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can hardly give him any credit for his consistency; when he who had taken so great pains to overturn and discard "all extraordinary revelation as useless and needless," should himself be so doubtful of the truth of the cause he was about to endeavour to establish, as to be driven to the necessity of seriously and awfully supplicating the Divine Being for an extraordinary revelation to sanction the work he was about to send forth into the world. The circumstance itself, as proceeding from Lord Herbert, needs no comment; as it certainly shows, as far as his evidence will go, the advantage, consolation, and confirmation to the mind of man, of immediate and divine revelation. The following is his own account: "My book, De Veritate, prout distinguitur à revelatione verisimili, possibili, et a falso, having been begun by me in England, and formed there in all its principal parts, was about this time finished; all the spare hours I could get from my visits and negotiations being employed to perfect this work; which was no sooner done, but that I communicated it to Hugo Grotius, that great scholar, who, having escaped his prison in the Low Countries, came into France, and was much welcomed by me and Mons. Tieleners also, one of the greatest scholars of his time; who, after they had perused it,
and given it more commendation than is fit for me to repeat, exhorted me earnestly to print and publish it. I must confess it did not a little animate me, that the two great persons above mentioned did so highly value it; yet, as I knew it would meet with much opposition, I did consider whether it was not better for me a while to
suppress it. Being thus doubtful in my chamber, one fair day in the summer, my casement being opened towards the south, the sun shining clear, and no wind stirring, I took my book, De Veritate, in my hand, and, kneeling on my knees, devoutly said these words:
"O thou eternal God, author of the light which now shines upon me, and giver of all inward illuminations, I do beseech thee of thy infinite goodness to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to make:-I am not satisfied enough whether I shall publish this book, De Veritate: if it be for thy glory, I beseech thee to give me some sign from heaven; if not, I shall suppress it.'
"I had no sooner spoken these words, but a loud though yet gentle noise came from the heavens, for it was like nothing on earth, which did so comfort and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and that I had the sign I demanded; whereupon also I resolved to print my
book. This, how strange soever it may seem, I protest before the eternal God is true; neither am I any way superstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only clearly hear the noise, but in the serenest sky that I ever saw, being without all cloud, did to my thinking see the place from whence it came."
It has been before observed, that Christ is considered by some of those who have accepted deistical opinions, " as the most dignified servant and messenger;" "that he had the Spirit without measure, though a man like us." Strange absurdity! as if that which is finite, and altogether human, could contain infinity: what less than divinity itself can possess that which is without measure? beyond all space; the ultimate of all holiness; the summit of perfection; the divine essence! Indeed it seems an extraordinary thing, if his miraculous conception and incarnation, his miracles, resurrection, and ascension be doubted, how it should be discovered that he had the Spirit without measure." Round and positive assertion is frequently substituted for truth, and but too often takes with the multitude; and if these assertions be gilded with the base metal of sophistry, something that has the appearance of truth, the end is answered; the credulous and unwary are still
caught, and thus made a prey to false reasoning and vain philosophy. As to proof, they hardly ever fairly attempt it, knowing it is altogether out of their power satisfactorily to give it. It is to be regretted, that though many of these infatuated persons are favoured with good natural abilities, too many of them have little more to recommend them than the mere semblance even of human wisdom; what they possess having more of the cunning insinuating serpent in its composition, lying in wait to deceive, rather than that of sterling truth, in which the harmlessness of the dove is ever conspicuous.
"In this polite age it is the fashion to compliment deists on their good sense and their honesty. Of their good sense, those persons can make the justest estimate who are best acquaint-ed with the disconsolate nature and pernicious tendency of their absurd systems. Of their honesty, we may form a tolerable judgement, from the oblique mode in which Christianity has been uniformly attacked. Scarcely a deist has come forward with an open avowal of his intention but, sculking behind some unconsecrated altar, aims a deadly blow at the best and purest system of religion which has ever been instituted. Hobbes employed ambiguity; Bolingbroke abuse; Voltaire ridicule; Hume an affected reverence for
what he was undermining; Gibbon irony; Godwin unmanly insinuation; and Paine the most outrageous misrepresentation. These are means worthy of their cause; and will, without doubt, bring their system eventually into universal discredit. Did, indeed, thinking deists propose their objections to revelation with fairness; use their utmost endeavours to have these objections obviated; and, provided a perfect solution could not be obtained, wait the great teacher death, and God adore,'-a better opinion might be entertained of their principles, their tempers, and their conduct. But when they avail themselves of every opportunity to unsettle and overturn the faith of thousands; to loosen obligations moral and divine; and with one rude blow to cut off the dearest hopes of humanity,—we must exclaim, in the language of Scripture, Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations; O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, O mine honour, be not united *.""
Self-confidence and great ignorance of themselves have been one means of laying the founda tion of the principles of infidelity; these have despised the wisdom of antiquity, and the authority of men most justly renowned for good sense, learning, and holiness, and have committed
* Evans's Sketch, 4th edit.