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willing to be rational, how much more sublime. and more interesting an object is a mind like that of Newton, than the unwieldy force and brutal stupidity of such a monster as the poets describe Polyphemus? Who, that had it in his power, would scruple to destroy a whale, in order to preserye a child? Nay, when compared with the happiness of one immortal mind, the greatest: imaginable accumulation of inanimate substance must appear an insignificant thing. If we consider,' says Bentley, 'the dignity of an intelligent being, and put that in the scale against brute and inanimate matter, we may affirm, without overs valuing human nature, that the soul of one viro tuous man is of greater worth and excellency, than the sun and his planets, and all the stars in the world. Let us not then make bulk the standard of value; or judge of the importance of man from the weight of his body, or from the size or situation of the planet that is now his place of abode.
Our Saviour, as if to obviate objections of this nature, expresses most emphatically the superintending care of Providence, when he teaches, that it is God who adorns the grass of the field, that without him a sparrow falls , not to the ground, and that even the hairs of our head are numbered. Yet this is no exaggeration; but must, if God is omniscient and almighty, be literally true. By a stupendous exuberance of animal, vegetable, and mineral production, and by an apparatus still more stupendous (if that were possible) for the distribution of light and heat, he supplies the means of life and comfort to the
short-lived inhabitants of this globe. Can it then appear incredible, nay, does not this consideration render it in the highest degree probable, that he has also prepared the means of eternal happiness for beings whom he has formed for eternal duration, whom he has endowed with faculties so noble as those of the human soul, and for whose accommodation chiefly, during their present state of trial, he has provided all the magnificence of this sublunary world?
SOME INCOMPREHENSIBLE DOCTRINES IN THE
CHRISTIAN RELIGION NO ARGUMENT AGAINST
ITS TRUTH. But what if there should be some incomprehensible doctrines in the Christian religion; some circumstances which, in their causes, or their consequences, surpass the reach of human reason : are they to be rejected on that account? You are, or would be thought, men of reading, and knowledge, and enlarged understandings : weigh the matter fairly; and consider, whether revealed religion be not, in this respect, just upon the same footing with every other object of your contemplation. Even in mathematics, the science of demonstration itself, though you get over its first principles, and learn to digest the idea of a point without parts, a line without breadth, and a surface without thickness; yet you will find yourself at a loss to comprehend the perpetual approximation of lines which can never meet; the doctrine of incommensurables, and of an infinity of infinites, each infinitely greater, or infinitely less, not only than any infinite quantity, but than each other. In physics, you cannot com. prehend the primary cause of any thing; not of the light by which you see; nor of the elasticity of the air, by which you hear; nor of the fire, by which you are warmed. In physiology, you cannot tell what first gave motion to the heart; nor whạt continues it; nor why its motion is less voluntary than that of the lungs; nor why you are able to move your arm to the right or left, by simple volition; you cannot explain the cause of animal heat; nor comprehend the principle by which your body was at first formed, nor by which it is sustained, nor by which it will be reduced to earth. In natural religion, you cannot comprehend the eternity or omnipresence of the deity; nor easily understand how his presence can be consistent with your freedom, or his immutability with his government of moral agents; nor why. he did not make all his creatures equally perfect; nor why he did not create them sooner: in short, you cannot look into any branch of knowledge, but you will meet with subjects above your comprehension. The fall and the redemption of human kind, are not more incomprehensible, than the creation and the conservation of the universe; the infinite author of the works of Providence, and of nature, is equally inscrutable, equally past our finding out in them both.' And it is somewhat remakable, that the deepest inquirers into nature, have ever thought with most reverence,
and spoken with most confidence, concerning those things, which, in revealed religion, may seem hard to be understood; they have ever avoided that self-sufficiency of knowledge, which springs from ignorance, produces indifference, and ends in infidelity. Admirable to this purpose, is the reflection of the greatest mathematician of the present age, when he is combating an opinion of Newton's, by an hypothesis of his own, still less defensible than that which he opposes ;–Tous - les jours que je vois de ces esprits-forts, qui critiquent les vérités de notre religion, et s'en mocquent même avec la plus impertinente suffisance, je pense, chétifs mortels! combien et combien des choses sur lesquels vous raisonnez si légèrement, sont-elles plus sublimes, et plus elevés, que celles sur lesquelles le grand Newton s'égare si grossièrement ?
Plato mentions a set of men, who were very ignorant, and thought themselves supremely wise ; and who rejected the argument for the being of a God, derived from the harmony and order of the universe, as old and trite; there have been men, it seems, in all ages, who in affecting singularity, have overlooked truth : an argument, however, is not the worse for being old; and surely it would have been a more just mode of reasoning, if you had examined the external evidence for the truth of Christianity, weighed the old arguments from miracles, and from prophecies, before you had rejected the whole account, from the difficulties you met with in it. You would laugh at an Indian, who, in peeping into a history of England, and meeting with the mention
of the Thames being frozen, or of a shower of hail, or of snow, should throw the book aside, as unworthy of his further notice, from his want of ability to comprehend these phenomena.
PREVALENCE OF INFIDELITY, WITH A SPECIMEN
OF ITS WEAKNESS IN THE UNBELIEVER'S.
CREED. The publication of lord Bolingbroke's posthu. mous works has given new life and spirit to freethinking. We seem at present to be endeavouring to unlearn our catechism, with all that we have been taught about religion, in order to model our faith to the fashion of his lordship's system. We have now nothing to do, but to throw away our Bibles, turn the churches into theatres, and rejoice that an act of parliament, now in force, gives us an opportunity of getting rid of the clergy by transportation. I was in hopes the extraordinary price of those volumes would have confined their influence to persons of quality. As they are placed above extreme indigence and absolute want of bread, their loose notions would have carried them no further than cheating at eards, or perhaps plundering their country: but if these opinions spread among the yulgar, we shall be knocked down at noon-day in our streets, - and nothing will go forward but robberies and murders.
The instances I have lately seen of free-think, ing in the lower part of the world, make me fear, they are going to be as fashionable and as wicked