FOUR D I S C O U R S E S,
The general first Principles of DEISM and REVE-
LATION contrasted ; delivered in Salisbury,
and Thyatira, on different days
in April & May, 1797.
By the Revd. SAMUEL E. MCCORKLE, D. D.
Pastor of the Church at Thyatira, near Salisbury,
Rowan County, NORTH-CAROLINA.
Printed by FRANCIS COUPEE, & JOHN M. SLUMP,
at their English and German Printing-Office.
GOD, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake
in time past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken
to us by his son.
WITH regard to God's speaking at any time to men, or with regard to
external revelation, there have been, and can be but two general opinions.
either it is true, or it is not--either God has spoken, or he has not.
These opinions, as either may be adopted, will lead to very different
principles and practices, on all the subjects with which they are connected,
and they are connected with almost every principle and practice in human
life. Most necessary is it therefore that we try to find the truth. In
a discourse already before the public, I have given the principles believed
by those who deny revelation, and from some of those principles tried to
shew the absurdity of deism or of denying revelation.
I now design to shew the principles of those, who believe revelation,
and from some of these principles will prove the truth and reality of it.
I say some of these principle, because it would be too tedious to argue
These principles respect the attributes of God--the creation, confirmation,
and degradation of angels-the creation of man-his innocent and lapsed state-the
particular personal and interposing providence of God towards him in both
states-express precepts and penalties of laws-terms of salvation-a future
judgement-and a future state of retribution.
I begin with observing that these principles have respect to the attributes
of God. I say not to his existence, because deism admits this ; but deism
denies his omniscience with regard to the future actions of a free agent.
Every believer in any revelation, may assert his omniscience in this case,
as well as in every other which is not contradictory. For though there
may be some supposed things which God cannot know nor do, as how to make
any thing at once to be and not be, yet there is no such contradiction
in knowing and foretelling, the future actions of a free agent-This will
appear if we compare the Ancient prophecies, (see Hos. IX. 17,) with the
present state of the Jews, and consider how shrewdly some men, well acquainted
with human nature, will conjecture the future actions of others.
One object of revelation has, in all ages and nations, been supposed
to be the future actions of men, and the events to which they lead. The
other, and the only other object, has been some doctrines or truths which
the Deity only was supposed to know and reveal. A believer in revelation
may therefore admit, in all cases which are not contradictory, the omniscience
of God, and his system seems to demand that belief. It also requires him
to believe that the mercy of God is a matter of revelation, and can be
certainly known no other way.
In the second place, all who believe any revelation, believe that God
either out of nothing, or of preexistent matter, or of created and unfit
materials, formed the earth and all that is therein. Some of the old philosophers
supposed, with Aristotle, that the matter of creation was eternal; but
as they believed the interposition of a Deity, or designing cause, to bring
it into form, they admitted the truth of oracles, i.e. of revelation. None
denied a revelation, but they, who, with Democrates and a few others, denied
an interposition ; and asserted, what has been long since exploded, that
the world and all that is therein, were the effects of chance, or the sidelong
falling of atoms ; and that the gods were * too happy to be disturbed with
the affairs of mortals, or even to be concerned about upholding the world.
Such men were a little more than deists, though possibly some of our modern
deists may follow them. It would not be more extraordinary than the steps
that in a very short time, and therefore with a very superficial examination
some of them have taken already, that is from Calvinism to Arminianism,
from Arminianism to Universalism, and from Universalism to Deism. So rapid
has been their progression, so sudden their changes, yet always positively
The believing of a revelation prepares for the believing of a creation,
for the one is interposition, and so is the other ; one is worthy of the
Deity, and the other is as worthy; one is necessary, and the other can
be no more. The creation of the human body from the clay, or from anything
else, or the creation of the sun from nothing , are as really interpositions,
and as really miracles, as the standing still of the one, or the resurrection
of the other. Again, if God has deigned to create, why should he disdain
to reveal? The necessity of the one, appears to me, much greater than the
necessity of the other. For the necessity of revelation I can see, such
creatures as we are being made; but the necessity, or at least the equal
necessity, of making such creatures I cannot see.
In the third place, all who believe a revelation, believe that the Deity
created good Angels, of whom some have fallen, or that there are invisible
beings inferior to Deity; but superior to man. So says the Vidam or Bible
of the Bramins in tbe East, * The Greeks said the same, Ate the demon of
discord says Homer, + was precipitated from Heaven. The Northern Indians
have their Manittos, ++ or tutelar spirits to direct and encourage them,
and they all believe that there are invisible malignant beings, who are
daily doing mischief to men. "It is, says Chevalier Ramsey, ~ a common
opinon among men in all countries, that there are immortal demons, or degraded
The existence of devils was disputed by our late scriptural universalists
in their progress to deism. For revelation seems to state the encrease
of the punishment, and consequently guilt of devils quite down to the general
judgement, or last revealed state of tbings; and with regard to any future
deliverance either of men or devils it seems FARTHER TO SAY NOT. My own
opinion is, that all the texts brought forward by universalists, may be
limited to events either at or before the general judgement, or last revealed
state, and that if God even intended any future deliverance after this,
that it neither is, nor ought to be, in that revelation which he has given,
and which closes at a certain period with a FARTHER SAITH NOT. Be Be this
as it will, the universalists were prompted to turn devils into figures
of Rhetoric, expressive of the irregular appetites and passions of men,
and when this was not easy, tbey permitted the devils and scriptures to
go together, and embraced their own reason as their ONLY GUIDE, with whose
aid ALONE they attempted to prove universal salvation; but this led them,
ere they were well aware, directly to deism. It could do nothing less;
for if, from reason ALONE I can certainly prove the salvation of ALL, I
have certainly no need of a revelation to prove the salvation of ANY. If
reason ALONE tells me, that God MUST assuredly be merciful, I have no need
of revelation to tell me any thing more. In one of four written discourses
respecting scriptural universalism, I have attempted to explain and establish
the distinction which universalists seem to have confounded between justice
and mercy, and tried to show that on tbe principle of justice God may punish
with endless pain; and that, if otherwise than endless, it will be as God
has revealed it; but that revelation seems to stand as it was stated before,
and as perhaps it ought to stand.
To return. The deity cannot well admit the existence of angels, either
good or evil. For tho' the one be not unreasonable on the great scale of
being, nor the other on the principle of fallibility, or free-agency ;
yet both are doctrines of revelation; and because "If angels by nature
superior to man would forfeit the favour of God, and be rendered miserable
by his displeasure, it might have so happened that rnankind have apostatized,
and that profligates may justly fear the vengeance of God, which fear it
is the great object of infidelity to expel. But herein they contradict
the Ancient philosophers: for says Tertullian, who lived at Carthage about
the middle of the second century, the word DEMON is not new, both it and
these spirits were known to the philosophers. " *
In the fourth place, connected with a belief of revelation is the belief
of an active interposing providence, co-operating with free agents, and
restraining, directing, governing and [inspiring] events in opposition
to deism, which asserts an establishment of unchanging laws; and, except
bare upholding power, denies every other act, or interposition visible
I SAY VISIBLE or MENTAL, for if there ever was a dearth, or deluge,
or other calamity; or a removal of them which never would have happened
in the natural course of things: or if I ever had an idea or inclination,
or the recollection of an idea; or returning of an inclination, which in
the common course of things I would not have had : or if I have ever been
prevented from having any idea or desire which otherwise I would have had-there
is an active interposing providence, and there is a revelation, for all
interposition is revelation-revelation of the power, righteousness, or
wrath of God. And if this interposition be only mental, or an INTERIOR
NOTICE or INCLINATION, which are admitted both by Bolingbroke, and Paine;
+ the notice or inclination, divinely given, are as really interpositions
as dividing the sea, or raising the dead.
The foes and friends of revelation have lately proclaimed war against
one another, and here is the very ground on which the battle must
be fought, and the war ended. Is there any interposition visible or mental?
The attempts of our new Bible-splitting deists, if I may use that expression,
will never decide this debate. They have generally been educated by their
parents in the belief of the divine authority of the Bible. They have now
totally rejected that belief; and they are only pretending to retain a
part, in order to evade the popular odium of rejecting the whole, until
the period shall arrive, which they hope to be near, when the divine authority
of the whole can be denied without hazarding offices of profit or honour;
and then they will follow their leader, Mr. Paine, who has, at last the
credit of * courage and consistency, in boldly, and at once, denying the
I have said that they are pretending to retain a part, for in their
hearts they have rejected the whole. My reasons are that no part escapes.
They are trying, and constantly trying, to fix contradictions and absurdities
on the whole. They are publickly, and on every occasion, labouring to make
proselytes to the belief of these supposed absurdities and contradictions.
They are expressly denying all interpositions, and yet they have not made
up their minds; but are wanting more time to investigate the subject.
Now all this is the conduct, not of men hesitating and enquiring, but
of those who brave already decided.
It requires but little time to read the Canon of the Bible, and to know
all that can be known on that subject. To find all that has written by
Ezra, Paul, John, Josephus, Pliny, and Mimondes, respecting the scriptures,
is easy. With these men we cannot converse to ask for more, and from what
they have written the whole must certainly stand or fall together. The
argument which proves away one book, will prove away all. See Prid. Con.
and Poley's Evid.
I know that there is one sense in which all scripture is not divine;
but this sense does not divide the Bible by the books it contains. All
the books express wrong opinions of bad, and even of good men. And these
wrong opinions are not divine; but holy men have been moved, 2 Pet. I,
21, to record and refute there errors, and in this view all scripture is
divine; but this is a sense which no deist will admit, for men could not
be divinely moved to write without mental interposition.
This leads to say that, by denying interposition, the Bible-splitting
deists joins eventually with him who has rejected the whole, and with him
strikes off the whole at one stroke.
The argument stands thus: either there is a divine interposition, or
there is none. If there be interposition, it fixes a principle which will
account for every thing that is recorded in the Bible. I say recorded in
the Bible, for possibly doctrines and facts have been supposed to be brought
from the Bible, which time and deeper investigation find not to be there.
But, if there be no interposition, there is not one word of it can divine.
For I defy you to pitch on a single page from Genesis to the Revelations,
which does not express or imply interposition, either visible or mental,
or both. It is wholly, what we might expect a revelation to be, the history
of in-terpositions. Even the book of Job, which some deists have adopted
as a deistic book, begins and ends, and is throughout replete with interpositions
of every kind.
I have said that our Bible-splitters will soon follow their hero, Mr
Paine, for on the present ground they cannot stand; and whenever they ret-reat,
they will give a triumph to their foes. Suppose the Bible to be divided
among them, they will never agree about the parts that are to be rejected,
or retained; each one will have a Bible of his own, and all collectively
will have no Bible at all. They will realise the fable of Mahomet's hog,
the whole of which was said to be interdicted, and yet the whole eaten
up by each one's pitching on a different part, which he alledged was excepted
in the general interdiction. The end will be, that these semi deists will
take up the axe of Mr. Paine, "go through the books like one felling trees"
cease to split them any longer, and like him try to cut up the whole.
And then they will afford a complete triumph to their foes, for they
will have proved, to their own confusion, that their own reason has not
been sufficient, as their only guide on this subject; and therefore on
no other where religion is concerned. In fine, that they have been deceived
by occupying ground which they could not defend.
On no other ground than that which I have marked out can the question
be decided. The great final and decisive question will be this: Is
there, or is there not a divine interposition visible or mental? In this
discourse, I am only stating general principles; in the next, * this important
question shall be fully discussed; the arguments to support interposition
adduced, and objections answered.
I proceed to say, in the fifth place, that all who believe revelation
believe that man was created innocent and happy, or in some state better
than the present, from which state he has fallen by transgression. I know
that there are particular and different opinions among those who believe
revelation about the nature and extent of the first sin: but I am only
stating general articles, and certainly all who believe that man was created
at all, and that God did not create him a sinner, must believe that there
was a first sin, and of course a degradation from his first state. The
deist indeed who admits a creation must admit this, though he may from
many who believe revelation both respecting the consequence and cause.
The degradation of man from some other and better state, is however
an article of belief as general as the degradation of angels. The old Greeks
and Romans had their golden and iron age ; and some of the North American
Indians, I believe the Lenn i Lennapes, i.e. the original people, or Delawares,
say that the first Indians were cast down from Heaven; other tribes say
that they came from the Sea, which is .possibly some tradition of their
first peopling this country; and others say they came from a country under
ground. The idea and phraseology of earth form, and sons of earth are extended
to more tribes than the. Aborigines of America. They are nearly universal,
and so far co-inside with the revealed account of man's first formation
from the clay.
I design in its proper place, to urge the condition of the first man
in proof of interposition. No deist, who admits of his creation, would
hazard his situation in any climate on earth. Naked he must be without
fire, hungry, and houseless, without any interposition to guard him from
wild beasts, hunger, nakedness, and wintry storms.
He would pray to the Lord God, if he never prayed before, that he would
interpose, plant him a garden, and furnish him with cloaths.
6. * In the next place, a belief of revelation is connected with a belief
of the need of it. This will appear whether we view man in his pristine
perfection, or lapsed state-either he was formed with in note ideas, and
a moral sense, or without them. If without them, he was certainly in want
of revelation; and if with them they were a revelation, they were out of
nature, they came not in the common course of things, they were more than
the effect of mere upholding power. After the first sin, his need of revelation
certainly became greater than it ever was before.
7. Again, a belief of revelation is connected with a belief of the desire
of it i.e. of obtaining knowledge from it rather than from our own reasoning.
The existence of this desire is reasonable, and it is felt by us all. It
is reasonable that we should seek information from God rather than from
ourselves, "and that if God designed, at sundry times, or at any times,
to give revelation, he would previously give the desire of receiving it.
Th reality as well as reason of this desire, we cannot deny, for we feel
it; and I design, in the proper place to avail myself of the reality of
this desire to prove the reality of its object-revelation.
8. In the next place, they who believe the need and desire of revelation
in the innocent state, will believe that the need will be more, and the
true desire less in the lapsed state-the need more, because man now wants
information respecting pardon and sanctification-but the desire may be
less because he may be less sensible of his crimes, and corruptions; and
because much of his depravity may consist in self-confidence, and self-conceit.
As a nausea disgusts at wholesome food, and healing medicine, and a delirium
may induce the patient to believe that neither are necessary for him.
9. This leads to say, that all who believe revelation believe that mankind
are naturally both ignorant, and addicted to vice-ignorant, and therefore
in need of some revealed knowledge-addicted to vice, and therefore in need
of revealed laws, or sanctions, and restraints. I am very much surprised
to hear the deists asserting all this. Paine has expressed, or implied
it in almost every page. "To vice, says Voltaire in the history of the
Chinese-to vice are they as well as al1 other nations addicted." Deists
forget and then contradict themselves, for \/oltaire has here proved the
need of revelation, or he has asserted that which strongly implies its
necessity; and if God be good, its rea1ity too.
Whenever the deists are out of sight of their system, they think, and
speak, and write and act like other men; and it is only when the idea of
inter-interposition, or revelation comes in their way, that they are deists.
10. All who believe revelation will believe that it may be given as
a law or rule, either written or tractionary, with precepts and penalties-precepts
to show what is the will of God in particular cases, and penalties, to
enforce the observation of the precepts. Such a law will be believed to
be necessary both in the innocent and lapsed state. In the first, to direct
how to preserve innocence and to last, to tell him that he is ruined, and
needs a remedy, which he can not procure.
It will be easy to lead such a person to believe that this law may be
written. He will not say, "Would God commit himself by giving words for
men to criticise and deny?" He will say, "that on this principle, God would
not have given us his works, for these have been criticised and denied."
Some have said that they could have planned a better world than this; and
others have denied that God ever made this world at all. The whole sect
of Epicureans said, that the materials of the Sun, and of everything else,
were eternal; that they fell together by chance into their present form,
and that the gods happy in themselves, had no concern in the matter. The
followers of the Zoroosters in Cardee and Persia have never believed that
the Sun, or the Fire, was the work of God, anymore than our modern deists
believe that the scriptures of his word, for their belief was, and the
belief of the Gnebres or Gawrs, their present disciples, now is that the
sun is God himself. Hence they worship their Deity on a ground near Bakee
in the north of Persia, impregnated with combustible materials. See Morse's
Geog. on Persia, Vol. 2.
The truth is, more men have criticised and denied the works of the creator
than have ever yet criticised, or denied his written word; more have denied
that the sun is the work of God than ever yet denied that the scriptures
are his word. Pride is reason's worst foe. When men miss the first useful
truth, he that trusts his own understanding is a fool, they will miss every
other useful truth.
They will give up God, and God will give up them; and after this, no
mortal can tell how far they will go. Nothing can be too foolish, nothing
too absurd for such men not to believe or profess. They will assert those
weak and wicked things of which a modest humble child of seven years old
would be ashamed.
The heavens declare the glory of God, Ps. XIX, I verse-in them he set
a tabernacle for the sun, v. 4. the law of God is perfect, v. 7, converting
the soul. Now if men have denied that the sun is the work of God, as they
certainly have done, why should we be astonished that they should deny
that the scriptures are his written word? And if they deny that the scriptures
are his word why should we be astonished if they should deny that the sun
was his work? I scarcely know which has most and strongest marks of truth.
Be all this as it may, it is plain that if God ever gave us laws, they
must be written laws; unwritten laws are no laws. There is nothing to reduce
them to precision-they are worse than no laws-they are discretionary with
the Executive, and become sources of tyranny in both religion and civil
government. I know that written laws may be criticised and absurd; and
so may his works, as we have seen. But as the sun, though denied to be
the work of God, is still better that no sun: so the written law of God,
though denied to be his word, is still better than no written law.
The sun remains and shines, notwithstanding a11 the abominably foolish
opinions that have been formed about his nature and origin; and the written
law remains, and shines (for the law of God is a lamp, Ps. 119,) notwithstanding
all the abominably wicked things that have been thought and said of it.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and me shalt thou love with
all thine heart. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Here was interposition,
if the sabbath be divine; here are the words, and fools may criticise or
deny them; but here they will remain, and practised, and understood they
will be by all who wish to understand, or practice them.
Now let us contrast these written laws with no written laws: on one
side are plain words; on the other side a blank to be filled up with as
many gods as you please, or if you please with no God at all: on one side,
remember the sabbath: on the other a blank, i. e. Remember no day at all;
but beware of all times and places that would remind you of God and a future
On the one side. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery,
&c. &c. On the other, another blank to be filled up with what you
please- with the books that have been written, and the arguments that have
been offered by assassins, and debauchers, in favour of assassination and
venery; and it is well known that books have been written and arguments
offered in justification of both and it is also well known that both have
been practised to the great injury of society in spite of all human laws
that could be made to prevent. Nay, human laws, or customs, have some time
admitted assassination, drunkenness, and prostitution-admitted the first
as proof of patriotism, and the two last as acts of devotion to the Gods.
All this is deism. It loves human blanks; but abhors all divine written
laws. And all this would soon be paganism; our children, in a few years
would be employed in what our fathers have done- worshipping Bachus, Venus,
Wodin, and Thor, and sacrificing each other on altars polluted with human
gore. This, this is the blessed condition to which our wise and foreseeing
deities are endeavouring to bring us. God of infinite mercy blast them-
with disappointment. Amen! Amen ! And let all the people say, Amen!
11. Again, all who believe the reality of revelation, believe that God
may interpose, and give poignancy to the pain which arises from the violation
of his law: or that there is, as Dr. Blair has observed, some deep dark
malignity in the guilt, and some stain in the pollution of sin which is
not always easy to do away. I know that the heart may be sometimes insensible;
and so may the body in a deep mortitication; but who, in either case, would
boast of the insensibity, which has probably been effected by a series
of follies ands crimes?
12. They all who believe revelation have like wise a general idea that
there is some way, by mental or bodily pains, or purgations, to do away
the guilt and turpitude of sin. All have agreed that pain should be inflicted
on offenders, and offenders have often inflicted pain on tbemselves. The
Gentoos try to wash away their sins in the water of the Ganges; and the
Japanese to remove them by the sufferings of their saviour Saca Ameida.
13. They have also agreed that such things will not always take away
sin. Cain, and Caligula, and many more have not dared to deny this; and
even Voltaire has acceeded, at the last, to this truth. In his last illness,
after taking the sacrament, he exclaimed in agonies to his physician, who
had despaired of his life, "I am abandoned both by God and Man. I will
give you half of all I am worth to give me six months life." " I cannot
give you six weeks replied his physician." "Then I shall go to hell" cried
this miserable man, this hero of modern infidels * It was the kind office
of that revelation which he despised to shew the way of removing guilt
and escaping from hell.
14. It has also been a general article of belief, that the benefits
of suffering may, some way, be transferred. This was certainly the idea
of sacrifice which was universal among those who have believed revelation.
I know that there have been particular notions respecting sacrifice. I
know that the question has been warmly contested, "Was the sacrifice in
our stead, or for our good"? But I am only viewing the general principles,
not particular opinions of all who believe the reality of any revelation.
This general and traditionary revelation of the gospel, by sacrifice,
has paved the way for its more express revelation by preaching and writing.
15. I proceed farther to say, that all who believe revelation may believe
that God, for the violation of his law has visibly interposed as by a deluge,
the belief of which and of peopling the earth after it is universal, if
we except the modern deists whose system requires them to deny it.
The following account is not the history of the deluge, but it seems
to be so similar to the history of Noah, after the deluge, that it appears
to have originated from the Scriptural account. It has been lately translated
from an ancient Hindoo writer, by sir W. Jones, founder of a literary society
at Calcutta, in the East Indies.
To Satyavarnem, sovereign of the world were born Sherma, Charma, and
Japeti. The king by act of destiny, having drank mead, became senseless,
and lay naked. Charma saw, and called his brethren, to whom he said, "See
in what state is our sire" "By these two was he hid with cloaths, and called
to bis senses." Having recovered bis intellect, he cursed Charma, saying,
"Thou shalt be a servent of servants." Then he gave to Sherma the wide
domain on the south of the snowy mountain, and to Japeti the north of the
snowy mountain; but he himself by the power of religious contemplation,
attained supreme bless." *
The Musselmen believe that the deluge was universal, Mahomet speaks
thus: "God said, earth absorb thy waters, heaven drink up thy waves, thou
hast poured down, and heaven and earth obeyed," This sublime language he
has borrowed from Moses, Gen. I, "Let there be light &c."
The people of Cuba, says Herrera, gave the Spaniards an account of the
deluge but little different from that given by Moses. In fine it appears
from good authority that the Mexicans, Iroquois, and other inhabitants
of America, and indeed of the whole earth are possessed of the tradition
of a universal deluge. And were there no such tradition, the marks of a
deluge both on the surface and in the bowels of the earth are universal.
16. If we believe that God has interposed by one judgement, we may believe
that he will interpose by another or that he will one day bring al1 men
to account. This must be interposition, or it must be a revelation of righteousness
and wrath, Rom. II, 5, 10.
As this general judgement, interposition or revelation must be visible
to creatures who can see only visible objects-it paves the way for a belief
that the judge may possess visible humanity, and be such a personage as
17. Another article of general belief is, that there is some future
state better than the present. We have all heard, of the Christian's heaven,
the Greek Elysian fields, and Mahomet's paradise. The old Danes and Normans,
says Voltaire, fixed future happiness in drinking beer out of the skulls
of their foes in the hall of their god Wodin. The Tlascalans of South America
believe that their great men will pass into the nobler animals, and common
men into the inferior brutes; that those who die of dropsy, or are sacrificed
to the God of water, will possess some cool and comfortable retreat; and
that great warriors, and those who die in captivity will be removed to
the sun. Our Northern Indians say that the good Indians will meet in some
place where they will dance, sing and be merry; but the bad Indians will
be constantly wandering from place to place, restless and melancholy.
18. This leads to say farther, that all who believe revelation do also
believe that there is some future state worse than the present. From Homer's
and Virgil's Mytheology, it appears that the Greeks and Roman had their
Tartarus as well as Elysiam, and they also supposed some; intermediate
state for intermediate characters. This has probably given rise to Popish
purgatory, and modern universalisim.+ I am not ignorant that it has been
urged that some nations, and particularly the inhabitants of Otaheittee,
in the great Pacific, have no idea of any future punishment; but this is
not asserted on sufficient authority, and it is utterly inconsistent with
their known belief of fallen evil spirits. See Encyc. on Otaheittee. The
truth of this article is as generally believed as the preceeding particular.
With respect to the question, whether there be a rising of any body,
the same or another, it is not so generally agreed. Some think that Elysium
was a place for men, not for idols or umbroe images or shades, as ghosts
were called by the Greeks and Romans. Some think that the rising of the
dead was involved in the Stoic doctrine of a general renovation of nature;
and some that our Northern Indians believe it when they say "Indian corn
rises, and Indians will not die for ever." But, though a resurrection might
once have been a general doctrine, it does not appear always to have been
known, and therefore I have not classed it among the articles of universal
I make a similar observation respecting a trinity, or some triplicity
in the divine nature. For though the Chinese, Persians, Greeks, Jews, and
says Acosta, some tribes of South America; all have the idea of some triplicity
or triformity-either the supreme co-operating with two of the most exalted
created intelligencies; or three characters of the one supreme, as legislator,
judge, and executor of laws; or three ways of manifesting the one supreme;
or, as commonly supposed, three equal personalities in one godhead: yet
the doctrine, in any sense, has not been as universa1 as the preceeding
articles, and therefore I could not class it among them; yet it is so general
that the deist cannot easily account for it without some revelation, and
consequently some reality.
I only return to observe, that on the deistic principle of no interposition
since the creation, it may be proved that our future state may be worse,
but no better than the present-worse, for the present abuse of our reason;
but not better because if there never was interposition, we are now in
the very condition of the first protoplasts, whether they were two or two
hundred in number. And if consistent with the goodness of God that mankind
should first exist in such a state as is the present-- a state of God's
appointment, and not of our own choosing, it cannot as Sherlock has observed,
be proved to be inconsistent with his goodness that we all should exist
in such a state, or even in a more wretched condition in future.
I have now enumerated the doctrines, and proceed to the practical articles
in our universal creed. They are as follow:
19. That the Deity should be worshipped on the principle of interposition,
i. e. that we should practise the duty of prayer which is founded on such
interposition as all revelation supposes or implies. This duty deism can
never admit, because it denies all interposition, and asserts an absolute
and undeviating system of laws, which are as unchangeable as God himself.
I may therefore as properly pray that God would continue his own unchangeable
existence as the undeviating existence of such laws, and the same thing
may be observed of thanksgiving. But if there be interposition it supposes
that God gives me knowledge, and inclines me to practice it. This is mental
interposition, and it lays a rational foundation for prayer, that is for
asking knowledge, pardon for the wrong, and inclination to the right: but
deism sweeps away this foundation by denial of interposition, and consequently
of all intercourse both visible and mental between God and man.
And yet all the deists have prayed. The French deists have prayed, and
thereby owned an interposition which contradicts their whole system.
At the grand festival of the Supreme Being at Paris, June 8, 1794, after
a pompous description of the order and procession Robespierre presiding
the strophe, begins:
"Powerful God of an intripid People It is thou alone who defendest the
ramparts. What! THOU ALONE who defendest the ramparts, and no interposition
or revelation? But it proceeds:
Hear the virgins and their mothers, Author of their fruitfulness. Dry
up the tears of 30 nations-Be always the ally of the French people."
Surely the French people forgot that they were deists; for a deistic
prayer is a perfect contradiction. It stands thus: Oh God almighty! Do
now I humbly beseech thee, do what I am assured thou never hast done and
never wilt do-interpose and shew me that there is no interposition-reveal
thyself to shew that there is no revelation.
20. A similar may be made respecting praise, or giving thanks which
with prayer, includes the most important parts of worship; and are both
supported by the same arguments, and both fixt on the same foundation that
is interposition, or occasional deviation from established laws. How contemptable
then was the doctrine of our late universalists, on their progress to deism
that thanksgiving was a duty, but not prayer. A child ought to have been
ashamed of it. But, now they are deists, they will both pray and give thanks,
for French deists have done both, and of French deists they seem to be
the humble imitators.
At a large assembly of the French people in the camp of Mars, Sept.
17p7, Revelleire Lepeaux, the president of of the French people, in the
name of that people thus addressed the Great Supreme in their behalf:
"Thanks to thee O thou Sovereign Ruler of the destinies of the universe!
Thanks to thee France is a republic."
This homage was offered to the Deity after the detection of a dangerous
conspiracy to restore royalty, and ruin the republic; and it is often repeated
in his address to the people.
"Thanks to thee O thou Sovereign Ruler of the destinies of the universe."
And can the destinies of the universe be ruled? And can they be ruled without
interposition ? And can there be interposition, and no revelation ? And
can there be a revelation, and so many to ridicule and deny it? Yet all
this is deism. It ridicules revealed foreknowledge, and fixt determinations;
but admits Pagan destiny and Stoic fatality, to which it has devoted a
decade. It admits that the destinies may be ruled, and yet denies interposition-with
one breath it prays and gives thanks, and with the next it sweeps away
the foundations of both, and turns them into ridicule; and ridiculous they
are, if there be no interposition.
In one part, Paine says that prayer is presumption. In another, he says
"I have not believed, and do not now believe revelation-and so help me
God!" Help me ! How, if there be no interposition! Help me to what?-to
be a greater infidel, and more audaciously to ridicule prayer or help me
to believe that there is no help. Surely, when Mr. Paine shall have received
an answer to this extraordinary prayer, with M. Revelleire Lepeaux and
the French deists he will join, and render thanks to the Sovereign Ruler
of the destinies of the universe for interposing and answering his prayer.
This he will do if he be a grateful man.
The truth is, prayer and thanksgiving private and public have been
universal and therefore natural as every thing universal must be. In anxiety
for information, or anguish of spirit, even deists will pray. A deistic
general on the eve of an engagement would certainly desire that the Deity
would interpose, darken the councils, and discourage the hearts of his
foes. He would certainly wish for a knowledge of the event of the battle,
and would go to a witch of Endor for information, if from her he could
hope to find it. With Paine he would pray, "Help me God," darken the councils,
and blast the courage of my foes. Oh God !
21. Again, all who admit a revelation, admit the duty of noticing the
providence of God to themselves and families, the churches and nations.
This no one can avoid unless deism has blinded his mind. All men who admit
revelation, admit as before observed, the various acts of an upholding,
co-operating, interposing, restraining, directing, and governing providence.
But of all these various acts, the deists can admit only one, that is simply
upholding all things in existence. This can scarcely be called an act at
all; and it is at best but one remove from the total denial of the
providence of God, and only another from the denial of his existence. The
Epicureans admitted his existence, but denied that he ever interposed,
or even upheld the world; but this is the only act that our deists can
admit, So near are they to be perfect Epicureans. Atheism comes next, and
there is but one step between.
22. A belief of revelation is connected with a belief of the need of
exertions to obtain a divine agency on the human heart, in order to the
perfection of our moral characters. One of the heathens said that none
could be good, and another that none could be great without God, or a divine
asslatus from him. This was a belief of mental interposition.
But deism, by excluding revelation and interposition, excludes such
agency, and consequently such exertions; cuts off a11 intercourse between
the divine mind, and ours; and ridicules all that revelation means by checks
of conscience, conviction, or conversion; and all these interior notices
which Bollingbroke has absurdly admitted.
23. All who believe revelation every where agree to frequent rivers,
groves, high hills, caves, cataracts, and volcanoes, or other places impregnated
with fiery materials; in which they supposed a divine preference resided,
from that awe and reverence which these places inspired. And, from respect
paid to the manes, and tombs of the dead, they proceeded, as some supposed,
to erect temples, which by the ancients were called tombs. In the earlier
ages they worshipped their topical deities in groves, and on high hills
from which they might be more easily heard. The untutored Indian
now believes that the falls of St. Anthony is the residence of the great
Spirit, to whom he there pays his humble homage. And the Gaurs, whose god
is the fire, have raised many temples, and worship their Deity, as we have
seen on a fiery burning ground near Bakee, in Persia.
24 All agree to treat these places, especially temples and altars, with
unusual resect; to uncover the feet or head, as the custom may be, as an
expression of the belief of omniscience in the Deity, and a mark of sincerity
in the worshipper. Let no violence, said an old Greek law + be done to
him that flies to the temple for sucour. The lsraelites had a better law,
Exod. XXI, 14, which demanded that a murderer should be taken even from
the altar, though otherwise it was general deemed a sacred asylum.
25. All agree in devoting fixt appointed days, as well as places to
the exercise of public devotion. The Jewish sabbath is well known, and
was known by the ancient Greeks. ++ Hesiod calls it LAMPRON, illustrious
and Homer, HEIRON, sacred. the Chinese, says Voltaire, divided their months
into weeks of seven days. Voltaire did not then reflect that he was writing
against himself The Northern Indians, says Geo. H. Sequel, have five festivals;
some annual, others biennial &c.
26. All who believe any revelation have agreed to observe particular
days, on account of interposition, as famine &c. or deliverance from
it. The one was the occasion of fast days; the other, of festivals; both
on one principle, i.e. interposition; and both as universal as the belief
of revelation. The Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, all had such days,
and the Indians of North and South America now observe them at the dedication
of a temple, the appointment of a captain, a military expedition, or a
Now it is self-evident, that a deist by denying revelation and interposition
denies all sacred times and places of worship. For it is only by revelation
that the Deity can appoint them, and only by interposition can he give
the occasion of their appointment. But by the denial of both, they are
both swept away, and with them all public social religion and worship.
This is deism, pure and holy deism. All Paine's disciples may say with
himself, "My mind is my church."
27. All who believe revelation have agreed in offering some kind of
sacrifice, or suffering, to remove the guilt, and pollution of sin. The
inhabitants of some islands in the great Pacific, when sick, amputate their
fingers as a purchase for life, and the natives of America, and other countries,
subject themselves, for the same purpose, to bodily severities and penances
which are almost incredible, in order, someway, to do away their sins.
But how astonishing that, except a few pious Jews, sacrifice - even
human sacrifice should be universal. The early Greeks, and Romans, Carthagenians,
Gauls, and Brittons, all offered human sacrifices. The Mexicans says Clavigero,
before they were conquered by the Spaniards, offered yearly 20,000 men,
and at the dedication of their great temple, 70,000. These men had abused
revelation, and their reason was not sufficient to direct them.
For whence arose the first idea, the universality, and abuse of sacrifices?
* Or what natural connection between the death of a beast, and the sin
of a man? Nothing more probable than that they were originally appointed
by the Deity to typify, in the first ages, the death of Messiah; and that
enormous abuses were natural consequences.
The general notion of sacrifice or redemption is founded on that interposition
which establishes revelation. It supposes a deviation from a general law,
and is not more really a deviation than creation itself.
The fixt order previous to creation must have been that there was no
creation - creation was then a deviation from this fixt order of law. The
order for the first man's existence was that he should rise from the earth.
But the formation of the woman was a deviation from this; and the formation
of all others, a deviation from both. It is also an established law or
rule that every sinner shall personally, and for himself only, feel pain;
but that pain which falls universally on the animal world is a deviation
from this law or rule, for every thing on earth feels pain that can possibly
feel it. The whole creation groans; yet all are not supposed to be individually
or identically guilty. Here then is a deviation in the conduct of the Deity
- a deviation in the book of nature - and a deviation, which, without any
revelation, is harder to be accounted for than for the pains which revelation
asserts to be transferred to the innocent victim, or the suffering Messiah,
whole sufferings can be no more than another deviation from the above law.
If it be urged that the first deviation was necessary, the same thing may
be urged with regard to the second. In fine, the plea from necessity absolute
and uncontrollable - necessity can not be well urged in either case, for
what wise man will say that there was such a necessity for the creation
of animals that must feel pain? And what wise man will assert that their
was an absolute and uncontrollable necessity for God to deliver up his
son for us all? If we rest this subject on free choice, the book of revelation
has manifestly the advantage; for it tells us, that Christ for the joy
that was set before him indured the cross, despising the shame; but the
book of nature says that the creation, the whole animal creation, was made
subject to vanity NOT WILLINGLY, but by constraint; for they had no choice
in the matter.
28. All who believe revelation will admit, and their principles will
lead to practice the duties of self-preservation, self-examination, and
self-government Revelation says, "Do thyself no harm. Rush not uncalled
into a presence of God; for at a proper time he will call for thee. Be
therefore always ready; but remember that there is assuredly a worse state
than the present." Deism gives no assurance of any future state either
good or bad, and therefore invites to quit certain misery for uncertain.
Hence in proportion to their numbers we find more suicides among deists
than among any other class of men. With respect to self-knowledge, and
direction, it is plain that revelation presupposes the want of both. But
deism, which stands on the sufficiency of human reason, cannot admit such
a want; it cannot therefore enjoin self-examination, it cannot therefore
acquire self-knowledge, and finally, it cannot therefore, obtain self-government,
for no government can exist without knowledge to direct it.
29. All who believe revelation will believe the duty of exercising,
and therefore may exercise the humble suffering silent virtues of patience,
meekness, fortitude, and resignation. This seems to arise from that
belief of interposition, which all revelation demands. The ancient Pagan
heroes, and the later christian martyrs then acted or suffered most bravely
when they believed a divine interposition to aid them either to do or to
suffer. The Indian chief is now dispirited and in inactive when he believes
that his Manitto has forsaken him, and is courageous and resolute when
he thinks it has returned. The superstitious abuse of this doctrine of
divine aid proves nothing but the defect of human reason., and the use
and need of a written revelation which is less capable of abuse than traditionary.
The Mahometans, says Voltaire, called their revelation Islamism i.e.
resignation, and all revelation tends to it. A deist may be humble and
modest, but his principles lead to pride and impatience-to pride by telling
him, in properity, to confide in his own strength, -- and to impatience
and despondency by offering in adversity, no interposing aid but his own.
What but pride can make men deists? What but ungodliness can keep them
so? They have embraced a system that promises nothing.
Speaking of Paine's age of reason, Mr. Erskine of London, said in a
court of justice, "It is mischievous in its effects, and illegal in its
principles. The poor whom it affects to pity, are stabbed to the heart
by it. They have more need of consolations than those who have greater
comforts to render life delightful.
I can figure to myself says he, an humble man surrounded with children,
sinking under the last days labour, and unequal to the next, still bearing
the burden laid on him by that providence which he adores, and looking
forward to the hour when all tears shall be wiped away from the eyes of
affliction, what a change in such a mind might not be wrought by
this merciless performance?"
All who believe revelation will believe and may practice these social
duties-the early religious education of children,--and the exercise of
justice-and charity towards all men.
His principles will require early religious education, because they
have told him that we came into this world ignorant, depraved, and in need
of revelation. Deism is an open enemy to such an education, because it
tells us that it is not only not needful, but even pernicious, and prejudicing
to the young mind. Let not my pupil, says the skeptical rather the deistic
Rousseau, know that there is a god till he be eighteen years old. The late
universalists were the first among us who opposed an early religious education,
and particularly the reading of the christian scriptures in our English
schools. We did not all at first see their object, and perhaps they did
not all at first see it themselves. Now it is become obvious, and we ought
to be on our guard. It was one of the many ways of attacking revelation.
31. With regard to social justice its foundation is an oath, which revelation
calls a solemn act of religious worship, and by giving positive assurance
of a future state, makes the solemnity more solemn. It spreads before us
the omniscience, omnipotence, and holiness of God; and commands us on our
peril to beware of swearing falsely by his name. Revelation also proscribes
exact written rules for the common exercise of justice and promises, on
the faith of Jehovah himself, a future and a sure reward. This is a motive
to justice which deism does not offer.
32. We may observe the same thing with regard to charity, and
we may add, that revelation gives infinitely the greatest scope for its
exercise, and with infinitely more precision, guards against the spirit,
and exercise of persecution.
They who believe revelation, written or not written, are infinitely
more numerous than they who deny it, and they may extend a charitable hope
to all who do not absolutely deny all revelation-to all who though they
may abuse the proceeding general belief in its application, yet admit that
it is radically right-to all who, though they may enthusiastically believe
that there are interpositions of providence where there may be none, yet
do not deny all interposition-to all who, though they may sometimes sacrifice,
an improper victim, yet do not deny all sacrifice or atonement. To all
these may their charitable hope be rationally and consistently extended,
and withheld only from the few who deny. But the deist can extend to no
such hope to any of the vast multitudes that believe revelation, because
all such have violated the laws of reason, and are therefore damned by
its penalties, which, from the supposed clearness and strength of reason,
and from all the horrid evils that have arisen from sinning against such
light, must on the deists own principles be very great.
The christian revelation excludes none but those who in belief or by
practice, deny the Messiah. If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die
in your sins. This was a denial of him who was personally heard or seen;
but it is impossible for those personally to deny him who have not personally
seen him, or heard of him. And yet they may deny him by denying all revelation,
interposition, sacrifice, and attonement. Such only, in whatever nation,
are excluded from the christian's hope. Indeed, if we admit a divine mental
interposition, at the very last of life, even these need not be excluded
from our charitable hope.
I know the apostle asks, how shall they call on him of whom they have
not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher &c. Rom. X. But
it is plain that he means, how shall they call on him in person. How shall
they know the way of God more fully than they have already known it by
an unwritten revelation, a belief of interposition, of sacrifice, or attonement
&c. ? There is a wide difference between revelation written and traditionary
- between a general belief of interposition, and a particular knowledge
of the very manner respecting which the interposition has been. There is
a wide difference between the general doctrine of some attonement, and
a personal knowledge and history of the very person who gave himself to
be a ransom. And finally there is a wide difference, not in nature, but
degree, between life and immortality brought to light, and life and immortality
left in obscurity, darkness and error, as they certainly were, as well
as the other articles we have enumerated, and in the heathen, and indeed
when Christ came in the whole period.
Deists seem to agree with those who agree revelation, that men's opinions
may be embraced from very vitious views, and consequently that they are
connected with guilt. Their venomous and outrageous language against the
belief of revelation, is a proof that they consider such a belief as highly
criminal, and consequently a fit object for their vengeance. But as they
have no revealed laws written or unwritten, they have no revealed bounds
or limits to their vengeance; and, from the rancour of such a man as Mr.
Paine, I would have no hope of my life, were my life in his power, for
my opinion. A Borgia, a Bonner, or a Jeffries, have never uttered more
virulent things against any opinions that contradicted their own than Mr.
Paine has uttered against the absurd belief of any revelation.
Revelation certainly supposes that men may embrace bad opinions for
FILTHY LUCRE'S SAKE, and for other such detestable motives, consequently
that they may be connected with guilt and punishment; but as it admits
revealed laws, and even revealed written laws, it prescribes both the opinion
and the penalty. It says hitherto and no farther. The prescribed opinions
have their peculiar marks, and the penalty is, not civil pains, but only
exclusion from two positive revealed institutes - Baptism and the Eucharist.
But of this, more in a discourse which I design shortly to publish on the
terms of Christian communion.
If it be objected that no other supposed system of revelation has been
thus guarded, I answer this will prove that the christian is the true system,
for certainly the true system should be thus guarded. But of this more
in another place.
33. All who believe revelation, believe the divine appointment of a
priesthood to enforce and explain revelation. Deists themselves own that
this is universal, and it would be true if they did not own it. Priesthood
and revelation are inseparably connected, and the deists have said that
even deism must have its priests. Now whether revelation be true or false,
there is some consistency in its requisition of a priesthood: but of all
human characters, the character of a preacher or priest or deism, is most
inconsistent. If we ask him - by what authority dost thou teach - what
teachest thou - and on what terms? What would be the answer?
I am not authorised by God, for this were to admit a revelation and
interposition; I am not authorised by men, for this were to admit, what
deists abhor, a religious establishment.
But what dost thou teach? Morality, says Paine, and natural philosophy.
And what it morality? It teaches our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves,
and the reasons of it. And what is our duty to God?-Prayer? No. Thanksgiving?
No. Observing his providences? No. Congregating for social worship on fast-days,
or festivals? No. To be baptised, or celebrate the Eucharist? No. no.
With this question we need go no farther; and reason and civil laws
will provide for the rest. But I am come, says this preacher to tell
you that there is no revelation. And has God revealed to you that there
is no revelation? No. How then do you know it? Why reason, my only guide,
has told me so. But reason, which you say is my only guide, has told me
the contrary; and here the matter must end. But I am come, says this
preacher, to teach natural philosophy. And where is your philosophic apparatus,
and if you had one do you think to teach philosophy to farmers, planters,
mechanics, and day-labourers? No. But on what terms do you teach? The labourer,
says this preacher, is worthy of his reward, and thou shalt not muzzle
the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. "O priests, priests,
would Paine say, you are willing to be compared to oxen for money, Avericious
wretches! You are gaining an undo influence over the minds of men. Surely
priesthood and priestcraft, in all shapes, are inseperable, and deistic
priests are no better that the priests of revelation."
I close the articles with this general argument. If there never
was any revelation, what can be more unaccountable than a creed as universal
as this? How local and partial is deism when compared with it? Surely the
deists will no longer object to the partiality and locality of revelation.
But why do they not see the partiality and other defects of their own
scheme, and abandon it for a better one? I will answer this important question
in the words of Soame Jenyns, who had long been a deist, but at last rejected
deism and embraced christianity, bro't over, as he says, by its internal
evidence. "If anyone, says he, be attached to a favourite pleasure, or
engaged in world pursuits incompatible with christianity, he must continue
those pursuits with uneasiness if he believes the Gospel. But if he determines
neither to repent, nor reform, he will persist in them with dissatisfaction
and remorse. Such therefore generally commence unbelievers in their own
defense; for the most unsurrmountable, as well as the most usual obstacle
to our belief, arises from our passions, appetites, and interests. Let
the evidences of christianity be a thousand times stronger than they are,
had Jesus appeared to the Jewish Sanhedrim and the Roman senate, it would
not be effectual, for we have power over the eye of the mind as well as
of the body, and shut it against the rays of truth and religion."
Thus I believe to be the true cause of deism. There is a moral quality
necessary to the study of revelation, which all men do not consider-it
is purity of heart united with obedience to God's laws-it is humility joined
with prayer and assiduity in our researches for the truth. The following
are solemn sentiments: Into a sensual soul wisdom cannot enter, nor dwell
in the body that is subject unto fin. Maccab XII 3. If any man will
do the will of my father, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of
God; John VII, 17, which implies, that if he will not do his will, he shall
not know. This will is humility, self-denial, and prayer; and what fitter
means of finding the truth: but deism indulges pride and sensuality, the
very vices that destroy the understanding - pride by asserting the sufficiency
of our reason - and sensuality by denying that human nature is depraved,
or its appetites to be restrained. Is it strange that deists are debauchees?
In inebriety makes more deists than all the writings of Paine.
The amiable bishop of Landoff has enumerated some other causes of deism.
"The generality of unbelievers, says he, are such from want of information
on the subject of religion, have been engaged from their youth in struggling
for a worldly distinction, or perplexed with the incessant intricacies
of business, or bewildered in the pursuit of pleasures, they have neither
ability, inclination nor leisure to enter into critical disquisitions concerning
the truth of christianity. Men of this description are soon startled by
objections which they are not competent to answer; and the loose morality
of the age (so opposite to christian perfection) co-operating with their
want of scriptural knowledge, they got presently rid of their nursery faith,
and are seldom sedulous in the acquisition of another, founded, not on
authority, but sober investigation. Let me close with some advices.
Ist. To the deists. My fellow-man, and fellow-mortal, you are engaged
from mistaken views, in a daring and desperate attempt-you have few assistants,
and these not the most respectable. They have been changing their appearances,
but not encreasing their numbers nor strength. You have undertaken two
things that you will never be able to perform-to banish all revelation,
and bring deism to its room. This you will never effect-you may banish
some counterfeit systems of revelation, or you may destroy some licentious
or bigoted sectaries of the christian system. You have already ruined the
interest of universalism, and you will 'ere long, by opening enquiry and
free investigation, annihilate all other sects. You will teach christians
to think liberally, to love one another, to pray for your conversion, and
in the mean time to unite against your efforts. But until you shall have
produced a more rational and consistent system of deism than has ever yet
been produced, you shall never prevail against revelation.
Desist then, vain man, from the rash purpose of thy soul. Consider the
absurdity, contradiction, locality, and feebleness of your wretched system,
and explore the firmness and extent of revelation-the tree that God hath
planted by the waters, and made to take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
Amuse us not by casting pebbles at the twigs, but pluck it up by the roots
if you can, or let it altogether alone.
In fine, cease to ridicule, and carp at scriptural texts; but learn
to reason, and ascend to first principles. This is the great highway to
truth and right. Above all, flee pleasure which destroys reason, and pray
to God for help. Take these advices, and I will yet hope to hear.
"The angels shont, an infidel reclaimed."
Friends to revelation, you have nothing to fear. I advise you to courage
patience and prayer-your enemies are not more numerous nor respectable
than in ages past. They have but changed their shape, and that change is
in your favour-once they were the the cruel and pretended friends of revelation
that with armed force brought your fathers to the burning stake. Now they
are open enemies without arms. I had now rather encounter an avowed deist
than a bigotted ill-hearted pretended professor of our mild and holy religion,
whose heart has not fealt its power.
Let the sincere disciples of Jesus learn to defend his religion, and
to love one another. It is a shame to be more dextrous in attacking each
other, on some tenets peculiar and unimportant than in defending revelation
on its general first principles against deism, and infidelity; and yet
such people and such preachers are to found.
Sincere friends of revelation, fear not for its fate; but be concerned
for the fate of those who deny and oppose it yon are losing, nothing by
the numbers that are going ever to deism. They never understood nor felt
the force of revelation, and they would have been at best but concealed
foes. You are as well without them; yet cease not to pray for them, recommend
religion by you life and then you may say, The Lord reigneth, let the earth
rejoice; let deism tremble, and revelation be glad.
Since this went to the press, Volney's Ruin, a book just coming into
circulation, came into my hands. I beg that its admirers would compare,
with the benevolence of God, the following sentences: Chap. VI. "In the
origin of things, man, formed equally naked both as to body and mind, found
himself grown by chance upon a land confused and savage. An orphan, deserted
by the unknown power that produced him." A cruel parent to be sure! Again-"Self-love,
aversion to pain &c. were the simple and powerful motives which drew
man from the savage and barbarous state in which nature (I suppose he means
the designing and benevolent cause) had placed him." Innocent I suppose,
and yet miserable! And many generation expired before experience had time
to teach them the road either to truth, duty or happiness. How is all this
reconciled? Easily, if we admit interposition or revelation; but otherwise
Chap. V.-"Man's existence is overruled by superior powers."-Man is like
the world, governed by natural laws, regular in their operations, consequent
in their effects, immutable in their essence. Here is a gross contradiction.
Interposition, and revelation, with one breath, both admitted, and denied.
I will make some more remarks on this wonderful performance in my next
discourse. Time will allow no more at present.
END OF THE SECOND DISCOURSE.