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ADAM SMITH ON ATONEMENT.
different sentiments-sentiments which are so ably stated by the celebrated Dr. Adam Smith,* (Theory of Moral Sentiments, part 2d., sect. 2d.) who must be regarded as an unprejudiced wit ́ness in a matter of this kind, that I shall give them to you in his own words :—
"Man, when about to appear before a Being of infinite perfection, can feel but little confidence in his own merit, or in the imperfect propriety of his own conduct. In the presence of his fellow-creatures, he may even justly elevate himself, and may often have reason to think highly of his own character and conduct, compared to the still greater imperfection of theirs. But the case is quite different when about to appear before his infinite Creator. To such a Being, he fears, that his littleness and weakness can scarce ever appear the proper object, either of esteem or of reward.
“But he can easily conceive how the numberless violations of duty of which he has been guilty should render him the proper object of aversion and punishment; and he thinks he can see no reason why the Divine indignation should not be let loose, without any restraint, upon so
* This passage was cancelled in subsequent editions, at the suggestion, it is said, of Hume.
vile an insect as he himself must appear to be. If he should still hope for happiness, he suspects that he cannot demand it from the justice, but that he must entreat it from the mercy, of God. Repentance, sorrow, humiliation, contrition at the thought of his past conduct, seem, upon this account, the sentiments which become him, and to be the only means which he has left of appeasing that wrath which he has justly provoked. He even distrusts the efficacy of all these, and naturally fears lest the wisdom of God should not, like the weakness of man, be prevailed upon to spare the crime, by the most importunate lamentations of the criminal. Some other intercession, some other sacrifice, some other atonement, he imagines must be made for him, beyond what he himself is capable of making, before the purity of the Divine justice can be reconciled to his manifold offences. The doctrines of revelation coincide, in every respect, with these original anticipations of nature; and, as they teach us how little we can depend upon the imperfection of our own virtue, so they show us, at the same time, that the most powerful intercession has been made, and that the most dreadful atonement has been paid, for our manifold transgressions and iniquities."
Wherever we turn our eyes-"to the myriads
of beings animate and inanimate, which surround us-to the world beyond our ken, to which the imagination makes its excursions-to the world within, whence our soberest and deepest thoughts are sometimes drawn ;-above, about, and underneath, we behold, with an evidence that stifles all doubt, that GOD exists-exists to rule, and hence to be obeyed;-exists to bless, and therefore to be loved. Lord Herbert, a Deist, could infer that there is no man well, and entirely in his senses, that doth not worship some Deity; and that a rational beast is a thing less absurd than an irreligious man !"*
Infidelity is, therefore, as irrational in its principles, as it is demoralizing and pernicious in its influence. But you may think that I have overcharged the gloomy picture of an unbeliever's life. You may perhaps allege that my experience is tinged with a morbid melancholy; and that, like an Alpine peasant, dwelling in a dreary valley, which the sun has never gladdened with his beams, I hastily infer that the lot of all sceptics has been equally wretched with my own. Were that the case, you might fairly question the correctness of my conclusion. But, my dear Friend, you will find that the sounds of disap
* DR. OLINTHUS GREGORY.
pointment and lamentation that issue from the vale of life, where the sunny spots are, alas! few and evanescent, are but the echoes of those bitter complaints that are heard on the brightest elevations of opulence and grandeur. Of this fact innumerable proofs might be adduced. "All is, vanity and vexation of spirit," says Solomon, after pursuing the phantom of human happiness with all the advantages of absolute power, unbounded wealth, and unrivalled wisdom. Wooed by the syren song of hope, he entered many a hall consecrated to glory, many a chamber and many a bower devoted to pleasure, but as he passed out over the threshold of each, he mournfully reiterated" All is vanity and vexation of spirit!"
Nor is this experience peculiar to the monarch of Israel. His complaint has found a response in the hearts of "the great" in every age, Take as a specimen the candid avowal of a noble sceptic of modern times. From this one you may judge of the whole tribe.
"I have run," says the celebrated Lord Chesterfield, "I have run the silly rounds of business and pleasure, and have done with them all. I have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world, and, consequently, know their futility and do not regret their loss. I apprize them at their real
AN INFIDEL'S HOPE.
value, which is, in truth, very low; whereas those that have not experienced them always overrate them. They only see their gay outside, and are dazzled with their glare. But I have been behind the scenes. I have seen all the coarse pulleys and dirty ropes which exhibit and move the gaudy machines; and I have seen and smelt the tallow candles which illuminate the whole decoration to the astonishment and admiration of an ignorant audience. When I reflect back on what I have seen, what I have heard, and what I have done, I can hardly persuade myself that the frivolous hurry, and bustle, and pleasure of the world had any reality; but I look upon all that has passed as one of those romantic dreams that opium commonly occasions, and I do by no means desire to repeat the nauseous dose, for I am sick of the fugitive dream. Shall I tell you that I bear this melancholy situation with that constancy and resignation which most people boast of? No; for I really cannot help it. I bear it because I must bear it, whether I will or no. I think of nothing but of killing time the best way I can, now that
it is become mine enemy. It is my resolution
to sleep in the carriage the remainder of the journey."
Unhappy man! how much wiser would it