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was master of, to the life and miracles of our blessed Saviour.
Let them take aid from all the legends in the Church of Rome, those pious cheats, the sprest disgraces of Christianity; and which have bid the fairest of any one contrivance, to overturn the certainty of the miracles of Christ and his apostles, the whole truth of the Gospel, by putting them all upon the same foot: at least they are so understood by the generality of their devotees, though disowned and laughed at by the learned, and men of sense among them.
Let them pick and choose the most probable of all the fables of the Heathen deities.
with reason and common sense. See more respecting this impostor in the Appendix to this work.
f Blount was a man of considerable talents, but abused them to the worst of purposes. He had received an excellent education, and attained more than ordinary skill in the arts and sciences. His first publication, entitled “Aniina Mundi ; or a historical narration of the opinions of the ancients concerning man's rank after this life, according to enlightened nature," appeared in 1679, in 8vo. It was designed to subvert the doctrine of the immateriality and immortality of the soul. His Life of Apollonius appeared in 1680, under the title of “The two first books of Philostratus, concerning the life of Apollonius Tyanæus, written originally in Greek, with philological notes upon each chapter," in folio. The notes constitute a direct and violent attack upon revealed religion. They are said to have been stolen by Blount from the manuscripts of LORD HERBERT, of Cherbury. The work was suppressed by the civil authority. It was followed in the same year, by another, equally hostile to religion, entitled “Great is Diana of the Ephesians ; or the original of idolatry, together with the political institutions of the Gentiles sacrifices."
Blount's miserable death, alluded to by Leslie in his note, was such as his principles gave just cause to expect. On his wife's decease, he fell in love with her sister. She, though not averse to his person, considered the connexion proposed by him as incestuous. A letter ingeniously written by Blount in defence of it, and published by him, failed to convince her; and an unsuccessful application on his part to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other divines
, confirmed her in her scruples. In despair at her inflexible determination to reject his suit, Blount shot himself, and after lingering some days, died in the 39th year of his age, August, 1693.
The Oracles of Reason, mentioned by Leslie in the Appendix, contained a collection of Blount's private letters, published after his decease by Gildon. They were subsequently reprinted with others of the author's works, as "The Miscellaneous Works of Charles Blount, Esq." Sva. 1695,
† See note to the caption of the Letter appended to this work,
Let them see if they can find in any of these, the four marks before mentioned.
Otherwise let them submit to the irrefragable certainty of the Christian religion.
XIII. But if, notwithstanding all that is said, the Deists will still contend that all this is but priestcraft, the invention of priests for their own profit, &c. then they will give us an idea of priests, far different from what they intend : for then we must look upon these priests, not only as the cunningest and wisest of mankind, but we shall be tempted to adore them as Deities, who have such power as to impose at their pleasure upon the senses of mankind, to make them believe that they had practised such public institutions, enacted them by laws, taught them to their children, &c. when they had never done any of these things, or ever so much as heard of them before: and then, upon the credit of their believing that they had done such things as they never did, to make them further believe, upon the same foundation, whatever they pleased to impose upon them, as to former ages : I say, such a power as this must exceed all that is human; and consequently make us rank these priests far above the condition of mortals.
2. Nay, this were to make them outdo all that has ever been related of the infernal powers : for though their legerdemain has extended to deceive some unwary beholders, and their power of working some seeming miracles has been great, yet it never reached nor ever was supposed to reach so far, as to deceive the senses of all mankind, in matters of such public and notorious nature, as those of which we now speak; to make them believe, that they had enacted laws for such public observances, continually practised them, taught them to their children, and had been instructed in them themselves, from their childhood, if they had never enacted, practised, taught, or been taught such things.
3. And as this exceeds all the power of hell and devils, so is it more than ever GoD ALMIGHTY has done since the foundation of the world. None of the miracles that he has shown, or belief which he has required to anything that he has revealed, has ever contradicted the outward senses of any one man in the world, much less of all
mankind together. For miracles being appeals to our outward senses, if they should overthrow the certainty of our outward senses, must destroy with it all their own certainty as to us; since we have no other way to judge of a miracle exhibited to our senses, than upon the
supposition of the certainty of our senses, upon which we give credit to a miracle, that is shown to our senses.
4. This, by the way, is a yet unanswered argument against the miracle of transubstantiation, and shows the weakness of the defence which the Church of Rome offers for it, (from whom the Socinians have licked it up, and of late have gloried much in it amongst us,) that the doctrines of the trinity or incarnation contain as great seeming absurdities as that of transubstantiation : for I would ask, which of our senses is it which the doctrines of the trinity or incarnation do contradict? Is it our seeing, hearing, feeling, taste, or smell ? Whereas transubstantiation does contradict all these. Therefore the comparison is exceedingly short, and out of purpose. But to return.
If the Christian religion be a cheat, and nothing else but the invention of priests, and carried on by their craft; it makes their power and wisdom greater than that of men, angels, or devils; and more than God himself ever yet showed or expressed, to deceive and impose upon the senses of mankind, in such public and notorious matters of fact.
XIV. And this miracle, which the Deists must run into to avoid those recorded of Moses and Christ, is much greater and more astonishing than all the scriptures tell of them.
So that these men who laugh at all miracles are 'now obliged to account for the greatest of all, how the senses of mankind could be imposed upon in such public matters of fact.
And how then can they make the priests the most contemptible of all mankind, since they make them the sole authors of this the greatest of miracles ?
XV. And since the Deists (these men of sense and reason) have so vile and mean an idea of the priests of all religions, why do they not recover the world out of the possession and government of such blockheads? Why do they suffer kings and states to be led by them? to establish their deceits by law, and inflict penalties upon the opposers of them? Let the Deists try their hands. They have been trying, and are now busy about it. And free liberty they have. Yet have they not prevailed, nor ever yet did prevail in any civilized or generous nations. And though they have made some inroads among the Hottentots, and some other the most brutal part of mankind, yet are they still exploded, and priests have and do prevail against them, among not only the greatest, but best part of the world, and the most glorious for arts, learning and war.
XVI. For as the devil does ape God, in his institutions of religion, his feasts, sacrifices, &c. so likewise in his priests, without whom no religion, whether true or false, can stand.
False religion is but a corruption of the true. The true was before it, though it be followed close upon the heels.
The revelation made to Moses is older than any history extant in the Heathen world. The Heathens in imitation of him, pretended likewise to their revelations: but I. have given those marks which distinguish them from the true: none of them have those four marks before mentioned.
Now the Deists think all revelations to be equally pretended, and a cheat; and the priests of all religions to be the same contrivers and jugglers; and therefore they proclaim war equally against all, and are equally engaged to bear the brunt of all.
And if the contest be only betwixt the Deists and the priests, which of them are the men of the greatest parts and sense, let the effects determine it; and let the Deists
& The annals of revolutionized France show that LESLIE's boast was better meant than weighed. The Deists, or rather Atheists, have tried their hands; and with the religion of Christ, they put down all civil order and social happiness. And yet, even in this most remarkable in. stance of successful attack upon Christianity, Leslie's boast (founded upon Christ's promise) has, in a measure, held good. For what has been the result of the impious attempt? Its day has gone by--and not only religion, but the very superstitions which first afforded the pretext to decry it, have regained their pristine ascendancy.
yield the victory to their conquerors, who by their own confession, carry all the world before them.
XVII. If the Deists say, that this is because all the world are blockheads, as well as those priests who govern them ;—that all are blockheads except the Deists, who vote themselves only to be men sense ;--this (besides the modesty of it) will spoil their great and beloved topic, in behalf of what they call Natural Religion, against the revealed, viz. appearing to the common reason of mankind. This they set up against revelation; think this to be sufficient for all the uses of men, here or hereafter, (if there be any after state,) and therefore that there is no use of revelation. This common reason they advance as infallible, at least as the surest guide; yet now cry out upon it, when it turns against them. When this common reason runs after revelation, (as it always has done,) then common reason is a beast, and we must look' for reason, not from the common sentiments of mankind, but only among the beaux esprits, the Deists.
XVIII. Therefore if the Deists would avoid thé mor. tification (which will be very uneasy to them) to yield and submit to be subdued and hewn down before the priests, whom of all mankind they hate and despise; if they would avoid this, let them confess, as the truth is, that religion is no invention of priests, but of divine original; that priests were instituted by the same author of religion; and that their order is a perpetual and living monument of the matters of fact of their religion, instituted from the time that such matters of fact were said to be done, as the Levites from Moses, the apostles and succeeding clergy from Christ, to this day; that no Heathen priest can say the same; they were not appointed by the gods whom they served, but by others in after ages; they cannot stand the test of the four rules before-mentioned, which the Christian priests can do, and they only.
Now, the Christian priesthood, as instituted by Christ himself, and continued by succession to this day, being as impregnable and flagrant a testimony to the truth of the matters of fact of CHRIST, as the sacraments, or any other public institutions ; besides that, if the priesthood were taken away, the sacraments, and other public instia