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RELIGIOUS WORSHIP OF THE HEATHENS
AS BEARING UNANSWERABLE TESTIMONY
PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIANITY.
L E T T E R
REV. W. VINCENT, D.D.
HEAD MASTER OF WESTMINSTER-SCHOOL
I have a great subject before me of which I believe there is no better judge in this kingdom than yourself : and I have good reason to suppose, from your sincere attachment to the Christian Religion, that you are as much in terested as myself in the use I am about to make of it.
From the common forms of school-education, our youth are in danger of returning back from the purity of Christians to the impure manners of Heathens; a very afflicting example of which once fell under my own observation. An amiable youth, of the first fashion, was found to have kept loose company very early in life ; from which every
bad consequence was to be apprehended. So far there is no rarity in the case : you must have heard many of them: and I should not mention it to you, but for the ob
servation made upon it by his father, which struck me to the heart; and I determined never to forget it all the days of my life. He accounted for the evil in the following manner : that his son having been accustomed at school to the loose ideas, communicated by Horace and other Heathen poets, had carried their principles into his own practice ; and was therefore only in a train with other young men of his age and education. Good God! said I to myself, is this the case ? and are we asleep about it? Do we sit still, and see Christians, under the light of the Gospel, sinking into worse than heathen corruption ? This led me to consider, whether it be not possible to turn this evil into some good, by showing young men of learning, that, as the false religion of Heathens was borrowed from the true religion of Revelation, and is a witness to its authority, it ought rather to confirm us in the truth than draw us into evil. I thought, if this could be shown, something might be done toward the preservation of our youth, without breaking in upon
the established forms of education : that the attempt would be laudable, and merit the thanks of parents, who see this matter in a proper light : that no learned teachers, if Christian, could be offended : and that, at all events, he that should give notice of the evil, might deliver his own soul by it.
With these thoughts in my head, I sate down to examine the true state of the case : and to you, Sir, or any other gentleman who has
gone over the common ground of classical erudition, there will be no difficulty in showing, not barely that the true Religion and the false have a resemblance in many particulars ; but that the resemblance is wonderful and striking, in such a manner as will make the one a proof of the other; and I am convinced others must have been struck by it as I am. The Religion of the Divine Law comprehends the institutions of Priesthood, Sacrifice, Atonement, Purification, Prayers and Supplications. It gives us the history of Divine judgments, miraculous interpositions, sacred commemorations, and communications between God and Man. These are the doctrines which distinguish the Religion of the Bible : and we meet with them all in the Religion of the Heathens. For in the first place, Heathens had priests. A priest is one of the first remarkable persons we meet with in the Iliad of Homer : and he appears under a very respectable character.
He is not a minister appointed by the people : that absurdity