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To Mrs. SUSAN V. BRADFORD,
WIDOW AND RELICT OF WILLIAM BRADFORD, ESQ. LATE ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.
W HEN the warm and sincere affection, of a fond and anxious parent, is strongly manifested, by the interest he takes in the improvement and welfare of a beloved child; when it appears that, to promote her best interests, neither cares nor labour, even in an advanced and infirm age, will be spared; it may be hoped, that a corresponding temper of mind, may lead her to see the fruih in a more clear and convincing light, especially when urged and inculcated by exertions of so tender a nature.
It was not from'a doubt; of your principles being yet unsettled; or from an apprehension, that the extravagant and ludicrous ideas, of the vain and infidel author of a late publication, entitled, the AGE OF REASON, would, at present, in any respect, pervert your mind, that I have been led to spend so much of
the precious remnant of time yet allotted me, in looking into his work, and endeavouring to shew you its futility and weakness, in the following sheets:- But, knowing the importance of your being able to give a ready answer for the hope that is in you, and seeing the melancholy prevalence of a spirit of infidelity, founded on a “pretended philosophy, and a vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ,” I thought myself, with regard to you, in the situation of the apostle Jude, with regard to the church of his day, that “ I should give all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, and exhort you, that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints; for there are certain men, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ: wherefore, I ought not to be negligent, to put you in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth."* “ Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance of these things; knowing, that shortly, I must put off this my tabernacle: moreover, 1•will endeavour, that you may be able, after my decease; to have these thing's always in remembrance, for we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made knowrunto you, the power and coming of our Lord Jesus; ** that the tryal of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tryed with fire, might be found unto
* Jude, 4th and 5th ver.
+ 2d Peter, 1st chap. 12–16.
[v] praise and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus, Christ, whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now yousee him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul.”*
The whole tribe of unbelievers, object to the sys. tem of the gospel; that, although there are mysteries in it, above the comprehension of human reason, yet it requireth, and that indispensibly, the firm and unwavering faith of its professors; it being one of its fundamental principles, that without faith, you cannot please God.
This is a certain fact, and not only reasonable in itself, but consistent with the nature of the subject. No man believes, that credit is given to the veracity of another who reports a fact, by firmly believing it, on perfect demonstration, or the fullest evidence. If a person of the most infamous character for falshood and deceit, should assert, that the three sides of an equilateral triangle, were equal to each other, every man who heard and understood him, would immediately give the most hearty assent to the truth of it, without putting the least confidence in the character or veracity of the assertor. If one should inform you, that the sun was shining, and at the same time should point to the meridian sun, appearing in his full splendour within your view, you could not but believe the fact, the truth would force your assent; though without putting the least confidence in the informer. But if such a person were to tell you, of a fact that had come to his knowledge, of which you could have no other evi
dence, and you were to give full credit to it, then you would do honour to the veracity, and revere the character of the informant. So it is with revealed religion. God, in his infinite wisdom, has given us sufficient evidence, that the revelation of the gospel is from him. This is the subject of rational inquiry, and of convic. tion, from the conclusive nature of the evidence: but when that fact is established, you are bound, as a rational creature, to show your full confidence in his unchangeable veracity, and infinite wisdom, by firmly believing the great truths so revealed; although he has wisely kept from your knowledge, some things which may be mysterious in their nature. In this, his de. sign, amongst others, may be, that thereby the pride of the human heart might be subdued; the human will brought to submit to the will of God; the character of Jehovah magnified and honoured; and his unstained veracity perfectly confided in, and trusted to, while at the same time, the amiable humility of the Christian character, is promoted in the firm believer of his word.
These objectors find it difficult to submit to the faith of the gospel, because many things are above their reason; while they continually exercise the same principle in temporal things, which are subject, in one respect or another, to the like predication, in almost every action of their lives. In travelling, by sea and land—in eating and drinking—in ploughing and sowing; do they all, with one accord, exercise this virtue in its full extent: no mysteries—no want of understanding principles or consequences, are opposed as sufficient to prevent their unfeigned faith in their fellow men: but in revealed religion, nothing is to be
believed, even on the veracity of God himself, if they cannot fully comprehend and understand, every principle and mode of the truth, proffered as an object of their faith. They will trust themselves, their families, and their property, to a frail ship, and launch into the boisterous ocean, without a thought of examining the captain as to his theoretic or practical knowledge in navigation; or inquiring into the abilities of the sea. men, with regard to the management of a ship in a storm. They exercise, without hesitation, an unfeigned faith in the general character of the one; and trust wholly to the owner and master, for the abilities of the others.
If they travel by land, they will mount the horse, recommended by its owner; or enter a public carriage provided for passengers, without doubting of their safety in the one case, or examining the workman ship and construction of either carriage or harness, in the other. They trust to the care of the master and driver, and implicitly commit themselves to their knowledge and good conduct.
Men sit down to their usual meals, without ever inquiring, whether the meat they are to eat, is not part of a beast that died a natural death, or by some dangerous disease; neither is the cook ever called upon, as to the wholesomeness of the various additions made use of in dressing the food—all is prevented, by a firm faith in the butcher who sells the meat, and the host who employs the cook. ! Does any person refuse to swallow his victuals, before he fully understands the method of digestion, or the manner in which the food will turn to his nou. rishment?