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a member of public society, without being thoroughly convinced that this could never be the case..
But let us proceed further. What say the passions in a state of nature? St. Paul himself shall reply." I know that in me "(that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good "thing; for to will is present with me, "but how to perform that which is good, "I find not. For the good that I would, "I do not, but the evil which I would "not, that I do.-I see another law in my "members warring against the law of my "mind, and bringing me into captivity to "the law of sin, which is in my members."
This, I fear, is nature in her most common appearance. Is this then the state to which the wise and the good would wish to be reduced? Is this the object of the philosopher's desire? Let the Voltaires and Rouffeaus of the age answer the question. It must be evident to any one who considers this picture of nature (for if he dresses up a divinity of his own he cannot expect any but himself to fall prostrate before her) that some great change must have
have taken place in the moral world, since a great and good Creator spake all things into Being. The profoundest meditations. of the wisest men could not explain this mystery. The Roman and Grecian sages were puzzled at the appearance of evil, and despaired of reforming the world. All "hopes of mending men's manners for the "future, (I use the often quoted words of "Socrates) must be given up unless God "is pleased to send some other person to "instruct them."
At the time of the reformation the deists began to arrange themselves into a party. Peter Viret *, an eminent reformer of Berne, in Switzerland, is said to have been the first who mentioned the name, and described the tenets of the sect. In the epistle dedicatory to the second volume of his Christian Instruction, he "There are "several indeed who profess to believe "that there is some deity or God, as the "Jews and Turks do: but as for Jesus "Christ, and all those things which the
Bayle's Dict, Article Viret, Vol. V. p. 482.
"doctrine of the apostles and evangelists "testifies concerning him, they take them "for fables and dreams. I hear that some "of this band call themselves deists, a new "word in opposition to that of atheists. "For the word atheist signifies one that "is without God, so they would hereby signify, that they are not without God, because that they believe that there is one, whom they even acknowledge for Creator of heaven and earth, as well as "the Turks: but as for Jesus Christ they "do not know who he is, nor do they "believe in him or his doctrine. "deists of whom we speak, he adds, ridicule "all religion, though they accommodate "themselves to the religion of those with "whom they are obliged to live, out of complaisance or fear."
This passage brings under our observation another description of deists, who through worldly motives mix with different societies of Christians, though it must be evident that they are totally destitute of all religion, whether it be denominated. natural or revealed. At least every system
of religion is equal to them.
They neither consult reason nor revelation in their practice. They live as without a God, and die without reflection. They neither possess the powers, nor cultivation of mind necessary to place them upon a level with those celebrated characters who have disgraced reason by the use of it, nor are they able to defend the doctrines which they espouse. Yet how large a part of mankind is here described? How many are there who abuse the liberty of opinion which is given them; and seize upon novelties which are void of any solid foundation, if they flatter those vices which they neither have power nor inclination to subdue!
It is with horror that the pious Christian looks around him in the world, when he beholds so large a multitude wipe off the symbol of religion from their dishonoured brow. He weeps, he supplicates the infidel only to open his eyes, and look upon the beautiful prospect which he rejects. If fair proportion and unspotted features be his delight, religion presents them before him. If inward complacency and unalloyed bene
volence can please him, he may behold
If an assurance that these seusations of pleasure shall be perpetual, that they shall all be restored in a future world to the happy possessor of them in this; if such an assurance can allure him to add himself to the number of the blessed, let him seek it in those rich and precious promises which are made by Jesus Christ.
Mere natural religion has nothing like this to offer. On the abstract principles of reason if an offence be committed, the offence must be punished. But what says the religion of Christ? It is equally with nature herself an enemy to the breach of the moral law; but it finds out a method, at the same time, to shew its abhorrence of the offence, and yet, on certain conditions, to pardon the offender. When St. Paul represented himself as in a state of nature, and reflected on the turbulence of his passions and evil propensities, he shrunk from the thought in the greatest agony of mind, and exclaimed, "O! wretched man that I "am, who shall deliver me from the body "of this death!" that is, from this body - of