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reason from the one to the other: and without so doing, we can have no proper sense of the greatness of the dispensation we are under, so marked out by such astonishing events so many ages ago. But without faith, to discern and embrace the spiritual things so delivered, the whole is lost upon us: and therefore it is not wonderful that we see an infidel of noble birth absolutely denying the likeness, and scoffing at the blessed Apostle, as a fanciful cabbalistical interpreter, who applies things to Christianity, which had no more relation to it than to what was then doing in France. From this teaching of the Apostle, you see what the spirit of the Old Testament means"; and in the example I have given, you see the blindness of infidelity: and the same blindness will be more or less in every person, who reads, or criticises, without the eye of faith: and in proportion as this way of interpreting is either disliked or neglected we may be certain there is a decay of faith in the same proportion. Here lies the grar.d 'distinction between a Jew and a Christian : the Jew sees nothing of Christianity in the Old Testament, and rejects it with scorn when it is pointed out to him : the Christian sees it with admiration and conviction; and, if God has made him a minister of the spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 6. he teaches it to the people. If you understand what I have said, your own experience will confirm the observation : if you do not understand it, then your want of understanding is a proof of what I have said ; that these things are not taught as they should be among Christians, and as they used to be formerly.
made when * See Mr. Whitaker's publication on the real Origin of Government, lately printed and sold by Mr. Stockdak, in Piccadilly. As this is the strongest book of its size and date against all the Sophisms and Subtilties of Republican Theorists, I must request the Reader, if a Christian, or willing to be such, to give it a fair hearing,
There is another remarkable instance, and that of great moment in these times, where the decay of faith is notorious. The Scripture teaches us that God governs the world, and that his kingdom ruleth over all. But this kingdom they only can see, who by faith see him that is invisible. In our Liturgy, wherein we pray as Christians, we frequently acknowledge this doctrine; the Scripture every where affirms it; but, in the world, what is become of it? Is it not almost universally forgotten or stigmatised? Are not principles publicly taught, and received, and boasted of, as the wisest in the world, which render this doctrine of the Scripture impertinent and impossible? In a neighbouring country thousands have been inhumanly butchered for adhering to it. Yet is the doctrine as true as the Gospel; and it is the only scheme that can be made sense of: but 9
when faith goes this doctrine goes with it; and the lawless kingdom of darkness, in which there is nothing but discord, confusion, and misery, rises up in the place of it. Many see and lament the confusion; but how few are there who acknowledge the true cause of it! However, let us hope, that the present times have opened many eyes *. A dreadful lesson hath been given, to alarm and enlighten us : they that are not enlightened are plunged farther into darkness, and inflained to greater rage 'and insolence; which is the worst of all misfortunes. They say it hurts government to maintain the doctrine of the Liturgy, and to preach as we pray: but, I say, not : it is the want of this doctrine that makes the people perfidious and turbulent, and puts government upon shifts and expedients, by which the people are sufferers.
I have stated some effects, as they are too visible amongst us; and I hope nothing has been exaggerated. We are now to enquire into the cause : and here you may be ready to answer, that the facts explain themselves ; and that the want of faith is at the bottom of all the evils we complain of. But we must go a question farther : how has it come to pass, that we are thus wanting in the faith of our forefathers ? The enemies of our faith are those we renounce at our baptism, the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world hath its vanities, its pomps and its pleasures : the flesh hath its passions; and the devil hath his devices. But these causes are too general ; all ages have been exposed to their influence; and the world in consequence hath always been filled with vice and misery. This doth shew us how the age differs from those that were before it. Let us try then, if we cannot account for the change, as the infidels themselves account for it: let us allow that it is the age of reason; that is, the age in whick the wisdom of man has been admitted as an authority against the wisdom of God. How this has happened it may be difficult to say, though the fact cannot be denied. I question very much whether I can trace the evil from the beginning : but I will give my own sense of it, submitting what I say to
We all know how Christianity was disgraced by the folly, hypocrisy, and cruelty of fanatical men in the last century, who surfeited the wise with their cantings and absurdities. To wipe away the reproach of which, it was thonght good to produce a scheme of religion not capable of such abuses ; more reasonable in itself, and more worthy of philosophers ; a religion of human reason. This is the plan adopted by our Deists; who profess a rule of life independent of Revelation : and so the facts of the Bible, with their consequences, on which our whole religion is founded, are all rejected as no longer necessary: Christianity is a scheme of facts; the other is a scheme of abstract reasoning: And; what is worst of all, the plan which thus answers the purposes of infidelity, was not ushered into the world by profligates and blasphemers (for in that case Christians would have stood upon their guard) but by persons of learning and religious character: who by once admitting that nature can furnish man with religion, have opened a door which will never be shut again. If nature is once allowed to be its own teacher, here is the finest