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theirs. So far from writing as they wrote, he cannot understand their writings. That which the scriptures teach on this subject is sufficiently verified in him, and all others of his spirit: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned. As easily might the loveliness of chastity be perceived, or the pleasures of a good conscience appreciated, by a debauchee, as the things of God be received by a mind like that of Mr. Paine.

Finally If the Bible be the word of God, it may be expected that such an authority and divine sanction should accompany it, that, while a candid mind shall presently perceive its evidence, those who read it either with negligence or prejudice, shall only be confirmed in their unbelief. It is fit that God's word-should not be trifled with. When the Pharisees captiously demanded a They might sign, or miracle, they were sent away without one. go if they pleased, and report the inability of Jesus to work a miracle. The evidence attending the resurrection of Christ is of this description. He had exhibited proofs of his divine mission publicly, and before the eyes of all men; but, seeing they were obstinately rejected, he told his enemies that they should see him no more till he should come on a different occasion:* and they saw him no more. They might insist, if they pleased, that the testimony of his disciples, who witnessed his resurrection, was insufficient. It is thus that heresies, offences, and scandals are permitted in the Christian church; that they who are approved may be made manifest; and that occasion may be furnished for them who seek occasion, to reproach religion and persist in their unbelief. If men choose delusion, God also will choose to give them The scorner shall seek wisdom and shall not find it; and up to it. the word of life shall be a savour of death unto death to them that perish. Mr. Paine, when he wrote the First Part of his Age of Reason, was without a Bible. Afterwards, he tells us, us he pro66 a Bible and a cured one; or to use his own schoolboy language, Testament; and I have found them," he adds, "to be much worse books than I had conceived." In all this there is nothing sur

*Matt. xxiii. 39. + Age of Reason, Pari II. Preface, p. xii.

prising. On the contrary, if such a scorner had found wisdom, the scriptures themselves had not been fulfilled.*

If an insolent coxcomb had been of opinion that Sir Isaac Newton was a mere ignoramus in philosophy, and had gone into his company that he might catechise, and afterwards, as occasion should offer, expose him; it is not unlikely that this great writer, perceiving his arrogance, would have suffered him to depart without answering his questions, even though he might know at the time that his unfavorable opinion of him would thereby be the more confirmed. Let us but come to the scriptures in a proper spirit, and we shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God: but if we approach them in a cavilling humour, we may expect not only to remain in ignorance, but to be hardened more and more in unbelief.

*Prov. xiv. 6.

CHAPTER IV.

THE CONSISTENCY OF THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, PARTICULARLY THAT OF SALVATION THROUGH A MEDIATOR, WITH SOBER REASON.

If there be a God who created us; if we have all sinned against him; and if there be reason to believe that he will call us to account for our conduct; all which principles are admitted by Mr. Paine;* a gloomy prospect must needs present itself, sufficient indeed to render man "the slave of terror." It is not in the power of this writer, nor of any man living who rejects the Bible, to assure us that pardon will have any place in the divine government; and, however light he may make of the scripture doctrine of hell, He that calls men to account for their deeds, will be at no loss how or where to punish them. But, allowing that God is disposed to show mercy to the guilty, the question is, Whether his doing so by or without a mediator, be most consistent with what we know of fitness or propriety?

That pardon is bestowed through a mediator in a vast variety of instances among men, cannot be denied; and that it is proper it should be so, must be evident to every thinking mind. All who are acquainted with the common affairs of life, must be aware of the necessity of such proceedings, and the good effects of them. upon society.†

It is far less humbling for an offender to be pardoned at his own request, than through the interposition of a third person: for, in the one case, may be led to think that it was his virtue and pen

he

*Age of Reason, Part I. p. 1. Part II. p. 100.

+ See President Edwards' Remarks on Important Theological Controversies, Chap. VI.

itence which influenced the decision; whereas, in the other, he is compelled to feel his own unworthiness; and this may be one reason why the mediation of Christ is so offensive. It is no wonder, indeed, that those who deny humility to be a virtue,* should be disgusted with a doctrine; the professed object of which is to abase the pride of man.

As forgiveness without a mediator is less humbling to the offender, so it provides less for the honour of the offended, than a contrary proceeding. Many a compassionate heart has longed to go forth, like David toward Absalom; but, from a just sense of wounded authority, could not tell how to effect it; and has greatly desired that some common friend would interpose, to save his honour. He has wished to remit the sentence; but has felt the want of a mediator, at the instance of whom he might give effect to his desires; and exercise mercy without seeming to be regardless of justice. An offender who should object to a mediator, would be justly considered as hardened in impenitence, and regardless of the honour of the offended: and it is difficult to say what other construction can be put upon the objections of sinners to the mediation of Christ.

Again: to exercise pardon without a mediator, would be fixing no such stigma upon the evil of the offence, as is done by a contrary mode of proceeding. Every man feels that those faults which may be overlooked on a mere acknowledgment, are not of a very heinous nature; they are such as arise from inadvertence, rather than from ill design; and include little more than an error of the judgment. On the other hand, every man feels that the calling in of a third person is making much of the offence, treating it as a serious affair, a breach that is not to be lightly passed over. This may be another reason why the mediation of Christ is so offensive to the adversaries of the gospel. It is no wonder that men who are continnally speaking of moral evil under the palliating name of error, frailty, imperfection, and the like, should spurn at a doctrine, the implication of which condemns it to everlasting infamy.†

* Volney's Law of Nature, p. 49.

† Rom. viii. 3.

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