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the leading doctrines of Christianity, although, perhaps, from having viewed Christianity through the medium of corruption, he was unconscious of it. Paine says in his Age of Reason, “I believe in one God, and no more, and I hope" (how superior the Christian system, which coma pletely ascertains the fact !) “ for happiness beyond this life. I, believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy: Precisely the doctrines of Christianity, Mr. Paine; the wheat which has long been growing with the tares, but which you have not been able to discriminate in your ardour of theological warfare. And similar to this is a passage in Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, on which this paper is principally designed to comment. The passage is bis fifth question on religion, and although it is designed, according to his sneering manner, to depreciate the pretensions of Christianity, like the passage which is already quoted from Paine, it reflects lustre on the religion of Jesus. to our holy religion," (says he, mistaking, like Paine and most other Deistical writers, the established religion of his day for Christianity,) " to be sure the only good religion, which would be the least bad? Would it not be the most simple? Would it not be that which taught a great deal of morality and few doctrines; that which tended to make men virtuous without making them fools; that which did not impose the belief of things impossible, contradictory, injurious to the Deity, and pernicious to mankind; and which did not take on itself to threaten with eternal punishments all who had common sense? Would it not be that which did not support its articles by executioners, and deluge the earth with blood for unintelligible sophisms?"
Would it not be that which taught only the adoration of one God, justice, forbearance and humanity?" Now, as it is very evident that this passage is a sneer at Christianity throughout, and that Voltaire designed it to be understood that Christianity was quite distinct from that religion which he would have considered as the least bad, or rather, as his meaning is, the very best, is it not complimentary to the Christian system, as the Christian system possesses all the excellencies of his “ least bad” religion ; aud
not Vol. taire be considered, in this passage, as an apologist for that system of religion which he misunderstood, and consequently rejected ? For had Voltaire understood Christianity, had
he viewed it as contained in the New Testament, instead of as exhibited by monkery and priestcraft, he would not only have found that it was the “ least bad," but that it was the best of all conceivable systems. He would liave found that it was the most simple ; that it taught a great deal of morality and few doctrines; that it tended to make men virtuous without making them fools; that it did not impose the belief of things impossible, contradictory, injurious to the Deity, and pernicious to mankind; that it did not take on itself to threaten with eternal punishment all who had common sense ; that it did not support its articles by executioners, and deluge the earth with blood for unintelligible sophisms; that it taught the adoration of one God, (of one God oply,) and justice, forbearance and humanity. That such miglit have been Voltaire's discovery had he lived in our day, is not improbable ; but if it had not, the fault would have been his own, the error would not have been in Christianity. And for the purpose of shewing this, I shall offer a few strictures on the Christian system, in reference to Voltaire's features of the least bad religion. Christianity, then, I shall primarily observe, is the most simple religion ; it is founded on the being of one God, who is powerful, wise, just, and benevolent; it is free from all subtle doctrines and scholastic terins; it has neither priests, nor temples, nor ceremonies, and is adapted to the multitude, the ignorant, and the unlearned. Jesus Christ came into the world commissioned by his heavenly Father to preach the doctrine of a final resurrection, and a state of future reward and punishment. He worked miracles to prove his divine mission; he exhibited the God of nature as the Parent of the human race; he exhorted men to repent and reform; and, finally, he was put to death, and raised from the grave, according to his own prediction, as a pledge to us that we should be raised, even as lie bad been. And if this be not a simple religion, the most simple that the mind can conceive, religion and simplicity must ever be distinct. But when Jesus taught, we read that the common people heard him gladly, for he spake as one having authority, and not as the scribes; that is, Jesus addressed himself to the hearts and understandings of his hearers by the simplicity of his doctrines, while the scribes were superstitious and dogmatizing, preserving the traditions of men. Jesus, likewise, taught few doctrines, but a great deal of morality. Morality, indeed, was his object, and doctrines were only taught by hiin as subserving to morality.' The doctrines of Jesus were not abstract and subtle, astonishing the vulgar and confounding the wise, but they were rather leading principles upon which the whole fabric of morals stands. Doctrines, as prescribed by synods and churches, are merely the objects of assent and belief; but the doctrines of Christianity are of vital inportance, and are a kind of moral ceinent to the temple of virtue. And thus the leading doctrines of Christianity, in guarding the Divine unity, in exhibiting the Divine goodness, in proclaiming hunan responsibility, and in asserting à future state of retributive justice, furnish principles of action, operating on our hopes and fears, which are of the most beneficial tendency. But while the doctrines of Christianity are clearly defined in the Christian Scriptures, they are not proclaimed as the tests by which the future condi. tion of man is to be determined; they are important as supplying principles of action, as motives to virtue, but it is to virtue only that reward is promised, and to vice only that punishment is threatened. The New-Testament threat is not, Depart from me, ye disbelievers of doctrines, but '“ Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." And thus, as there is nothing absurd or ridiculous in these views, but as, on the contrary, they are quite consonant to the best conrictions of the mind and deductions of philosophy, and as, if I may be allowed the term, they are a complete condensation of the Christian system, it is quite clear that Christianity is calculated to make men virtuous without making them fools, and that it does not impose the belief of things impossible, contradictory, injurious to the Deity, and pernicious to mankind, and which does not take on itself to threaten with eternal punishments all who have common sense. And again, as Christianity has no “unintelligible sophisms," nor yet “ articles," it is quite impossible that it should arm the executioner, or deluge the earth with blood for their defence. But as Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours "as ourselves, to do unto others as we would have others do unto us, to render mercy in order that we may obtain mercy, to visit the sick, to succour the fatherless, and to aid the widow, to worship God who is a spirit in spirit and in truth, and to be perfect even as our Father who is in heaven is perfect, it is clear and evident that the Christian system teaches “ the adoration of one God, justice, forbearance, and humanity."
INTELLIGENCE. British and Foreign Unitarian Association. The Anniversary of this Institution will be held on Tuesday, - Wednesday and Thursday in Whitsun week, the 16th, 17th and
18th of May
On Tuesday evening the General Committee will meet the Deputies of District Associations at the rooms in Walbrook Buildings at Six o'clock.
On Wednesday morning the General Meeting for Business will be held at Finsbury Chapel, to which Individual Subscribers, Deputies of District Associations, Representatives of Congregations and Honorary Members are respectfully invited.
On the evening of the same day a Sermon will be preached in Finsbury Chapel by the Rev. Lant CARPENTER, LL.L', of Bristol, in aid of the funds of the Association : divine service to commence at half-past six o'clock.
On Thursday morning a second Sermon will be preached, also in aid of the funds of the Association, by the Rev. JAMES TAYLER, of Nottingham : divine service to commence at Twelve o'clock.
After this service, the subscribers and their friends will dine together at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, in the Strand.
[For further particulars, see the Wrapper.]
Anniversary of Moor Lane Chapel, Bolton.
[From the Bolton Chronicle, April 1.]. The Fourth Anniversary of the Friends of Free Inquiry, was held on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday last, at the Meetinghouse in Moor Lane. The Rev. W. J. Bakewell, of Chester, preached in the morning and afternoon of Sunday, and the Rev. J. G. Robberds, of Manchester, in the evenings of Sunday and Monday; on which occasions, collections were made towards defraying the expense incurred by erecting the School Rooms and Vestries adjoining the Meeting-house. On Monday at one o'clock, the annual dinner took place, of which upwards of 120 persons partook. The Rev. W. Shepherd, of Liverpool, officiated as Chairman, and Mr. JOSHUA CROOK, Vice-President. After the cloth was removed, the Rev. President observed, that those who were thật day assembled, had been designated, by many able and eloquent characters, as a class of men wrapped in darkness. It was true that they had not the benefit of the imposition of hands by the bishops, which he verily believed to be one of the grossest impositions that ever existed. The Aris. tocracy of the country had seized upon the riches of the Church, and aggrandized the inembers of their own families and connex. ions; and ministers were thus forced upon the country, in contempt, as Burke would say, of the opinions and dispositions of the respectire congregations. The choice of all ministers of Christianity should he invested in the people, and those who contributed the smallest mite towards the spread of the Gospel, ought to have a vote in all the temporal concerns of the church of which they were members. The first toast he had to propose was, “ The true source of all power—the People.”
The President then made a few observations upon the free discussion allowed in the Christian Church, until the union took place between Church and State ; which caused all the evils complained of hy so many religious bodies. Thus, in consequence of this union, the Papal power had been carried to such an extent, that no one was allowed to promulgate his opinions, unless they were in conformity with the decision of Popes, Kings, Councils and Priests. 'At the Reformation, though a mighty accession of religious liberty and illumination of mind had occurred, yet this unnatural union being perpetuated, the successors of Popery in the emoluments of the Church, and the patronage of the State, cast an odium on free discussion. When the members of the Church of England were adducing arguments to oppose the Roman Catholic claims, the principal objection alleged against the latter was, that they deprecated discussion and the rights of conscience. But how did these very Churchmen act at the Universities? They told the students to read the Bible, and to think for themselves; but when they came to be ordained, they were compelled to subscribe to the 39 Articles, and were most emphatically and peremptorily exhorted not to teach any other doctrines than what were contained in those articles. If they neglected this advice, expulsion froin the bosom of the Church was the consequence. It reminded him of a certain connoisseur of painting, who invited a friend to look at a fine picture, which he said was one of Ra. phael's ; on his friend expressing some little hesitation, he said, ** If you say that it is not Raphael's, I'H knock you down; nevertheless, let me bave your candid opinion.”-(Much laughter and applause.)- Every man ought to judge for himself in religious matters, and it was contrary to reason or justice that he should be persecuted for the avowal of any set of opinions,
“ The unalienable birth-right of man-unlimited freedom of discussion, and may no daring inortal, mounting the Throne of God, presume to direct the lightnings of Heaven.”
After many liberal sentiments had been proposed, the VicePresident gave" The man who through good and through evil report, has dared to be at his post the consistent advocate of truth-the philanthropist and scholar, whose exertions have been constant in the cause of the great family of man-our rorthy Chairman, the Rev. WILLIAM SHEPHERD.” It is impos.
sible to describe the enthusiasm with which this toast was received.
The Rev. W'M. SHEPHERD attributed the compliments which