe, you might suspect my sincerity: but being open to conviction, I am not so incorrigibly wrong as you suppose.
C. I cannot suppose you to be always of one mind. If you read and think, you must often differ from yourself; for double-minded man, is unstable in all his ways: like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed."
D. Why may not I go to heaven in my own way? C. There is but ONE way; faith in Christ, who says, "I am the way: no man cometh unto the father but by MĚ.” D. If a traveller thinks he is right, he travels on.
C. True but his thinking himself in the right road does not prove him right; and with respect to religion, Solomon says, "there is a way which seemeth right to a man; but the end thereof, is the way of death."
If reason had been sufficient to direct man, even in innocence, why did God impart a revelation of his will to him? And if revelation was the light of reason to man in a state of perfection, how can fallen man know the mind of God without it? With all the advantages of revelation, a man may be a Deist; that is, he may deem his reason sufficient, without revelation. Witness an unbelieving Cain, in Adam's family; a prophane Ham, in the family of righteous Noah; a persecuting Ishmael, in the house of Abraham, the friend of God; a prophane Esau, among the children of Isaac; an ambitious Absalom, in David's household; and the traitor Judas, among even the Apostles of Christ! Indeed there are, even now, many thousands of practical Deists, who possess the Bible, and profess to believe it.
D. How do you account for this inconsistency?
C. It is accounted for by the depravity of the heart of fallen man, which has displayed its strength under every degree of divine revelation, from Adam to Noah-from Noah to Abraham-from Abraham to Moses-from Moses to Davidfrom David, through the prophetic dispensation-from the prophets to Christ-and from Christ to the present day.
D. Then it appears, that reason, even aided by revelation, may leave man in the dark, as to his happiness and duty. This is unaccountable.
C. No, it is easily explained. If man, through the pride of understanding, neglects, opposes, or abuses, the word of God, he rejects his guide. Yielding himself to worldly affections, the love of sin, and agreeable examples of persons living in error and criminal indulgences, he abhors revelation as a light which disturbs his false peace. "He loves darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil." The word of God is too pure for his taste. Under the dominion of sin, should his conscience become unquiet, he may flee to self-righteousness;— substitute a partial morality, and a few ceremonies for godliness;-trust in his imaginary repentance, his reformation from gross sins, his sufferings, and his hypocritical charity,-instead of the all-sufficient atonement of Christ ;-and resolutions made in his own strength, for the grace and spirit of Christ.
D. What advantage then do such persons derive from revelation?