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there after her death, but transferred their prpperty taa^gentleman of my acquaintance, who generally;. lives on the spot, with one friend, and a few servants, in a very philosophical manner, and qnly leaves it now and then on account of huunefs, or, for a change and arnujernenf, to vilitsorne fine part of the world. He 4nd his friend most commonly take a trip every year to France or Italy, Portugal, pr Spajn j stay a month at Rome or Paris, Listjon or Madrid, or some other favorite town j 3nd th^1 tetRm to his charming western isle.
Mr. Hanwer, my frjend, is a man of great J Jeaniing, and has. a sine taste for the inge- , nious arts. He has united them and the liberal exercises with a divine philosophy,. and jnade them subservient to virtue and a h?rppy life. He has schemed out for himself a system of felicity that is vastly fine, and is I believe as happy a man as cap be found in the world. He has all the blessings of time in his possession, and while he enjoys them, maintains a temper that expresses itself illustriously in relation to the honor of God, and the good of mankind.
This gentleman was not of the christian side for many years. The Christianity he saw ip the realms of popery, and the fad' representations of our holy religion, given by the unhappy Athanafian priests, prejudiced A a 4 him him so much against all revelation, that he concluded it to be intirely the work of theological heads, and on account of too many deplorable priestly inventions, rejected the scriptures, as a thing that could not have the stamp of divine authority, if they produced the dreadful doctrines which priests of all denominations drew from thence. With an untoward and a monstrous zeal, the doctors of every party preached, and writ for the most senseless, and the most cruel things. Even protestant divines find a tritheism and persecution in their inspired writings, to the dishonor of the peerless majesty, and goodness of the great God; and an infinite satisfaction by a second slaughtered supreme Being and therefore, Mr. Hanmer thought the writings of the apostles were far from being serviceable to truth and society. This made him renounce the religion he had been baptized into. I found him a thorow infidel, when, by accident, I saw him at MoffatWells last summer, as I came from Edinburgh to Carlisle. I will give you an account of a conversation that passed between us in that town, as a curious thing, before I describe the fine natural curiosities, and artificial wonders of the Green Island.
Over a bottle, we began to talk of old things, and old times j and among other
matters matters, had religion up, before we had fi- Mr. H»nniihed half a flask. He asked me, if I was J£g^ a christian still, and confessed that, for his defence of part, he was not. He now thought reason of sufficient for a religion essential to man. Rea-^*^1.1*" son (Hanmer continued) the peculiar glory of human kind, informs me there is one supreme intending cause j an intelligent circle, whose center is every where, and circumference no where; who sits upon the rock necessity, *// eye, all power, all knowledge; who is the most kind and benevolent of all Beings, and for ever exerts his omnipotence in promoting the real happynefs of his rational creatures.
Again,it is evident to reason, that we ought to worship this adorable Being, and make the rule of right the rule of our conduct, by conforming ourselves to the law of truth, and discharging the obligations of reason, so far as the mortal frame and constitution, which are incapable of perfection, will permit us; for, exclusive of virtue being generally productive of happiness here, and that pain and infelicity not naturally flow from appetites irrationally indulged, and unbounded passions; it is evident from the attributes of God, that he is pleased with our obedience to the laws of reason, and delights in the rectitude and beauty of action; that he will signify his pleasure to good actions by
rewards, and his displeasure to bad actions by punishments. This future retribution is founded in reason and equity: so sure as God js true and just, so certain it is, tha* our present behavior will be a reason, as well as a rule of his judging us. The reasonable-, ness and fitness of things is a spring and prin-< ciple of action to the Deity, and of consequence, one being on account of his precedes behavior will be rendered the proper object of reward; and another being receive punishment because his precedent behavior has rendered him deserving of such punishment; this is demonstration by the light of nature. .
And because a perfection of conduct cannot be the practice of such imperfect creatures as we are, and that there is no individual of our species, but has been more or less guilty, of deviating from the rule prescribed him by his reason, therefore repentance and reformation are the natural means of reconciling us to God, when we are conscious of our having offended him. Pent*fence must be a ground of the divine mercy; and to repent and reform, what God requires of us, in order for us to do on our part what he knows to be necessary to our happiness. This must be the truth of the case, or man would not be dealt with in a way of justice and equity. It is right and Jit to shew mercy to such as have rendered themselves the proper per objects qf mercy, penitence renders us such proper objects, and by our repentance and amendment, we cease to be objects of punishment. If the Deity will follow nature, as he surely does, and be guided by it, he must deal with a penitent, who reforms and does well, according to what he is, and not according to what he has been he must: treat him as a penitent offender, that is, as a man reformed and become good, and of consequence, as an object of nis mercy: The grounds of resentment cease by sorrow for fin, and a reformation of life, and in reason and equity, punishment ought to cease also.
This is the pure religion of nature. True revelation can add nothing to it: And what is imposed upon us for revelation is a grand corruption of it. To talk, as the divines do, of th? Deity's being three fomewhats, of his saving an only begotten Son, and of satisfaction for fin, these are such iiotions as the throat of credulity only can swallow. One must have a faith orthodox indeed to subscribe to such opinions. And after all, were it possible for the theologers to defend these articles, and prove the goodness of their religion, yet it cannot be neceflary to future happiness, as it is not known to all men.
, i Here Mr. Hanmer had done, and he was answered in the following manner.