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were to them of so costly a purchase, despising them for the very ignorance which gave greater merit to their sacrifice, and proud of a wisdom far less noble, when it can thus feel contempt, than the humble ignorance which it despises.
Next in order to the relationship of parent and child, may be considered the relation which the child bears to those who are united with him, by the same tie, to the same parental bosoms. If friendship be delightful; if it be above all delightful to enjoy the continued friendship of those who are endeared to us by the intimacy of many years, who can discourse with us of the frolics of the school, of the adventures and studies of the college, of the years when we first ranked ourselves with men in the free society of the world; how delightful must be the friendship of those who, acompanying us through all this long period, with a closer union than any casual friend, can go still farther back, from the school to the very nursery which witnessed our common pastimes; who have had an interest in every event that has related to us, and in every person that has excited our love or our hatred; who have honored with us those to whom we have paid every filial honor in life, and wept with us over those whose death has been to us the most lasting sorrow of our heart! Such, in its wide, unbroken sympathy, is the friendship of brothers, considered even as
friendship only; and how many circumstances of additional interest does this union receive from the common relationship to those who have original claims to our still higher regard, and to whom we owe an acceptable service, in extending our affection to those whom they love. Every dissension of man with man, excites in us a feeling of painful incongruity. But we feel a peculiar incongruity in the discord of those, whom one roof has continued to shelter during life, and whose dust is afterwards to be mingled under a single stone.
CONDUCT OF INFIDEL WRITERS
IN REGARD TO CHRISTIANITY.
INFIDELITY has been served up in every shape that is likely to allure, surprise, or beguile the imagination; in a fable, a tale, a novel, a poem ; in interspersed and broken links; remote and oblique surmises; in books of travels, of philosophy, of natural history; in a word, in any form rather than the right one, that of a professed and regular disquisition. And because the coarse buffoonery and broad laugh of the old and rude adversaries of the christian faith, would offend the
taste, perhaps, rather than the virtue, of this cultivated age, a graver irony, a more skilful and delicate banter, is substituted in their place. An elegant historian,* beside his more direct, and therefore fairer, attacks upon the credibility of evangelic story, has contrived to weave into his narration one continued sneer upon the cause of Christianity, and upon the writings and characters of its patrons. The knowledge which this author possesses of the frame and conduct of the human mind, must have led him to observe, that such attacks do their execution without inquiry. Who can refute a sneer? Who can compute the number, much less, one by one, scrutinize the justice, of those disparaging insinuations, which crowd the pages of this elaborate history? What reader suspends his curiosity, or calls off his attention from the principal narrative, to examine references, to search into the foundation, or to weigh the reason, propriety, and force of every transient sarcasm and sly allusion, by which the christian testimony is depreciated and traduced, and by which, nevertheless, he may find his persuasion afterwards unsettled and perplexed?
But the enemies of Christianity have pursued her with poisoned arrows. Obscenity itself is made the vehicle of infidelity. The awful doc
trines, if we be not permitted to call them the sacred truths, of our religion, together with all the adjuncts and appendages of its worship and external professions, have been sometimes impudently profaned by an unnatural conjunction with impure and lascivious images. The fondness for ridicule is almost universal, and ridicule to many minds is never so irresistible as when seasoned with obscenity, and employed upon religion. But in proportion as these noxious principles take hold of the imagination, they infatuate the judgment; for trains of ludicrous and unchaste associations adhering to every sentiment and mention of religion, render the mind indisposed to receive either conviction from its evidence, or impressions from its authority. And this effect being exerted upon the sensitive part of our frame, is altogether independent of argument, proof, or reason; is as formidable to a true religion as a false one; to a well grounded faith as to a chimerical mythology, or fabulous tradition. Neither, let it be observed, is the crime or danger less, because impure ideas are exhibited under a veil, in covert and chastised language.
Seriousness is not constraint of thought; nor levity, freedom. Every mind, which wishes the advancement of truth and knowledge in the most important of all human researches, must abhor this licentiousness, as violating no less the laws of
reasoning, than the rights of decency. There is but one description of men to whose principles it ought to be tolerable; I mean that class of reasoners who can see but little in Christianity, even supposing it to be true. To such adversaries we address this reflection: Had Jesus Christ delivered no other declaration than the following, 'The hour is coming in the which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation,' he had pronounced a message of inestimable importance, and well worthy of that splendid apparatus of prophecy and miracles, with which his mission was introduced and attested; a message, in which the wisest of mankind would rejoice to find an answer to their doubts, and rest to their inquiries. It is idle to say, that a future state had been discovered already. It had been discovered, as the Copernican system was; it was one guess among many. He alone discovers, who proves; and no man can prove this point, but the teacher who testifies by miracles that his doctrine comes from God.