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P O S T I L L A,
Relative to true religion—the clergy—and their antagonists.
AT page 498, of my Postscript, I told you what I thought of the clergy, as J did before in a short note, at the beginning of my letter j and in the conclusion of the Postscript, I gave you my opinion of true religion. There are several passages likewise in my letter in favor of revelation, and nothing written, as I remember, that can be construed, with equity, into the service of infidelity. This ought to be sufficient to justify me as to my Christianity. It will do with the reasonable. But as it is my misfortune to have enemies, who blacken me without mercy, and without justice j and that even some orthodox friends, whom I honor sec their worth and abilities, are pleased to think the late Dr. Morgan made me an almost-christiani if he did not convert me to his own confession of faith j and of consequence, I suppose, that my declarations for
revelation revelation are affected; a disguise aflumed, .the better to destroy while we exalt; as has been said of others; it is therefore necessary, in regard to truth, and to myself, to proceed a little farther, and offer a few things more upop this subject. They may be serviceable and pleasing to you. They may perhaps be of use to a discreet and temperate piety,,
That I am no friend to that religion which by artifice and ignorance, or by imposture working upon enthusiasm and superstition, has been made the most disputable, doubtful, unintelligible ;thing in the world, may be asserted from my daily conversation, as well as from several passages in my letter to you j and I*. do here farther corifess, that I despise the systems of the generality of divines, and have very. little regard for the men, on account of their bigotry, ambition, and selfishness: Their religious imaginations are an abomination to me. Their lordship and dominion over mens consciences, bodies or estates, do not belong, I affirm, to the ministers of Christ. " ' s
But notwithstanding' this, it is most certain, that I am too sensible of the advantages which Christians enjoy by the gospel revelation to be an enemy to the religion of Jesus. I am satisfyed, that the whole system of divine truths, contained in the sacred letters, have a much greater .tendency than mere reason can have, to enlarge the mind,
to o purify the heart, to exalt the affections, ind to establish the liberty of the will. tVhile nature gives but obscure notices, the gospel vouchsafes a perfect knowledge. The nspired writings afford the fullest instrucion ; and what is more, they allure. The ife of Christ irresistibly enforces his pure and leavenly. commands, when the mind dwells >n the contemplation of it. In the doctrines )f the gospel we have a finished picture of irtue. In the Use of the christian legislator, rirtue breaths and moves. It is from the sufferings and death of the Mediator we learn hat God has the utmost hatred and abhorrence >f fin j and that, if we will live at an irreoncileable distance from it, the blessedness to ome will be the highest possible; an immortatty, of foul and body without change or pejcd, and the greatest perfection of felicity in \oth (a). Revelation only can make us poItive these things are jo. Reason, I grant, :annot lead us so far.
(a) Archbishop Potter, whom I mentioned awhile igo, has a fine sentiment in his 4th sermon, relating to he endless bliss of the just made perfectOur lappincss will be as lasting as our nature, and there enlure to all eternity. O! vast, incomprehensible eterHty I how dost thou at once sill us with pleasure and imazement! How are we lost in this contemplation, ;hat when millions and millions of ages have been past in* the full enjoyment of perfect happiness, infinite millions Tiall still succeed, and the last.period of our happiness oe always as far distant as at the beginning."
In the nevt place, as the struggle is great between reason and inclination, and the difficulties numerous in the ascent to virtue and glory, I farther think, that we cannot too much prize that communicated almighty Jpirit which the gospel promises to those who ask it j to enlighten, sanctify, and comfort them. These are really and truly my notions of christian religion, however I may be misrepresented in the article. If I detest the artificial Christianity of a modern apostacy, yet the eternal adoption, a union with Christ, and a participation of his life, are things inestimable in my conception. And as to the clergy, I again declare, that notwithstanding I think the pontistcian theologers in general ought to lose all esteem with the thinking part of mankind j and that such orthodox writers of our nation as Bate, Knowles, and "Joseph Edwards, Regis, Randolph, Hodges, and the weak author of Ophtomaches, are a set of revereqd mortals the church would be happily rid of, if they were all translated like Enoch, and an end put to their writing labors, by lodging the zealots in Abraham's bosom j yet I highly honor such christian ministers as preach and live the gospel; such ministers of jesus, as preach and propagate his religion, the true religion of nature, with a few plane, merciful, evangelical additions. Such blessed men I shall ever love and admire. To supl port