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a Catholic; a year afterwards, he returned to the creed of his fathers. Posterity might not have known the story, had it escaped from his diary. The circumstance is thus curiously translated :
BAYLE'S DIARY. Years of the Christian Era. Years of my Age. 1669, Tuesday, March 19, 22, I changed my religion, next
day I resumed the study of
logic. 1670, August 20,
23. I returned to the reformed
religion, and made a private abjuration of the Romish re. ligion in the hands of four
ministers! These he names; his brother was one whom he had attempted to convert by a letter, long enough to evince his sincerity, but which required his subscription that we should now attribute it to Bayle. For this has Bayle endured bitter censure. Gibbon, who himself changed his religion about the same year of his age, and for as short a period, sarcastically observes of the first entry, that • Bayle should have finished his logic before he changed his religion. It
It may be retorted, that when he had learnt to reason, he renounced Catholicism! The true fact is, that when Bayle had only studied a few months at college, some books of controversial divinity by the Catholics offered many a specious argument against the reformed doctrines; a young student was easily entangled in the nets of the Jesuits. But their passive obedience, and their transubstantiation, and other stuff woven in their looms, soon enabled such a man as Bayle to recover his senses. The promises and caresses of the wily Jesuits were rejected, and the gush of tears of the brothers, on his return to the religion of his fathers, is one of the most pathetic incidents of domestic life.
D’Israelis's Curiosities of Literature.
ON THE IRRATIONALITY OF SCEPTICISM.
• Wrong not the Christian; think not Reason yours; 'Tis Reason our great Master holds so dear; 'Tis Reason's injured rights his wrath resents; 'Tis Reason's voice obey'd, his glories crown: To give last Reason life, he pour'd his own. Through Reason's wounds alone, thy faith can die ; Which dying, tenfold terror gives to death, And dips in venom his twice mortal sting.' MR. EDITOR,
Reason is the professed goddess of infidelity, and proudly exalted, in defiance of revelation, as all-sufficient to place man on the summit of perennial delight. Far be it from me to contemn or disparage any power, conferred by the Almighty upon his creatures; and especially the gift of intellect:—but, as a warm admirer of the Bible, and one deeply interested in its sublime and important communications, I cannot grant the high pretensions of scepticism, to superiority of discernment and rational deductions.
Without the sacred scriptures, I have yet to learn what moral or intellectual benefit has ever been bestowed upon mankind, and discovered in their avowed principles and conduct.
· I have yet to learn what nation of savages has been raised, by the mere dictates of human reason, to a civilized condition; what slaves it has emancipated from their yoke; what superstitions it has overturned on account of their palpable absurdity; and what uniform, simple, consistent, and self-evident scheme of doctrine, it has ever established in the world, that was acceptable to God, and safe for man to rest his hopes upon for eternity.
An opponent of revelation is unprepared to give an account of man's present state, as the subject of pain, anxiety, and death; therefore Reason should induce him to pause, and ascertain the origin of these calamities prior tò the rejection of the Mosaic history of their commencement. Let him shew us something, as the source of general woe, less complicated, and more intelligible to the human understanding. Until this is done, we must cleave to the sacred record as the only sure guide upon the point in question.
If, with the infidel, I admit the existence of evil, as the necessary effect of the original constitution of things, I am immediately involved in a labyrinth, from which I cannot extricate myself. It seems so obviously to charge the God of absolute wisdom, power, and goodness, with a palpable defect in his workmanship; that Reason compels me to fly to the inspired volume upon the subject, to solve the difficulty, and free my mind from embarrassment.
The fact of man's criminality is too evident to be denied; and it is a fact which presents innumerable and insurmountable objections to every assumed principle of acceplance with a just Creator by mere rational efforts.
Sin is a breach of the Divine law; and a law without a penal sanction is an anomaly too absurd for a reasonable being to admit for a moment: that sanction, therefore, cannot be evaded.
Then, I would ask the sceptic, how the Law of God is to be honoured, and the acknowledged violator of its precepts saved ? It will not do to tell me of mercy, because I must look to the principle of rectitude, and be fully convinced that the Almighty is righteous, as well as compassionate.
Here, then, I see the excellency, the reasonableness, and the necessity, of the vicarious scheme of salvation:-without that, man cannot possess a rational hope of future happiness :
• Die he or Justice must; unless for him
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.' When we enter upon a subject of pure revelation, we must stand prepared to meet the epithets of modern
rationality, and be termed fanatic, absurd, stupid, bigoted, priest-ridden, and as many other opprobrious names, as a bold objector may deem it requisite, to give him due confidence in his own superiority of mind: but as there is a material difference between hard names and cogent arguments, we must exemplify the Christian temper, and pity the mental imbecility of him who substitutes slander for reason, and mad aspersions for proof.
An atonement for offences committed, and suretiship for a second person, are, amongst men, an everyday concern. They are so far from being irrational, that they are considered as essential to the proper interests of society: therefore, all objections to the offering of Christ, on its supposed absurdity, are completely futile. How can that very conduct which is wise and prudent in creatures, be censured as absurd, when applied to the Creator?
But it is asked, “Will God panish the innocent for the guilty? God will certainly maintain the honor of his own law; and consequently where the principal fails in the discharge of his obligation, the surety must suffer.
And as to the doctrine of eternal life by another's death, it has its every-day analogy in our mortal existence : we live by the constant slaughter of innocent victims: these are our food, and the great support of our physical strength.
Therefore, if one state of being, is indebted to the death of unoffending objects, it takes away the charge of irrationality, in asserting the same principle with respect to man's future condition.
But the real fact is, that without the light of revelation, the origin, design and continuance of the world, the present circumstances and everlasting destiny of mankind, the character and attributes of God, are involved in midnight darkness, and the wisest of the human race could never have ascertained the will of the Almighty.
If, in connection with the moral duties of man, the first principles of religion, such as the self-existence and infinite perfections of the Creator, were either intuitive or self-evident to every individual of the human race, how came it to pass that the most studious and learned of the heathen, should have remained so completely ignorant of God?
Why did Socrates, the most celebrated philosopher of all antiquity, so often repeat, “That he knew but one thing with certainty, and that was his ignorance of all things ?' Why did Plato remind his hearers over and over again, “That in these subjects they were not to expect proof but only probability? Why did Tully so frequently complain, " That some unaccountable, we know not what error, and miserable ignorance of the truth, has got possession of usthat all things are surrounded and concealed with so thick a darkness, that no strength of mind can penetrate then ? Why did Zeno and the stoics, inform their disciples, ' That the æther endowed with a mind is the greatest god, and governs all things ?' Why did Cleanthus, his pupil, assert, “That the sun ruled, and had the direction ? Why did one tell his audience. Thai man is all soul?' and another contend' that he is all body?' In short, why did Pythagoras change the name of wise men into lorers of wisdom ?
The fact is, they were all completely incapacitated to find out God; and their experience of the insufficiency of human pouers alone, to reach the heights of sacred knowledge, convinces me of the irrationality of rejecting those very scriptures, that so plainly reveal the important truths, of which they were totally ignorant.
Without divine revelation, the existence of evil is inexplicable, and the remedy for human woe unknown: the history of man appears a mere catalogue of crimes and wretchedness—a blot upon his character, which pity for his sufferings, and a concern for his repute, would lead us to wish had never been recorded.
But the volume of inspiration, conducts us at once