in the 10th chapter of the Acts, is of a person destitute of his previous worth a hundred books of controver- advantages ; the answer is, that we sy upon this subject; and appears to have allowed different degrees of na. be precise and determinate, as to two tural advantages; but contend that points ;-the verity and acceptable. every man, in the most imperfect ness of natural religion, as far as it state of nature, has advantages suffi. extends, and also, the obligation of cient to lead him to the knowledge of the true Theist to embrace any fur. God, to the practice of his duty, and ther divine communications with to the belief, the fears and hopes of which he may be favoured. Com- futurity: and the apostle, in the dismentators suppose that he was what mal picture which he draws of the the Jews call, “ a proselyte of the state of Gentilism, in his epistle to gate." We read, only, that he was the Romans, never vilifies the powers * A Roman Centurion, a devout man, of human nature, or insinuates that fearing God, with all his house, giving their ignorance and depravity were much alms to the people, and praying natural and invincible ; or that they to God alway." "By deep reflection had no advantages, but expressly asand occasional converse with pious sures us, that they had, and that for Jews, he had attained to the know- neglecting to improve them, they ledge and worship of the true God; were " without excuse." was favoured with a heavenly vision In the case of Cornelius, says Dr. to assure him of his present interest Cave,* “ Peter tell us, it was now in the Divine regard, and directed to plain and evident that the partition an apostle, from whom he was to ac- wall was broken down, that God quire further degrees of light and had now no longer a particular kindknowledge, in the way of truth and ness for nations or persons; that it salvation. But, supposing Cornelius was not the nation but the religion ; had died, before, or immediately af- not the outward quality but the inter, this divine communication do ward temper, that recommends us to you think that he would not have God. That the devout and pious, been saved? What—when he had the righteous and good man, where been assured, that" his prayers and ever he be, is equally dear to Heahis alms had come up for a memorial ven, and that the Deity has as much before God ?" The inference of the respect for a just and virtuous person inspired apostle upon this occasion is in the wilds of Scythia, as upon Mount very different : “Of a truth, I per- Zion !" ceive, that God is no respecter of per- Some of the ancient philosophers, sons ; but, in every pation, he that and some modern writers may have feareth God, and worketh righteous- laid too much stress upon the idea of fiess, is accepted of him." Whether the inherent immortality of the sonl : we consider this passage as an abstract but this only proves, what we see or general proposition, or limit it to every day, that men are apt to stretch the qualification and fitness of a vir- a favourite topic beyond its due tuous heathen to become a Jewish bounds : for though the death of the proselyte, or a Christian disciple; in body does not necessarily infer the either case, the conclusion will be death of the whole man, yet two of much the same. In the first, it es- the most learned and strenuous advotablishes the verity and acceptable cates of the separate state, Bishop Tayness of natural religion, wherever it lor and Dr. Watts, acknowledge, that exists; in the latter, it proves such “the souls of men are formed for ubion a one a fit subject for revealed reli- with their bodies," and that therefore, gion, whenever it shall be fairly pro- their subsistence in this state must posed to him; and consequently, till needs be imperfect, In a strict and ihen, (unless invincible ignorance be proper sense, the Deity “only hath considered as a crime,) an immediate immortality." The natural arguments and proper object of the Divine fa. for a future state, in respect of man,

Accordingly, we find, that are chiefly moral, and not 'metaphynotwithstanding this general conclu- sical. sion, Cornelius was to believe in It would not be just, in a discusChrist, and to be baptized. If it be said, that we cannot reason absolutely from the case of Cornelius, to that

Life of St. Pete.


sion of this kind, to take no notice of even at the time of the flood, tho some of those texts which have been most vicious and corrupt period in the urged against the system of natural history of the world: yet Moses, not religion. The apostle Paul, address supposing any mistake in his readers, ing his Ephesian converts, says of uses the same phraseology: “God them, that they were formerly “Chil- looked upon the earth, and behold it dren of wrath, even as others, without was corrupt: for all flesh bad cor. hope, and without God in the world:” rupted his way upon the earth." and, in his sublime illustration of the These general expressions form no resurrection, speaking of Christians, bar against the actual or possible atthemselves, he says, “ If Christ be tainments of individuals, in knowgot risen, our preaching, and your ledge, wisdom and goodness : for faith are vain ; they that have fallen though the apostle, speaking of tho asleep in Christ are perished, and ye Gentiles in general, says, they were are yet in your sins."

“ without hope and without God," Now, though it would be a suffi- or Atheists, as in the original, yet cient answer to these objections, to that we are not to interpret this mode say, that the scripture cannot be in- of expression absolutely, is evident, consistent with itself, and that, when because in the passages formerly reany point of importance is clearly as ferred to, he clearly lays down the certained, every thing supposed to be obligation which all are under to dis. contrary thereto, must fall of course; cern the existence and perfections of yet we need be under no insuperable the Deity from his works; and the difficulty in explaining these passages. principle of conscience, the “ law in “ The children of wrath,” are evident- ihe mind" “ accusing, or excusing." ly not infants, but men and women of Now, if an evil conscience accuses and bad characters, “ Children of disobe- anticipates punishment, a good condience, fulfilling the desires of the science must approve and anticipate, or flesh and of the mind." These, he hope for reward : for wecan no moresesays, are, “by nature,” or “ in nature" parate hope from the one than fear from (ÇUgel) that is, in character and dis- the other; and both, in proportion to position, “ children of wrath," or the respective degrees of virtue or deobnoxious to the Divine anger. So merit. A quotation from a heathen poet that the words bave no reference to in the Spectator, says, “We may a supposed original taint, but are hope for every thing that is good, bemerely the statement of a fact. Or, cause there is nothing but what may be considers them, in their heathen be hoped for and nothing which the state, as out of the pale of the visible Gods are not able to give us." Some church, and so, externally, or rela- of the Stoics indeed my appear to tively unholy,* From this evil cast, have indulged extravagant ideas upon or description of mankind, says the this head ; and to represent their vir. apostle, you Ephesians, by the in- tuous man, entering leaven, as it strumentality of the gospel, have been were, as a mutter of course : but their happily delivered. Ye were then, expressions may have been mis-un"afar off," some by actual transgres- derstood; or if not, we hear rant and sion, all of you by an inferior dispen- extravagance every day; and even sation: and this class, from which under the clear light of the gospel, you have been emancipated, may be not only from the imperfection of our considered in a general view, on ac- own organs, but from the nature of count of their extreme ignorance and the subjects themselves, “

we still depravity, as “ without hope, and

see many things through a glass, without God in the world." Here, darkly, and not face to face.” we have a Synechdoche, or figure of As to the treatise on the resurrecspeech-all, for a great many: sini- tion, i.Cor. xv. the apostle is ad. lar to those passages in the Old Tes- dressing himself to some sceptical pertament, where, in a corrupt state of sons, who, notwithstanding all the society, mankind are represented as light and evidence afforded them, dehaving “ all gone out of the way, nied this doctrine. This was a danthere is none that doeth good, do not gerous anomaly in the new dispensaone." This was never true, literally, tion ; and it was necessary to shew

its mischievous and fatal effects, and See Locke and Taylor on the Romans. powerfully to enforce this additional, sublime and important argument for things, and, speaking with reverence, the truth of the gospel, and for a fu- even sacred terms to sacred doctrines, ture state of retribution, from the because words and terms may be misactual resurrection of its great Author taken, but doctrines, that is those and Head. Having, therefore, first which are obvious and truly fundastated the fact, partly, from his own mental, change not; though we arexperience, he proceeds to shew the rive at the knowledge of them by difabsurd consequences of the contrary ferent stages, and in different degrees. supposition. If we have indeed fol- Moreover, we may observe, that lowed" cunningly devised fables,” and in this sublime illustration of the rehave no real grounds for what we as- surrection, the apostle does not appear sert, if we have preached only an to glance at the natural arguments ideal Saviour, who was neither raised for a future state, which stand upon from the dead himself, por had any their own proper ground ; but merely power to raise bis followers ; if the shews the inconsistency of an external gospel be nothing but a solemn impo- profession of the gospel, without a besition ; then, in this case, you have lief in this grand fiindamental, the rehitherto been wretchedly deceived, surrection of Christ, and the conse

our preaching," as the apostles of quent resurrection of his disciples, in Christ, “is vain, and your faith is their proper order, and then of the also vain," and those who have been whole race of mankind : and he deeither baptized into the belief of a licately insinuates, that their foolish risen Christ, if he be indeed finally doubts arose, not from want of suffidead, or who are “ fallen asleep in cient evidence, but from bad comhim," are baptized in vain ; and have pany. “ Be not deceived, evil comdied, as far as their hope was thus munications corrupt good manners." founded only, in the possession of a Furthermore, we may observe revain and fruitless expectation. Fur- specting this position, "No resurrecther, you must consider us, in this tion of the body, no future state," view, as “false witnesses for God,” that, as the Almighty cannot be supcontending with “ wild beasts” (wick- posed to be limited to means, nor a ed men) and exposing ourselves to a separate state proved an impossibility, daily death and continual persecution, if the belief of an after life be a dictate to 110 manner of purpose : nay, the of reason, and revelation assures us idea is little better than atheistical, of a resurrection of the body, or of a and you may, in this case, almost body, which, by some law to us unadopt the maxim of the Sensualists, known, may be justly considered as “ let us eat and drink for to-morrow Springing from the ruins of the former we die !" But, be assured, we have one; if personal identity be nothing not preached an ideal Saviour, for but a restoration to the same connow is he indeed “ risen from the sciousness, in whatever vehicle that dead, and become the first fruits of consciousness may reside; then, the them that slept.” Perhaps, this may doctrine of a future state, in every not be the exact sense of the apostle; view, remains upon the most durable but whatever it be, of one thing we basis ; we are, as just observed, to may be assured, that if, as we con. consider the resurrection of our Lord, tend, the gospel was not intended to as an additional fact, and most inteset aside our natural notions of the resting assurance of this great event, Deity, but to exalt and confirm them; and the general resurrection, as the if, from things known and appre. grand and decisive means of its conhended, we are to rise to the con- summation, templation of things unknown, and We are to distinguish also between partly incomprehensible ; so it is im. the doctrine of a future state, simply possible that the apostle could con- considered, and the doctrine of eternal tradict his own reasonings, elsewhere, life: and yet Dr. Balguy bath oband that we must not wrest things served, that as the former “ is morally “ hard to be understood," to hasty or certain from the light of nature, so is improper meanings, but interpret the perpetuity of it probable." And them by those which are plaiu and Dr. Duchal, that there can be only unequivocal, agreeably to the nature three reasons assigned why good men, of things, and “the analogy of the if once put into the possession of a faith." Words must ever bend to future life, should not continue there

for ever, in a progressive state of im- eth into the world." Nor, (unless inprovement: namely, “ either that vincible ignorance be a crime) are they should fall from their allegiance; such persons to be considered in the or be annibilated by the Deity, when language of some, as only “ in the most conformed to his own image ; state of malefactors condemned to or that there should not be room death, looking for the day of execuenough for them in the creation.” tion;"'* but, on the contrary, as “ priThe first is morally impossible ; the sovers of hope, with earnest especsecond would represent the Deity in tation waiting for the manifestation a capricious light ; the last is mani- of the sons of God, and that glorious festly absurd. Nevertheless, reason, liberty into which, from the present though it may hope for, and expect bondage of corruption, they shall a reward, can lay no claim to eternal hereafter be delivered.” Rom. viii. life. An age or two of perfect hap- With respect to the Patriarchs and piness would be an ample compensa- the Jews, though the law, cousidered tion in the eye of reason for three- as a particular covenant, was chiefly score years and ten, not of absolute confined in its promises to temporal misery; for that, blessed be God, is blessings, by which, among other no man's portion ; but of a mixed things, it is distinguished from the and changeable state. Accordingly, gospel, which is established“ upon the New Testament exhibits the doc- better promises ;" yet we find the trive of futurity, with respect to the belief of a future state, except as to a righteous in two views; first, as hav- particular sect, general among them. ing the nature of a reward, accord- We cannot reasonably suppose, that ing to their works, and the improve- by their usual aud favourite pbrase, ment of their talents; and secondly, the “ being gathered to their fathers" as a free gift, through Jesus Christ, the ancient patriarchs meant only, and the restoration to a forfeited in that their ashes would be mingled toheritance. And this appears to be gether; they expected, no doubt, a the sense of that passage of St. Paul happy meeting in a great assembly of to Timothy, where he says, that our departed souls, wherever, or whenSaviour hath “ abolished death and ever that might be! Certainly, inbrought life and immortality to light dependent of particular revelations by the gospel.” He did not present and communion with superior beings, an object to the minds of men of which they could reason, at least as well as they were altogether ignorant; but the Roman Orator, who in strains he hath poured fresh light and evi- almost evangelical, hath left upon redence upon a solemn and important cord his testimony to this solemn and truth; exhibited it to their admiring important truth.") præclarum diview in the brightest and most indel- em! quum in illud animorum con. ible characters; confirmed it by the cilium, cætumque, proficiscar; et quum most stupendous miracles ; ratified it ex hac turba, et colluvione discedam!" in his own blood ; proved it by his The history of the first transgressor, resurrection from the dead ; and which they received by oral tradition, stamped it with immortality! “Thanks or by written evidence ; and the mysbe unto God, for this unspeakable terious promise then vouchsafed of a gift !"

future recovery and restoration, would As to the doctrine of the full, and inspire them with hope and confithe restoration by Christ, however dence, and assure them of the divine Christians may interpret them, the favour and protection, if not wanting to disciple of nature being supposed ig. themselves ; the translations of Enoch norant of both, (any farther than as and Elijah, in different periods, would the present state of the moral world also be a standing evidence to their may lead him to some notion of the contemporaries and their successors, former;) can be influenced by neither. of the certainty of a future existence; He is therefore left to the book of na- we find frequent references to this docture, and to the help of grace, that trine in the Old Testament, and our heavenly gift, proceeding from “ the Saviour hath determined the question Father of Lights," which, except in beyond a doubt. “That the dead its miraculous operations, is pot confined to any particular dispensation ; but enlighteneth every man that com- * Hallelt versus Grove, 1731.

are raised,” (or shall be, which is all by presenting their creed before them one in the eye of Deity) "even Moses in its true colours, may lead them to shewed at the bush ;" how ? “When seek a refuge from its terrors in a he calleth the Lord, the God of Abra- diligent examination of the scriptures ham, and of Isaac, aud of Jacob; for that they may learn“ whether these he is not a God of the dead," (between things are so.” It requires a mind him, and the finally dead, there can of a certain temperament, such as be no relation) “ but the God of the that of Jonathan Edwards and Mr. living ; for all live to him." St. Paul, Townsend, to dwell upon the views exlikewise, hath fully established this bibited in “Armageddou" with a conpoint, in the i1th chapter to the He- viction of their truth, and not to sickbrews.

en into auguish and despair. Heuce I To conclude, natural religion, is suspect that the generality of those who the sun under a cloud; the Jewish in the main think with Mr. Townsdispensation is the sun under a brighter end will wish that, however his own cloud, with occasional manifestations fancy was delighted with such conof his radiant orb; the gospel is the templations, he had not endeavoured sun in bright and unclouded splen- to fix the fancy of his reader, on dedour : but it is the sume sun which scriptions at which, I do not say reaenlightens us, under every dispensa- son stands aghast, (for that in theotion, though with different degrees logy is a trifle) but at which humanof glory. Or if you say the light of ity shudders. How much more to be nature, compared with that of the applauded is the caution of a writer gospel, is but as a twinkling taper, in the Evangelical Magazine, who compared with that glorious lumi- observes that though the doctrine of nary; still the light and heat of the predestination is beautiful in its place former are of the same nature and es- (in what place, he has omitted to sence with that of the latter.

mention) it is not desirable that it “ Nature, employed in her allotted place, But leaving Mr. T. with whom, in

should be dwelt upon too frequently. Is handmaid to the purposes of grace.”


truth, after the excellent remarks of It appears, therefore, that to de. your reviewer, I have very little to

do, I proceed once more, with your fend Christianity at the expense of natural religion, is to run before we are marks on that system of Theology

permission, to make one or two recalled. It is to pull down with one hand, what we profess to build with It is then a system which, to say the

which is usually termed Calvinistic. the other ; or to place ourselves somewhat in the condition of Sisyphus, in the New Testament, but is col

least, is no where laid down in form whom the ancient poets represent, as continually labouring to force a pro

lected by inference from detached digious stone up a steep hill, which passages of scripture, and is a mere ever revolves upon him with redou- hypothesis to account for a certain bled weight.

phraseology which is infinitely better accounted for without it. It is a sys

tem which no good man can wish to Sir, Walthamstow, Nov. 13, 1815. be true, and which no man can beTPON reading the extracts from lieve to be true, who suffers his mind

Mr. your last, (pp. 649–652) I could not presentation of the divine character help conceiving a wish that its merit and government which are given from as a poem might recommend it to an Genesis to Revelation. It is a sysextensive circulation, as it seems un- tem which gives a hideous picture of der the guise of poetic imagery to pre- the Deity, transforming, love into sent a just view of the horrors and blind partiality, and justice into in absurdities of a system, which is in- satiable vengeance. It is a system finitely more absurd and horrible than which were it true would render it any other extravagance which the a happiness for the human race, and buman mind has yet conceived. The by probable inference for the universe perusal of such a work may perhaps at large, could the theory of the A have the happy effect of terrifying theist be realised! It is a system which into their senses some of those who by representing human nature as rahave been terrified out of them, and dically depraved, and sia in itself an

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