Imágenes de páginas

keeping of Eafter, and ran to fuch indecent lengths of animofity and difcord, as might make the very heathen blush, he would have ventured a fingle scratch of his finger, to have had it decided whether it was to be held "on "the fourteenth day after the first moon in "the new year," or 66 on the fame stated day in every year," or "on the first Sun

day after the first full moon." All this rout was made to very little purpose: and had the Author been weak enough to have entered into the difpute, had he fided with the Afiatics, and been excommunicated by Pope Victor for his pains, it would not, according to his prefent notions, have given him a moment's uneafiness.

But where the peace and well-being (I had almost faid the very being) of fociety are concerned, where diforders, of the moft malignant kind, have infected the general mass, to the deftruction of millions down to this moment, and threaten the deftruction of millions yet unborn, and those chiefly from among the most defenceless part of the human fpecies; when the luft, treachery, cruelty, and villainy of men, are let loofe to ravage, as they can, on the weakness and credulity of helplefs women; and when all this is apparently the effect of abolishing thofe parts of the divine law, which were evidently made to prevent it, and the introduction of a fyftem of human invention is the means of its daily increase; too much cannot be faid to point out the cause of the dif eafe, and to lead to the remedy. The former

is from the fubftitution of the wisdom of man, in the place of the wisdom of GOD; the latter can only be discovered and rendered effectual, by restoring the wisdom of GOD to its due place in our esteem, and by making it, as it is found revealed to us in the fcriptures, the bafis of our municipal laws-the line of our conduct-the rule of our obedience.

Perhaps fome may think, that there are points handled and difcuffed in this book, which had better been left under the clouds of obfcurity which have long overwhelmed them, and hidden them from vulgar obfervation, left difputes fhould be raised, and abuses committed by the perverfions of the evil and licentious. It is written concerning the fcriptures themselves, that, to fome they are the favour of life unto life*, and unto others the favour of death unto death. 2 Cor. ii. 16. And again-that the unlearned and unftable wrefted the epiftles of Paul, as alfo the other fcriptures, to their own deftruction. 2 Pet. iii. 16. As therefore there is nothing in this book, which is not to be found in thofe fcriptures, as to the points above hinted at, the Author ventures it forth, confiding in Him who hath faid-As the rain cometh down, and the fnow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give feed to the fower, and bread to the eater; fo fhall My word be, that

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goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I pleafe, and it shall profper in the thing whereunto I fent it. If. lv. 10, II.

He cannot be of the mind of Synefius the Platonist, who was raised to be a Bishop in the Chriftian church, but continued to be a determined Platonist; and had fo far imbibed the fpirit and doctrine of that school, as to

declare his fentiments thus-" As darkness is "moft proper and commodious for those "who have weak eyes, fo I hold that * lyes "and fictions are useful to the people, and "that truth would be hurtful to those who

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are not able to bear its light and fplendor." And he adds-" If the laws of the church "would difpenfe with it, that he would philofophize at home, and talk abroad in the "common ftrain, preaching up the general " and received fables." See note z, Leland, vol. ii. p. 344.

The antient philofophers had an exoteric doctrineἐξωτερικον—which they openly taught to the people; and an efoteric doctrine-owτερικον—which they taught privately to their felect disciples, whom they let into the secrets

* Maximus Tyrius faith-that "a lye is often profit"able and advantageous to men, and truth hurtful." So Plato, and others of the philofophers-the Stoics efpecially, who held that "a wise man might make use of a

lye for many conveniences and managements in life." See Leland, vol. ii. p. 220. Many of the early Fathers and Christians adopted the fame principle, which has been called by the fofter term of pious fraud, and would lye by wholesale-but this only for the good of the church— however, this has never been got rid of, as Popery can fully atteft. See Mosheim, vol. i. p. 200.


of their scheme. It was a maxim among them, that it was lawful to deceive the people for the public good." Ib. 342-3. So the fect of Foe in China, have an exterior and interior doctrine with regard to a future State-they publicly preach it up to the people, but their interior doctrine rejects it. See Ib. 344, note z.


Such is human prudence and wisdom!but the divine wisdom faith- He that hath My word, let him fpeak My word faithfully. Jer. xxiii. 28. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that Speak ye the light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach (unpužate, proclaim, publish) upon the boufe-tops. Matt. x. 26, 27. Comp. Mark iv. 21, 22. Truth is like him that doeth the truth-it cometh to the light, that its deeds may be manifeft, that they are wrought in God. Error, like every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, left its deeds fhould be reproved. John iii. 20, 21.

GOD never revealed any thing but that it fhould be known. When men want to conceal any part of divine revelation from the knowledge of others, it is too frequently with a purpose of preventing the detection of fome errors in human fyftems, which, from fome finifter view or other, they dread the discovery of. Thus the church of Rome, jealous of the light of fcripture, knowing that the whole dominion of popes and priests over the understandings and confciences of


the laity is founded in ignorance, keep, as far as they can, the fcriptures out of their hands.

Others there are, who, from well-meant, but mistaken, zeal, for principles which they have been taught to venerate, dread that these fhould be attacked; as thinking the cause of religion itself, is involved with the fuppofed truth of what they are accustomed to believe. There can be no doubt, that when our reformers first attacked the POPE's fupremacy, the worship of the Virgin Mary, the celibacy of priests, and other pious lyes and forgeries of the church of Rome, many devout and zealous people thought, that religion itself was, like the ark of old, 1 Sam. iv. 10, 11. about to be delivered into the hands of the * Philiftines; and cried out, like Micah, when the Danites took away his Levite and his Teraphim-Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest — and what have I more? See Judges xviii. 24.

If there be any thing in the Bible which ought to be concealed, it would be no very hard matter to prove, that it ought never to have been revealed. But as it often happens with private individuals, that they are afraid of looking too narrowly into the fcripture, for fear of meeting with fomething to fhake their preconceived opinions and prejudices;

In 1547, Gardiner, Bishop of Winchefter, faid, "that he thought the removing images, was on defign "to fubvert religion and the fate of the world."-Burnet, Preface to Hift. Ref. vol. ii. p. 11.


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