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ble of conveying the idea of a erred in the analysis of its powers. God. Atheists exist where the It is not like the dark closet of light of revelation shines ; and if Locke, or the cavern of Plato, their existence be an objection to much less like the blank sheet of the existence of any natural reli- Condorcet and Godwin ; but is gion, it will be equally conclusive constituted by its intelligent Crengainst the truths of the Christian ator with active powers and prinsystem. That perversion of mind ciples, which necessarily exert which would induce men to re- themselves when occasions for ject the God of the Scriptures, their exercise are presented. might be supposed sufficient to When I contend for the existence induce them to reject the God of of innate principles, I do not use nature, after having good evi- principle as synonymous to a logidence of his existence.
cal proposition. A child does not 2d Object. We have no in- know that a whole is greater than nate principles. All our ideas are any of its parts. He does not from sensation and reflection. know the meaning of the terms. Arguments for natural religion, But his mind is so formed, that 35 drawn from the nature of the soon as he is capable of comprehuman mind are therefore invalid. bending the meaning of the terms,
Ans. The human mind is not he cannot possibly withhold bis destitute of innate principles. It assent to the proposition. The is created with instinctive pro- law of his constitution, which impensities, which are exerted by pels him to this, I call an innate the various objects of thought. principle of belief. The princi
Locke has indeed proved, that ple is surely distinct from the there are no innate logical pro- proposition it embraces, as dispositions—that the infant is inca- tinct as my seeing is from my pable of understanding subject eye, or my hearing from my ear. and predicate, or of comprehend- Man is so formed as to seek soci. ing their connexion in the affir-ety with man, not merely on acmation. This is all his reason-count of the convenience of a ing proves, and from thence he social life, but from an instinctive very unjustly infers that there propensity to social intercourse. are no innate principles of action The law of his nature, which im. or belief in man. His followers, pels him to this, I call an innate have fallen into the same error, principle of action—the social and improving upon it, have pro- principle. It also is distinct from gressed far out of his sight into the intercourse it embraces. the regions of extravagant absur The controversy about innate dities. Godwin lays it down as ideas is of vast importance to the an axiom in his political morality, interest of truth and godliness. that man has no innate principles, The system of grace may be well consequently is neither virtuous understood, and piety well pracnor vicious as he comes into ex-tised by those who are utterly istence. And assuredly the con- strangers to this subject. But sequence is warranted by the the theory of Christianity has premises. The mind of man, been often misrepresented, and happily, was not framed by philo- piety awfully checked, by the exsophors, and they have generally travagant application of Locke's
philosophy of the human mind. I cannot see when I am surroundIt requires an acquaintance with ed with total darkness. the inerit of the controversy, From the denial of innate printherefore, if not to propagate the ciples in the sense in which I truth and encourage godliness, have used the expression, have at least to detect the sophistry by men of learning and piety atwhich it has been attempted to tempted to tear the noble faculty divert the mind from the simpli- of conscience from the catalogue city of the Gospel.
of original powers, and to render Philosophers have long sup
devotion itself a mere adventiposed, that ideas were real sub- tious circumstance, and not a stances, airy shadows of the ob- natural principle of map. jects which they represented; Others have gone further that they entered into the mind astray from the very same cause, through the senses, were the proceeding upon the same hypoobjects really perceived by the thesis. An error in a fundamenmind : there remained as reali- tal article of any system is always ties distinct from the mind itself, accompanied with this evil, that and underwent innumerable alter the more daring the genius, and ations. Language highly meta- accurate the powers of reasoning, phorical was adopted in its literal the further will you deviate from force, and metaphysics reared a truth, and the more extravagant huge pile of learned ponsense, will be your conclusions. Men upon a foundation which was a of no mean penetration, learning, perfect nonentity. Consider idea, or piety, have branded with the not as a substance within my name of vice many of the legitispirit, but as the name given to mate acts of our obedience to the an act of my mind about the ob- law of our nature--the voice of ject of thought, and the whole God, speaking through the consystem of opposition suffers im- stitutional propensities of the humediate dissolution. Speaking man minda voice with which without figurative language, there revelation is ever consistent, and are neither innate ideas, nor any which it is designed not to conidea at all in the mind. An idea is tradict but enforce. They have but a thought, a thought is the act called my earnest desire and enof a thinking substance. To prove deavours after personal salvation, that ideas are not innate there- my strong affection for those who fore is not entitled to high philo- are united to me by natural ties, sophical fame. It is a self-evident my gratitude to my benefactor, proposition. It identifies itself. by the name of vice; they havo It is as much as to say, the mind attributed them to a sinful selfishnever thinks until it does think; ness, and have industriously ens never thinks without an object of deavoured to persuade men to thought. But to infer from this expunge them from the list of that the soul bas no natural prin-Christian duties or virtues. In ciple of action, which will neces- their denial of innate principles sarily exert itself when occasion you perceive the source of these offers for its exercise, is as absurd absurdities. You discover the
I have no eye, because cause, not in the excess of meta
as to say,
physical refinement, but in the would be so accurate with rewant of a previous examination spect to a subject to which the of first principles ; in a fundamen- disposition has such malignant retal error respecting the constitu- luctance, as to retain universally tion which God hath given to the knowledge of God even as human nature, a constitution far as they do. That they have which revealed religion uniform- a general hope of pardon is true; ly addresses ; and which it is de- byt a divine revelation is not nesigned to repair, to sanctify, and cessary in order to account for to perfect.
this. It was the suggestion of 3d Object. All the religious Satan to our first parents, Ye ideas of the heathen may be ulti- shall not surely die; and fallen mately referred to a supernatural Adam in his flight, in his fig-leaf revelation. The instruction which covering, and in his equivoca. Noab, an inspired teacher, gave tions and apologies, appears to to his offspring, was communi- have had some little hope, before cated by tradition to all nations. the revelation of mercy was made They have an opinion that God to him. This sentiment is corwill forgive them, and the rites roborated by the absolute ignoof superstition seem to be bor- rance of the heathen of the grand rowed from the institutions of article of revealed religion, the revelation.
mediator, Jesus. Ans. Noah indeed a The design of revelation was preacher of righteousness; and not to give men to understand during his life, no doubt, taught that there was a God. They the truth to his posterity. But it knew this. Nor that he was meris not so certain that any know- ciful, this was inferable in some ledge depending on revelation degree from his benevolence could have continued so long, but that his mercy could not be, and for so many generations, in- consistently with his perfections, dependent of the light of nature. manifested unto men, except Upon this supposition the memo- through a mediator, and that a ry is the power to which these Divine Redeemer was to be, nations are indebted for religious granted men. How could the knowledge. After an inspired memory relinquish this capiwriter has informed you that men tal article of revelation, and redid not like to retain God in their member there was a God, if the knowledge, that the heart of man natural powers of man had been is enmity against him, after your as incapable of discovering the own experience of the feeble one as the other. Nay, how hold which this faculty takes of could men now under the light of ideas in which the heart is not the Gospel, so generally acquiinterested; after the account that esce in the truth of a Divine erhistory gives us of sciences and istence, and yet appear so invearts once known, and afterward terate against the doctrines of forgotten, do you think it possi- grace, unless the former were a ble, that such pains would have part of natural religion, and the been taken by father or son, latter derived from another through so many successive gene- source. Will you reply, that rations, and that the memory some truths are more congenial
to our nature than others, and glected, or forgotten, what is na-
The principle of devotion, opportunity of knowing. There-
extinct from the human breasts of nature's light, to direct our unless supported by a miraculous steps ; he has favoured us with a intervention of the Supreme him- revelation of his will, of his self, man must become divested grace, of his Son, and of our of accountableness, and as it re-lown miserable condition. He spects religion, be on a level with has invited us cordially, exhorted the brutes. All natural power us earnestly, and commanded us of forming an idea of a God, of authoritatively to believe in his religion, or of accountableness, Son, that we might have life, and being lost, and no innate princi- peace, and happiness, and glory. ple of morality in his constitution, He has himself framed a perfect the enmity of the heart to God system of religion for us, he hath could not possibly exist, nor given us a fair and perspicuous could divine justice have any edition of the law and the religion further claim on man than on the of nature, illustrated and enforced cattle wbich graze in the mea- by additional articles. He has dows, both being alike naturally anticipated our fall, made suitable destitute of a capacity even to provision for our recovery, and ascertain his existence. Upon described that provision in the such principles, if man bad been Christian Revelation ; yea, He left without the aid of supernatu- has entered into a covenant with ral revelation, he could be under us, ordered in all things, and sure, no law, he could be guilty of nowhereby is secured, without postransgression. The Judge could sibility of failure, the aids of the lay no hold of him at last, he Holy Spirit, to remove the ruins must be justified without works, of our fall, repair all the original and without faith. This would powers of human nature, restore at once overturn the whole fabric them to the image, favour, and of Christianity, supercede the fellowship of God, as they were necessity of any revelations, and first formed, together with addioffer an easy victory to the ene- tional circumstances of elegance mies of divine justice and the and splendour, a far more ex. doctrine of the atonement. ceeding and eternal weight of
Having thus endeavoured to glory. Let this covenant be show, from the perfections of all our salvation, and all God, and from the nature of man, desire. Let our talents, and from the general consent of na- our time, be employed in its tions, and from the testimony of service. Let our views, our Scripture, that man is naturally a desires, our purposes, and all religious creature; and having our relative connexions, be reninvestigated the principal objec- dered subordinate to this religion, tions to the existence of natural which requires us to glorify God religion, let me excite you, reader, in our bodies and in our spirits ; to admire, and bless the wisdom let us devolve with confidence all and goodness of God. He has our cares on the surety of the given us an honourable rank in better Testament; and by the the system of being; he has not Divine Spirit, through Jesus the left us to wander in the desert mediator, cheerfully consigo our with nothing but the faint torch whole souls and bodies into the