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16 Ere Time to shape and fashion drew
These ductile members one by one,
17 O God! how gracious, how divine, How dear thy counsels to my
foul ! Myriads to myriads cou'd I join, They'd fail to number up the whole,
18 I might as well go tell the fand,
And count it over grain by grain :
19 Wilt thou not, Lord, avenge the good ?
Shall not blasphemers be destroy'd ?
20 Loud are their hostile voices heard
To take thy facred name in vain : 21 Am I not griev'd? Doth not each word
Wring my afflicted heart with pain?
Doth not my zealous soul return
Hatred for hatred to thy foes? 22 Yea, Lord! I feel
bosom burn, As tho' against my peace they rose.
23 Try me, dread Power! and search my heart;
Lay all its movements in thy view ;
24 If devious from thy paths I stray,
And wickedness be found with me,
HE deistical writers, who would fain
persuade us that the world was in pofsession of as pure a system of morality before the introduction of Christianity as fince, affect to make a great display of the virtues of many eminent heathens, particularly of the philosophers Socrates, Plato, and some others,
When they set up these characters as examples of perfection, which human nature. with the aids of revelation either has not attained to, or not exceeded, they put us upon an invidious task, which no man would voluntarily engage in, and challenge us to discuss a question, which, if thoroughly agitated, cannot fail to itrip the illustrious dead of more than half the honours which the voice of ages has agreed to give them.
It is therefore to be wished that they had held the argument to its general terms, and shewn us where that system of ethics is to be found, which they are prepared to bring into comparison with the moral doctrines of Christ. This I take to be the fair ground whereon the controversy should have been decided, and here it would infallibly have been brought to iffue ; but they knew their weapons better than to trust them in so člose a conflict,
The maxims of some heatfren philosophers, and the moral writings of Plato, Cicero, and Seneca, contain many noble truths, worthy to be held in veneration by pofterity; and if the deist can from these produce a system of morality as pure and perfect as that which claiins its origin from divine revelation, he' will prove that God gave to man a faculty of distinguishing between right and wrong with such correctness, that his own immediate revelation added no lights to those, which the powers of reason had already discovered. Let us grant therefore for a moment, that Christ's religion revealed to the world no new truths in morality, nor removed any old errors, and what triumph accrues to the deist by
the admission ? The most he gains is to bring reason to a level with revelation, as to its moral doctrines ; in so doing he dignifies man's nature, and shews how excellent a faculty God gave his creatures in their original formation, to guide their judgments and controul their actions ; but will this diminish the importance of revealed religion? Certainly not, unless he can provę one or both of the following positions ; viz.
First, That the moral tenets of Christianity either fall short of, or run counter to, the moral tenets of natural religion; or,
Secondly, That Christ's mission was nugatory and fuperfluous, because the world was already in poffeffion of as good a system of morality as he imparted to mankind.
As to the first, I believe it has never been attempted by any heathen or deistical advocate to convict the Gospel system of false morality, or to alledge that it is short and defective in any one particular duty, when compared with that system which the world was pofleft of without its aid. No man, I I believe, has controverted its truths, though many have disputed its discoveries : No
man has been hardy enough to say of any of its doctrines—This we ought not 10 practife; though many have been vain enough to cry out-All this we knew before.-Let us leave this position therefore for the present, and pass to the next, viz. Whether Christ's mission was nugatory and superfluous, because the world already knew as much morality as he taught them.
This will at once be answered, if the Gofpel assertion be established, that life and immortality were brought to light. We need not adduce any other of the mysteries of revelation; we may safely rest the question here, and say with the apostle to the Gentile world—Behold! I mew you a mystery : We shall not all seep, but we Mall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (for the trumpet shall found) and the dead Mall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Mark to how short an issue the argument is now brought! Either the apostle is not warranted in calling this a mystery, or the deist is not warranted in calling Christ's mission nugatory and superfluous.