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this circumstance is almost if not altogether decisive. By what arguments or analogies can we pro\eany states of existence which, no one ever saw, and which no way resembles any that ever was seen? Who will repose such trust in any pretended philosophy as to admit upon its teftirrony the reality of so marvellous a scene? Some new species of logic is requisite for that purpose, and some new faculties of the mind, that may enable us to comprehend that logic. . Nothing could set in a fuller light the infinite obligations which mankind have to divine revelation, since we find that no other medium could ascertain this great and important truth.
(I) THIS elaborate enlogium on philosophy points obliquely at religion, which we Christians consider as the only sovereign antidote to every disease incident to the mind of man. It is indeed hard to fay what reason might do . were it freed from all restraints, especially if a succession of philosophers were incessantly improving on one another as they went on, avoiding and correcting the mistakes of those who preceded them in the same pursuit, till at last one complete and rational system was dissected. Great things might probably be accomplished in this manner. But no such plan in fact ever was or is likely to be finished. Neither priestcraft, nor magisterial powers, however, cramped the progress of improving reason, or baffled the genius of inquiring man. The principles of religion and virtue were freely canvassed by the boldest spirits of antiquity. In truth, the superior advantage and necessity of the christian religion seems manifest from this particular circumstance, that it has taken away every possible restraint from natural religion, allowing it to exert itself to the utmost in finding out the fundamental truths of virtue, and in acquiescing in them, in openly avowing and acknowledging them when revealed, in extending the views and expectations of men, in giving them more just and liberal sentiments, and in publics and uniformly disclaiming any intention of establishing a kingdom for its votaries or believers in this world.
The doctrines of the gospel are not intended to intrust us in the knowledge of every thing which may be really useful in the present life, far less of every thing, which, from curiosity alone , we may have a mighty desire to know. Revelation considers mankind in their highest capacity , as the rational and accountable subjects ,v*^
of God, and as capable both of present and future happiness or misery, according to their behaviour. Its chief if not its sole design, is to give us those views and impressions of our nature, of our state, of the perfections, the counsels, the laws, and the government of God, which, under the influence of providence, are the immediate and infallible means of the purity, of the comfort, and of the moral order, rectitude, and excellence of our immortal fouls. As corrupted and disordered, we are incapable of true happiness, till purified and restored to order. As guilty and mortal creatures, we can have no true consolation without the hopes of pardon in a future and separate state of existence. As surrounded with dangers, and obnoxious to every dismal apprehension, we can possess no solid or permanent content, but in the sincere and well grounded convictions of that gracious and righteous administration so minutely and explicitly delineated in the scriptures. It is evident therefore that the principal excellence and utility of revealed truths must lie or consist in the influence they have upon the sanctification and consolation of our hearts. They tally exactly with the present circumstances of mankind, and are admirably adapted to cure every disease, every disorder of the human m'nd, to beget, to cherish, and confirm every pure, every virtuous, every pious disposition.
Mankind are certainly at present in a state of the deepest corruption and depravity, and at the same time apt to continue strangely insensible of the misery and danger to which, under the government of infinite Wisdom, it necessarily renders them. Nothing can be conceived more fit to rouse them from their lethargy, and to awaken them to a just sense of their condition, than a messenger from Heaven, clothed with divine authority, setting before them the intrinsic baseness, malignity , and -wretchedness of vice, together with the certain, the dreadful, the eternal consequences of continuing in it.
Could we enter upon a particular view of all these maladies, and disorders which infest and destroy the soul* of men, it were easy to show, that a steadfast belief of religion, is in truth, the most natural and the best antidote or remedy for each of them. It is obvious, atleast» that the clear and full manifestation, which the gospel has given of the character of God, and the laws of his moral government, and of the terms of salvation through Faith in the religion of his son, are all finely calculated to root out the principles of superstition, and all false notions, destructive to the virtue and happiness of mankind, and to plant in their room whatever has a natural and direct tendency to promote our virtue, our perfection, our felicity.
M. ,» ...
( 2 ) Cleomenes , king of Sparta, when suffering under misfortune, was advised to kill himself by Tharyceon. "Thinkcst thou, wicked man, (said he) to show thy fortitude by rushing upon death, an expedient always at hand , the dastardly resource of the basest minds? Better than we, by the fortune of arms, or overpowered by numbers, have left the field of battle to their enemies; but he who, to avoid pain or calamity, or from a flavifh regard to the praise or censures of men, gives up the contest, is overcome by his own cowardice. If we are to seek death , that death ought to be in action. It is base to live or die only for ourselves. All we gain by faicide is to get rid of present difficulty, without increasing our own reputation, or doing the least service to our country. In hopes, then, we may yet be of some use to others, both methinks are bound to preserve life as long as we can. Whenever these hopes shall have altogether abandoned us, death, if sought for, will readily be found."
(5) Of all the refined cobwebs, to which sophistry has given birth, this seems at once the most elaborate and the most flimsy. It seems, one of the first and most indisputable maxims in all sound reasoning, that no ideas whatever should have a place in the premises, which do not communicate a sensible energy to the conclusion. But where is the connexion between the beginning and end of this wire-drawn argument. What have the various beautiful facts, thus elegantly stated , to do with a man's taking away his own life? Though the greatest philosopher be of no more consequence to the general system of things than an oyster, and though the life of the one were, in every respect, as perfectly insignificant as that of the other, still the meanest of mankind is not without importance in his own eyes. And where is he who is guided uniformly in all his actions, more by a sense of his relation to the universe at large, than by the value he retains for ,himself, or the deference he has to his own opinion.
No deduction, however plausible, can produce conviction in any rational mind, which originates in a supposition grossly absurd. Is it possible to conceive the author of nature capable of authenticating a deed , which ultimately terminates in the total annihilation of the system? By which of the creatures beneath us is the first law of their being thus daringly violated? And if suicide be eligible to man, under any possible misfortune or distress, why not to them? Are not they also subject to the various