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and saying, each one, to Paul, Oủk av pJúvous, Néywv, ei ti ήσθησαί με φίλτρον επιστάμενον, και εγώ είδως λέληθα έμαυτόν; “ If you knew me to possess some filtre which I was unconscious of, would you not tell me of its power before I asked you?” An historical commentary might be written on the New Testament, illustrating those wonderful provisions against heretical error, such as the Gnostic, the Manichean, the Arian, the Pelagian, the Universalist, which the light of truth was sure to generate in that mingled darkness which it modified, but did not remove.
The Bible has vast foresight in another direction. We would not refine; nor would we for a moment pretend that it assumes any other province than to afford men religious instruction. It leaves the bowels of the earth and the stars of heaven to offer their own evidence to the interrogation of mankind. But religion is involved in many other modes of improvement. Now one of the evils of a growing civilization is the vast inequality it introduces in property, multiplying riches while it diminishes the numbers that hold them, and increasing poverty.while it multiplies the number of the poor. This inequality alone is the prime cause of many a revolution. Now the laws of Moses provided for this evil the year of jubilee, - the returning of the possessions to the original holders; and moreover, the assuming their conquered lands on this condition, enacted an agrarian law with justice, and made the whole thing popular and feasible. Rome perished for the want of something similar, and the opposite evil produced the French Revolution. Here then is wisdom, incidental wisdom, which marks the foresight of a divine provision. So polygamy was indirectly prevented by the division of the territory of the promised land into small tenements ; probably a more practical provision than a prohibitory law would have been. And what a beautiful provision is that recorded in Deut. xx. 8: “ And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted ? let him go and return unto his house, lest bis brethren's heart faint as
well as his heart.” This is said of their soldiers going to war: what a deep knowledge of human nature and political wisdom does it imply! We are acting on this system in the present war. We are calling for volunteers. Courage generally is conscious power founded on activity and strength; and there will always be men enough in every great nation of such a temperament to excuse their weaker brethren, who may still serve their country in a laborious and retired life. Let the brave defend the timid, and let the timid support the brave. Each man finds his place, reaps his reward, and the harmony of the social system is supported by its diversity.
Many other proofs of the telegrams which revelation has sent into futurity might be adduced. But there is one line of invention on which the human researches have moved, in which we feel great solicitude to ask: What foresight has revelation shown? What provision was made for those objections and difficulties which were sure to arise? We allude to those discoveries of science which seem most to conflict with the facts and principles of revelation, particularly in the departments of astronomy and geology. Has the same permanent wisdom been shown in respect to these sciences as has anticipated all other improvements? Do we see here the unambiguous footsteps of a God?
The views which the Bible takes of the material creation are the most infantine possible. The material creation is assumed to be kar öyruv, according to the first impressions on primitive observers : The sun rises and sets ; the earth is a plain extended over the waters; there is a solid expanse which supports the upper flood; the windows of heaven are opened when it rains copiously; there are an upper and under and a middle world ; there is an absolute up and down; heaven is always above us and the nether floods beneath; and the plurality of worlds in the stars is utterly ignored. Even the slender attainments of the Greek and Latin poets and philosophers in natural science are not reached. The sublimity of the Bible does not lie in the line of discovery of the secrets of creation.
These views are not formally presented, but incidentally involved in its other teaching. The formation of the whole host of stars, the gaze and the admiration of modern astronomy, is put into a short parenthesis in the first chapter of Genesis. Now it is obvious that a book of these assumptions sent into a world where science was to be progressive for untold centuries, was likely to meet new objections with every new discovery.
The question then is, whether the Bible has made any provision for these future objections, and what the special provision is.
It would be contrary to its usual scope of foresight to say that it has made no provision. For if without parade, and in an informal way, it has armed itself against every heresy and objection that has ever appeared, it would be very strange if it had left itself unguarded in this most important department. We see at once the very partial and limited philosophy of Socrates, when, not contented with the negative ground, he ventures to say that natural philosophy was a hopeless pursuit : ’ESaúpace dé, ei un pavepòv aútois éotiv, ότι ταύτα ου δυνατόν έστιν ανθρώποις ευρείν, « He was astonished that it was not manifest at once, that such discoveries are impossible to men." This remark was exceedingly natural in his day, before the telescope was invented, before a careful induction had paved the way to the true' knowl. edge of nature. But certainly it is a decisive proof that Socrates had no anticipation of the circle of knowledge which human investigation would fill. The remark does not stand the test of time. If the modern philosophers had believed his doctrine, philosophy would still have been an idle repetition of moral precepts. Now the Bible has no doctrines which thus outlive their own date; and, though we do not contend that it anticipates, or even limits, any possible discovery out of its own department, yet it never, on the negative side, makes an assertion like that of Socrates, inconsistent with the knowledge of future times.
1 Xenophon Mem., Lib. I. c. 13.
then, that revelation occupies permanent ground. Its truths are now as harmonious and credible as they were in the infancy of its dawn.
But what special provision has revelation made for the difficulties supposed to be engendered by the discoveries of modern science ?
We can imagine two methods : one would be to foretell them all, and to make it a part of divine prophecy to foresee the Copernican system, the laws of Kepler, the gravitation of Newton, the formation of the hypogene rocks, as taught in geology, and all the wonders of the nebular theory. But what an endless task! And where shall the record stop? We are yet but very imperfectly instructed into the mysteries of nature, and other ages must be provided for as well as our own. It would have changed the whole character of the book; it would have diverted attention, and frustrated the whole design of revelation. Besides, God completed his revelation, in this line of knowledge, when “he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” He set bis vast creation before the observing eye, and when he made the light of the distant stars to reach our earth, he gave a signal which at once excited curiosity and ensured, to a surprising degree, its gratification. All the improvement, all the sharpening of the intellect in these noble sciences, is owing to the speaking of the book of signs and the silence of the book of words.
The other method of proceeding is the one which has been taken ; and it seems to us to be remarkably suitable to the design of a religious revelation, and worthy of the wisdom of God. Let us contemplate it with some care.
It seems to us that the provision of the Bible is peculiar, and is the very best we could conceive to have been adopted. It teaches the general ignorance of man, and his ignorance after discovery: “ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou koowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations Vol. XXI. No. 81.
fastened? or who hath laid the corner-stone thereof? When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it issued out of the womb" (Job xxxviii. 4-7)? So verse 12: “ Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the day-spring to know his place ? and, verse 16:“ Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea ? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth ? So the apostle tells us : “ Now we see through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. xiii. 12). And again (Eccl. viii. 16, 17):
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth; then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it.” Now we conceive these declarations differ from the explicit declaration of Socrates, who puts his finger down on an especial department of knowledge and says or rather insinuates that man can never make discoveries in that line; but the Bible foretells the general ignorance of man; an ignorance not total, susceptible of being diminished by degrees, but an ignorance, after all his progression in knowledge, so great as to preclude the possibility of a valid objection to the revealed wisdom of God. The system of nature, the laws of nature, never can be grasped by us as a totality: we never can compare two totalities together, that of nature and that of revelation; and hence when they seem to jar, we should be cautious; the two notes have never been fully sounded together. Besides, the very knowledge of nature is but a spreading ignorance; the Newtons, the Pascals, the Butlers of the intellectual world, have felt it most, and been the first to acknowledge it. Never was there a discovery in nature which, while it answered one question, did not start a hundred more. Our natural researches are like lighting a lantern in a dark forest at midnight; it gleams on a little circle round your feet only to show you the thickened, the boundless gloom that limits your observation and darkens