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tions of nature, and the dispensations of Providence, as against the doctrines contained in the sacred Scriptures.
FOLLY OF INFIDELITY.
AND is it possible that you (Paine) should think so highly of your performance, as to believe, that you have thereby demolished the authority of a Book, which Newton himself esteemed the most authentic of all histories? Which, by its celestial light, illumines the darkest ages of antiquity; which is the touchstone whereby we are enabled to distinguish between true and fabulous theology; between the God of Israel, holy, just, and good, and the impure rabble of heathen Balaam; which has been thought, by competent judges, to have afforded matter for the laws of Solon, and a foundation for the philosophy of Plato; which has been illustrated by the labour of learning in all ages and countries; and been admired and venerated for its piety, its sublimity, and its veracity, by all who were able to read and understand it? Nor have you gone, indeed, through the wood with the best intention in the world to cut it down; but you have busied yourself merely in exposing to vulgar contempt a few unsightly shrubs, which good men had wisely concealed from public view. You have entangled yourself in thickets of thorn and briar: you have lost your way on the mountains of Lebanon, the goodly cedar-trees whereof, lamenting the madness, and pitying the blindness, of your rage against them, have scorned the blunt edge and the base temper of your axe, and laughed unhurt at the feebleness of your stroke. The
Bible has withstood the learning of Porphyry, and the power of Julian, to say nothing of the Manichean Faustus. It has resisted the genius of Bolingbroke, and the wit of Voltaire, to say nothing of a numerous herd of inferior assailants; and it will not fall by your force. You have barbed anew the blunted arrows of former adversaries; you have feathered them with blasphemy and ridicule; dipped them in your deadliest poison; aimed them with your utmost skill; shot them against the Shield of Truth with your utmost vigor; but, like the feeble javelin of the aged Priam, they will scarcely reach the mark-will fall to the ground without a stroke.
INFIDELITY BARREN OF VIRTUE.
THIS system is a soil as barren of great and sublime virtue as it is prolific in crimes. By great and sublime virtues are meant, those which are called into action on great and trying occasions, which demand the sacrifice of the dearest interests and prospects of human life, and sometimes of life itself; the virtues, in a word, which by their rarity and splendour draw admiration, and have rendered illustrious the character of patriots, martyrs, and confessors. It requires but little reflection to perceive, that whatever veils a future world, and contracts the limits of existence within the present life, must tend, in a proportionable degree, to diminish the grandeur and narrow the sphere of human agency.
As well might you expect exalted sentiments of justice from a professed gamester, as look for noble principles in the man whose hopes and fears are all suspended on the present moment, and who stakes the
whole happiness of his being on the events of this vain and fleeting life. If he is ever impelled to the performance of any great achievements in a good cause, it must be solely by the hope of fame; a motive which, besides that it makes virtue the servant of opinion, usually grows weaker at the approach of death, and which, however it may surmount the love of existence, in the heat of battle, or in the moment of public observation, can seldom be expected to operate with much force on the retired duties of a private station.
In affirming that infidelity is unfavourable to the higher class of virtues, we are supported as well by facts as by reasoning. We should be sorry to load our adversaries with unmerited reproach; but to what history, to what record, will they appeal, for any traits of moral greatness, any sacrifice of interest or life, any instances of daring heroic virtues exhibited by their disciples? Where shall we look for the trophies of infidel magnanimity, or atheistical virtue ? Not that we mean to accuse them of inactivity: they have recently filled the world with the fame of their exploits; exploits of a very different kind indeed, but of imperishable memory and disastrous lustre.
Though it is confessed great and splendid actions are not the ordinary employments of life, but must, from their nature, be reserved for high and eminent occasions, yet, that system is essentially defective which leaves no room for their cultivation. They are important, both from their immediate advantage and their remoter influence. They often save, and always illustrate, the age and nation in which they appear. They raise the standard of mortals; arrest the progress of degeneracy; and diffuse a lustre over the paths of life. They are noble monuments of the greatness of the human soul; and present to the world
the august image of virtue in her sublimest form, from whence streams of light and glory issue to remote times and ages; while their commemoration, by the pen of historians and poets, excites a noble emulation, and awakens in distant bosoms the sparks of kindred excellence.
Combine the frequent and familiar perpetration of atrocious deeds, with the dearth of great and generous actions, and you have the exact picture of that condition of society, which completes the degradation of the species; the frightful the frightful contrast of dwarfish virtues and gigantic vices, where every thing that is good is mean and stunted in its growth, and every thing evil is rank and luxuriant; and sickening uniformity prevails, and the soul asserts its native grandeur only in volcanic eruptions of anarchy and crime.
THE SUBLIMITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
Is it bigotry to believe the sublime truths of the Gospel with full assurances of faith? I glory in such bigotry: I would not part with it for a thousand worlds: I congratulate the man who is possessed of it; for, amidst all the vicissitudes and calamities of the present state, that man enjoys an inexhaustible fund of consolation, of which it is not in the power of fortune to deprive him.
There is not a book on earth so favourable to all the kind, and all the sublime affections, or so unfriendly to hatred and persecution, to tyranny, injustice, and every sort of malevolence, as the Gos
pel.-It breathes nothing throughout but merey, benevolence, and peace.
Poetry is sublime, when it awakens in the mind any great and good affection, as piety, or patriotism. This is one of the noblest effects of the art. The Psalms are remarkable beyond all other writings, for their power of inspiring devout emotions. But it is not in this respect only that they are sublime. Of the divine nature they contain the most magnificent descriptions that the soul of man can comprehend. The hundred and fourth Psalm, in particular, displays the power and goodness of providence, in creating and preserving the world, and the various tribes of animals in it, with such majestic brevity and beauty, as it is in vain to be looked for in any human composition.
Such of the doctrines of the Gospel as are level to human capacity appear to be agreeable to the purest truth and soundest morality. All the genius and learning of the Heathen world, all the penetration of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle, had never been able to produce such a system of moral duty, and so rational an account of providence and of man, as is to be found in the New Testament.
DIFFERENT STYLES OF THE PROPHETS.
ALL the sacred writers, inspired by the same Spirit, treating the same subject, acting under a divine influence-each uniformly exemplify, in the peculiarity of his style, the character of his mind. Who can
fail to perceive that the character of the mind of Isaiah was sublimity. He is always an eagle in his flight-never losing sight of the sun-never stooping