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prejudice and a bigotted attachment to their own opinions as the most superstitious Christian who ever disgraced the Revelation of Jesus."
Some desultory conversation immediately ensued on the proposed debate. The young defender of infidelity was considerably abashed at a speech so unexpected: but he at length acquired the confidence to say, that surely the gentleman was totally unacquainted with the philosophy of the times, so much superior to the abstruse and formal nonsense of other periods, and particularly with that most complete confutation of the false systems of theology, by the celebrated Thomas Paine, in his Age of Reason.
Mr Christian replied, that if the philosophers of the age were reduced to the miserable shift of resting their opinions on the sophistry of a man so avowedly ignorant of general science, and of the subject in question in particular, they must give up all claim to the love of wisdom, and the character of learned ;-and he added, that he would venture to recommend to Mr Goodwill's serious perusal the masterly Apology of Bishop Watson, which, he was happy to observe, for the honour of his country and of human nature, had met with that attention which it so amply merited.
Another member observed, that the gentleman had better not speak so decidedly in favour of the Bishop's work, nor so con
temptibly of the learning of those called infidels, lest, on further reflection and enquiry, he should find himself deceived in the esti. mate. Thomas Paine, it was acknowledged, though a man of genius, had little learning, in which it would readily be granted that the Bishop was more than his match. But what would Mr Christian say, or what could he object, to that most astonishing effort of philosophic erudition, critical sagacity, and
accurate research, produced against the Apoi logy for the Bible, by the most renowned,
learned and accomplished philosopher, Doctor Samuel Francis, and entitled, Watson refuted, &c. ?
The defender of Christianity immediately said that he had seen the work alluded to, and was not at all alarmed, either by the author's pretensions to philosophical profundity, or by his rude assertions of the insufficiency and false reasoning of his venerable antagonist; and he promised, before their next meeting, to give that work a farther consideration, and to bring forward, on that occasion, such remarks as it and the subject in hand should suggest. After some farther conversation, this was at length agreed upon as the subject of the next debate, on that day fortnight, and the meeting broke up for the evening.
THE SECOND DEBATE:
Containing an Account of the Observations of
the Members on the first ; and of the Birth, Education, and Mode of Life, of Messrs CHRISTIAN and GOODWILL.
1. The speech of Mr Christian, and his volunteering to defend religion against the attacks of Mr Goodwill, or any other opponent, and particularly his undertaking to answer Doctor Francis's work, which was by many of the society considered as a master-piece of learning and argument, afforded much amusement, and abundant matter for ridicule, to the infidel party, who esteemed Mr Goodwill's oration, on the other hand, as a most wonderful effort of early genius and manly freedom of thought. To those, however, who were not so far gone in the study of ipfidel philosophy, and who therefore hesitated about approving modern licentiousness to such an extent, Mr Christian's conduct appeared in a very different light. Respectable in his character, and easy in his circumstances, they knew he could have no motive in the task he had un
dertaken, but a love of truth ; and they considered him as fully equal to what he had undertaken, from his being possessed of a very sound understanding, improved by very accurate and extensive observation. They therefore determined to suspend their judgments, and candidly to weigh the evidence and reasoning which Mr Christian had pledged himself to bring forward. We shall in the mean time endeavour to amuse ourselves with a short account of the two gentlemen who are principals in this dispute ; from which we may in some measure be enabled to estimate the nature and force of their convictions; and to judge to whom the epithets of prejudiced and bigotted may with most justice be applied.
2. HISTORY OF MR CHRISTIAN.
Thomas Christian, Esq; is the representative of a very ancient and respectable family in Scotland ; and, being an only son, whilst he inherited a very ample fortune, he enjoyed the advantages of an excellent education. His father, Frederick, was athird son, and, with little previous instruction, was pla. ced in the Navy at an early age. In this situ. ation he served with much reputation till the year 1755, when, on the death of his eldest brother Thomas (the second having died in the West Indies about a year before,) he retired to the family-mansion, and
in a short time was married to a young lady of very amiable manners, but of little fortune, to whom he had long been attached.
About the end of the year 1756, Mrs Christian brought him a son, who was baptized by the family name of Thomas. She had afterwards several other children, but. they all died young, and her attention came at lengih to be soley directed to the educa-. tion of the survivor, who, at a very early period, displayed that mildness of temper, and docility of disposition, accompanied with an ardent thirst for knowledge, which has characterized him ever since. His father, whose education had been neglected, was particularly anxious that his son should en-, joy greater advantages than he himself had done; and he was resolved to spare no expence in bringing it about. He urged him to literary emulation, by stating, in his blunt way, the numerous inconveniencies he him. self had suffered from a confined education ; and his advices agreeing with the natural temper of the boy, made a very deep and successful impression on his mind. Mrs. Christian's attention was chiefly bestowed on the morals of her son, in stating to him the advantage, even in this world, of virtue, of honour, and honesty, and the disgrace and disadvantages of an opposite conduct. On these several subjects our young scholar thought with a precision frequently beyond his years, and, by the time he was sixteen,