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Gentiles the credit of it; and does not know, that Paul has quoted it, as the substance of the duty of loving enemies.* No man I suppose, before Mr. P. ever thought we were commanded to love enemies better than friends, and to reward their injuries: but goodwill, and acts of kindness when needed, are due to our most cruel persecutors and the vilest criminals; and we ought to pray for their conversion and salvation. This, however, does not interfere with our special love to the righteous, gratitude to benefactors, and tender affection to relatives: for the Lord sends common benefits on the unthankful and evil; but reserves his special blessings for his obedient children.
I have however something further to say to Mr. P. oh this subject, in reply to his liberal charges against christianity as a persecuting religion. In a paroxysm of zeal and indignation he exclaims; 'It is 'better, far better, that we admitted, if it were possi'ble, a thousand devils to roam at large and to preach 'publickly the doctrine of devils—than that we should 'permit one such impostor or monster, as Moses,—
* and the Bible-prophets, to come with the pretended
* word of God in his mouth, and have credit among 'us.'f Now if Mr. P. could establish a government exactly to his mind, in any country where men resided who reverenced, the Bible-prophets, and zealously preached the word of God, would this principle allow him to tolerate them? Would he lay no restraints on men, whom he deemed such mischievous monsters
and vile impostors; and in case they would not l’ restrained from preaching, would he not inflict penal. ties? and if they continued obstinate, would not the: contumacy expose them to heavier punishment? and does not this principle ultimately lead to exterminating persecution of all who adhere to the Bible, under the stale pretence that they disturb the peace of the community? I have indeed long avowed an expectation of persecution, extensive dreadful persecution of real christians carried on by men, who now talk the most about toleration, candour, and liberality of sentiment, and exclaim against the intolerance and bigotry of zealous believers: for they shew no candour to men strenuously maintaining the doctrines not long ago distinguished as orthodox. —Some declarations made by the late king of Prussia, concerning the difficulty he found in retaining Voltaire and several others, within the bounds which he prescribed for them; certain recent publications of French philosophers, atheists, and deists; and the strong passage just quoted from Mr. P. tend to confirm this opinion; and it is a subject well worthy the attention of all who sincerely love the Bible. But at the same time, I avow an abhorrence of all persecution; and would have no man abridged in his civil rights, on account of his religious principles, if in other respects he be a peaceable member of the community. The smallest degree of persecution seems to me to contradict the spirit of the gospel; nay, all bitterness, contempt, or reviling in controversy; and whatever is not necessary to defend the reader against the misrepresentations of a plausible writer, and the de
I which he is exposed. On this subject let e recollect our Lord's words, "Woe be to rid because of offences; for it must needs be Sences come; but woe be to that man, by the offence cometh!" For the most plausiment in Mr. P.'s books, is taken from that sconduct of christians which our Lord ex^redicted.
the things together, which we have considered.
to man's need of revelation, and the reasona
- of expecting one; the incontestable miracles,
ich both the Old and New Testaments were
uced; the prophecies contained in the scriptures,
leir remarkable accomplishments; the suitable
if christianity to our wants, and the distinct an
s it gives to the most interesting enquiries; its
ent tendency and actual effects; the sublimity of
ruths and the beauty of its precepts; its existence
r so many ages, though it has been assaulted most
•emently from without, and disgraced most sharnc
_ -*ly within; and the wonderful agreement of our pre
«r nt copies with ancient versions, though they have
- -en handed down to us by Jews and papists:—I say,
ke all these things together, and 1 cannot Inn think.
ley amount to asji/ll a demonstr tion, as the subject
idmits of, that the Bible is the word of God.
1 would now observe in conclusion, that a serious mind is the grand requisite for obtaining satisfaction in an enquiry of this nature. If the reader sincerely desires to be preserved from mistake, and directed into the way of truth: let him give the Bible itself an impartial and diligent investigation. Let him act ac
cording to the dictates of his conscience without reserve, while he waits for fuller information. Let him use his understanding, and not be determined by his passions and prejudices. Let him ask himself whether he be as willing to be convinced that the Bible is true, as the contrary? And if he be conscious that he is not, let him honestly enquire after the cause of this prejudice, for if pride or love of forbidden objects bias his mind, an impartial verdict cannot be expected. Let no man who would know the will of God, pay the least regard to wit, ridicule, eloquent declamation, or virulent abuse: these suit corrupt nature, but they always tend to obscure the truth, or perplex and mislead the mind. Finally, as the belief of a God is taken for granted by all parties; and as God must in all senses, be the Fountain of knowledge and wisdom; let every cnquirer beg of him to strengthen and assist his judgment, to keep his mind unbiassed to enable him to distinguish truth from error, and to guide him in the path of everlasting felicity.