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teries." "Mysteries," observed Bishop Berkeley, "I will show him that there are mysteries in his mathematics, as well as in my religion," and he immediately attacked what Voltaire properly called the sublime geometry of Newton, in a treatise, to which I have heard mathematicians say, that no adequate answer has ever yet been given; and certainly mathematicians with their curves and right lines that continually approach and never coincide, and other positions of the like nature, may as well be silent on the subject of mysteries.
Bishop Watson, a distinguished man of science himself, has exhibited an ample collection of the mysteries of philosophy in his answer to Paine's Age of Reason. But it has thus always happened, that it is amongst these men of science that sceptics and unbelievers have been most generally found.
Philosophy and vain deceit was from the first the complaint of the Apostle, and with some very illustrious exceptions the same complaint might have been made through all the history of Christianity, down to the present moment.
A large portion of the rest of mankind, of the more intelligent part, may be classed under the general description of those, who, by the exercise of their talents, are seeking for the distinctions of the world, the advantages of opulence, the advancement of their families. Statesmen, distinguished men of literature, barristers, and lawyers. Various are the temptations to which all these men are exposed; very various are the causes which create in such men a disinclination to receive the evidences of Christianity; and yet they are the lights of the world, and those, on whom the eyes of more humble believers are naturally fixed; they shine in society-young lawyers think this necessary to their professional success-they give the tone to the opinions of others; and the very qualities that constitute the temptations of their own minds, the brilliancy of their talents and their powers of entertainment, are the very reasons why, while they are led astray themselves, they have an unhappy influence on the minds of those around them, more particularly the young, who, as well as the old, are continually on the watch, and never fail to discover,
even when they are decorously concealed, their real sentiments. In all such instances, however, the pious Christian must consider how little the reasonableness of the case has to do with the opinions of such men, whatever they may observe of their superior talents, or may be told of the spriteliness of their sarcasms. Let them note the inconsiderate rashness of their conclusions; above all, that they are in general extremely ignorant of the subject.
The pride of reason has always been remarked, as an element in the composition of the human mind, and in such men at least, it is always found; their very first impulse is invariably to separate themselves from those they call the vulgar; to soar above what they vote to be their prejudices and mistakes, their blindness and their ignorance; above all, their credulity. Now, in every civilized community, the common sense and common feelings of mankind have offered worship, more or less enlightened, to the Supreme Being; have erected temples, and instituted religious orders; and in the instance of Christianity, have made our
holy religion one of the great concerns of life; an object continually presented to our view, on every occasion brought forward to influence our minds, to control our evil affections, to fit us for our present state, and to purify and prepare us for a better.
Now it is this natural and enlightened anxiety of a community, which, while it has the most desirable effect on the minds of the mass of mankind, has, from its very nature, an effect directly the reverse on the particular description of men, we are now considering-they turn away from what influences others, on that very account; because it does influence others—they must not be like the common herd-they, forsooth, are not to be so easily practised upon-they are not to be dupedthey object not indeed to the usefulness of religion, as a means of keeping mankind in order, but as to themselves, they are not much disposed to be kept in order, and certainly not by the discourses of priests, as they are called, and the superstitious ceremonies, as they are deemed, of religion.
We conceive that we are thus describing a case of no very uncommon occurrence; often to be ob
served, and still more often in secret existing, among those, who are conscious of their superior talents, and who are succeeding in the world by the exercise of them. We conceive, that we have not advanced more than they would themselves be conscious of, if they undertook a duty with which they are little acquainted, the duty of self-examination. Their talents may be equal to the consideration of the evidences of religion, but they have no leisure so to employ them; they would not thus advance themselves in the career of what may be in itself, and properly limited, their useful and honourable ambition; and they are not in that frame of mind, which can be fitted for the reception of the religion of humility; nor can they be brought into it, but by some visitation of sickness, or the disappointment of their worldly hopes.
But among such men, the men of talents, distinctions exist, and they must be noted.—I speak not indiscriminately of all-such men are not always either licentious or thoughtless in their opinions. Many are often found to acknowledge