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Among the numerous dangers which beset youth on their first entrance into life (young men in particular) the ridicule that is too often thrown upon religion, and the indifference manifested in whatever relates to it, are not the least. To show a regard for its institutions and ordinances is stigmatized as hypocrisy; to advocate its interests, as cant; and to introduce it as a theme of conversation as dulness. The fear therefore, I am sorry to observe, of being taxed with singularity, and the cowardly apprehension of being ridiculed has made nearly as many affectors of vice, as there have been hypocrites in virtue. Firmness of character, however will do
much in laying one of the best foundations for virtue. I will now briefly notice a few opinions of great moment on the subject of Religion and the Scriptures.
OXENSTIERN.—Was counsellor of Sweden, and one of the most able and learned men of his time, and yet he was not too great nor too wise to be above being taught by the sacred writings. “After all my troubles and toilings in the world,” says he, “I find that my private life in the country has afforded me more contentment than ever I met with in all my public employinents. I have lately applied myself to the study of the Bible, wherein all wisdom, and the greatest delights are to be found. I therefore counsel you (the English ambassador) to make the study and practice of the word of God your chief contentment and delight; as indeed it will be to every soul that savours the truths of God, which infinitely excel all worldly things."
SELDEN.-Whom Grotius calls “ the glory of the English nation,” was, as Sir Matthew Hale declared, “a resolved serious christian, and a great ad
versary to Hobbes' errors. He was generally considered as one of the most eminent philosophers and most learned men of his time. He had taken a diligent survey of all kinds of learning, and had read as much perhaps as any man ever did; and yet, towards the latter end of his days, he declared to Archbishop Usher, that notwithstanding he had been so laborious in his inquiries, and curious in his collections, and had possessed himself of a treasure of books and manuscripts upon all ancient subjects, yet “he could rest his soul on save the Scriptures.”—This is a perfect eulogium on the sacred volume.
EULER.—It is said of this great man, in the “ General Biographical Dictionary,” that few men of letters have written so much. No geometrician has ever embraced so many subjects at one time, or has equalled him, either in the variety or magnitude of his discoveries. He had the history of all ages and nations, even to the minutest facts, ever present to his mind; was acquainted with physic, botany, and chemistry; was possessed of every qualification that could render a
timable. Yet this man, accomplished as he was, was filled with respect for religion. His piety was sincere, and his devotion full of fervour. He went through all his Christian duties with the greatest attention. He loved all mankind, and if ever he felt a motion of indignation, it was for the enemies of religion, particularly against the declared apostles of infidelity. Against the objections of these men he defended revelation in a work published at Berlin, in 1747.
SIR Thomas SMITH.—The abilities of this statesman were excellent, and his attainments uncommonly great. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth he was, at one time, ambassador to the Court of France, and filled the important office of Secretary of State to that princess. Of his mental qualifications it is sufficient to speak of him as a philosopher, a physician, a chemist, a mathematician a linguist, an historian, and an architect :-and yet this great man was afraid at the period of his dissolution. It is said, that he sent for the Bishops of Winchester and Worcester, and with great earnestness begged of them to state to him, from the Holy