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and trifling cavils with that contempt which they deserve.
"ft k. not easy to conceive what could prompt this author to wound the reputation, and load the memory of men now in their graves, and who have hitherto been justly accounted eminent for piety, gifts, usesulness, and zeal in maintaining, inculcating and promoting the pure truths of the gospel, with such a number of heavy accusations, and strange aspersions $ unless we may suppose, that he and his friends sinding, that their books and sermons had been amply recommended by Mr. Hervey, took the alarm, searing that the judgment of such an ingenious and polite writer, one so much applauded and admired by persons of difserent denominations, might have weight with the Public, and occasion a more general propagation of those doctrines, which seemed to bear no favourable aspect toward the particular tenets and opinions in religion, by which they have thought proper to distinguish themselves from all other prosessors of Christianity.
There was indeed some ground to suspect, that thus they might suffer considerably in their character, and sind it more disficult to gain admittance to their favourite notions in this kingdom, where either an avowed contempt, or ignorance and a supine neglect of the true doctrines of the gospel almost universally prevailed, till of late God was pleased to raise up, and Angularly qualify some sew to appear in the desence of the same, and attempt their revival., i , .
The laudable endeavours of such, with the success that has attended them, must no doubt have given great satisfaction to all sincere lovers of truth, and struck them with agreeable surprise: but it appears, that any thing of this kind has had a very disserent efsect upon the author of the letters, and his brethren; that it has only provoked their emulation, stimulated their envy, and pushed them on to make a vigorous opposition to those salutary doctrines that have, of late, been warmly espoused, judiciously explained, and zealously vindicated by some writers of known and distinguished abilities; particularly, by the ingenious author of the Dialogues between Iheron and Aspafio. They seem to be afraid of nothing more, than that the valuable and important truths taught, and inculcated in some practical treatises recommended by that excellent writer, should meet with a more favourable reception, among people of disserent denominations than hitherto they have obtained, especially among men of fasliion and influence. , y .
But, were those Gentlemen as humble and self denied as they pretend to be, one should a 4 think think the dread of such an event would have given them no disturbance. As they have been taught to think that every thing, and consequently every doctrine, every system, that is highly esteemed among men, not
.of their communion, is an abomination in the sight of God; it might have been supposed, that any sarther or more general propagation of those writings, upon which they have thought fit to pour ib much contempt, that might be procured by the means aforesaid, would have been rather matter of rejoicing to them, than a provocation of anger and incentive to emulation; as surnishing ihem with an additional argument to prove the falsity thereof, and their contrariety to the ancient gospel; the true knowledge and belies of which, according to them, must still be consined within the narrow limits of
, their little independent societies. But it is easy to find, upon occasion, that these men are
. not such proficients in self-denial, nor so much mortified to the esteem and applause, even, of those whom they are pleased to rank with the world, as they would make us believe they are.
A convincing proof of this we have in
. the very style and spirit of the letter-writer, 'who, it is evident, has been at no small
- pains to qualify himself for appearing in the character of an author, so as to make some
figure figure in the polite world, and recommend himself to men of taste and fashion. And it appears, that his endeavours this way have not been altogether unsuccesssul; for. his talents as a writer are far from being contemptible, though, for his own sake, we could have wished he had improved them in another manner and to a better purpose, than he has done in his letters on Therm and Aspafio.
This Gentleman affects to be accounted a steady friend to the ancient gospel, and a zealous contender for apostolic and primitive Christianity; bur, from his manner of writing, one would rather be apt to take him for an infidel in disguise, and suspect that he has acted in concert with some determined enemies of the gospel or, at least, that by • endeavouring to throw an odium on all serious religion and practical godliness, he intended to insinuate himself into the good graces of those Gentlemen whose religion chiefly consuls in ridiculing and reviling every thing that ordinarily goes by that name. One thing appears evident, that he is no stranger to the writings of some modern- unbelievers, nor of a temper very different from theirs; for in managing his plea against the doctrines of Christianity, as explained and improved by those whom he is.pleased to call thepopular preachers, he has exactly sollowed a 5 their
their example. And, indeed, he is such a prosicient in their way of writing, as is rarely to be met with among any who shew the least veneration for the Christian religion.
It is well known that those Gentlemen who affect the name of deists and free-thinkers, though very sparing of their arguments, have usually such a copious sund of self-sufsiciency as abundantly surnishes them with weapons of another kind, namely, consident assertions, raillery, ridicule, and the like 5 which, however unsit to do execution upon their more intelligent adversaries, not only serve to keep them some way in countenance, when stript of any other armour, but also enable them to make a tolerably good sigure in the eyes of unconcerned and indisferent spectators, or men who never put themselves to the trouble of inquiring, whether the Christian religion is true or false; and even render them formidable to the weak and timorous, however well-disposed otherwise. And it must be owned, that the use of this kind of weapons, in controversies about religion, has its own advantages, which our author seems not to have been insensible of: for, though banter and ridicule, with strong and consident assertions, frequently repeated, can never convince an adversary, and are never intended to do so; yet they may consound, embarrass and intimidate