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“to admonish him as a brother:” and if any penul consequences followed in the primitive times, they were miraculous, and consequently cannot be imitated by us. The system of christianity tends to expand the heart, into the most enlarged and disinterested benevolence that can be conceived: and its effects have been prodigious, notwithstanding abuses, and declension from primitive purity, zeal, and simplicity. The gladiatorial shews, in which thousands of lives were sacrificed, to amuse Roman ladies, as well as more vulgar citizens, were never abolished till christanity prevailed against them. Hospitals, either wholly or in great measure, owe their origin to the same powerful cause. The humanity exercised even in war for some centuries past, compared with the savage cruelty of ancient times, is the effect of christian principles. That change of sentiments also, which has taken place in respect to the glory or disgrace due to conquerors; and the very extensive protest made against the abominable slave-trade, and the iniquity of slavery itself when not the punishment of atrocious crimes, are wholly the result of scriptural principles. All therefore, which Mr. P. has alleged on this subject, owes its plausibility to his uniform method of blaming christianity for those very abuses which it most severely reprobates; and of confounding the primitive church with the corrupted churches of subse. quent ages; or the gospel with popery, which are in most respects as opposite as light and darkness. Yet cven corrupted christianity may be slandered; and it does not appear, that it is justly chargeable with that
declension in science, which took place after the times of Christ, and issued in barbarous ignorance. Learning was very much declined, before christianity had produced any great efiects on the mass of mankind, and before it had at all influenced the Roman and Grecian scholars: and if afterwards superstition was inimical to science; churchmen almost alone preserved some remains of it, and were the chief instruments of at length effecting a revival. Vigilius and Galileo indeed were .endangered by popish superstition and bigotry for their discoveries in philosophy: but they were professed christians, and one of them a churchman.
It is certain, that the Bible does not discountenance natural knowledge, if preserved in due subordination to revealed truth. "The works of God are great, "sought out of all them that have pleasure there"in."* It throws no impediment in the way, to prevent improvement in any kind of useful knowledge: though it discourages presumptuous speculations; and exposes the folly of self-wisdom, insatiable curiosity, and vain reasonings about matters too deep for us. For "to man it is said, behold, the fear of the *' Lord that is wisdom, and to depart from evil that "is understanding."!
True christianity was never propagated hy the sword.—When Peter in his impetuosity smote Malchus, our Lord reproved him, and miraculously healed the wound which he had given: and on a former occasion, when the disciples wanted to call fire from
• Ps. cxi. 2. + Job xxviii. 23.
heaven on the Samaritans, he rebuked them and said, “Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of; for “the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, “but to save them.”—I am not concerned to vindi. cate all that christians have done, but merely what Christ hath enjoined and whoever at any time hath used violent measures in promoting the gospel, let him stand condemned, as acting in diametrical oppo. sition to his instructions. It is a certain fact, that the primitive christians prevailed without using any such methods; but if they had propagated christianity, as Mahomet did his imposture, by war and rapine, I would have maintained this distinction; that he acted according to the principles laid down in the Koran; but they in ea press opposition to the precepts and principles of the gospel. His religion therefore was justly chargeable with the conduct which it sanctioned and rcquired: christianity would not have been answerable for the base conduct of those who acted against its plain commands; but they alone ought to have born the blame. Mr. P. calls the precepts of the Scripture ‘frog‘ments of morality.” But in what other book shall we find so complete and perfect a system of man’s duty in all respects, enforced with such authority, and such powerful sanctions? He says, “these fragments ‘ are irregularly and thinly scattered through these ‘ books, and make no part of revealed religion!' But was not the law delivered in the most solemn manner from Mount Sinai? and does it not virtually contain
our whole duty to God and man? Is it not the rule, the transgression of which is called sin? and is not sin spoken of as deserving punishment, requiring repentance, and needing forgiveness? Does not the scripture speak, every where of Christ, as coming to magnify the law, and make atonement for sin? Is it not promised, that this law shall be written in the heart of all the Lord's true people? Is not this law enforced in its various requirements as branched out into many particular precepts, on all christians, with the most earnest admonitions and exhortations? Are not the fruits of the Spirit coincident with the demands of the law? and is it not said, that, " if any man have not the Spirit of "Christ, he is none of his?" In short love to God and man is the substance of ail religion: and the whole plan of redemption, the whole system of the gospel, was intended to put honour on this law; and, after a manner worthy of the divine perfections and government, to reinstate transgressors in the favour of God, and recover them to obedience, in part here, and perfectly in heaven hereafter.
Mr. P. says • the New Testament teaches nothing 1 new on this subject!' We allow that its dictates are also inculcated in the Old Test- Tient, though not with equal clearness and energy: but where else shall we find them? Love of the excellency, and zeal for the honour, of God, with delight in him and gratitude to him, are not taught by pagan moralists, with any tolerable degree of precision and authority. Neither Greeks nor Romans have a word in their languages, properly expressing the scriptural idea of humility. The most eminent Gentile writers substitute friendship and love of
our country, which are frequently no more than a modification of self-love, in the place of disinterested and enlarged philanthropy. Even Cicero never decidedly protested against the murderous gladiatorial games, or the exposing of infants: against suicide, or revenge; nor even against unnatural crimes, though sanctioned by elegant and admired poets! even Cicero never inculcated the liberal expenditure of money, in relieving poor destitute plebeians, or alleviating the miseries of slaves and captives, out of pure compassion, without regard to personal credit or advantage. Refined selflove is the source, the centre, the object, and in most cases the rule, even of his morality; though he wrote far better on the subject than most of his predecessors. And if subsequent moralitsts have gone somewhat further, we know whence they took their materials.
We allow, that Jewish magistrates were directed to retaliate on certain injurious persons: but the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," debarred Jews from private revenge, as much as the express commands of the New Testament do us. —Mr. P. objects to the precept; " If any man smite thee on the "right check, turn to him the other also:'' that is, 'Bear injuries and insults patiently, though that expose 'thee to more affronts; and enter not into contention, if 'it can be avoided without neglecting other duties.' For proverbial expressions are not to be inteqiretcd like mathematical theorems; and men are ready enough to make exceptions to such general rules. Yet he approves of Solomon's maxim,* in hopes to give the
» Prov. xxv. 21