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However the time is at hand, it is to be hoped, when the subject will meet with a more impartial examination, and then, Hutchinsonianism, which has been for so many years a kind of bugbear, may turn out to be a harmless thing at last, of which no man need be afraid.

He had a correspondence likewise, about the same time, with Archbishop Secker on the subject of Natural Religion. To have seen the question learnedly and fairly discussed by two such characters would have been highly gratifying; but unfortunately the Letters are not to be found. Mr. Jones, it is known, was of opinion, that neither the works of Porphyry, Celsus, and Lucian, nor all the blasphemies of Heathenism, ever did so much mischief to Christianity as the admission of the pretended Religion of Nature hath done in the Church of England. Our Canons, he would say, require us to preach four times in a year against popery, but as things are now, if we were to preach forty times in a year against this insidious philosophy of Deisin, which has made such ravages amongst us, it would be much more to the purpose. It may possibly seem strange to speak in such derogatory terms, as he does, of Natural Religion, when so many even of our eminent divines make it a part of their creed, and aver that they see nothing hurtful in it. But surely, it may be said with confidence, that they do not adınit of a power in man to discover the will of God, and to invent a religion for himself, as the Deist contends, whose Natural Religion is only traditional infidelity: they can mean no more, it is presumed, than to distinguish between the written and unwritten Revelation of God to man, since a Revelation there was from the beginning, and God never

left left himself without witness; thus calling that, Natural Religion, which was derived from the Original Revelation (miserably corrupted) by tradition through succeeding generations after the apostacy at Babel, and calling that, Revealed Religion, which is contained in the word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. So far is Natural Religion, in the deistical sense, from being the foundation of Revealed, as some incorrectly suppose, that Revealed Religion is the foundation of what is erroneously called Natural. Certainly all the knowledge which man has of divine things is derived from Revelation, and not from Reason or Nature a.

The Religion proper for man, as this deep Divine used to argue, must be built upon the history of man, which is to be found only in Revelation; as all true philosophy in Nature must be built upon the history of Nature. But man is ignorant of his own history, until it is revealed to him; whence it follows that the Religion of Nature, as the terın is now understood, must be nugatory in itself, and pernicious in its effects, as being adverse to every doctrine of Christianity.

It must be nugatory in itself, because as the ideas of man are not innate, but enter by the senses, he cannot have that knowledge of heavenly things necessary in Religion ; for he has no ideas of them till they are revealed.

This further appears from the case of the heathens, who never followed what we call Natural Religion,

a On this subject see Bishop Horsley's admirable Charge delivered at his primary Visitation in the year 1796, to the Clergy of the Diocese of Rochester, p. 15, et seq. and an excellent Discourse on The Object of Cbristian Faitb; published in a volume of Sermons by the Rev. G. H. Glasse. (Serm. xü. p. 229]


but universally admitted a Religion of Priesthood and Sacrificature, received from their forefathers by tradition. Reason requires that we should give to facts the same force in Religion as they have in Philosophy. If we would know what man can do by nature, we must enquire what man hath actually done while in a state of nature; but man in that state never did discover the doctrines which are now called natural.

And it must be, he always maintained, pernicious in its effects; for when we come to the nature of it, we find it adverse to Christianity in every article. Christianity is a religion which gives us doctrines and precepts, the latter built upon the former. But Natural Religion, to make the best of it, being a religion of precepts without doctrines, it thence comes to be

supposed that religion consists only in what we are to do, whereas it also consists in what we are to be; it tells us we are to be saved by faith, that we are to live by what we believe, and that we must be spiritual men, with the knowledge of God, and the gifts of God, and the love of God in us, before we can be accepted. By supposing that Religion consists only in what we are to do, the whole system of faith, with its engagement of the affections, is dropped of course, as a thing of no value; and the consequence is either the direct infidelity of the Deist, or the mock-christianity of the Socinian, which in effect are but the same thing under different names.

Therefore when Natural Religion proceeds to give us doctrines, we find them all false. Instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost of the Gospel, it gives us the deity of the Koran in one person ; instead of the Fall of Man, it asserts the sufficiency and perfection of man; instead of a Saviour to cleanse us from sin and


redeem us from death, it makes every man his own Messiah ; instead of telling us that we are wrestling against invisible powers, and arming us against their devices, it knows nothing of the devil, no such Being having ever found a place in any system of Natural Religion. It therefore leaves us totally ignorant of the grand Enemy of our salvation, and consequently unprepared for the dreadful conflict against him. Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Thus saith the Gospel ; but what saith Natural Religion ? It saith no mysteries can be rational, and consequently that Christian baptism is not rational; as that is a mystery, where something is expected, which does not appear. The Gospel saith that man hath no life but by partaking in the Holy Sacrament of that death which Christ suffered for him. But what saith Natural Religion? That every man is to be justified by what he does for himself, only, not by any thing which another does for him.

Archdeacon Paley, in the dedication of his Moral Philosophy! to the Bishop of Carlisle, compliments his Lordship for his endeavours, in all his researches, to recover the simplicity of the Gospel from that load of unauthorized additions, which have been heaped upon it, and to render religion more credible by rendering it more rational. Whether his Lordship succeeded in his endeavours, may admit of a doubt. But, certainly, in our zeal to render the gospel more credible, by rendering it more rational, we should be careful not to explain away what is essential to the gospel, with that view ; for that would be to “ make void the Gospel," instead of establishing it. The doctrine of the Cross was “ unto the Greeks foolishness," as it is


to the Greeks of the present day; but the Apostle did not therefore cease to preach it, nor did he try to make it more palatable to their pride, or more rational in itself, by any qualifying comment on it to them that believe, “ it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”_" How can these things be?” said Nicodemus, when our blessed Lord told him, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" but in the answer, there was no attempt to make it more credible by making it more rational

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” The doctrine of Regeneration stands as it did; it is an article of faith. Nicodemus may ask, “ How can these things be?”—but these things ARE SO; and, on the authority of God, to “ him that believeth, all things are possible." The Archdeacon intimates, that he, who, by examination of the original records, dismisses from the system one article, which contradicts the apprehension, the experience, or the reasoning of mankind, does more towards recommending the belief, and with it the influence of christianity, than can be effected by contenders for creeds and ordinances of human establishment. But “ the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned ;” and therefore, if every article of the Gospel-System is to be dismissed, which contradicts the apprehension, the experience, or the reasoning of “ the wise, the scribe, the disputer of this world,” whatever may be effected by contenders for creeds and ordinances of human establishment, every




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