Imatges de pÓgina
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PREFACE.

"IF

the Chriftian religion be, indeed, what it declares itself, a Revelation from Heaven; if a chief part of its defign be to renovate, to purify, and exalt our nature, how mortifying my difappointment," fays a writer, who defcribes England under the character of a Chinese Traveller, "when I found myself in the midst of á nation, not without noble inftances of learning indeed, and abilities of every kind, but immoral in a high degree, and fo uninfpired with devotion, that its most glaring characters are INDIFFERENCE OR

CONTEMPT FOR ALL RELIGION."

If this account be true, it is alarming even to those who, without pretending to much religion, pretend to a regard for the

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welfare of their country; for MACHIAVEL, the ORACLE of politicians, declares, that

THERE IS NO SURER PROGNOSTIC OF RUIN IN ANY STATE THAN, TO SEE DIVINE WORSHIP NEGLECTED OR DESPISED.

Let the following obfervations, quoted, in the Chinese Fragment, be applied to a neighbouring nation; and to our own if the application fhall be found proper and ufeful:

"Youth born and brought up," fays the virtuous Bishop Berkeley, " in wicked times, without any bias to good from early principle or inftilled opinion, when they grow ripe must be MONSTERS indeed; and it is to be feared the AGE OF MONSTERS is not far off*.

"Whence this impiety fprings, by what means it gains ground among us, and how it may be remedied, are matters that deferve the attention of all those who have the power and the will to ferve their country. And although many things look What were Robespierre, Marat, &c.

like a prelude to fome general ruin, although it is much to be apprehended that we shall be worfe before we are better; yet who knows what may enfue, if all perfons in power would behave themfelves like men truly confcious and mindful, that the authority they are clothed with is but a derivative ray from the fupreme authority of Heaven? This may not a little contribute to ftem that torrent which, from small beginnings, hath grown to fuch a head, and daily gathers force to fuch a degree, as threatens a general inun dation and deftruction of thefe realms.".

"It would be great rafhnefs," fays Dr. Hartley, whofe ideas coincide with thofe of the Bishop, " to fix a time for the breaking of the ftorm that hangs over our heads; as it is blindnefs and infatuation not to fee it; not to be aware that it may break. And yet this infatution has always attended all falling ftates. The kingdoms of Judah and Ifrael, which are the types of all the rest, were thus infatuated. And CHRIST

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CHRISTENDOM IN GENERAL feems ready to affume to itself the place and lot of the Jews, after they had REJECTED THEIR MESSIAH, their Saviour of the world. Let no one deceive himself or others. The PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE WORLD ARE EXTRAORDINARY AND CRITICAL BEYOND WHAT HAS EVER YET

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HAPPENED." When Dr. Hartley speaks of the confequences of REJECTING THE MESSIAH, he may perhaps gain the attention of modern philofophers, as he happens to be a favourite author among fome of their leaders.

Both the writers here cited, were men of fingular fagacity: and the events that have lately taken place refpecting religion in what used to be called Chriftendom, prove, that ftrong reafon, affifted by experience and obfervation, becomes almoft capable of prophecy.

That the prefent calamities of the world. are derived from the neglect and contempt of the Chriftian religion, is an opinion perfectly confiftent with Scripture. That greater

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