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SOME RULES FOR THE STUDY OF IT.
TRIP the book of its trappings. Collect the arguments
urged by the author, either for his own scheme, or against yours. Arrange them methodically; state them briefly, clearly, and fairly.
II. Mark diligently, and note down concessions made unawares in different parts of the work, which weaken or destroy the arguinents on the other fide.
III. Discover his drift and design; to what sect he belongs ; who are his friends; who applaud him; and who are applauded by him: whence he fetches his arguments, &c.
IV. Throw out what is nothing to the purpose, and fix upon the poiat on which the dispute turns. Find out the jugulum caufa, where one good stroke will do more than many pages of lax argumentation. A controvertist thould be trained as the Arabians train a falcon, to fasten upon the throat of the gazell, and there stick till the creature drops. See Goldsmith III. 85,
V. Examine whether the opinion contended for be not clogged with more difficulties, and liable to more objections, than the opinion opposed.
VI. In writing controvery, go as far as you can with your an. tagonist; join with, and commend what is right in him. He that would do good by what he says, must oppose and contradict as little as possible ; must make all allowances, and take things in the best light. He must avoid all reproachful language, all that is sarcastical or biting. This never did good from the pulpit of the press. The softest words make the deepest impression.
::2 Cor, ii. 11. We are not ignorant of his devices:
ruptions of it among the Heathens. It should be shewn, a true state of the case, how things were from the beginning, that it may be seen which was the original, and which the copy; how it happened that there was such a fimilitude between the true and the false; a similitude extending to all the nations of the earth; by which it is de monstrated, that as there was once one original language, of which all other languages were diale&tical, fo one and the fame religion was once universal to all mankind. The Heathens carried off, what they afterwards corrupted by tradition more early than the written law, Voltaire turns all the errors of the copy to the reproach of the original ; gives priority to the copy; and fneers at Jewish and Christian institutions under the cover of terms belonging to the Heathen. He finds circumcision among the Egyptians before Abraham ; and derives baptism from the Indians, practising religious ablutions in the river Ganges, His object is to be rid of truth under the name of error; and to this all his artifices are directed,
II. With this view, the abuses among the professors of Christianity, such as bitter controversies, wars, persecutions, massacres, superstitions, and legendary miracles of Rome, are all laid to the fcore of their religion, (though they arose in fact only from the corruption of it) as if religion produced nothing but bad fruits. If truth is disgraced by vice and hypocrisy, as it ever was and will be, he reports it to be in itself good for nothing. False - logic confounds things; true logic distinguishes properly: the former is the logic of the dishoneft; the latter of the wise and learned,
III. Works done at the command of God, are considered as done without his command, and then exclaimed against as fevere and cruel. The executioner is guilty of Ro crime, when felong
are lawfully condemned by their judge: much less when the fentence is from the Judge of all the earth. Earthquakes and pestilences say indiscriminately, men, women, and children: but who accuses God of injustice on that account? Ali the mistakes and stretches of authority are magnified and swelled out with all his rhetoric, to make authority itself odious, (or transfer it by degrees to the hands of his friends, and all the world now sees how they ufe it.] What a strange appearance things will take, when we tell some circumstances of a story, and conceal the rest! If we tell of David's sin, as Voltaire delights to do, and suppress the sentence and the punishment passed upon it: for thus the Bible, which forbids murder and adultery, is made to encourage them.
IV. He ridicules the customs and manners of old times, because they do not agree with those of the present age. The same faults may be found with Homer, whose wisdom is yet very justly admired. Emblematical actions of the prophets, without their sense and meaning, may be made to appear strange and unreasonable; but are of great force and propriety when the reason is added.' Tell the story of Jonah and the whale, independent of all other things; or throw it into the heap, among the wonders of Zoroaster and Lomonocodom, and it will be rejected, together with them. But when it is considered that our Savour himself confirmed the truth of it, and made his use of it; that life, death, the resurrection, and the eternal salvation of mankind, are the most interesting subjects we know of, and merit every posible wonder of nature to explain to us the nature of them, the case is altered. What would be incredible, without the sequel of Christ's resurrection added to it, and considered with it, becomes just and reasonable: and thus every fair critic will consider it,
V. He collects industriously all the flips, blunders, and absur. dities of commentators and defenders, and so endeavours to depreciate their labours, and render them contemptible, and religion through them : while all the excellent things a man hath said are overlooked, because he hath said some things that are weak,
VI. Difference of opinion, divisions, &c. do not prove that there is no such thing as truth; but rather what some men do not rightly understand it, and that others do not like it. When A man hates the wisdom of the Scriptựre, we hold it impoffible
that he can understand it. Truth will never enter, where there is not the love of truth. 2 Theff. ii. 10. “ They received not the “ love of the truth, that they might be saved." Rom. iii. 3. " What if fome did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the « faith of God without effect ?"
VII. The stiff-neckedness of the Jews is used as a handle against their law. The reason should be given why God chose such a people : why he gave them such a law. They are censured for their hatred of other nations : but they were taught to hate and avoid their idolatry; and with idolaters that hatred was unpardonable. He is always railing at the Jews, always vindicating the Heathens: he absolutely denjes it to be possible, that Trajan, Titus, and Antoninus, cach good men, could ever be guilty of persecution: but when a man's principles obliges him to deny facts, it is a sign he is on very bad ground. The supposed ignorance of the Jews has been much aggravated, by men who appear to have been more ignorant than they. A true and fair account of them should be given.
VIII. To answer what is said against mysteries, the true nature of a mystery hould be shewn. So far as mysteries signify doctrines above the reason of man, they are unavoidable, if God is pleased to tell us any thing about himself, and the things of an invisible world. So far as mysteries signify parables, where truth is both hidden and explained (hidden from fome, and explained to others) under the veil of material things, they are vehicles of inKruction worthy of all admiration,
IX. Ridicule, and scorning, and reading with a view to sneer, are symptoms of a very bad disposition. Prov. xiv. 6. “A * fcorner seeketh wisdom and findeth it not," All scorn is from contempt; all contempt is from pride ; and pride prevents improvement; fo the scorner findeth no wisdom : the proud mind is fo full of itself, that there is no room for any thing else. He that hateth another, is never so well pleased as when he can make him and his actions appear ridiculous: this is the never-failing effect ! of hatred and malice: and however incredible it may found, we
are certain it is a possible thing for man to hate God; to hate his "ways and his word ; and in that cale he will proceed as aforesaid. In Rom. i. 31. the Heathens are said to have been cos vytīs,
“ haters of God:” and ver. 25. to have “ changed the truth of “ Gyd into a lye:" and Pfal. Ixxxi. 15. speaks of the “ haters " of the Lord." If there be any such persons now, as there undoubtedly have been formerly, Mr. Voltaire might be one of them; and all good men who read his bitter sarcasms against the people of God, the church of God, the providence of God, the word of God, and in short of every thing that belongs to him, may be left to judge for themselves. Every truth, however high and sacred, may be represented under some low and ridiculous idea; but this is no test,
X. When an author writes to the passions of mankind, instead of addressing himself to their reason, weak proofs will have great weight : the work may be sometimes done without any proofs : he wants none, who follows the worse while he sees the better; a weakness to which all men are subject, when passion has the dominion over them. Would a man use the meretricious arts of telling tales and novels, to inflame and corrupt, if he could use reafon to convince? Why does he act thus, but because he is appealing to that corrupt judge, which every man carries about in his own breast; who is so easily cheated and bribed to favour the adverse party?
XI. The foundation of the New Testament being laid in the Old Testament, it is impossible to vilify the Old without striking at the New. Christ and his Apostles vouch for the Old Testa. ment as the word of God: they appeal to it and build upon it. When therefore we see men at this work, we may be assured their design is to overturn Christianity,
XII, The objects of infidels and unfaithful critics against the infpiration of the language of the Scripture, should be obviated See what Middleton and Warburton have thrown out.-The Scripture is not offered to us as the sense or sentiment of God, but as the word of God; communicated to us through persons, 2 Pet. iv. 21. “ who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is not only against the express declarations of the Scripture, but it is false philosophy to suppose that an inspired man speaks his own words. Luke xxi. 15. “I will give you à mouth and wisdom." That the divine fpirit does actualiy inspire words, is demon