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More reasonable and becoming surely is the conduct of those who, when brought to a sense of their sin and folly, fear and tremble before this DREAD SOVEREIGN. This seems to have been the case with the late Lord P. This NOBLEMAN, after he turned Deist, took every opportunity to shew his contempt of Religion. The clergyman and parishioners of the place where his Lordship's seat in Northamptonshire stood, usually passed in sight of the house in their way to church. At the time of going and returning he frequently ordered his children and servants into the hall, for the vile purpose of laughing at and ridiculing them. He pursued this course for some time, but at length drew near the close of life. Upon his dying pillow his views were altered. He found, that, however his former sentiments might suit him in health, they could not support him in the hour of dissolution. When in the cold arms of Death, the terrors of the ALMIGHTY were heavy upon him. Painful remembrance brought to view ten thousand insults offered to that GOD, at whose bar he was shortly to stand; and conscience being strongly impressed with the solemnity of that day, he but too justly feared the God he had insulted would then consign him to destruction. With his mind thus agitated, he called to a person in the room, and desired him "to go into the library, "and fetch the CURSED BOOK," meaning that which had made him a Deist. He went, but returned, saying he could not find it. The NOBLEMAN then cried with vehemence, that "he must go again, and look till he did find it, for he could not die till it was destroyed." The person, having at last met with it, gave it into his hands. It was no sooner committed to him, than he tore it to pieces, with mingled horror and revenge, and committed it to the flames. Having thus taken vengeance on the instrument of his own ruin, he soon after breathed his soul into the hands of his CREATOR *,
patriotism, all forbade the unchristian rencounter.-Stake bis life against the life of ! Were we to act thus in common life, a state of confinement would be thought essentially necessary for our welfare, and the public good.-Can nothing be done, no measures taken, to put a stop to this infamous practice, this national opprobrium?-Let those whom it concerns consider.
See Evan. Mag. for June 1797, where it is declared this anecdote may be depended upon, as it came from the lips of a person who was present at the scene.
Affecting as is this example, that of a WILLIAM Pope, of Bolton, in Lancashire, is much more so. At this place there is a considerable number of deistical persons, who assemble together on Sundays, to confirm each other in their Infidelity. The oaths and imprecations that are uttered in that meeting are too horrible to relate, while they toss the Word of God upon the floor, kick it round the house, and tread it under their feet. This WILLIAM POPE, who had been a steady Methodist for some years, became at length a professed Deist, and joined himself to this hellish crew. After he had been an associate of this company some time, he was taken ill, and the nature of his complaint was such, that he confessed the hand of GOD was upon him, and he declared he longed to die, that he might go to hell; many times praying earnestly for damnation. Two of the Methodist preachers, Messrs. RHODES and BARROWCLOUGH, were sent for to talk to and pray with the unhappy But he was so far from being thankful for their advice and assistance, that he spit in their faces, threw at them whatever he could lay his hands upon, struck one of them upon the head with all his might, and often cried out, when they were praying, LORD, do not hear their prayers! If they said, LORD, save his soul! he cried, LORD, damn my soul! often adding, My - damnation is sealed, and I long to be in hell! In this way he continued, sometimes better and sometimes worse, till he died. He was frequently visited by his deistical brethren during his illness, who would fain have persuaded the public he was off his senses; which was by no means the case. The writer of this account saw the unhappy man once, but never desired to see him again. Mr. RHODES justly said, He was as full of the devil as he could hold. This melancholy business happened in the course of the present year, and made a great noise in the town and neighbourhood of Bolton *.
These are shocking instances of the dreadful effects of Infidelity upon the minds of our fellow creatures, in those seasons when we stand in most need of support and consolation. If living witnesses to the truth and importance of Religion and the Sacred
*Mr. RHODES has since published an account of the sickness and death of this unhappy man in the Methodist Magazine for August 1798, which is one of the most affecting on record.
Sacred Writings might have any consideration with such of my readers as are deistically inclined, I could produce many of the first characters of the age, from among all the contending denominations of Christians. The present JACOB BRYANT, Esq. who is unquestionably one of the deepest inquirers into the originals of things now living, and NO PRIEST, hath not onl written a treatise professedly to prove the authenticity of th New Testament, but hath also, in another of his learned inves tigations, made the following declaration in favour of these incomparable and invaluable writings:
"This investigation" (a work written to prove that Troy never existed)" I more readily undertook, as it affords an excellent contrast with the Sacred Writings. The more we search into the very ancient records of Rome or Greece, the greater darkness and uncertainty ensue. None of them can stand the test of close examination. Upon a minute inspection, all becomes dark and doubtful, and often inconsistent: but when we encounter the Sacred Volume, even in parts of far higher antiquity, the deeper we go, the greater treasure we find. The various parts are so consistent, that they afford mutual illustration; and the more earnestly we look, the greater light accrues, and consequently the greater satisfaction. So it has always appeared to me, who have looked diligently, and examined; and I trust I have not been mistaken +."
* It becomes every objector to the Sacred Writings to reflect, that "the moral and natural evils in the world were not introduced by the Gospel; why then must the Gospel be called upon to account for them, rather than any other Religion, or sect of philosophy? If there never had been an Old Testament, never a New one, mankind would have been at least as corrupt and miserable as they are at present. What harm then have the Old and the New Testament done to you, that you perpetually challenge them to account to you for the evil you suffer? You mislike perhaps the story of ADAM and EVE, and can by no means digest the account of the Serpent's tempting, and prevailing against our first parents: very well; let this account be laid aside, and what are you now the better? Is there not the same Evil remaining in the world, whether you believe, or believe not the story of the Fall? And if so, what account do you pretend to give of it? For if you pretend to any Religion, you are as liable to be called to this account, as any professor or teacher of the Gospel. No body is exempt in this case, but the Atheist; and his privilege comes from hence, that he has no account to give of any thing; for all difficulties are alike upon his scheme." SHERLOCK on Prophecy, p. 233.
↑ «When I was in camp with the Duke of MARLBOROUGH," says this truly learned and respectable man, in another place," an officer of my acquaintance de
Various similar testimonies have been adduced in the course of the following little work. Mr. ERSKINE's name is there mentioned with honour. But as he hath since come forward in a manner more direct and full in behalf of Religion and the Sacred Writings, I cannot do the religious reader a greater pleasure, or render the deistical one a more important service, than by presenting him in this place, with the substance of the SPEECH which this celebrated ORATOR delivered upon the trial of WILLIAMS, in the Court of King's Bench, for publishing THOMAS PAINE'S Age of Reason, on the 24th of June 1797, before Lord KENYON and a Special Jury.
"GENTLEMEN! the Defendant stands indicted for having published this book, which I have only read from the obligations of professional duty, and which I rose from the reading of with astonishment and disgust.-For my own part, GENTLEMEN, I have been ever deeply devoted to the truths of Christianity, and my firm belief in the Holy Gospel is by no means owing to the prejudices of education (though I was religiously educated
sired me, upon my making a short excursion, to take him with me in my carriage. Our conversation was rather desultory, as is usual upon such occasions: and among other things, he asked me, rather abruptly, what were my notions about Religion. I answered evasively, or at least indeterminately, as his enquiry seemed to proceed mcrely from an idle curiosity: and I did not see that any happy consequence could ensue from an explanation. However, some time afterwards he made a visit at my house, and stayed with me a few days. During this interval, one evening he put the question to me again; and at the same time added, that he should be really obliged, if I would give him my thoughts in general upon the subject. Upon this I turned towards him, and after a short pause told him, that my opinion lay in a small compass and he should have it in as compendious a manner as the subject would permit. Religion, I said, is either true, or false. This is the alternative: there is no medium. If it be the latter-merely an idle system, and a cunningly dé vised fable, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. The world is before us, let us take all due advantage, and choose what may seem best: For we have no prospect of any life to come; much less any assurances. But if Religion be a truth, it is the most serious truth of any with which we can possibly be engaged; an article of the greatest importance. It demands our most diligent enquiry to obtain a knowledge of it; and a fixed resolution to abide by it, when obtained. For Religion teaches us, that this life bears no proportion to the life to come. You see, then, my good friend, that an alternative of the utmost consequence lies before you. Make, there fore, your election, as you may judge best; and HEAVEN direct you in your de termination!-He told me that he was much affected with the crisis, to which I brought the object of enquiry: and I trust that it was attended with happy consequences afterwards."
educated by the best of parents), but arises from the fullest and most continued reflections of my riper years and understanding. It forms, at this moment, the great consolation of a life, which, as a shadow, must pass away; and without it, indeed, I should consider my long course of health and prosperity (perhaps too long and too uninterrupted to be good for any man) only as the dust which the wind scatters, and rather as a snarė than as a blessing.
“This Publication appears to me to be as mischievous and cruel in its probable effects, as it is manifestly illegal in its prin ciples; because it strikes at the best, sometimes, alas! the only refuge and consolation amidst the distresses and afflictions of the world. The poor and humble, whom it affects to pity, may be stabbed to the heart by it. They have more occasion for firm hopes beyond the grave, than those who have greater comforts to render life delightful. I can conceive a distressed but virtuous man, surrounded by children looking up to him for bread when he has none to give them, sinking under the last day's labour, and unequal to the next, yet still looking up with confidence to the hour when all tears shall be wiped from the eyes of affliction, bearing the burden laid upon him by a mysterious Providence which he adores, and looking forward with exultation to the revealed promises of his CREATOR, when he shall be greater than the greatest, and happier than the happiest of mankind. What a change in such a mind might not be wrought by such a merciless publication ?”
But, it seems, this is an Age of Reason, and the time and the person are at last arrived, that are to dissipate the errors which have overspread the past generations of ignorance. The believers in Christianity are many, but it belongs to the few that are wise to correct their credulity, Belief is an act of reason, and superior reason may, therefore, dictate to the weak.'
"In running the mind along the long list of sincere and devout Christians, I cannot help lamenting, that NEWTON had not lived to this day, to have had his shallowness filled up with this new flood of light.
"But the subject is too awful for irony. I will speak plainly and directly. NEWTON was a Christian! NEWTON, whose mind burst forth from the fetters cast by nature upon our finite con