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were part of the Divine substance, and that sun and moon were to be adored, (besides many other points of doctrine too ridiculous to bear the mentioningu,) even they had the confidence to charge the churches of Christ with credulity, the better to cover their own dotages. And now what shall we say to the same charge revived against us by modern infidels ? As to the word credulity, it denotes, according to its just and proper acceptation, any rash or wrong belief, taken up against reason or without reason. If this be a true explication of the name, (as it undoubtedly is,) then I humbly conceive that we stand clear of the indictment; and that our impeachers are themselves the men whom they would feign us to be. I do not know any more credulous men living, than they generally are. Indeed, we call them unbelievers, because they believe not what they ought to believe; otherwise they are great believers in their way, and, for the most part, men of a very large faith. It cannot be pretended that they believe less than we, since our creeds reversed (which usually makes theirs) are as long creeds as before; like as traversing the same ground backwards measures the same number of paces. He that believes, for instance, that there is no heaven, no hell, no future state, no Providence, no God, is as much a believer, in his way, as the most religious men can be in theirs. Infidels have their articles of belief as well as we, and perhaps more than we: so the difference seems not to lie so much in the quantity of faith, theirs or ours, as in the quality.

Bring we therefore this matter to a fair issue, that it may be clearly seen which of the contending parties are the credulous believers. Let the adversaries produce Epicurus’s creed, or Hobbes's, or Spinoza's y, or any other, fairly and fully drawn out, and let us compare. I am verily persuaded that such their creeds, represented at fựll length, will be found to contain more, and more frightful articles, than the Trent Creed itself, or even the Mahometan. A learned foreigner has taken the pains to digest one of the infidel creeds into three and twenty articles , eight of them negative, and fifteen affirmative : there is scarce an article amongst them bụt what is big with many and shocking absurdities. By which it may appear, that those over censorious gentlemen do not want faith, where they have inclination ; but while they strain out gnats, can swallow camels. They can readily assent to things more incredible or impossible than any to be met with in romance or legend : indeed nothing is too absurd for their belief, when they have a mind to it. They can believe, for instance, that Moses (a wise man by all accounts) could be weak enough to attempt the imposing a forgery and lying history upon a whole nation, endeavouring to persuade them out of their senses at once; and that he did not only attempt it, but succeeded in it too, and palmed his imposture upon all the people, none gainsaying it, nor discovering it; that the same imposture had the good fortune to pass unsuspected upon the people of the Jews for many ages, and came at length to be received even by Christ himself, who entirely confided in it, and staked all his character upon it, where he says; “ Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: “ for he wrote of me. But if

u The English reader may see the monstrous creed of the Manichees briefly summed up in Nye's Defence of the Canon of the New Testament, p. 88, &c.

* Hobbes's Creed of Paradoxes and palpable Absurdities has been collected into one summary view by several writers. See, among others, Kortholtus de Tribus Impostoribus, p. 93 ad p. 139; Reimman. Histor. Atheismi,

p. 444.

nem.

y Spinoza's marvellous creed may be seen, in a good measure, collected in Kortholtus de: Trib. Impostoribus, p. 139 ad p. 208; Bayle's Dictionary, in the article Spinoza. Symbolum Fidei Tolandicæ.

Articuli Negantes. 1. Nego spiritus incorporeos. 2. Mentem æternam et præstantissimam. 3. Providentiam numinis divini. 4. Immortalitatem animæ humanæ. 5. Penas et præmia in vita futura. 6. Authentiam et divinæ Scripturæ origi

7. Miracula Mosis et Christi. 8. Mosem fuisse autorem Pentateuchi.

Articuli Affirmantes. 1. Affirmo mundum aut naturam rerum esse solum numen, neque genitum neque interiturum. 2. Religionem esse pulchrum politicorum commentum. 3. Atheismum esse naturalem notitiam et sapientissimorum virorum religionem. 4. Religionem vulgi esse superstitionem. 5. Religionis institutores et sacrarum legum latoreş esse vafra et subdola ingenia. 6. Om, nium religionum sacerdotes, et sacrorum mysteriorum interpretes esse simulatæ pietatis vanos ostentatores, qui ex errore' alieno quæstum faciunt. 7. Religionis cultores et numinis ccelestis veneratores, esse ignavum et imbecille hominum genus. 8. Quæcunque pro supernaturalibus habentur et in Deum vertuntur, esse res mere naturales. 9. Quæ pro miraculis venditantur et creduntur, esse fraudes impostorum, vel effecta morbi melancholici in testibus qui ea viderunt vel audierunt. 10. Autographa Veteris et Novi Testamenti intercidisse. 11. Mosem et Scriptorem Pentateuchi fuisse Pantheistas ; ant, ut recentiores loqui amant, Spinozistas. 12. Mosis scripta explicanda et corrigenda esse ex exoticorum libris. 13. Certiorem fidem adhibendam esse Strabonis diligentiæ, quam Mosis, uti pie creditur, autoritati. 14. Atheum esse meliorem civem quam Theistam. 15. Religionem reipublicæ nocere. Fayi Defens. Religionis contra Joha Toland, p. 248, 249, 250.

ye

believe not his writings, “ how shall ye believe my words a ?"

But because the same gentlemen, who make Moses an impostor, must of consequence make Christ and his Apostles impostors also, let us next observe, how credulous they appear to be in this point too, as well as in the former. Not to mention a multitude of other absurdities, they must believe “ that a despicable company of wilful “ impostors and deceivers, men of a hated nation and re“ligion, without learning and discipline, without skill “ and experience, without any of the arts of pleasing and “ recommending themselves to mankind, should run down “all the wit and power and policy of the world; and

preaching a most despised and incredible and seemingly “ ridiculous doctrine, directly contrary to all the worldly “ interests and humours of men, to their religion and cus“toms, and to their reason and philosophy too, should

propagate the belief of it far and wide through the " earth, so that there was scarce a nation in the whole

compass of the globe, but what, in whole or in part,

* John v. 46, 47,

“ received this fiction as the most sacred truth of God, " and laid all the stress of their salvation

it 6." I borrow this representation from a very judicious writer and close reasoner, who pursues the same turn of thought a great way farther“, setting forth in the strongest and most lively colours the numerous and intolerable absurdities which infidels must admit of; thereupon observing, very justly and pertinently, that “ their so much boasted « aversion to all kind of bigotry and credulity is mere jest “ and scene, and that they are either some of the most “ fondly credulous persons in the world d,” or worse; “ credulous to a prodigy,” and might as well “ go on to “the fictions of a Popish legend, or a Turkish Alcorane." These are the men who are pleased to reproach the Church of Christ with easiness of belief, for believing mysteries and miracles. It is true, we do believe mysteries, few and well attested; while they believe many and palpable absurdities f. We admit miracles also, assigning a cause more than equal to the effect; while they are forced to admit the same effects, or things more marvellous, independent of their proper or adequate causes; which is admitting contradictions. In short then, we believe what we can prove by good authority, and no more: they believe what they please. Let them therefore first clear their own accounts, and then proceed, if they see proper, to charge the churches of Christ, as such, with credulity.

upon

b Ditton on the Resurrection of Christ, p. 363.
· Ditton, ibid. p. 364—371.
a Ditton, ibid. p. 374.
· Ditton, ibid. p. 375.

Mr. Bayle, speaking of Spinoza, has some just reflections, apposite to our present purpose, and worth the inserting.

“ The most disdainful censurers of other men's thoughts are very indul

gent to themselves. Doubtless he (Spinoza) derided the mystery of the Trinity, and wondered that so many people could speak of a nature ter“ minated by three hypostases : and yet, properly speaking, he ascribed as

many persons to the Divine nature, as there are men upon earth.-Spinoza could not bear the least obscurity of Peripatism, Judaism, or Christianity; and yet he heartily embraced an hypothesis which reconciles two " things so contrary to one another, as the square and circular figures, and “ whereby an infinite number of inconsistent attributes, and all the va

riety and antipathy of the thoughts of mankind are true at the same time “ of one and the same most simple and indivisible substance." Buyle in Spinoza, 2791, 2792.

A celebrated author has a reflection of like kind, in the words here following:

“ It must certainly be something else than incredulity which fashions the “ taste and judgment of many gentlemen, whom we hear censured as Athe“ists, for attempting to philosophize after a newer manner than has been “ known of late. For my own part, I have ever thought this sort of men to

2. Another party word and term of reproach, near akin to the former, is bigotry : a calumny thrown upon us for our steadfast adherence to Moses and the Prophets, to Christ and his Apostles, to God blessed for ever. In the mean while, to whom or to what do our accusers adhere, that we should be bigots, and not they? Bigotry means, in common acceptation, a warm or obstinate adherence to things or persons, to principles or party, against reason or without reason. By this definition we desire to be tried, and to join issue with our adversaries : and let the indifferent world judge whether Christians or infidels are most properly bigots.

The lower class of unbelievers appear to have as tame and as implicit a faith in their new instructors, as it is possible for men to have; that is, they are bigoted to them, and led blindfold by them. They believe every tale that is but confidently told them against religion, or the ministers of it: they accept of any sophistry that is offered them, and submit to any delusion or imposition upon their judgment and understanding. They often take dictates for arguments, mere assertions for proofs, equivocating for reasoning, and sound for sense. While they are afraid of being guided by priests, they consent to be governed by anti-priests; who demand a much greater

“ be in general more credulous, though after another manner, than the mere “ vulgar. Besides what I have observed in conversation merely, with the

men of this character, I can produce many anathematized anthors, who, “ they want a true Israelitish faith, can make amends by a Chinese or In“dian one." Characteristics, vol. i. p. 345.

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