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stupposition of your denying “ all future punishment.” (No. II. p. 45.) That I never supposed you to deny all future punishment I have already proved; and that any thing which I advanced required such a supposition, you have not hitherto made appear. As to your invalidating the divine threatenings, so far as the doctrine of universal salvation appears to me to operate in that way, so far I must of necessity believe that you do: but whatever may be my belief, the question is. Have I built any conclusion upon it as an acknowledged truth? If so, how came I to entreat you to consider whether it was not so? Is it usual to entreat an opponent to consider whether that which we take for grinted as an acknowledged truth, be true? Undoubtedly I suggested this idea to you as being my judgment, which, however, I did not desire to impose upon yoll, any farther than as it was supported by evidence, and therefore at the same time intimat ci wiat was the ground of that judgment; namely, the near resemblance between your labours and those of the deceiver of mankind. If you cannot perceive this resemblance, I cannot help it. Other people can and will. He persuaded his auditors that though they should transgress, yet the evil they had dreaded would not coine upon them : they believed—and were not afraid to transgress. You persuade your auditors that though they should die in their sins, yet the evil will not be so great as they had been used to apprehend--God hath not said ye shall die eternally, and he means that you shall all come where Jesus is-If they believe, must they not be leis cfi aid of transgression than before ?
And now, Sir, who is “ ignorant," and who has been employed in " raising dust to hide the truth," are questions which I leave you to takolve. It is enough for me if I have proved your charges to be unfounded : for if this be accomplished, your work still returns upon your hands : 'as it will follow, that, notwithstanding all your challenges, and calling out for more to be written, you have not yet answered the first letter.
A. FULLER. A DIALOGUE
BETWEEN A MODERN DEIST AND A CHRISTIAN,
RELATIVE TO THE
GOOD EFFECTS OF THEIR DOCTRINES.
have been propagated among mankind, and judge of them impartially, we may justly infer, that there appears none so rational as the doctrine of modern Deism. And more especially, when we consider that it is divested of all that enthusiasm, which has characterized the different sects from the earliest period of time.
This doctrine teaches man, from the beautiful order of things, that there is but one Supreme, who rules and governs the whole for the benefit of man; and although we cannot trace, from the concatenation of causes and effects, any thing relative to rewards and punishments in future state, yet reason, that distinguishing characteristic of man, naturaliy instructs every individual that morality and virtue are essentially necessary to the peace and happiness of mankind. Should this knowledge be thought inadequate to restrain man from evil practices, the laws of the country will operate as a check upon his conduct to reduce him to obedience.
Notwithstanding what you have said in defence of your doctrine, no man can ever suppose that a doctrine like yours, which leaves inan in doubt with respect to future rewards and punishinents, can have a tendency either to reform the manners, or support him through the various vicissitudes of human life.
Can that doctrine which teaches men they are to die like brutes, influence them to act like men? When men are once persuaded that death puts a period to their existence, what is left to restrain them but the authority of the laws ? But admiiting this, certainly the best code of laws ever invented must be inadequate to prevent those evils which too frequently disturb the tranquility of society. A man, for instance, who governs his house, may be a domestic tyrant; he may, if he pleases to gratify his upruży passion, convert that power and authority which he possesses into the greatest cruelty and oppression he may, if he wishes to indulge himself in the field of calumny, agonize the feelings of his neighbour, by stabbing his reputation in the most tender part. To innumerate the variors instances in wli'ch he may injure society, independent of being responsible to the laws, would be prostituting time which might be applicd to a better purpose, as common observation fully justifies the semark.
What effe&t can the visionary notion of rewards and punishments have on the morals of inankind? seeing you cannot support either the one or the other
I think it may very well be supported upon rational grounds. If we consider that many individuals go out of this life without having that punishment which necessarily attaches to their crimes, it is only fair to infer, that they ought to suffer, in some other state, according to their offences.
But inform me, if you can, what influence the Christian doctrine can have upon the morals of mankind, more than deism, which teaches that virtue and morality are only necessary.
The Scriptures set forth to man an alluring reward in order to simulate him to good actions, and a most exemplary punishment to deter hiin from those which are evil.
Notwithstanding the many arguments to support your hypothesis, when I reflect upon the shocking cruelties committed by certain individuals who called themselves Christians, my soul recoils at the doctrine.
Those characters to whom you allude, were not Christians, but certain base men who, under the sanction of Christianity, committed the most disgraceful actions. The Christian doctrine, Sir, lays down two uncontrovertable axioms, viz. love to God, and love to man; and whatever claim a man may make to the Christian character, if he be destitute of these he only exposes himself to contempt. The Scripture teaches a man to commiserate his brother in affliction and to extend the arms of benevolence towards his relief. In a word, the Scripture displays love in its full splendour, and with all that dignity of sentiment, that philanthropy and beneficence, which is its peculiar and distinguishing characteristic.
DEIST. If your do&trine be so excellent, it's a wonder it does not restrain mankind from eyil.
However, you must grant that it will have (if attended to) a better
effect than yours, which leaves "man in doubt with respect to futute rewards and punishment. It does not follow, that the laws of this country are bad, because they do not prevent the depredations which are daily committed upon society, so neither will it follow that Christianity is bad because soine inen do not feel its influence.
Book of so much iinportance as the Bible, which contains a
revelation from the most high God of every thing interesting and important to human creatures, ought to be read with the greatest reverence, and handled with the greatest caution; but to sia down as a commentator upon this sacred book, and to profess one's self a public expositor of it, as it is one of the most arduous, so it is one of the most solemn undertakings. Great are the abilities, and many are the qualifications necessary for this purpose. No man should presume upon it, without a perfect critical knowledge of the languages in which the Scriptures are written, without a competent understanding of the history and antiquities, the genius and polity of the Jewish people ; without an acquaintance with the connected profane history, the manners and customs of ancient times.
“ It is also absolutely necessary, that a commentator should understand the whole analogy of faith, as well as be a compleat master of all the controversies, ancient and modern, with the tenets of the several sects and heresies, without a competent skill in which, he can never be able to elucidate those texts, which are applied in those several opinions.
“ Besides these qualifications, there is one, which all writers upon the subject have spoken of as indispensably requisite, that is, a pious and devout frame of mind : a spirit like that with which the Scriptures are written; without this, accompained with a holy, sedate, contemplative life, all the wisest and best of Christians have agreed, that no man is qualified to expound the oracles of God.-Serious application, continued labour, long experience, much study, and solid judgment, united with the qualifications above-mentioned, might lead us to hope for valuable fruits in a commentator.
“ These are soine of the things requisite, and which, indeed, must be found in every man, who desires his attempts upon the Bible to succeed. How great then must be the indignation of every sensible man, and how sincere the concern of every true Christian, to see this most venerable of all books, hackneyed through the hands of booksellers, and retailed daily, not for the great ends of piety, virtue, and knowledge, but with the most mercenary and selfish vicws. Some thereare, with grief be it spoken, who dare to introduce into the world the oracles of truth with a lie in their mouths, with feigned names and false titles : others, who think it enough, if, from the forıner labours of able and worthy men, they plunder without conscience, and without gratitude, patch up their sheet, gain their scanty guinea, and dine ! While others, with unblushing hypocrisy, pretend a zeal for the Lord, and a concern for the salvation of precious souls; when it is notoriously known, that they are only the tools of booksellers, and draw the hireling pen, as the instruments of scheming tradesmen! While, without breach of charity, it may be said of all, that they are eminently deficient in those leading qualifications which are necessary to constitute a commentator on the holy Scriptures. Thus much is necessary to be said, by any well wisher to Christianity, in order to undeceive the ignorant but well-meaning; to put a check, if possible, to this scandalous traffic; to thow a proper contempt upon the low and mercenary dealers in it, injurious as it is to the cause of true religion and virtue.While at the same time I would be as forward as any man, and exhost all within my sphere so to be, in promoting the labours of any man of known abilities, known learning, experience, and piety! but I will never encourage those who handle the word of God for hire, and steal honey from the hives of others to supply their own deficiencies."
PRETENDERS TO PROPHECY.
A Pretence to prophecy has often been made of late years, sometimes
by designing wicked men, and at other times by enthusiastic well meaning persons. I need not refer to what has lately taken place in our own country, because this is well known to every one : but I will transcribe, from the Annual Register for 1961, an account of the same nature, which perhaps is not so generally known.
“ Two men arrived at Cologn in Germany; they said they came from Damascus. The Jesuits of Cologn conversed with them in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldaic, They answered them in all these different languages. They said they were come by the order of heaven to turn men to repentance. They gave out they were seven hundred years
old. They were put in irons, in order to be carried to Rome. They declared they were glad of that opportunity of proving the truth of their mission by breaking their irons to pieces.” However in this they failed. The sum of their prophecies is as follows.
“ The war will be general in
1765 1766 1767