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such hints as these were more agreea-
P. R E F A CE.
HE present growth and progress of infidelity,
and the great disingenuity of infidels in repeating old objections, which have been long ago ana swered and confuted, and in coining new ones, which have more of flew than of substance, render the defence of Christianity of almost perpetual necesity in every age and in every corner of the Christian world: And I am persuaded that no hearty and intelligent Christian will ever imaginé, that works, which have a tendency to illustrate and confirm the great arguments for the truth of Chriftianity, can be too much multiplied, even although they should have no great share of originality.
The first seven discourses, or (as perhaps they may be more properly ter med) essays in this collections are upon a subject of confessedly great importance. If there is a God; if he is the moral governor of the rational world; if mankind are his moral subjects, and accountable to him for their moral como duct; if their souls are immortal, and will be either rewarded or punished in a future fate, according to their moral conduct in the present, and I believe that no sensible, intelligent deift will dispute the truth of any of these propositions, then religion is a serious thing, a máiter of file and
universal concerament among men! If the five articles of the celebrated Lord Herbert, the prince of modern deifts, are conceded to and allowed ; first, that there is one supreme God; secondly, that he is chiefly to be worshipped; thirdly, thit piety and virtue is the principal part of his worthip; fourthly, that we mult repent of our fins, and that if we do so God will pardon them; and fifthly, that there are
re rewards for good men and punishments for bad men in a future state of existence: I say, if these five artic'es are granted, and even Lord Herbert himself afirms, that these articles have been universally believed by mankind, in all ages and nations of the world, no creature, Palelsed of a ratisnal sol, can poļibly have any just foundation for ridiculing or despising religion ; but, on the contrary, if he thinks juftly, must consider himself as having an intimate and pers.nal concern in it.
Now all the particular religions, or rather modes of religion, which have ever appeared in the world inay be reduced to the fo.lowing, viz. Paganism, Judaism, (to which may be joined the patria archal religion) Christianity, and pure deism, or whut some chuse rather to te m, the religion of nature. These have divided the world arningst them Jince the earliest accounts of antiquity; and seeing, there is such a thing as true religion in the world, and that this true religion is some where or other to be found among those alrearly mentioned, and that it is a maiter of great moment to know where this true religion is to be found, the investigation of this concerning truth is certainly a labour worthy the noble powers and faculties of the human soul.
Paganism is, doubtless, wholly out of the question, and can have no plausible fretension to be the
true religion. Whatever a late nobleman way have advanied in fuvour of its being the primitive religion, it bears upon it all the marks and characters of error, ignorance and the blindest superstition. And whilf the kn wledige of the unity and perfellion of the divine nature continues among a civilized people, there is little danger of its ever finding a single advo, ate, unlejs in such a writer as Mr. H
As for Mahometism, it is such an arrant and bare-faced in.poliure, such a jimbled ard confufid medley of Judaism, Gentilism and Christianity, of trụth und falfrond, of se- fe and non fenje, of frobabilities, and a food and blafplemous puerilties, that there is little danger of its ever extending beyond the confines of flavery and ignorance, The life of its f unde", no withstanding what Mr. Sale and forie oibers have vensured to say in favour of his moral chara&ter, is not only a contradiction to all his beld and b'a phemous pretensi.n, but even a disgrace to human nature itself. Ignoront, bold, daring, infolini, raracious, cruel, opprefive, 19rannical, jensual, libidinous, vain, ambitious, deceitful and intolerably impious and profrane, are epiinets peculiarly appropriated to that crafty Arab, who fif broached and propagated that religion which now beurs his name. And if we examine the Koran or Alcoran, the book of his pretended revelations, we fall find, that (excepting a few just notions and sound murals, pilfered from the Jewish and Chriftian revelations by Mahomet's Co-adjutors in his impoliure) it contains nothing but absurd doctrines, corrupi merals, and childi falles, arid is indeed, upon the whole, so monjirously incredible and univorthy of God, that it is greatly amazing how it (vir gained credit with the