Billeder på siden

Who can without horror, consider the whole earth as the Empire of destruction! It abounds in wonders, 'it abounds also in victims; it is a vast field of carnage and contagion. Every species is, without pity, pursued and torn to pieces through the earth, and air, and water. In man there is more wretchedness, than in all other animals put together he smarts continually under two scourges, which other animals never feel; anxiety, and a listlessness in appetence, which make him weary of himself. He loves life, and yet he knows that he must die. If he enjoys 'some transient good, for which he is thankful to heaven, he suffers various evils, and is at last devoured by worms. This knowledge is his fatal prerogative : Other animals have it not. He feels it every mo" ment, rankling and corroding in his breast. Yet he 'spends the transient moment of his existence, in diffusing the misery that he suffers; in cutting the throats of his fellow-creatures for pay; in cheating and being cheated, in robbing and being robbed, in serving that he may command, and in repenting of all that he does. The bulk of mankind are nothing 'more than a crowd of wretches, equally criminal and 'unfortunate, and the globe contains rather carcasses ⚫ than men. I tremble, upon a review of this dreadful picture, to find that it implies a complaint against providence, and I wish that I had never been born.' Voltaire's Gospel of the Day.*


*Wild error is often the guide, and glaring contradiction the badge, both of those, who reject revelation, like Voltaire; and of those, who indirectly set aside one half of it, like the pharisees and antinomians around us. See a striking proof of it. This very author, in another book, (O! see what antichristian morality comes to!) represents the horrible sin of Sodom as an excusable mistake of nature, and assures us, that "At the worst of times, there is at most upon earth, one man in a thousand that can be called wicked." Now for the proof!" Hardly dowe see one of those enermous crimes, that shock human nature, committed in ten years it Fome, Paris, or London, those cities where the thirst of gain, which the parent of all crimes, is carried to the highest pitch...I men


And yet, O strange infatuation! vain man will be wise, and wicked man pretends to be righteous! Far from repenting in the dust; he pleads his innocence, and claims the rewards of imaginary merit! Incredible as the assertion is, a thousand witnesses are ready to confirm it.

Come forth, ye natural sons of virtue, who with scornful boasts attack the doctrine of man's depravity. To drown the whispers of reason and experience, sound each your own trumpet....Thank God, you" are not as other men"....Inform us, you "have a good heart,"... and " a clear conscience :" Assure us, you "do your duty, your endeavours, your best endea, vours" to please the author of your lives....Vow, you "never were guilty of any crime, never did any harm :" And tell us, you hope to mount to heaven, on the

were essentially wicked, we should find every morning husbands murdered by their wives. &c. as we do hens killed by foxes." According to this apostle of the deistical world, it seems, that the most intense thirst of gold is no degree of wickedness; that a woman, to be very good, needs only not to cut her husband's throat while he is asleep; and that it even little matters whether she omits the dire murder out of regard to his life, or her own. What moral philosophy is here! Why, if the sin of Sodom is a peccadillo, a frolick some mistake; and nothing is wickedness but a treacherous cutting of an husband's or a parent's throat; I extend my charity four times beyond thee, O Voltaire, and do maintain, that there is not one wicked man in five thousand.

I insert this note, to obviate the charges of severe critics, who accuse me of dealing in "gross misrepresentations, false quotations, and forgeries," because I quote some authors, when they speak as the oracles of God; and do not swell my book with their inconsis tencies, when they contradict the scriptures, reason, and the truths, which they themselves have advanced in some happy moments: and because I cannot force my reason to maintain with them, both sides of a glaring contradiction.

O ye deistical moralists, let me meet with more candour, justice, and mercy from you, than I have done from the warm opposers of the second gospel-axiom. It is enough that you discard scriptnre, do not like them, make it a part of your orthodoxy, to murder reason, and kick common sense out of doors.

strong pinions of your ❝ good works and pious resolutions."

When you have thus acted the Pharisee's part before your fellow-creatures; go to your Creator, and assume the character of the publican. Confess with your lips, your are miserable sinners, who have done what ye ought not to have done, and left undone what you ought to have done: Protest, there is no health in you: Complain, that the remembrance of your sins is grievous unto you, and the burthen of them intolerable: But remember, O ye self-righteous formalists, that by this glaring inconsistency, you give the strongest proof of your unrighteousness. You are nevertheless modest, when compared with your brethren, of the Romish


These, far from thinking themselves unprofitable servants, fancy they are literally righteous over much. Becoming merit-mongers, they make a stock of their works of supererogation, set up shop with the righteousness they can spare to others, and expose to sale indulgencies, and pardons, out of their pretended treasury. Nor are there wanting sons of Simon, who with ready-money purchase, as they think, not livings in the church below; but which is far preferable, seats in the church above, and good places at the heavenly


Was ever a robe of righteousness (I had almost said a fool's coat) so coarsely woven by the slaves of imposture and avarice! and so dearly bought by the sons of superstition and credulity!

O ye spiritual Ethiopians, who paint yourselves all over with the corroding white of hypocrisy, and after all, are artful enough to lay on red paint, and imitate the blush of humble modesty....Ye that borrow virtue's robes to procure admiration, and put on religion's cloak to hide your shameful deformity....Ye that deal in external righteousness, to carry on with better success the most sordid of all trades, that of sin; of the worst of sins, pride; of the worst of pride, which is spiri

tual....Ye numerous followers of those, whom the prophet of christians called crafty serpents, and soft brood of vipers.... Ye, to whom he declared that publicans and harlots shall enter into the kingdom of heaven before you; if I call you in last, to prove the desperate wickedness of the human heart, it is not because I esteem you the weakest advocates of the truth contend for, but because you really are the strongest of my wit


And now, candid reader, forget not plain matter of fact: recollect the evidence given by reason; pass sentence upon these last arguments which I have offered to thy consideration; and say, whether man's disposition and conduct towards his Creator, his fellow-creatures, and himself, do not abundantly prove, that he is by nature in a fallen and lost estate.

[blocks in formation]
« ForrigeFortsæt »