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stincts, or wavering unsettled notions, which rest on no foundation.
"Infidelity has been attacked with so good success of late years, that it is driven out of all its outworks. The atheist has not found his post tenable, and is therefore retired into deism, and a disbelief of revealed religion only. But the truth of it is, the greatest number of this set of men are those who, for want of a virtuous education, or examining the grounds of religion, know so very little of the matter in question, that their infidelity is but another term for their ignorance.
"As folly and inconsiderateness are the foundations of infidelity, the great pillars and supports of it are either a vanity of appearing wiser than the rest of mankind, or an ostentation of courage in despising the terrors of another world, which have so great an influence on what they call weaker minds; or an aversion to a belief that must cut them off from many of those pleasures they propose to themselves, and fill them with remorse for many of those they have already tasted.
"The great received articles of the Christian religion have been so clearly proved, from the authority of that divine revelation in which they are delivered, that it is impossible for those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see, not to be convinced of them. But were it possible for any thing in the Christian faith to be erroneous, I can find no ill consequences in adhering to it. The great points of the incarnation and sufferings of our Saviour produce naturally such, habits of virtue in the mind of man, that, I say, supposing it were possible for us to be mistaken in them, the infidel himself must at least allow that no other system of religion could so effectually contribute to the heightening of morality. They give
us great ideas of the dignity of human nature, and of the love which the Supreme Being bears to his creatures, and consequently engage us in the highest acts of duty towards our Creator, our neighbour, and ourselves. How many noble arguments has St. Paul raised from the chief articles of our religion, for the advancing of morality in its three great branches! To give a single example in each kind. What can be a stronger motive to a firm trust and reliance on the mercies of our Maker, than the giving us his Son to suffer for us? What can make us love and esteem even the most inconsiderable of mankind more than the thought that Christ died for him? Or what dispose us to set a stricter guard upon the purity of our own hearts, than our being members of Christ, and a part of the society of which that immaculate person is the head? But these are only a specimen of those admirable enforcements of morality, which the apostle has drawn from the history of our blessed Saviour.
"If our modern infidels considered these matters. with that candour and seriousness which they deserve, we should not see them act with such a spirit of bitterness, arrogance, and malice. They would not be raising such insignificant cavils, doubts, and scruples, as may be started against every thing that is not capable of mathematical demonstration; in order to unsettle the minds of the ignorant, disturb the public peace, subvert morality, and throw all things into confusion and disorder. If none of these reflections can have any influence on them, there is one that perhaps may, because it is adapted to their vanity, by which they seem to be guided much more than their reason. I would therefore have them consider, that the wisest and best of men, in all ages of the world, have been those who lived up to the
religion of their country, when they saw nothing in it opposite to morality, and to the best lights they had of the divine nature. Pythagoras's first rule. directs us to worship the gods 'as it is ordained by law,' for that is the most natural interpretation of the precept. Socrates, who was the most renowned among the heathens both for wisdom and virtue, in his last moments desires his friends to offer a cock to Esculapius: doubtless out of a submissive deference to the established worship of his country. Xenophon tells us, that his prince, whom he sets forth as a pattern of perfection, when he found his death approaching, offered sacrifices on the mountains to the Persian Jupiter, and the Sun,' according to the custom of the Persians; for those are the words of the historian.* Nay, the Epicureans and atomical philosophers showed a very remarkable modesty in this particular; for though the being of a God was entirely repugnant to their schemes of natural philosophy, they contented themselves with the denial of a Providence, asserting at the same time the existence of gods in general; because they would not shock the common belief of mankind, and the religion of their country." L
* Xenoph. Cyropæd. lib. viii., p. 500, Ed. Hutchins. 1747. 8vo.
THE intelligence given by this correspondent is so important and useful, in order to avoid the persons he speaks of, that I shall insert his letter at length.
66 MR. SPECTATOR,
"I do not know that you have ever touched upon a certain species of women, whom we ordinarily call jilts. You cannot possibly go upon a more useful work, than the consideration of these dangerous animals. The coquette is indeed one degree towards the jilt; but the heart of the former is bent upon admiring herself, and giving false hopes to her lovers; but the latter is not contented to be extremely amiable, but she must add to that advantage a certain delight in being a torment to others. Thus when her lover is in the full expectation of success, the jilt shall meet him with a sudden indifference, and admiration in her face at his being surprised that he is received like a stranger, and a cast of her head another way with a pleasant scorn of the fellow's insolence. It is very probable the lover goes home utterly astonished and dejected, sits down to his scrutoire, sends her word in the most abject
terms, that he knows not what he has done, that all which was desirable in this life is so suddenly vauished from him, that the charmer of his soul should withdraw the vital heat from the heart which pants for her. He continues à mournful absence for some time, płning in secret, and out of humour with all things which he meets with. At length he takes a resolution to try his fate, and explain with her resolutely upon her unaccountable carriage. He walks up to her apartment, with a thousand inquietudes and doubts in what manner he shall meet the first cast of her eye; when upon his first appearance she flies towards him, wonders where he has been, accuses him of his absence, and treats him with a familiarity as surprising as her former coldness. This good correspondence continues till the lady observes the lover grows happy in it, and then she interrupts it with some new inconsistency of behaviour. For, as I just now said, the happiness of a jilt consists only in the power of making others uneasy. But such is the folly of this sect of women, that they carry on this pretty skittish behaviour, until they have no charms left to render it supportable. Corinna, that used to torment all who conversed with her with false glances, and little heedless unguarded motions, that were to betray some inclination towards the man she would ensnare, finds at present all she attempts that way unregarded; and is obliged to indulge the jilt in her constitution, by laying artificial plots, writing perplexing letters from unknown hands, and making all the young fellows in love with her, till they find out who she is. Thus, as before she gave torment by disguising her inclination, she now is obliged to do it by hiding her person.
"As for my own part, Mr. Spectator, it has been my unhappy fate to be jilted from my youth up