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Such is the nature of Infidelity that it would seem almost impossible, even with our knowledge of human depravity, to believe men could possibly embrace it. Characterized as it is, by that debauchery which induces the most loathsome disease—that dissoluteness which deranges the mind; and that bitter invective and low scurrility which prostrates the dignity of man, and leaves his noble powers a perfect wreck —makes all beyond the grave a dark and fearful void—a tremendous blank! It would seem that any system, combining go much which is morally corrupt and revolting, could not find an advocate. But a solution of this problem is found in the language of Bayle—“Those,” said he, “who embraced the sect of Epicurus did not become debauchees because they embraced the doctrine of Epicurus. They only embraced the doctrine because they were debauchees.” Here then is the secret of the whole matter. Men do not become bad by being Infidels: but they become infidels because they are bad. This is the grand argumentum ad hominum.
Modern Infidelity has come down to us in all its original profanity and lewdness, from the days of Hume, Tindal, Shaftsbury, Morgan, Voltaire, Rosseau, and their coadjutors, yet, disrobed even of that false refinement of which it then boasted, and without a show of that learning and intelligence which it possessed when it made its bold assault on heaven, and in the revolution of its popular phrenzy, sought the entire extermination of the religion of Jesus Christ. Should we make no reference to the moral character of Infidelity, “its ignorance should be its disgrace and its ruin.” But when we trace its reckless mischievousness into the most sacred retreat of domestic happiness, and find it sunderin every bond of private virtue, as well as rudely assailing o a bloody hand every civil and political body of men—and breaking up, with untiring zeal, the broad foundations of social order, and throwing confusion and disorder into all ranks of society, it should be met in its desolating course of misery and death, by every friend of his country, every lover of virtue and moral purity, as well as of good order in every condition in life.
When the Cholera—that fearful pestilence—that wasting scourge of heaven—was walking alike in midnight and noonday, from kingdom to kingdom, and from one continent to another, the world was in alarm, and the ingenuity of men taxed, and science at once laid under tribute to find an antidote. But when a moral pestilence infinitely more ruinous and destructive is wasting the fairest portions of this moral world, men seem not to have taken the alarm. It is true, Infidelity never increased with such rapidity as at the present time. It is attacking the most interesting class of society—that class on which hangs the future destiny and glory of the world. With the grosser sort of Mahommedanism, Catholicism, and much of modern Fanaticism, infidelity is forming a wretched coalition for the destruction of all morality, virtue and religion, which should give alarm alike to the political rulers of our country, and to the church of God. The author, feeling the importance of this subject, and by the repeated solicitations of several young gentlemen, consented to deliver a course of Lectures on Modern Infidelity. He had no thought of their appearing before the public, at the time they were written; and hence he did not refer to the pages, or the particular works from which he made his various quotations. Such was the excitement at the time they were dilivered, that the young gentlemen felt exceedingly anxious to have them at once laid before the public. This precluded the possibility of that revision which he would have desired. The author did not design to enter into a defence of the christian religion: but to meet Infidelity in the open field of its practical abominations.” Praying that the blessing of God may accompany this humble effort, and that it may be the means of reclaiming many from the dangers of Infidelity,+it is, like the widow's mite, affectionately tendered to the public, in the room of a more liberal offering.
*The first Sermon was delivered to young men on New Year's Evening, without any design of publication. But at the request of several young men it is published in this volume, though it has no immediate bearing on the subject.
To those for whom these Lectures were originally designed, and who, during the progress of their delivery, manifested in them so deep an interest, and at whose kind and polite request they now appear in public—to the young gentlemen of this and Ohio Cities, this little volume is respectfully inscribed, by
Their affectionate friend,