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Sentiments . . . . . . . .
CHAPTER III. . Atheism unworthy of consideration, viewed as a Theory 23
past and present . . . . . . .
CHAPTER V. Atheism at war with the Moral Sense of Human Nature 39
CHAPTER VII. Atheism shewn to possess a direct Immoral Tendency . 57
CHAPTER VIII. Atheism depreciates and degrades Human Nature . 69
CHAPTER IX. Atheism exposes its Disciples to certain and imminent Danger · · · · · · · 79
CHAPTER X. Atheism gives no Rational Account of the Origin of all things . . . . . . . . 88
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A POPULAR VIEW OF ATHEISM.
THE ATHEISTICAL TENDENCY OF THE PRESENT TIMES.
1. Were a number of desperadoes to make their appearance in a commonwealth, and, from dissatisfaction with an excellently established order of things, to become opposed to the Supreme Power-even to a denial of its existence,- to maintain, that all authority is tyranny, that all laws are arbitrary edicts,-expedients of the powerful to oppress the feeble—that all social order is an encroachment upon freedom, and that the only real and valuable liberty consists in an unrestrained licentiousness of purpose and practice; every person of intelligence would perceive, that the numerical increase of such persons, and the prevalence of their sentiments, must lead to anarchy throughout the state, inflict deep and permanent misery upon all classes of society, and entail utter ruin upon all the great interests of the country. Every patriotic man, however obscure bis station, would hold himself pledged, in this emergency, to disabuse, to the extent of his ability, these infatuated persons, of their pernicious delusions ; oi, to counteract
their cruel machinations :-and, in proportion to bis success, would be the amount of the actual benefit conferred upon the community.
2. In the commonwealth of religion and morals,-if the term may be thus applied, persons of desperate sentiments occasionally arise, who would convulse and revolutionize the world; erase the very foundations of soci. ety; unsettle every thing and settle nothing; substitute, in every case, demonstration for probability, and sense for faith. These men assure us, that there is no Supreme First Cause—nor any Being in the universe superior to themselves—that all the multifarious forms of existence, and whatever order prevails throughout nature, have been from eternity, or are purely the result of chance, or originated in some unaccountable principle of matter; that religion is an abject superstition-the invention of crafty politicians and mercenary priests unworthy the attention of lofty minds; that virtue and vice are mere arbitrary distinctions, raised and preserved from selfsh motives, tolerated by popular ignorance, and to be abolished by pbilosophy; that we are wholly irresponsible for our actions—whether good or evilexcept, forsooth, to ourselves, or to each other; that there is nothing beyond the present transitory life, to beget a hope or a fear; and, that death is an eternal sleep, the wreck of our entire being; complete annihilation !
3. These direful sentiments have, at no time, indeed, obtained currency in the world ; nor have they been thought worthy of acceptation, but by a very insignificant proportion—a mere fraction-of the human family. In ages gone by, they were confined to a few speculative philosophers,--men of genius, but eccentric; scholars, but vain; acute, but supercilious—who, affecting independence of mind, discarded, at once, as useless lumber, all ancient and popular religious creeds, to be thenselves of no creed; who, pretending to be the only lights of the world, undertook, as it is well expressed,“ to baile the Deity into nothing ; unteach the world religion ; raze out impressions renewed and transmitted through so many ages, and persuade the race of men to descend a peg lower, and believe they ought to live, and shall die, like the perishing beast;"-who, in short, with the name of philosophers, taught the most consummate folly; and, pretending to set their disciples right on difficult points of religion, seduced them into fatal errors, and extinguished, for ever, the last waning sparks of piety in their bosoms.
4. To the ancient Greek philosophers are, probably, to be ascribed, the first systematic attempts to explain the phenomena of the universe, irrespective of an Omnipotent Intelligence. They taught a kind of theological philosophy; but many of them were atheistically inclined. Their numerous schools were so many nurseries of scepticism; and the founders and principals of these schools—the oracles of their respective sects were a kind of Titans, who, having made war upon the fabulous gods of the nations, and dealt out destruction to them, sought to subject to a speculative apnihilation, the Creator and Upholder of the world. In public, indeed, they favoured the popular superstitions ; but, in private, and with their disciples, they laughed at all religion as egregious folly. Their respective theories were so many metaphysical cobwebs, contradictory and childish. Ignorant of inductive logic, they soared into the regions of fancy. To speculate, dispute, quibble, rather than to discover truth, was too much their object. They suggested diffieulties, without obviating them; proposed problems, but furoished po solution ; amused, but failed to convey solid instruction. Their writings are, for the most part, destitute of interest, with here and tbere, indeed, a just sentiment, or a felicitous expression, like a few flowers scattered over a wide and sterile waste, or
| Howe's Living Temple.