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And Macrobius, a very learned Heathen, has a long chapter, in which he attempts (but overstrains the point) to reduce all the gods of Heathenism to the Sun, which the Scripture itself uses as an emblem of HIM, in whom there is no darkness. So that, upon the whole, if we examine Heathenism, and turn it about on every side, it answers the purpose of my argument, and gives never-failing testimony to an original revelation. There was absolutely nothing original in Heathens, but only that rebellious wickedness, which turned every thing to a wrong use. They invented little; but abused every thing.
These sacrifices, which were originally offered to God, they offered to impure, revengeful, cruel, beings, whom the Apostle calls devils; who were never content, in any part of the world, without human sacrifices. Wherever was Heathenism there was human sacrifice, which must have been derived from a knowledge, that man was to atone for man; not only the ancient Molochians, but the more polished Greeks and Romans. Homer, at the death of Patroclus, and Virgil at the funeral of Pallas. The act of Q. Curtius most probably proceeded from the same idea, that one man must perish for the redemption of others. Their objects, the elements, which were innocent as they stand in Scripture, were abominable and detestable, when taken for realities; and Mr. Bryant hath shown how the plagues of Egypt were generally aimed at the false objects of Heathen worship: but the author of the Book of Wisdom had told us the same long before : "for look for what things they grudged, when they were punished, that is, for them whom they thought to be gods; now being punished in them, when they saw it, they acknowledged him to be the true God, whom they before denied to
know, and therefore came extreme damnation upon them.” Wisd. xii. 27.
From all that has been said, I have two inferences to make.
I. That, if Heathen books give this testimony to Divine Revelation, we should use them for the best end they are capable of answering, the confirmation of our own faith. They will never draw us away from God, if we understand what Heathenism is, and whence it came; nor should we ever omit to take ad vantage of it, in our arguments against Infidels. Thus it will answer a purpose contrary to its intention and nature; it will confirm what it was intended to confound: as when “out of the eater came forth meat;" and it will be happy for us, if our teachers of youth will give them such hints occasionally, as will acquaint them with this use of it. We shall not then be long under the dominion of profligate scholars, who use their heathen learning for no end, but as an instrument of evil, to corrupt and destroy the Christian world ; increasing all that misery daily, which abounds too much already.
II. I would also recommend, that the deplorable consequences of a departure from the true God should be pointed out to all school-boys, as the Apostle has displayed them in the first chapter to the Romans : which was intended as a warning against the corruptions of Heathenism, and should never be forgotten to the end of the world. It is full as necessary now, as when the Apostle wrote it. For these times have now brought us about to a parallel apostacy in the French nation; worse in its guilt than the original departure to Heathenism; and, I believe, worse in its fruits. All that the Apostle has said of the ancient Heathens and their abominable morals may now be
applied to the French, in whom it is fully verified, so that they are become the very pests of the earth, and their metropolis, in the literal sense of the words, a second Sodom. Heathenism will be no source of corruption to Christians, who, with their eyes open, remember the dreadful effects of it of old, and see the consequences of it now: from which may God defend all those young men, who are now on the road to a learned education ! and in this prayer, I am confident you, Reverend Sir, will most heartily join with
Your faithful and
obedient humble Servant,
NAYLAND, March 3, 1799.
L E TT ER
THREE CONVERTED JEWS,
BAPTIZED AND CONFIRMED
CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
“ When thou art converted, strengthen thy Brethren."
Luke xii. 32.