Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

many that we give full credit to which do not admit of ball

as much ?

I have now, Sir, concluded, to the best of my ability, the evidences I had to offer in favour of Christianity. If in any part I have failed for want of greater talent, I sincerely regret it; but I do'hope that 1 have furnished such a clue, that persons more competent to the task will be able to improve uponthat so the divine, the inestimable religion of Jesus, cleared of all its rubbish, may appear in its true and proper light, and that numbers may be brought to see its truth, and experience its benign effects.

I think I have said enough to excite enquiry, and indeed to satisfy those who are anxious to know the will of their Creator, that they may perform it from their beart; and I am persuaded it is as much the duty of those who deny revelation to answer our arguments, as for Christians to answer their objections : and that no man can honestly reject Christianity till he has answered to his own mind all that I have said in its de fence.

1 shall conclude by calling upon Deists to assign an adequate cause for the facts and effects here stated, equal, if not superior, to that which the scripture has assigned; and also to those other facts, and effects stated in my fornier essays. When such an opponent appears, I shall meet him with plea, sure ; but I do not pledge myself to enter the contest with any one who does not fairly take up the matter, and assign fair, rational, and substantial causes, agreeable to the rule laid down in my first essay. Till then, Sir, 1 take my leave, as suring you of my most sincere wishes for the advancement of truth, and of real Christian truth in particular, because I know it is calculated to make men wise, virtuous, and happy.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small]

(Communications for this Article are particularly requested.]

RELIGIOUS BELIEF. O

N the snbject of religion many men dream rather than think_imagine rather in vigorous exercise, similarity of sentiment would be much more prevalent. But mankind will not think, and hence (free) thinking has been deemed“ one of the least exert-d privileges of cultivated humanity.” It unfortunately happens, that the idle flights indulged by enthusiasts, the burdensome rites revered by the superstitions, and the corrupt maxims adopted by worldly-minded professors, are charged on the scriptures of truth ; whereas the inspired volume is fraught with rational doctrines, equitable precepts, and immaculate rules of conduct. Fanciful accommodations, distorted passages, false translations, and forced analogies, have been the despicable means employed to debase the Christian doctrine. Evans.

KNAVERY OF ASTROLOGERS. Cardon was the victim of his own vanity : he calculated his own nativity, and predicted his own death at a certain time. When the appointed time drew near, and Cardon perceived no signs of any sickness, in order to preserve his repu. tation, and that of judicial astrology, he starved himself to death. Scaliger and Jhoannus vouched for the truth of this fact. The same Cardon likewise calcu. lated his son's nativity with a great deal of care ; he advertized him in a long writing what his fate should be, but took no notice that he should be hanged at the age of twenty-four for poisoning his wife.-Philosophical Dissertations.

RULES FOR RELIGIOUS STUDY. Dr. Taylor, the author of an Hebrew English concordance, and of many works of reputation on religious and moral subjects, was for some years the superintendent of a dissenting academy at Warrington, in Lancashire. In the fulfilment of this office, he was in the habit of delivering lectures on religious subjects to his pupils, which he always prefaced with the following charge; the perusal of which, must at once excite our admiration of it's author, and our regret that similar principles have not been more frequently avowed, and acted upon by those who undertake to teach religion to others.- 1st. “I do most solemnly charge you, in the name of the God of truth, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and before whose judgment seat you must in no long time appear, that in all your studies and inquiries of a religious nature, present, orfuture, you do constantly, carefully, impartially, and conscientiously attend to evidence, as it lies in the holy scriptures, or in the nature of things, and the dictates of reason, cautiously guarding against the sallies of imagination, and the fallacy of ill-grounded conjecture.”—2nd." That you admit, embrace, or assent to no principle, or sentiment, by me taught, or advanced, but only so far as it shall appear to you to be supported, and justified by proper evidence or the reason of things."--3rd.“That, if at any time hereafter any principle, or sentiment, by me taught or advanced, or by you admitted and embraced, shall, upon impartial and faithful examination, appear to you to be dubious, or false, you either suspect, or totally reject such principle, or sentiment.”—4th. “ That you keep your mind always open to evidence-that you labour to banish from your breast all prejudice, prepossession and party zeal—that you study to live in peace and love with all your fellow. Christians, and that you steadily assert for yourself, and freely allow to others, the unalienable rights of judgment and conscience."

CHRISTIANITY TAUGHT BY MEANS OF THE PILLORY AND IMPRISONMENT.

On the 21st of May, 1812, at twelve o'clock, Mr. Eaton was placed in the pillory, opposite Newgate, it being part of the sentence imposed on him

for having published the Third Part of Paine's Age of Reason. If Government possess a common portion of common sense--to say nothing of humanity or justice--this will be the last time they will have recourse to such an infliction for such an act.--No sooner was Mr. Faton brought out from prison, than he was greeted by a distinct cheer of approbation, which was repeated every ten minutes; and when he had been exhibited an hour, he was re-conducted to prison amidst the waving of hats and cheering of the assembly During the period of his punishment, not a single voice or arm was raised against him; on the contrary, those who were silent, appeared to take an interest in his sufferings ; and those who spoke (and there were many who did) exclaimed against the harshness of the sentence, talked of its utter uselessness as to any good end, and of the folly of attempting to support the Christian faith by the prison and the pillory.--And what was the consequence of subjecting Mr. Eaton to a punishment usually bestowed on the vilest of the creation? Who a universal sympathy; and as soon as the scene closed, numbers flocked to his shop in Ave Maria-lane, to purchase the report of his trial! Such will ever be the case, when guilt and punishment are so apportioned--when error (allowing it to be error) is treated as crime and when the putting forth speculative opinions merely is visited by penalties, rather than ex posed and corrected by arguments. This is the last remnant of the fago got and fire system : another generation or two, and it will only be knowa as having disgraced the 19th century.

ORIGINAL POETRY.

THE APRIL SHOWER,

THE fost'ring shower had spent its force,

The sun 'mid glist’ning clouds descended ;
With tints of fire illum'd its course,

As o'er th' unrufi'd stream it bended.
The rain-drops on the flow'rets hung,

Or dew'd the pinions of the breeze 3
New sweets the op'ning hawthorn flung,

New foliage deck'd th'emblossom'd trees.
Grateful and fresh the sweeping, gale,

Breath'd joyous o'er the rip’ning land ;
In lovelier green, the hills, the vale,

Seem'd new from their Creator's hand.
So wheo rude Passion's storms are o'er,

And mild Repentance show'rs her tears,
The world, a wilderness po more,

A flow'r-enamell’d path appears~-
Bursts on the sight in livelier glow,

Creation's beauteous, bounteous plan ;
Like April's showers on earth below,
Presents a Paradise to man.

J. D.

MAGAZINE.

No. 20.]

AUGUST, 1812.

[Vol. 2.

THE PRIMITIVE MODE OF PROMULGATING CHRISTIANITY

COMPARED WITH MODERN PRACTICE.

[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Freethinking Christians' Magazine.

SIR,

[ocr errors]

IT
T has long appeared to me desirable to have a simple,

clear, and scriptural view of the manner in which Chris. tianity was first promulgated by Jesus and his apostles, as also after their decease, together with the primitive order and constitution of the Christian church. Under this impres, sion, I shall not think my time wholly wasted in attempting to elucidate this subject, and it shall be the business of these essays to shew the manner in which Jesus and his apostles acted to convert men to the faith, by quotations from the scrip ture ; and to compare their method of proceeding with that practised by their pretended successors in the present day,

But first, Sir, let me premise that scriptural authority shall alone have any weight with me, should any persons attempt to controvert what I write, as all human authority, expediency, or utility, can in my mind be of no importance, unless it can be shewn that we have no clue. whatever from the sacred writings. I acknowledge that the New Testament does not have to profess to give us a regular system respecting these things ; because Christianity was never intended to depend upon

ури writing ; but the historical and epistolary parts do, in my ? 3) opinion, clearly shew what were the practice and opinions of amin! Jesus and his apostles in all these particulars, and that as far momein

related to the Christian church, they are generally examples to be followed by Christiansin all ages. Now it appears

t that the apostles appointed no successors, and that no men have angu mon been qualified to perform their office, to make new laws, or abrogate any they had sanctioned; but that the church alone was to be the depository of their instructions and institutions, and to be the means of spreading Christianity; yet we find in all ages an order of men have claimed to be either the succes, sors of the apostles, or upon a more humble claim, have taken upon themselves the task of propagating what they calt Christianity, and building up the Christian church, and have demanded support and reverence for so doing; most, if not

[ocr errors]

to the

[ocr errors]

FOL. II.

Y Y

1

all of them, justify their practice, by referring to an express command given to the apostles for that purpose (Matt. xxviii. 20); and therefore, if they make the New Testament the ground of their authority, they can have no objection to bring it to that touchstone, to whose authority I will always bow submissive. To have a right understanding of the subject in dispute, it will be necessary to shew the method pursued by the most ra. tional of these teachers, in propagating Christianity, or instructing the church, and then compare it with the conduct and doc. trine of Jesus and his apostles ; and I shall not content myself merely with shewing that they are diametrically contrary to each other; but that the plan proposed and pursued by the latter was, on the ground of expediency, utility, and reason, far supe. rior to the present practice, for promoting its avowed object.

And, first, with respect to modern teachers, they are fre. quently young men, without experience in religion, who, because of their learning or volubility of speech, are ordained, or set apart by some of the clergy, or called upon by a congregation of professed Christians, to be ministers. Their object, in either case, is not to teach Christianity, or any thing new; for were they suspected of any thing of this kind, the clergy would not sanction, nor the people accept them. Their business is, eloquently to support and maintain the opinions of the congregation over whom they are placed; and were they to discover the most important truth, contrary to the general opinion, they dare not promulgate it, lest they should lose their bread. It is a very common case (or we should expect it was, if these men were not entirely useless), that the congregation over whom they are chosen or appointed to preside, are as well if not better informed than the teacher, as they in general take upon themselves to be the judges of his orthodoxy.

As a proof of what I have just asserted, I will state a case which occurred in one of the most enlightened congregations in this kingdom, or that ought to be so, if pulpit preaching, by mea of the greatest talents, is capable of making men so- I mean the Unitarian congregation, meeting at the Gravel Pits, Hackney; a congregation who had sat under the teaching of Dr. Price, Dr. Priestley, and Mr. Belsham; yet these people, notwithstanding the instruction of these conkessedly learned men, upon the secession, or expected secession of Mr. Belsham, had not one man among themselves who was capable of supplying his place. Surely if teaching in the primitive church had produced no better. effect, Christianity would soon have been lost to the world. However, it so happened that a young man of the name of Aspland, who had been edticated for the ministry, and had for some

« AnteriorContinuar »