Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

as I was anticipated or prevented by earlier writers in the cause.

To some, however, it may appear too late to op: pose any thing now to the irreligious passages in Mr. Voltaire's writings. For they will say he hath made a public recantation of them all; and in proof of this, they will appeal to his Letter to the King of Prussia, in which he exhorts him, “Support, by your ' edicts, and example, religion as a revelation derived < from heaven, and founded upon a thousand proofs;

prevent the progress of evil, and form youth fo as ' to be able to withstand the impression of incredu

lity and libertinism;' and, after having bestowed many praises on religion for its usefulnefs and in- . portance, concludes thus, ' You have nothing left to * defire in this world, Sire, but the august title of { Christian Hero. My wihes for your majesty have tion there made of it is, 'It contains a short view of the evidences of

our religion, and an answer to objections against it. The zeal of

the author is often without knowledge and discretion.' Last year, also, as I think, there was advertised in the London Chronicle, The Philosophical Dictionary for the pocket, from the French of Monbeur Voltaire, with notes containing a refutation of such passages as are any ways exceptionable in regard to religion : but I have not observed in either of the Reviews hitherto, any account of its nature ; nor am I even sure, though I wrote to a friend about it, whether any such confutation as the title boasts of is really there attempted. If any other pieces have been published which might be supposed to be directed to the same end as that which I propose, I am unacquainted with them. However, fince this sheet was sent to the press, I have learned that there were printed at Paris before the beginning of the present year, ‘Letters from some Portugueze and German Jews to M. de Vol

taire,' in the French language; wherein the authors point out many mistakes, inconsistencies, contradi&tions and misrepresentations in what he has advanced concerning the Jews and the writings of the old Testament. Appendix to 41st vol. of M. Review, pag. 562.

6

à more extensive object than transitory happiness.

May you, Sire, give the world the magnanimous • example of the sublime virtues of Christianity, and

publicly disavow, as I do at present, those erroneous

principles, and impious opinions, which will other• wise be transmitted with your writings to posterity.'*

But, to omit that there is reason to question whether this letter be genuine, of which neither the place nor the time are mentioned, fince it was furnished only by an unknown D. L. to the authors of the Town and Country Magazine, who says again, he received it from a foreign nobleman in England, but does not reveal his name, (although indeed he avers he was certain of its authenticity ;) and that there is the greater reason to make this doubt, because, according to the freshest and most credible accounts from abroad, Mr. Voltaire is bargaining from time to time with bookfellers about new editions of his works, without ever correcting, or cancelling any offensive parts in them.To pass further, that where he recommends religion in it, he seems to use the term in a very narrow fense, seeing he defines the deist, whom he contrasts with the religious man, not to be a person who denies the scriptures; but a person who, ' In admitting • the existence of a supreme being, creator of the u'niverse, maintains that this first being is too great, • and too high, to cast his eyes down upon earth, and

attend to the works of a creature, fo mean and indigent as man ;' which looks as if, under religion

# This Letter, to which I refer, was printed in several periodital miscellanies, and may be read in the Scots Magazine for Nov. 1769, pp. 576, 579. where it was republished from the Town and Country Magazine.

before dark and obscure to them, by rescuing from the exceptions, or scorn of sceptics, fome which they have objected to, or derided, and by explaining the genuineness and authenticity of any of its parts more fully and satisfactorily, while they proceed under the animating power of fueh religious persuasion to abound more and more in the fruits of righteousness; (for which ends I sincerely desire, and pray for the divine blessing upon it,) I will think my labour here well laid out, and richly rewarded, and may then be more easy and unconcerned under the censures I fhall suffer, either with regard to the motives of this work, or to defects in the manner of its performance. If not, I will at least have the fatisfaction which arises from a conscious fenfe of having aimed well. Nor will they who may disallow or doubt this rectitude and purity of intention, deny that I have been employed agreeably to my office and profession.

As to the Appendix which is subjoined, it is a defence of the credibility of the gospel history against Mr. Voltaire's exceptions to its truth, on account of the omission of the murder of the infants, and the prodigies, and miracles, by Jewish and Heathen writers ; which I thus consider apart, because the cavils I examine and refute in the work itself, against this or that facred book, as hath been already intimated, are such alone as immediately and chiefly affect its genuineness or authenticity.--- From the first, it was intended to have printed an appendix of another nature, concerning that falfe account of the treatment of the first Christians hy the Romans, which this fame author gives in different places of his works; but especially in the 8th and 9th chapters of his Treatise on

[ocr errors]

y ie те the ED ao Iness ; for the Our here y then be censures 1 lives of this performance n which arises ned well. Nor ot this rectitude I have been em

Toleration; where he also pretends, that among this people, from the days of Romulus to those in which the Christians began to dispute with the priests of the empire, there was not a single instance of any person being persecuted on account of his fentiments, but all religions were permitted. But as, by examining so many passages in his other compositions, besides all these which were originally proposed to be remarked on in the Philosophy of History, this work hath increased under my hand to its prefent fize, it seemed more expedient to drop that defign, and the rather, because the subject would have been completely distinct from that which is here handled.

Through the whole, I hope, it will be found, that I have not treated Mr. Voltaire with any undue feverity' and sharpness of expression. I am sure I intended to avoid this, whatever provocation there might be to it on many occasions, by the strongest proofs of a bigotted and blind zeal for infidelity. Far from wishing him any hurt, I wish he may enjoy all happiness; and for this end, that he may become a firm believer of Christianity upon these rational grounds on which it challenges our assent, and with diligence obey its holy precepts.

profesion. ubjoined, it is a de pel history againft Mr. h, on account of the infants, and the prodi. n and Heathen writers; because the cavils I exak itself, against this or that

already intimated, are such d chiefly affect its genuine from the first, it was intended Tendix of another nature, conhunt of the treatment of the Romans, which this fame auplaces of his works, but espes

JUNE 30, 1770.

b

th chapters of his Treatise on

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »