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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 396 pages of information about Evidence of Christianity.
together with a great part of the Mediterranean coast, are at this day a desert? or that the banks of the Nile, whose constantly renewed fertility is not to be impaired by neglect, or destroyed by the ravages of war, serve only for the scene of a ferocious anarchy, or the supply of unceasing hostilities?  Europe itself has known no religious wars for some centuries, yet has hardly ever been without war.  Are the calamities which at this day afflict it to be imputed to Christianity?  Hath Poland fallen by a Christian crusade?  Hath the overthrow in France of civil order and security been effected by the votaries of our religion, or by the foes?  Amongst the awful lessons which the crimes and the miseries of that country afford to mankind this is one; that in order to be a persecutor it is not necessary to be a bigot:  that in rage and cruelty, in mischief and destruction, fanaticism itself can be outdone by infidelity.

Finally, if war, as it is now carried on between nations produce less misery and ruin than formerly, we are indebted perhaps to Christianity for the change more than to any other cause.  Viewed therefore even in its relation to this subject, it appears to have been of advantage to the world.  It hath humanised the conduct of wars; it hath ceased to excite them.

The differences of opinion that have in all ages prevailed amongst Christians fall very much within the alternative which has been stated.  If we possessed the disposition which Christianity labours, above all other qualities, to inculcate, these differences would do little harm.  If that disposition be wanting, other causes, even were these absent, would continually rise up to call forth the malevolent passions into action.  Differences of opinion, when accompanied with mutual charity, which Christianity forbids them to violate, are for the most part innocent, and for some purposes useful.  They promote inquiry, discussion, and knowledge.  They help to keep up an attention to religious subjects, and a concern about them, which might be apt to die away in the calm and silence of universal agreement.  I do not know that it is in any degree true that the influence of religion is the greatest where there are the fewest dissenters.

CHAPTER VIII.

The conclusion,

In religion, as in every other subject of human reasoning, much depends upon the order in which we dispose our inquiries.  A man who takes up a system of divinity with a previous opinion that either every part must be true or the whole false, approaches the discussion with great disadvantage.  No other system, which is founded upon moral evidence, would bear to be treated in the same manner.  Nevertheless, in a certain degree, we are all introduced to our religious studies under this prejudication.  And it cannot be avoided.  The weakness of the human judgment in the early part of youth, yet its extreme susceptibility of impression,

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