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"by proof, but require those who come to us to de"pend on faith alone."
The advocates of modern infidelity have not failed to revive this accufation against Christianity, and to fupport it with their utmost ingenuity. Lord Shaftesbury opens his works with a letter on enthufiafm; and after remarking, that the blood of the martyrs was the feed of the church, he ludicrously obferves how much more than "heathenifhly cruel are "those tolerating Englishmen, for not contented with "denying the prophefying enthufrafts of our days the
honours of a perfecution, we have delivered them ❝ over to the cruelleft contempt in the world. I am "told for certain that they are at this time the subject "of a choice droll or puppet fhew at Bartlemy Fair;
and while Bartlemy Fair is in poffeffion of this "priviledge I dare ftand furety to our national "church, that no fect of enthufiafts, no new ven"ders of prophecy or miracles, fhall ever get the "ftart, or put her to the trouble of trying her
ftrength with them in any cafe." So far well; but the true object of his Lordship in these obfervations foon discovers itself. “I never heard, fays he, "that the antient Heathens were fo well advised in "their ill purpofé of fuppreffing the Chriftian reli"gion in its first rise, as to make use, at any time,
of this Bartlemy Fair method. But this I am
Shaftesbury Characterstics, vol. 1, p. 27, 28, 6 edit. 1737. perfuaded
perfuaded of, that had the truth of the gospel "been any way furmountable, they would have bid "fairer for filencing it, if they had chofen to bring "our primitive founders upon the stage in a plea
fanter way than that of bear-fkins and pitched. " barrels." He proceeds with more in the fame ftrain, infinuating, that the ill fuccefs of the Jews, in not rooting out Chriftianity at its firft original, arose from their being "too dull and cloudy a people "to exercise raillery on religious opinions, &c." It cannot but be painful to a Chriftian mind to dwell on fuch paffages as this. This noble Lord made ridicule the test of truth; to employ reafon fuited not his taste or his caufe; in another place he tells us of " this pro, "phefying fect, who maintained that the antient "prophets had the fpirit upon them under extacy, with divers ftrange geftures of body, demonftrating them madmen or enthusiasts, as appears ❝evidently from the inftances of Balaam, Saul, "David, &c, and who proceeded to justify this by the "practice of the apoftolic times, and by the regula"tions which the apoftle himself applies to these
feemingly irregular gifts, fo frequent and ordinary "(as our author pretends) in the primitive church, "on the first rife and fpreading of Chriftianity;' and he affures us, "that he had feen this gentleman "under an agitation, as they call it, uttering pro"phecy in a pompous Latin ftile, of which, out of "his extacy, it seems he is wholly incapable.” Whether his Lordfhip meant this affertion fhould "pafs
pass for a jest, I will not here pretend to determine ; but that he introduced it to difcredit the gift of tongues, with which fcripture declares the apoftles were endowed, will not, I prefume, be denied. But objections fuch as this, which this celebrated writer thought fit only to infinuate, more hardy infidels have not hesitated to avow.
Mr. Morgan, who distinguished himself by the title of the Moral Philofopher, affaults the character of St. Paul with peculiar virulence. The vifion spoken of in the 2d Epiftle to the Corinthians, chap. xii. "is, in this writer's opinion, an evident mark of enthusiasm, or
there are no marks of it in the world." And again he tells us," this faint had too much heat to reafon "coolly, and too great a crowd of tumultuous ideas "to range them in good difcipline, as the incohe
rence of his writings, the fudden change of fubjects, and darknefs of expreffion fhew, he was too “full of allufions, types and figures, to confider "rightly of realities. And against Christianity in general he advances the fame charge. "If Chriftianity be not effentially enthusiasm, wherein does, "the effence of Chriftianity confift? And again, if Chriftianity teaches to believe and act contrary
h Morgan's Character of St. Paul examined, p. 45 and 51. i Vid. in anfwer, infra, ch. v. throughout, but particularly fection the 3d. Alfo, Lord Lyttleton on the Converfion of St. Paul.
"to nature, is it not enthusiasm *?" That it does, this author attempts to prove, both by the speculative and the moral doctrines of the gospel.
These charges which had been brought forward against the gospel, irregularly and immethodically, were collected and arranged by another labourer in the cause of infidelity, who, under the femblance of a friend to Christianity, undertook to prove" that "it was not founded on argument, but faith alone; " and that the only means of coming at the know"ledge of divine truths, is by a constant and parti"cular revelation, imparted separately and fuperna"turally to every individual." In the courfe of his reasoning on this fubject, this author does not hesitate to affert," that our Saviour did not lay the argu❝ments and proofs of his miffion before his difci"ples, nor give them time to confider " calmly of "their force, and liberty to determine thereon as "their reafon fhould direct them: nay, he goes "fo far as to affert, that " Christ had no intention to prove his own truth and character by his miracles, " and that he was always remarkably upon the "referve in that refpect wherever he happened "amongst unbelieving company, and took particu"lar care to prevent their coming to public
* Vid. in answer, c. vi. of the following work.
notice, by difmiffing most of the company and "attendants before he began to proceed to the ope"ration, and that he would not fuffer his grateful "patients to proclaim the benefits they had received, "but enjoined them the ftricteft filence. Tell no "man, was generally the charge." And again, ❝ that our Saviour would not work his miracles
66 without ftipulating conftantly before-hand for previous confidence and perfuafion-believe you that "I am able to do this, is the language of the gospel," He even afferts," that whenever we find these "favours conferred, it was ftill perceiving that the 66 'patient hath faith to be healed. He imputes the "converfion of the apostles to an internal and irre"fiftible impulfe, without the help of reafon or "evidence; and fays, that when at our Lord's call. "St. Matthew forfook all and followed him, it “would seem strange, humanly confidered, that he "fhould thus precipitately defert a beneficial em"ployment for he knew not whom," and, as he infinuates, they were converted without evidence, he also states, that they converted others in the fame "They too (we are told) tread perpetually
P Vid. Infra, p. 29 to 31, and the references in the Appendix. P. 49, 50, of Christianity not founded on Argument. In confutation of this, Vid. Infra, p. 18 to 21.
Vid. Infra, p. 15 to 18, and the Appendix.
Vid. Infra, the entire firft chapter, in answer to this.
t Vid. Infra, p. 65.
" Ib. p. 38 and 39, in anfwer. Vid. Infra, the entire fecond chapter, particularly fection and 4.