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phical investigation ? Was not their friendship exclusive of enlarged philanthropy? Was not their patriotism the desire of national aggrandizement and glory, at the expense of the welfare of all the rest of the world? Were they not selfish passions, partial affections ? The omission is an honour to the Bible. To love our country, as far as universal love to mankind allows; to love our friends and benefactors, so ás not to exclude others from that love, and those expressions of it, which are due to them ; constitute a part of the Christian character and duty.
Mr. P. says, The New Testament teaches * nothing new on this subject !' We allow that its dictates are also inculcated in the Old Testament, 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
tolerable degree of precision and authority. Neither Greeks nor Romans have a word in their languages properly expressing the scriptural idea of humility. Forgiveness of injuries was no part of the moral system of the Pagans. 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
· On the contrary," he faintly censures the abuse, and warm
ly defends the use, of these sports : Oculis nulla poterat esse “ fortior contra dolorem et mortem disciplina. See Tusculan. “ï. 17.” Gibbon.-J. S.
liberal expenditure of moncy in relieving poor destitute plebeians, or alleviating the miseries of slaves and captives, out of pure compassion, without regard to personal credit or advantage. Re. fined self-love 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 moralists 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 cheek, turn to “him the other also :” that is, ‘Bear injuries and insults patiently, though it should 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 interpreted like mathematical theorems; and men are ready enough to make exceptions to such general rules. Yet he approves of Solomon's maxim, “If thine
enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and “if he be thirsty, give him water to drink ;”in hopes to give the gentiles the credit of it. But no such precept can be found in the book of any pagan: and Mr. P. does not appear to know that Paul has quoted it as the substance of the duty of loving enemies.2—No man I suppose, before Mr. P., ever thought we were commanded to love enemies better than friends, and to reward “their injuries.' Neither the Christian rule nor the Christian pattern requires or admits of it: but good-will, 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, whom we are required to imitate, sends common benefits “ on the unthank“ ful and evil,”—but reserves his special blessings for his obedient children.
Prov. xxv. 21.
2 Rom. xii. 19-21.
I have however something further to say to Mr. P. on 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 possible, a thousand devils to roam at large and to preach publicly the doctrine of devils—than that we should permit one such impostor or monoster as Moses—and the Bible-prophets, to come “ with the pretended word of God in their mouth,
and have credit among us. 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
· P. ii. p. 47.
be restrained from preaching, would he not inflict penalties ? and, if they continued obstinate, would not their contumacy expose them to heavier punishmenti 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 the 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 ; the conduct of the infidels in France during the revolution, especially towards priests and religious characters of every kind; the writings of some of their atheistical or deistical philosophers; and the strong passage just quoted from Mr. P.; tend to confirm this opinion :1 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 of his civil rights on account of his religious prin
"“Mr. Hume sagaciously remarks, that the most refined “ and philosophic sects are constantly the most intolerant. " Gibbon.-J. S.
ciples, 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 delusions to which he is exposed. On this subject let every one recollect our Lord's words, “Wo unto the world “ because of offences; for it must needs be that “ offences come: but wo to that man, by whom “ the offence cometh !”—for the most plausible argument in Mr. P.'s books, is taken from that very misconduct of Christians which our Lord expressly predicted.
Lay then together the things which we have considered : advert to man's need of a revelation, and the reasonableness of expecting one; the incontestable miracles by which both the Old and New Testaments were introduced; the prophecies contained in the scriptures, and their remarkable accomplishments; the suitableness of Christianity to our wants, and the distinct answers it gives to the most interesting inquiries; its evident tendency and actual effects; the sublimity of its truths and the beauty of its precepts; its existence after so many ages, though it has been assaulted most vehemently from without, and disgraced most shamefully within; and the wonderful agreement of our present copies with ancient versions, though they have been handed down to us by Jews and papists :- I say, take all these things together, and I cannot but think they amount to as full a de