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the Mahometan. A learned foreigner has taken the pains to digest one of the infidel creeds into three and twenty articles 2, eight of them negative, and fifteen affirmatice : there is scarce an article amongst them but what is big with many and shocking absurdities. By which it may appear, that those over censorious gentlemen do not want faith, where they have inclination ; but while they strain out gnats, can swallow camels. They can readily assent to things more incredible or impossible than any to be met with in romance or legend : indeed nothing is too absurd for their belief, when they have a mind to it. They can believe, for instance, that Moses (a wise man by all accounts) could be weak enough to attempt the imposing a forgery and lying history upon a whole nation, endeavouring to persuade them out of their senses at once; and that he did not only attempt it, but succeeded in it too, and palmed his imposture upon all the people, none gainsaying it, nor discovering it; that the same imposture had the good fortune to pass unsuspected upon the people of the Jews for many ages, and came at length to be received even by Christ himself, who entirely confided in it, and staked all his character upon it, where he says; “Had ye believed Moses, ye ** would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe “ not his writings, how shall ye believe my words a ?”
2 Symbolum Fidei Tolandicæ. faciunt. 7. Religionis cultores et nuArticuli Negantes.
minis cælestis veneratores, esse igna1. Nego spiritus incorporeos. vum et imbecille hominum genus. Mentem æternam et præstantissi- 8. Quæcunque pro supernaturalibus
3. Providentiam numinis di- habentur et in Deum vertuntur, esse vini. 4. Immortalitatem animæ hu- res mere naturales.
9. Quæ pro 5. Pænas et præmia in vita miraculis venditantur et creduntur, futura. 6. Authentiam et divinæ esse fraudes impostorum, vel effecta Scripturæ originem. 7. Miracula Mo- morbi melancholici in testibus qui ea sis et Christi. 8. Mosem fuisse au- viderunt vel audierunt. 10. Autotorem Pentateuchi.
grapha Veteris et Novi Testamenti Articuli Affirmantes.
intercidisse, II. Mosem et Scrip1. Affirmo mundum aut naturam torem Pentateuchi fuisse Pantheistas; rerum esse solum numen, neque ge- aut, ut recentiores loqui amant, Spinitum neque interiturum. 2. Reli- nozistas. 12. Mosis scripta explicanda gionem esse pulchrum politicorum et corrigenda esse ex exoticorum licommentum. 3. Atheismum esse na- bris. 13. Certiorem fidem adhibenturalem notitiam et sapientissimorum dam esse Strabonis diligentiæ, quam virorum religionem. 4. Religionem Mosis, uti pie creditur, autoritati. vulgi esse superstitionem. 5. Reli- 14. Atheum esse meliorem civem gionis institutores et sacrarum legum quam Theistam. 15. Religionem reilatores esse vafra et subdola ingenia. publicæ nocere. Fayi Defens. Reli6. Omnium religionum sacerdotes, gionis contra Joh. Toland, p. 248, 249, et sacrorum mysteriorum interpretes 250. esse simulatæ pietatis vanos ostenta
'a John v. 46, 47. tores, qui ex errore alieno quæstum
But because the same gentlemen, who make Moses an impostor, must of consequence make Christ and his Apostles impostors also, let us next observe, how credulous they appear to be in this point too, as well as in the former. Not to mention a multitude of other absurdities, they must believe " that a des
picable company of wilful impostors and deceivers, men of a “ hated nation and religion, without learning and discipline, “ without skill and experience, without any of the arts of pleas“ing and recommending themselves to mankind, should run “ down all the wit and power and policy of the world; and “ preaching a most despised and incredible and seemingly ridi“ culous doctrine, directly contrary to all the worldly interests " and humours of men, to their religion and customs, and to “ their reason and philosophy too, should propagate the belief of “ it far and wide through the earth, so that there was scarce a “ nation in the whole compass of the globe, but what, in whole
or in part, received this fiction as the most sacred truth of God, and laid all the stress of their salvation
it'." I borrow this representation from a very judicious writer and close reasoner, who pursues the same turn of thought a great way further, setting forth in the strongest and most lively colours the numerous and intolerable absurdities which infidels must admit of; thereupon observing, very justly and pertinently, that “ their so much boasted aversion to all kind of bigotry and " credulity is mere jest and scene, and that they are either some “ of the most fondly credulous persons in the worldd," or worse; “credulous to a prodigy," and might as well “ go on to the “ fictions of a Popish legend, or a Turkish Alcorane." These are the men who are pleased to reproach the Church of Christ with easiness of belief, for believing mysteries and miracles. It is true, we do believe mysteries, few and well attested; while they believe many and palpable absurdities'. We admit miracles
b Ditton on the Resurrection of Christ, p. 363
c Ditton, ibid. p. 364—371.
f Mr. Bayle, speaking of Spinoza, has some just reflections, apposite to our present purpose, and worth the inserting.
“ The most disdainful censurers of “ other men's thoughts are very in
dulgent to themselves. Doubtless
“ he (Spinoza) derided the mystery of “ the Trinity, and wondered that so
many people could speak of a nature “ terminated by three hypostases: and
yet, properly speaking, he ascribed as many persons to the Divine nature, as there are men upon earth.-Spinoza could not bear the least obscurity of Peripatism, Judaism, or
Christianity; and yet he heartily “ embraced an hypothesis which re“ conciles two things so contrary to
also, assigning a cause more than equal to the effect; while they are forced to admit the same effects, or things more marvellous, independent of their proper or adequate causes ; which is admitting contradictions. In short then, we believe what we can prove by good authority, and no more: they believe what they please. Let themt herefore first clear their own accounts, and then proceed, if they see proper, to charge the churches of Christ, as such, with credulity.
2. Another party word and term of reproach, near akin to the former, is bigotry : a calumny thrown upon us for our steadfast adherence to Moses and the Prophets, to Christ and his Apostles, to God blessed for ever. In the mean while, to whom or to what do our accusers adhere, that we should be bigots, and not they? Bigotry means, in common acceptation, a warm or obstinate adherence to things or persons, to principles or party, against reason or without reason. By this definition we desire to be tried, and to join issue with our adversaries : and let the indifferent world judge whether Christians or infidels are most properly bigots.
The lower class of unbelievers appear to have as tame and as implicit a faith in their new instructors, as it is possible for men to have ; that is, they are bigoted to them, and led blindfold by them. They believe every tale that is but confidently told them against religion, or the ministers of it: they accept of any sophistry that is offered them, and submit to any delusion or imposition upon their judgment and understanding. They often take dictates for arguments, mere assertions for proofs, equivocating for reasoning, and sound for sense. While they are afraid of being guided by priests, they consent to be governed by anti-priests ; who demand a much greater submission from them than we can pretend to: for we are content and thankful, if our people will but observe us in what is evidently true and right, while they expect to be believed and followed in what is palpably false and wrong. From hence may appear the bigotry of the inferior sort among the Deists.
“ one another, as the square and cir- as Atheists, for attempting to philo“ cular figures, and whereby an in- “ sophize after a newer manner than “ finite number of inconsistent attri- “ has been known of late. For my “ butes, and all the variety and anti- own part, I have ever thought this “ pathy of the thoughts of mankind “ sort of men to be in general more
are true at the same time of one and “ credulous, though after another man“ the same most simple and indivisible ner, than the mere vulgar. Besides “ substance.” Bayle in Spinoza, 2791,
“ what I have observed in conversa2792.
“ tion merely, with the men of this A celebrated author has a reflection “character, I can produce many anaof like kind, in the words here follow- “ thematized authors, who, if they ing :
“ want a true Israelitish faith, can “ It must certainly be something “make amends by a Chinese or In“ else than incredulity which fashions “ dian one." Characteristics, vol. i, “ the taste and judgment of many p. 345. “ gentlemen, whom we hear censured
As to the leading men themselves, they generally follow the track of their predecessors, and appear to be zealous bigots to their systems, to their creeds, to their paradoxes, to their party ; all which they adhere to as pertinaciously as we can do to our Bible. They have Pagan historians to rest their faith upon, instead of Moses and the Evangelists; they have Pagan morals to answer to the Divine Sermon on the Mount, and Pagan or Jewish calumnies to set against our Christian evidences. They have Epicurus and Celsus, Porphyry and Julian, for their guides and leaders in many things, as we have the sacred writers in all. Hobbes and Spinoza seem to be their chief instructors among the moderns; and it has been observed by knowing judges, that Hobbes himself was little more than a disciple of Epicurus. in his system of religion, or irreligion. The like may be shewn, and has been shewn" in some measure, of the present advocates for infidelity. Now, indeed, if they have reason for preferring those their guides and teachers to ours, then we are the bigots : but if it has been manifested a thousand times over, as I presume it has, that the proofs are on our side, and that it is impossible to come at any, as to the main things, on theirs ; then we humbly conceive that the bigotry lies at their door, and we appeal from the seat of calumny to the truth and reason of things. Let them shew that they have as good grounds for following the doctrines of Epicurus, or any other ancient or modern infidel, as we have for following Christ. Such was the challenge which Arnobius long ago made to the Pagans, who presumed to oppose their philosophers to Christ and his Apostlesi: and such we make to every unbeliever at this day. Perhaps they will say, that they follow no one's authority implicitly or absolutely, but collect from all what they like best. This might shew they are no bigots to mere human authority; neither are we: but then they may be bigots to their own passions, or prejudices, or party, in rejecting Divine authority sufficiently attested; while there is no bigotry in submitting to the highest reason, and in adhering to God. Balance reasons with reasons, evidences with evidences, facts with facts, and thereupon judge where truth and credibility, where error and bigotry lie. It is easy to raise objections to any thing; as it is easy to be ignorant, or unattentive, or humoursome, or perverse: but the great point is, whether those objections, surmises, or suspicions, comparatively, have any weight, or how much, when put into the scale against solid arguments. There then rests the whole thing: let our accusers shew that the reasons are all on their side, and then we shall readily admit, that all the bigotry is on ours : but till this be done, (and it is impossible it ever should,) the charge which they bring against us is as easily retorted as made, and with much more truth and justice; which will always be the case, as often as Christianity is impeached upon this article.
8 Hoc probe scio, ipsum nihil nobis appellare affectavit. Parker, Disputat. obtulisse nisi quod apud veteres in de Deo, P.
86. Epicuro reprehensum inveniamus. h Scripture Vindicated, vol. iv. Ut enim Epicurus omnia a Democrito part 2. p. 284, &c. surripuisse dicitur, ita Hobbius omnia i Et quid est quod in hac parte, Epicuri flagitia ingenti fastu tanquam aut vos plurimum habeatis, aut nos sua recudit ; atque ut nova videantur, minus ? Vos Platoni, vos Cronio, vos novis nominibus (quorum ille, ut sunt Numenio, vel cui libuerit creditis : novatores omnes, egregius artifex) nos credimus et acquiescimus Christo.
3. Another famous term of reproach, which unbelievers asperse us with, is superstition ; a name which often stands for Christianity, or for all revealed religion, in their nomenclature. But the word properly imports any religious excessesk, either as to matter, manner, or degree. There may be a superstitious awe, when it is wrong placed, or is of a wrong kind, or exceeds in measure : and whenever we speak of a superstitious belief, or worship, or practice, we always intend some kind of religious excess. Any false religion, or false part of a true one, is a species of superstition, because it is more than should be, and betokens excess. Hence it has been usual for
persons religion, to style all but their own, superstition, as being false in their account: and they that admit no religion as true, make superstition the common name for all. The contrary extreme Iniquitas hæc quanta est, ut cum mus ostendere quid in Christo fueriutrique auctoribus stemus, sitque no- mus secuti, quam in philosophis quid bis et vobis unum et socium credere, Ac nos quidem in illo secuti vobis velitis dari, quod ita ab illis di- hæc sumus : opera illa magnifica, &c. catur accipere, vos ea quæ proferuntur Arnob. adv. Gent. lib. ii. p. 49. a Christo, audire et spectare nolitis. k See Vossii Etymologicum, in Atqui si causas causis, partes partibus Superstitio. voluerimus æquare, magis nos vale