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dramatic piece, composed by a child or a negro, might be received with plaudits, which would be justly hissed off the stage, had it been produced by a Shakspeare or a Corneille. A traveller, who expresses his admiration at the address with which savages manage a hatchet of stone, would express equal astonishment at the weakness of his countrymen, should he see them casting aside their axes of iron, and felling their trees with ill-formed implements of flint. Thus, after admiring the successful efforts of Socrates, who drew many sacred truths from the chaos of paganism, how astonishing is it to behold modern philolosophers patching up a confused system of deistical morality, to be substituted in place of the sublimer doctrines and the purer morality of the gospel! Wherever such retrograde reasoners are discovered, their insignificant labours must be universally deplored by the lovers of truth. But when these champions of false wisdom endeavour to bury, under the ruins of Christianity, those important truths which heathens themselves have formerly discovered, it is impossible to behold their impious efforts without feeling all the warmth of an honest indignation.

We shall conclude this essay by transcribing a part of that ancient testimony which was borne by Lactantius, to the power of those doctrines for which we contend.

“That which many have discovered, by the assistance of natural religion, to be their indispensable duty, but which they have never been able either to practise themselves, or to see exemplified in the conduct of philosophers; all this the sacred doctrines of the gospel assist us to perform, because that gospel is wisdom in its highest excellence. How shall philosophers persuade others, while they themselves continue in a state of perplexity ? Or how shall they repress the passions of others, while, by giving way to their own, they tacitly confess that nature, in spite of all their efforts, is still triumphant ? But daily experience testifies how great an influence the ordinances of God have upon the heart. Give me a passionate, slanderous, implacable man; and, through the power of our gospel, I will return him to you gentle as

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a lamb.

Give me an avaricious man, whose grecdiness of gain will suffer him to part with nothing; and I will return him to you so liberal, that he will give away his money by handfuls. Bring me a man who trembles at the approach of pain and death ; ere long he shall look with contempt upon crosses, fires, and even the bull of Phalaris itself. Present me with a debauchee, an adulterer, a man wholly lost to good manners; you shall shortly behold him an example of sobriety, uprightness, and continence. Give me a cruel and blood-thirsty man; his ferocious dispo

1 sition shall suddenly be succeeded by real clemency. Give me an unjust man, a stupid person, an extravagant sinner ; you shall shortly behold him scrupulously just, truly wise, and leading a life of innocence. Such is the power of heavenly wisdom, that it is no sooner shed abroad in the heart, but, by a single effort, it chases away folly, the mother of sin. To compass these invaluable ends, a man is under no necessity of paying salaries” to masters of philosophy, “and passing whole nights in meditating upon their works. Every necessary assistance is imparted without delay, with ease, and free from cost, if there be not wanting an attentive ear, and a heart desirous of wisdom. The sacred source to which we point is plenteous, overflowing, and open to all men; the celestial light we announce indiscriminately rises upon all who open their eyes to behold it.

“What philosopher has ever done so much? Who among them is able to perform such wonders ? After having passed their lives in the study of philosophy, it appears that they have neither bettered themselves nor others when nature causes them any great resistance. Their wisdom serves rather to cover, than to eradicate, their vices. Whereas, our divine instructions,” that is, the doctrines of the gospel," so totally change a man,

a that

you would no longer know him for the same person.” Lact., lib. iii., cap. 26.

a

66

A

RATIONAL VINDICATION

OF

THE CATHOLIC FAITH: Τ

BEING

THE FIRST PART

OF

A VINDICATION OF CHRIST'S DIVINITY:

INSCRIBED TO

THE REV. DR. PRIESTLEY.

BY JOHN FLETCHER,

VICAR OF MADELEY, SALOP.

LEFT IMPERFECT BY THE AUTHOR, AND NOW REVISED AND

FINISHED, AT MRS. FLETCHER'S REQUEST,

BY JOSEPH BENSON,

6 Unto what then were ye baptized ? ” Acts xix. 3.

CONTENTS.

PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.

INTRODUCTION. Showing the occasion of the work, and addressing the

reader. Expostulatory letter to the Rev. Dr. Priestley, in four

parts.

CHAPTER L. A general view of the catholic faith concerning the

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the subject in debate between catholics and deists of every description.

II. The sources of the popular arguments against the

catholic faith.

III. God the Father has a proper Son, by whom he made, and governs, and will judge, the world.

IV. Our Lord claimed the divine honour of being the proper

Son of God the Father.

V. The vien which the apostles give us of Christ after their

most perfect illumination.

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