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lurks in almost every sect . It is not confined to our own denomination . The power of custom * the influence of society and friends , and perhaps , in some cases , devotional feeling not founded on Christian principles ,: all unite to retain mankind , nominally , within the pale of some religious
community , except unbelief has taken a very decided character . I woijld be far from asserting , with Mr . Bel sham , that Anti-supernatural ists , when they assume the name of Christians , are guilty of " base hypocrisy" or " downright falsehood . ' * In many instances , this is far from being the case ; for , however inconsistent and absurd their
theory may be > we know too well that a large portion of the world likewise profess , conscientiously , a system of theology we also consiqer absurd and inconsistent , to permit us to condemn , in a moral point of view , the mere profession of any opinions whatever . But if we believe our fellow-creatures
are in error—an error likely to prove injurious to the progress of religious truth — let us meet the evil in the spirit of meekness and the power of truth . Anti-supematuraiists profess not to give up the authority of the New Testament as a rule of life , at the same
tinje that they deny the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and the truth of prophecy and miracle . Those who profess Anti-supernaturalism must entertain one of the two following
opinions—either they must consider Jesus and his disciples as enthusiasts , as men who imagined themselves divinely inspired , and found means to persuade the world of the reality of their
imaginations ; or they must believe Christ and his apostles to have been intentional deceivers . No one can suppose for an instant that Christianity is altogether a fable ; and if Jesus and his apostles really existed , then we must give our assent to one of the above statements , or become believers in a Divine Revelation .
If we consider Jesus as an enthusiast , I know not how we can continue to look upon him as an enlightened teacher , as our guide to virtue and happiness . His character for wisdom , or eve ^ for sanity , must at once be conceded . If we say that Jesus did not pretend to divine gifts—he was benevolent — a philanthropist , who
formed a noble design for the Improvement of the human >¦ ra ^ ee ; : $ n £ his historians have misrepresented his Words and actions—then t |* e cWge of enthusiasm falls upon tlie evangelists and apostles * We assert that a number of men ( not one * not two or
three , but all ) were led away by their enthusiasm to imagine they beheld deeds that Christ never pretended to perform * and to hear worda that : were never uttered . Supposing this possible , can we pl # ce confidence in the writings of such men , or believe them worthy to regulate our lives ?
If we consider Jesus as an impostor , ( and I . feel it almost an irreverence to him who was all truth , to imagine this even for the sake of argument , ) how can we call ourselves by the name of an impostor , or listen to his
instructions and adopt his precepts £ The most enlightened and sublime morality that ever flowed from the lips of man , is cancelled by a course of falsehood and deceit entirely inconsistent with that morality , with every word that Jesus spoke , with every deed that he performed . Shall we , then , conclude that our Saviour's followers designedly imposed upon the world ? On this supposition , Jesus chose for his disciples men who were all devoid of integrity , and who formed
collectively a conspiracy against truth , and obtained a success in the promulgation of their falsehoods , unexampled in the records of history . They evinced the most heroic virtue , and devoted their lives to a cause , which , if it Were
an imaginary one , renders them , in fact , the authors of their own sufferings and death . If we can believe that such men ever existed , yet can we take their writings as our guide — men whose love of falsehood was so
great , beyond all precedent , that it overcame the common laws of our nature , and was pursued amidst persecutions , chains and death ? If I am told that the Anti-supernaturalist reads the Bible as he reads
Seneca or any other work on morals , no one . can object to his doing so ; but on these grounds only he surely cannot call himself a" Christian , any more than reading the Koran would make him a Mahometan . * No : Chris-
Anli-super naturalism . 21
* We must not after this -pretend ( as is now too much the prevailing mode ) to
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1825, page 21, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2532/page/21/