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have suffered himself to have been diverted from the investigation by the pursuits of wealth, or honour, or any temporal concern ; much less by notions taken up without attention, arguments admitted without examination, or prejudices imbibed in early youth, from the profane ridicule, or impious jeftings of sensual and immoral men. It is from the influence of such prejudices that I would guard that part of the rising generation which is committed to our care, by recommending to them a serious perufal of the Tracts which are kere presented to them. Let them not refuse to follow this advice, because it is given to them by a churchman; he can have no possible interest in giving it, except what may result to him from the consciousness of endeavouring to discharge his duty, and the hope of being serviceable to them in this world and the next. They need not question his veracity, when he speaks of religion as being serviceable to them in this world; for it is a trite objection, and grounded on a misapprehension of the design of Christianity, which would represent it as an intolerable yoke, so opposite to the propensities, as to be utterly destructive of the felicity of the human mind. It is, in truth, quite the reverse; there is not a single precept in the Gospel, without excepting either that which ordains the forgiveness of injuries, or that which commands every one to poliefs bis vessel in fantification and honour, which is not calculated to promote our happiness. Christianity regulates, but does not extinguish our affections; and in the due regulation of our affections consists our happiness as reasonable beings. If there is one condition in this life more happy than another, it is, surely, that of him who founds all his hope of futurity on the promises of the Gospel ; who carefully endeavours to conform his actions to its precepts; looking upon the great God Almighty as his Protector here, his Rewarder hereafter, and his everlasting Preserver. This is a frame of mind so perfective of our nature, that if Chriitianity, from a belief of which it can only be derived, was as certainly false, as it is certainly true, one could not help wishing that it might be universally received in the world. Unbelievers attempt to make proselytes to infidelicy, by pressing upon the minds of the unlearned in Scripture knowledge, the authorities of Bolingbrooke, Voltaire, Helvetius, Hume, and other Deistical writers. It is proper

that

young men should be furnished with a ready answer to arguments in favour of infidelity, which are taken from the high literary character of those who profess it; let them remember then, that Bacon, Boyle, Newton, Grotius, Locke, Euler, that Addison, Hartley, Haller, West, Jenyns that Lords

Nottingham, Nottingham, King, Barrington, Lyttelton, with an hundred other laymen, who were surely as eminent for their literary attainments in every kind of science as either Bolingbroke or Voltaire, were professed believers of Christianity. I am quite aware that the truth of Christianity cannot be established by authorities; but neither can its falsehood be so established. Arguments ad verecundiam have little weight with those who know how to use any others, buc they have weight with the lazy and the ignorant on both sides of the question. But though I have here suggested to young men a ready answer to such of their profligate acquaintance as may wish to work upon their prejudices in favour of infidelity; yet I hope they will not content themselves with being prejudiced even in favour of Christianity: they will find in this Collection, such solid arguments in support of its truth, as cannot fail to confirm them, on the most rational grounds, in the belief of the Gospel Dispensation. They may wonder, perhaps, if religion be so useful a thing as is here represented, that their parents should have seldom or never conversed with them on the subject. If this should be the fact, I can only say, that it is a neglect, of all others, the most to be regretted. And indeed our mode of education, as to religious knowledge, is very defective; the child is instructed in its catechism before it is able to comprehend its meaning, and that is usually all the domestic instruction which it ever receives. But whatever may be the negligence of parents in teaching their children Christianity, or how forcibly foever the maxims and customs of the world may con{pire in confirming men in infidelity, it is the duty of those to whom the Education of youth is intrusted, not to despair: their diligence will have its ufe; it will prevent a bad matter from becoming worse; and if this foolishness of preaching, into which I have been betrayed on this occasion, has but the effect of making even one young man of fortune examine into the truth of the Christian Religion, who would not otherwise have done it, I shall not repent the having been instant out of season.

Diseite, O Miseri, et causas cognoscite rerum
Quid fumus, et quidnam victuri gignimur: ordo
Quis datus; -quem te Deus effe
Juffit.

These were questions which even the Heathen Moralists thought it a shame for a man never to have considered. How much more censurable are those amongst ourselves who waste their days in

folly

folly or vice, without ever reflecting upon the providential dispensation under which they live, without having any sublimer piety, any purer morality, any better hopes of futurity than the Heathens had ?

In recommending this Collection to the careful perusal of the younger Clergy, I would not be understood to vouch for the truth of every opinion which is contained in it; by no means s there is no certainty of truth but in the word of GodTheir Bible is the only sure foundation upon which they ought to build every article of the faith which they profess, every point of doctrine which they teach. All other foundations, whether they be the decisions of councils, the confessions of churches, the prescripts of popes, or the expositions of private men, ought to be considered by them as sandy and unsafe, as in no wise fit to be ultimately relied on. Nor, on the other hand, are they to be fastidiously rejected, as of no use; for though the Bible be the one infallible rule by which we must measure the truth or falsehood of every religious opinion, yet all men are not equally fitted to apply this rule; and the wiseft men want on many occasions all the helps of human learning to enable them to understand its precise nature, and to define its certain extent. These helps are great and numerous; they have been supplied in every age, since the death of Christ, by the united labours of learned men in every country where his religion has been received. Great Britain has not been backward in her endeavours to establish the truth, and to illustrate the doctrines of Christianity: she has not abounded so y much in systematic Divines as Germany and Holland have done; yet the most difficult points of Theology have been as well difcuffed by our English Divines, as by those of any other nation. In proof of this, I might mention the works of Pearson, Mede, Barrow, Burnet, Chillingworth, Stillingfeet, Clarke, Tillotson, Taylor, Benson, Jortin, Secker, and an hundred others; but the sermons preached at Boyle's Lecture, and the Collection of Tracts against Popery, render every other argument in support of the observation wholly unnecessary. The freedom of inquiry too, which has subsisted in this country during the present century, has eventually been of great service to the cause of Christianity. It must be acknowledged that the works of our Deistiçal writers have made some few converts to infidelity at home, and that they have furnished the Esprits forts of France, and the Frey-Geisters of Germany, with every material objection to our religion, which they have of late years displayed with much affectation of originality: but at the same time, we must needs allow,

that

that these works have stimulated some distinguished characters amongst the Laity, and many amongst the Clergy, to exert their talents in removing such difficulties in the Christian system, as would otherwise be likely to perplex the unlearned, to shipwreck the faith of the unstable, and to induce a reluctant scepticism into the minds of the most serious and best intentioned. Some difficulties still remain ; and it would be a miracle greater than any we are instructed to believe, if there remained none; if a being with but five scanty inlets of knowledge, separated but yesterday from his mother Earth, and to-day linking again into her bosom, could fathom the depths of the wildom and knowledge of Him which is, which was, and which is to come, the Lord God Almighty, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and

ever.

We live in a dissolute but enlightened age; the reftraints of our Religion are ill suited to the profligacy of our manners ; and men are foon induced to believe that system to be false, which we wish to find so: that knowledge, moreover, which spurns with contempt the illusions of fanaticism and the tyranny of superstition, is often unhappily misemployed, in magnifying every little difficulty attending the proof of the truth Chriftianity, into an irrefragable argument of its falsehood. The Christian Religion has nothing to apprehend from the strictest investigation of the most learned of its adversaries; it suffers only from the misconceptions of sciolists, and filly pretenders to superior wisdom: a little learning is far more dangerous to the faith of those who possess it, than ignorance itself. Some, I know, affect to believe, that as the restoration of letters was ruinous to the Romish Religion, so the further cultivation of them will be subversive of Christianity itself: of this there is no danger. It may be subversive of the Reliques of the Church of Rome by which other churches are sțill polluted; of persecutions, of anathemas, of ecclesiastical domination over God's heritage, of all the filly outworks which the pride, the superstition, the knavery of mankind have erected around the citadel of our faith ; but the citadel itself is founded on a rock, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, its master-builder is God ; its beauty will be found ineffable, and its strength impregnable, when it shall be freed from the frippery of human ornaments, cleared from the rubbish of human bulwarks. It is no small part of the province of a teacher of Christianity, to distinguish between the word of God, and the additions which men have made to it. The objecsions of unbelievers are frequently levelled against what is not

Christianity, Christianity, but mere humán system ; and he will be best able to defend the former, who is leaft ftudious to support the airy pretensions of the latter. The effect of established systems in obstructing truth, is to the last degree deplorable: every one sees it in other churches, but scarcely any one suspects it in his own. Calvin, I question not, thought it almost impossible that the Scriptures could ever have been so far perverted as to afford the Romanists any handle for their doctrine of Transubstantiation, or that the understanding of any human being could have been fo far debased, or rather fo utterly annihilated, as to believe in it for a moment : yet this fame Calvin followed St. Augustine in the doctrine of absolute personal reprobation and election, inculcating it as a fundamental article of faith, with nearly the same unchristian zeal which infatuated him when he fastened Servetus to the stake. A thousand instances of this blind attachment to system might be taken from the Ecclefiaftical History of every century; indeed the whole of it is little more than the history of the struggles of different sects to overturn the systems of others, in order to build up their own; and the great lesson which every sect, and every individual of every sect, ought to learn from its perusal, is Moderation. Want of genuine moderation towards those who differ from us in religious opinions, seems to be the most unaccountable thing in the world. Every man, who has any religion at all, feels within himself a stronger motive to judge right, than you can possibly suggest to him ; and, if he judges wrong, what is that to you? To his own master he standeth or falleth; his wrong judgment may affect his own salvation, it cannot affect yours; for, in the words of Tertullian--nec alii obest aut prodest alterius religio : this you must admit, unless you think it your duty to instruct him; but instruction may be given with moderation; and considering that the Bible is as open to him as it is to you, you ought not to be over certain that it is your duty to press your instruction upon him ; for what is, ordinarily speaking, your instruction, but an attempt to bring him over to your opinion? This principle should be received with great caution, or it may do much mischief; for it is on this principle that the Roman Catholics light up the fires of the inquisition, and compass fea and land to make a profelyte-a proselyte! to what we Protestants believe to be the delusion of Satan, the very canker of Christianity, the grand apostasy from the Gospel foretold by St. Paul. The Catholics however in this point act consistently; for; believing in the infallibility of their church, they have a plea for

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