« AnkstesnisTęsti »
"labours of that champion of anti"chriftian liberality, Voltaire."
"You forget," faid Fitzofborne triumphantly, "the merit annexed to the "extirpation of the Canaanites, and "the extinction of Amalek. Such pre"tended injunctions from the bene"ficent Parent of the universe are with " me a conclusive proof against the en"tire inspiration of the Old Tefta
"I read in thofe commands," replied Powerfcourt, "an inconteftable mark "of Divinity. 1 recollect the state of
fociety at that time, and I venerate "the merciful severity which imprinted
upon the minds of a small portion "of mankind a renewed abhorrence "of that cruel and degrading idolatry
prohibited by one of the firft com"mands which was imparted to the fa"ther of the Poftdiluvian world. Sure.
"ly, you, fir, forget the maxim of a poet whofe mifdirected mufe is often quoted by our prefent deifts to efta"blifh principles from which he would "have fhrunk with horror. If
"The great first cause
"Acts not by partial but by general laws; "he is not bound by those rules of "conduct which determine the equity "of the actions of imperfect, short"fighted, perishable man. He, in whose "hands are the iffues of life and death, "cannot be called upon by his crea"tures to answer for the operations "of any of his inftruments of punishment, be they famine, peftilence, or To fulfil fome vaft defign, per"fected perhaps centuries after its forc mation, the Jewish babe may bleed "at Bethlehem, or the Calabrian infant "be ingulphed with its parents by the "defolating earthquake, without im
"peding the justice of the Creator, "with whom a thousand years are but "as a day. We finite creatures, ftand"ing upon a little fpeck of time, can"not comprehend the plans of infini "tude, which extend to eternity. Ad"mit a future ftate, and every idea of "particular severity vanishes. He who "exifts for ever can recompenfe the "unoffending children of the idolatrous "worshippers of Moloch with an happy « immortality. He who knows the "heart can crown with perpetual blifs "the confcientious affertors of a de
clining perfuafion, whom the more "peftilent fanaticifm of infidelity im- "molated upon the banks of the Loire. "The Giver of eternal life can reward "the patience he exercises, and amply Ce repay the premature privation of tem"poral exiftence."
The company liftened with profound attention, roufed by the folemn energy with which Mr. Powerfcourt delivered these fentiments. Mifs Evans enjoyed the unaffected applause which appeared on every countenance. That of the lovely countess was lighted up by a most exhilarating fmile, and her exulting heart whispered; "Edward fought con"viction; furely he cannot refift the heavenly energy of Henry's heartfelt "expreffions." The converfation was not continued on this fubject.
Eager to know if Fitzofborne's opinion of Powerfcourt had been changed by this difpute, Geraldine feized the earliest opportunity of asking him, if fhe had over-rated her kinfman's merits. "Not in the leaft," was the reply. "He is certainly very eloquent, and "he poffeffes fome command of temper, a virtue rarely found among
'your keen difputants.
But I need
not, lady Monteith, explain to your fagacity the exact point in which I "could have preffed him, if politeness "would have permitted me to have con"tinued the argument. His whole re"ference is to infinitude and eternity, "terms of which we can form no "clear ideas. "" proof, no mathematical demonftra"tion of the infpiration which he tries "to infer from contefted pofitions; "and till this is given by our school
He gives no positive
men, deism may always reply, that "inattention to those duties which are
merely prescribed by revelation, ad"mits of fome excufe, if we confider "the extreme doubt which attaches to "thefe fubjects; for, if our present "code of religion may be
true, it may
"alfo be falfe."