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dispensation of mercy, and conducts himself according to the letter and spirit of it, is a weak and despicable character? Can you, in the fober fear of God, efteem all the great men among Christians to have been unreasonable and deluded persons? and that Thomas Paine and yourselves are the only men upon earth, who have found out the true wisdom? Is it probable, that men of your description, who, in general, have never turned your thoughts seriously and conscientiously that way, and who are neither more moral, more sensible, more learned, more philosophical, nor more inquisitive than large numbers of Christians are found to be, thould have made the wonderful discovery, that Religion is all a cheat, and the Bible a ridiculous tale, trumpe up by the Priests, to delude and amule mankind, while many of our great philosophical characters of all profeflions make it the study of their lives to comply with the former, and spend a considerable proportion of their time in the inveftigation of the latter? And then, it is of no little importance to ask, Does your Unbelief make you more moral, pure, chaste, temperate, humble, modest, thankful, happy?
Are you more amiable in your manners than we Cbriftians usually are, better masters, servants, husbands, wives, children, friends, neighbours?
Besides, My COUNTRYMEN, (permit me to speak plainly) are not you the most ungrateful of all human Beings, in that you have derived the whole of your present peculiar light, information, or philosophy (call it which you will) from the writings of the Old and New Testaments, and then make use of that light, information, or philosophy, to discredit those Writings, and to make them ridiculous among mankind? If we want to know what pure nature can teach, we must divest ourselves of all our present ideas, collected from the writings of the Sacred Code, and learn our religion from the Pagan page alone. The most eminent of them, however, faw and lamented their want of what you now so fastidiously reject.
• Pure PLATO! how had thy chaste spirit hail'd:
« O sweet enthufiaft! thou hadft bless'd a scheme
Should you not, as men of fense, review the history of the several ancient nations of the world, and compare their religion and morals with the religion and morals of your own country, where the Gospel has been preached for so many years ? Common fenle, and common equity feem to require this of you, before you commence apoftates from the religion in which you have been educated. You will permit me here to call to your remembrance a few facts culled out of the history of mankind. Make what use of them you please. Only give them a patient confideration, and a fair comparison with the religion of Jesus, as exhibited in the New Testament, and then act as you judge meet.
The Babylonians are said to have introduced the unnatural custom of human sacrifices. The Sepharvites, probably a branch of that people, burnt their children in fire to ADRAMMELECH and ANAMMELECH, the Gods of Sepbarvaim. 2 Kings xvii. 31.
Among the Phænicians, a father did not scruple to immolate his only child; a husband to plunge his knife into a heart as dear to him as his own, to avert fome public misfortune. Porphyr. l. 2.
In Carthage, the children of the nobility were sacrificed to Saturn. The calamities, which AGATHOCLES brought upon that city, were believed by the inhabitants to be a punishment for the substitution of ignoble blood; and, to appease the wrath of the God, they immolated 200 children of noble blood in one facrifice. Plut. de Superstit. Diod. Sic. 1. 20.
The ancient Germans also sacrificed human victims. Their priestesses opened the veins of the sufferers, and drew omens froin the rapidity of the stream of blood. Tact. Germ. 9.-Diod. Sic. I. 5. 20.
The ancient Britains likewise were equally cruel, and fuperftitious.
The sacrifice of strangers and prisoners of war seems to have been general, even among the ancient nations which were more civilized.
Achilles, in HOmer, immolates twelve ‘Trojans to the manes of PATROCLUS. IL. 23. 175.
And even in the 532 year of Romne, two Greeks and two Gauls were buried alive in a public place of the city, to satisfy the superstitious prejudices of the populace. Liv. 1. 22. C. 57
Though the Greeks do not appear to have offered human facrifices, yet whole states were at times reduced to lavery, and their lands confiscated, and their prisoners of war malsacred in cold blood.
Conjugal infidelity among the Athenians was become fa common in the time of PERICLES, that almost 5000 of their citizens were illegitimate. Plut. in PARICL.
If at any time a man became eminent among them for virtue, he was generally sentenced to some kind of punishment, either to imprisonment, banishment, or death.
Dark, however, as the picture of the Athenians is exhibited, it is sunshine when compared to that of the Lacedæmonians. See their history. By the laws of Sparta, a parent was permitted to destroy a weak or deformed child.
The Romans, though great and successful, were equally far from being a virtuous nation. They were the múr. derers and plunderers of the world. We might instance their whole history; but it will fuffice to have observed, that the celebrated Julius CÆSAR boasted he had taken 800 towns, vanquished 300 states, fought three millions of men, of whom one million had been either Naughtered or reduced to slavery.
The number of men Nain at different periods, even for their diversion and entertainment, was immense !
A creditor could, at the expiration of thirty days, seize an insolvent debtor, who could not find bail, and keep him sixty days in chains. During this time, he was allowed to expose him three market days to public sale, for the amount of his debt, and, at the expiration of a third,
to put him to death. If there were many creditors, they were permitted to tear and divide his body among them. It was customary, however, to sell the debtor, and divido
A father had the right of life and death over his children, and, by the laws of Rome, was permitted to expose his child to perish.
The husband was the only judge and arbiter of his wife's fate. If a wife was convicted of committing adultery, or of drinking wine, her husband had a right to put her to death without the formality of a public trial; while she was not permitted, on any provocation, to raise her 'finger againit him
To these several facts, add a careful perusal of the first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and then you will have had a view of the religion and morals of the Heathen world before the advent of CHRIST. If there is a difference between us and them, it is what the Gospel has made. The Heathens, indeed, excelled greatly in the arts and sciences. Excellence of composition may be produced from their writings, in rich abundance; but we call mupon you to fhew us any thing fit to be compared with various of the compositions contained in the Bible. You have no Hiftory so ancient, so important, so instructive, so enfertaining, so well writtent; no poetry so sublime; no Elo
* See a learned Sermon of Dr. VALPY, where these testimonies to the depraved state of ahe Heathen nations are detailed more at large.
+ One of the finest and most important passages in all Heathen antiquity is that of PLATO, where he introduces Socrates speaking of some divine teacher of whom he was in expectation, and of the milt which is naturally upon the mind of man, which was to be removed by that teacher. • He is one,” says SOCRATES, “ who has now a concern for “ us.”_" He is a person that has a wonderful readiness and willingness
to take away the mist from the mind of man, and to enable us to distinguish rightly between good and evil.” See his second ALCIBIADES.
Bishop HALI. says, “ I durst appeal to the judgment of a carnal reader “ (let him not be prejudiced) that there is no hiftory so pleasant as the
sacred; for should we even set aside the majesty of the Inditer, none
can compare with it for magnificence, and the antiquity of the mat"ter; the sweetness of compiling; and the strange variety of memorable that occurrences.”
" I am
quence so noble and so persuasive; no Proverbs so laconic, so divine, so useful; no Morality so pure and perfective of human nature; no System of the intellectual world so rational. We challenge you, my COUNTRYMEN, we dare you to come forward, and shew us any thing of equal excellence in all the authors of antiquity, or among all the stores of modern refinement*. You ought then to be ashamed of your conduct, in treating with such indignity and sovereign contempt, writings which were never excelled, never equalled; and which, it is probable, you have never given yourselves time thoroughly to understand. Your conduct herein is extremely culpable, and what cannot be justified, either on the principles of religion or philosophy. Any man poffefsed of one grain of modesty, and gratitude to heaven, could not help seeing the impropriety of it. A timely attention to one of SOLOMON's jeftst might do all such perfons everlasting good.Judgments are prepared for scorners, and fripes for the back of fools! “ I can write,” says Mr. PAINE, « a better book than the Bible myself.” grant this gentleman every merit to which he is entitled; þut I cannot help recommending to his attention, and that
« I am very confident," saith Sir RICHARD STEEL,“ whoever reads the Gospels, with an heart as much prepared in favour of them, as when he fits down to VIRGL or Homer, will find no passage there which is not cold with more natural force, than any Episode in either of those wits, who were the chief of mere mankind.'
Mr. Locke somewhere observeș, “ that morality becomes a gentle, man, not þarely as a man, but in order to his business as a gentleman ; and the morality of the Gospel," says he, “ doth fo excel that of all other books, that to give a man a full knowledge of true morality, I should fend him to no other book but the New Testament."
If any person, who takes up this pamphlet, wishes to be informed where he may find the literary beauties of Holy Scripture pointed out to him, let him know, that Boyle on the Stile of Scripture-BLACK• WALL's Sacred Clafics-and Bishop Lowth's Prelectiones, are all very valuable in this way.--Hervey's Works contain many beautiful specimens of sacred criticism.-Smith's LONGINUS--Blair's Letture -Rol. LIN's Belles LettresWeald's Chrißian Orator--and the second volume of the Adventurer--all" contain several good illustrations-Some instances of the same kind will be met with in the Speciator and Guardian.Many of these illustrations of the beauties of Scripture are collected into one view in the second' vol. of SIMPSON's Sacred Literature.
+ THOMAS PAINS, by way of fhewing his wit, calls Solomon's Proverbs a jest book.