صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

so monstrous and irrational, that she herself declares her own definition of him to be anintelligible, though it must be believed; and by addressing distinct and separate worship to each of the three different agents, that compose her triform Deity, and to one of them as incarnate in an human body like our own, she directly contradicts the voice of the Almighty, concerning himself, and establishes, as a religious duty, every species of idolatry forbidden by divine Revelation. The Koran also, by the single prohibition of the use of strong drink, whilst it effectually enforces on its disciples a rigid observance of the Gospel precepts of continual temperance, by constantly preserving the temperament of their bodies cool and undisturbed, and their rational faculties clear and unclouded, cannot fail of having a powerful influence, highly favourable to their bodily health, and the moral virtue of their minds ;* whereas, in Christendom, the constant, copious use, and very frequent intemperate and excessive

* I was, many years ago, assured by an intimate friend, an intelligent, worthy man, who had traded largely, both in the northern parts of Africa, and in many different countries of Europe, that he was never once deceived in cpnfiding in the honour and integrity of 3 Mahomedan; but that, through the perfidy and dishonesty of some of those be dealt with, he had been defrauded and injured in nation of professed Christians.


[ocr errors]

abuse, of fermented liquors, has effects fatally pernicious both to the bodily health and morals of its inhabitants.

It is true, the orthodox church preaches the pure

ethics of the Gospel, and the virtue of temperance amongst the rest; but she has, at the same time, ingeniously and impiously, contrived to render her own, and what is still worse, all the preaching of the Gospel, of none effect, by her doctrine of the death of Jesus, considered as a propitiatory sacrifice of infinite efficacy, and an universal atonement for sin. Even the protestant subdivisions of that church, in their most sacred and solemn acts of devotion, as well as in the sermons of their preachers, declare that, by his death, a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, hath been made to the divine justice, for the sins of the whole world. Gracious God, have mercy upon the presumptuous folly and madness of thy erring creatures! By this single doctrine, she has erected an universal asylum, as far as another life is concerned, not for intemperance alone, but for every other vice and crime, of which human nature is capable. The miserable, quibbling supplement to this shocking doctrine, that repentance and a proper faith is necessary,

for the particular application of the benefits of this atonement, can be of no avail; for no sinner can believe that a just · Being will inflict any punishment on account of offences for which he has already actually receired perfect and sufficient satisfaction: and, besides, since the people are also taught, that a sinner may effectually recur to this saving faith and repentance, even on his death-bed, or in the condemned dungeon of Newgate, what religious motive can any man have to curb and restrain his natural passions or inclinations, šo long as he hath it in his power to gratify them, at any rate, when he knows, that to the last moment of his life, he can hope to screen himself against the deserved consequence of his wickedness, by taking refuge at the cross of Christ? If any reflecting person can doubt of the dreadfully pernicious influence, which such a persuasion as this, must have upon the morals of the people in general,* wheresoever it is embraced, let him, for a moment, consider what would be the certain effect, should the Legislature set up an asylum for murder, in every parish in the kingdom, to which, if the wilful murderer could flee before he was apprehended, he should be exempt from punishment. Society would soon experience the evil consequences of such a policy, in the centuple multiplication of instances, even of that crime the most shocking to human nature. And, to complete his conviction of the similar effects, which this doctrine has, and ever hath had, upon the morals of professed Christians, he needs only to review the moral history of Christendom, from the beginning of the fourth, and attend to the vicious immoralities every where continually practised by persons of all stations, within the sphere of his own observation, in this first decade of the nineteenth century of the Christian Æra.*

* I say, in general, because, so congenial is moral virtue to our uncorrupted nature, that the world hath, at all times, produced exemplary, virtuous individuals, even amidst the grossest abuses of superstition of every kind. Without doubt there are, and always have been, many good and amiable characters amongst the members of the orthodox Church, in spite of the naturally evil tendency of her doctrines; as Pagan Athens, even in the libertine and vicious ‘age of Alcibiades and Aristophanes, could boast a Socrates and a Xenophon.

* To maintain a religious establishment, whose main object is the preaching up this pernicious asylum to the people, according to the estimate of the Lord Bishop of Landaff,* costs this country two millions sterling, every year. But, on a supposition that the amount of all the landed estates in our own country, which may be justly deemed ecclesiastical, are equivalent to all the Lay impropriations or tithes in Lay hands, which, I persuade myself, cannot be far from the fruth, it is easy to shew that the value of our ecclesiastical revenue,

* See his Charge to the Clergy, 1791.

In the answer which our Lord gives, Ferse 24-30, to the question, whether there were few that should be saved from the woes he

is above double what the learned and liberal minded Prelate takes it to be. For since, in the cases of new inclosures, the smallest proportion of land allotted to the Clergy, by the Legislature, in lieu of tythes, is one seventh, the value of the tithes of the whole kingdom must be equal to, at least, one seventh of the land. Now, from the calculations of Sir John Sinclair, and other the most able estimators, it appears, that the annual rental of the whole kingdom amounts to full sixty millions ; but as houses, except in the city of London, are not subject to any kind of tithe, supposing the rental of all the rest of the houses to be equal to that of the land, the titheable property will then amount to thirty millions yearly, the seventh part of which is rather more than four millions and a quarter. A sum which, whenever the time arrives when our Rulers, thinking it right to prove themselves the impartially equitable, common parents of the whole national family, by favouring the tenets and opinions of no one sect or party above the rest, instead of vainly attempting to controul and regulate the minds of their subjects, in matters concerns ing only God, and their own consciences, shall content themselves with restraining and regulating their overt actions and civil conduct, by the vigorous and equal execution of wise and wholesome laws, and leave every man, like the various sects of dissenters of the present day, to chuse his owo mode of worshipping the Deity, and remunerating his own religious instructor, will be sufficient, by selling the tithes to the several proprietors of land, at only twenty-five years' purchase, and the estates to the highest bidder, greatly to reduce the present immense national debt, and thereby exonerate the people of between three and four millions of taxes. In the fortunate, affluent circumstances of this nation, should Administration have wisdom, and equity, and true christian piety enough, to adopt such a plan of religious reformation, without waiting till it is forced upon them, by the tumultuous, violent paroxysm of some convulsion of the state, it might be quietly effected, in the course of a few years, without the smallest injury to any one individual, by a gradual abolition of the present ecclesiastical establishment, and a proportional diminution of the public burthens, on the voidance of every benefice, either by the death or voluntary resignation of the several incumbents,


« السابقةمتابعة »