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we expect that the appetency of our moral nature for justice will at length be satisfied. It is thus that the sense of right and wrong in every breast, if not the great originator, has been the great upholder of natural theology in the world ; insomuch that to it, the faculty of conscience, we mainly owe the two great articles of its creed. It is this conscience, as we have repeatedly affirmed, which tells most audibly of a God; and to its forebodings also are we mainly indebted for the faith of immortality in all ages."1 Dr. Chalmers contends, at some length, that the validity of this argument depends on the existence of justice in the divine character, as a moral attribute distinct from benevolence. Such reasoning is entirely consistent with the view that the divine benevolence is not only a specific attribute, but a generic quality into which all the perfections of God, so far as they are moral, are resolvable. There is a psychological, but not a moral distinction between justice and benevolence. General benevolence may take the form of justice, or of specific benevolence, or of any other moral exercise which the object of its attention is fitted to awaken.
VI. Need of a Revelation. By our study of external nature and of the human spirit we come to the apprehension of a God and of the immortality of the soul. With this knowledge, however, are associated certain painful questions, for the solution of which man needs some superior light. “ How shall a God with such attributes (wisdom and justice] leave either the sins of our history unreckoned with, or the sanctities of His own nature without a vindication ? To make clear the terms of this dilemma is one thing, to solve the dilemma is another. Natural theology achieves but the first. The second is beyond her. She can tell the difficulty, but she cannot solve the difficulty. Revelation is called for, not merely as a supplements to the light and the informations of nature; but
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. pp. 126, 127.
2 Ibid. pp. 127–131. 3 There is an allusion here to Butler's remark that the light of revelation is
far more urgently called for as a solvent for nature's perplexities and fears. Natural theology possesses the materials out of which the enigma is framed; but possesses not the light by which to unriddle it. It can state the question which itself it cannot satisfy; but the statement of the question is not the solution of it. Natural theology prompts the inquiry; but it is another and a distinct theology from that of nature which meets the inquiry, and tells man what he shall do to be saved."1.
VII. Evidences of Christianity. The reasonings of Dr. Chalmers, thus far, have been such as to make some of his views of this topic a matter for surprise. He is not inclined to believe in the antecedent probability of a revelation. In asserting “ our inability to surmise, and far less to affirm, what God will do in given circumstances," he seems to leave the ground on which he stood while setting forth the doctrine of a future life. « Instead of founding our convictions of the truth of the gospel on the real or the imagined necessities beforehand for such a dispensation, would we look both to the event itself, and to the events which followed it, and thus build up an argument for the reality of our faith.”? This is yielding too great an advantage to the skeptic. There are valid presumptions for a revelation from the sad state of the pagan world viewed in connection with the manifest character of God. These presumptions are of use especially in the argument for miracles, since they neutralize the objection that no exigency had occurred which was worthy of the divine interposition. Dr. Chalmers makes a distinction between the “ historical” and the “experimental” necessity for a revelation. Of the latter he says, it is not in itself an evidence" for a revelation, but " the adaptation between its (revelation's] proposed remedy and the felt necessity or disease is a most influential argu
"additional” to that "afforded us by reason and experience.” For the real meaning of Butler, see the “ Analogy," Part II. Chap. 2.
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. pp. 134, 135. 2 Ibid. p. 141.
ment."1 At one period of his life, Dr. Chalmers rejected the internal Christian evidences altogether. In 1812, he wrote: “ We hold by the total insufficiency of natural religion to pronounce upon the intrinsic merits of any revelation, and think that the authority of every revelation rests exclusively upon its external evidences, and upon such marks of honesty in the composition of itself as would apply to any human performance.” Thirty-two years later, however, he retracted this denial of the “supremacy of conscience.” In reviewing his early treatises on the evidences of Christianity at that ripe age, he modified or entirely omitted many of his previous statements, and introduced much new matter. His final view of the question is as follows: “Of all the evidence that can be adduced for the truth of Christianity, it (the moral and experimental] is that for which I have the greatest value, both from its being the only evidence which tells on the consciences and understandings of the great mass of the people, and also, I think, that evidence which is the main instrument for conversion."
Though Dr. Chalmers remained partial to the external proofs of revelation through life, yet many will be disposed to think that he has not presented them in the most convincing manner. This remark may not be true except with regard to the evidence from miracles. In attempting to fix the historical certainty of such events, he rejects the antecedent probability of them by asserting “our inability to surmise what God will do in given circumstances.” The miracles of the New Testament are thus reported to us as bare events, without any regard to their fitness in the circumstances. Besides the loss of this advantage, the validity of testimony is made to rest wholly on experience. Dr. Chalmers rejects the principle adopted by Campbell in his reply to Hume, that “our belief in testimony is an ultimate law of the mind.” He does not view the reasoning of Mr. Hume on this question as “ atheistical,” but only as “ deis
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. p. 143. 2 Article “ Christianity,” in thc Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, Vol. VI. p. 389. 8 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. p. 251.
tical." 6 We should therefore like, if possible, to raise an argument in defence of miracles, even as we raised our argument in defence of a God, on an experimental basis. It is for this reason that we were led to accept Mr. Hume's premises, and with him to view the question as a contest between opposite experiences.”! “ The error of Mr. Hume lies here. He has failed to resolve testimony into its distinct species. He has chosen not to observe that of two kinds of testimony, the one may possess wholly different characteristics, and have been given in wholly different circumstances from the other." “ Has ever such testimony (as that for the Christian miracles) deceived us, possessed of such specific characters, and given in such specific circumstances, that its falsehood were as great a miracle in the moral, as the most stupendous prodigy ever recorded to have taken place in the material world ?" Taking the testimony of each evangelist to be of this unexceptionable character, Dr. Chalmers proceeds as follows to decide the contest against Mr. Hume. “By a single testimony of such a kind as that its falsehood would be as miraculous as the event testified, we might at least countervail the inherent probability which lies in the miracle."4 " Let the improbability of a miracle be so great as that of a million to one, but let the credibility of the testimony which vouches for its truth be also a million to one, then the proof is, at least, a full equivalent for the disproof; and the mind, with this view of a miracle and its accompanying evidence, will be in a state of simple neutrality regarding it. Let there now be added another testimony distinct from the former, and of the same high quality, or a million to one; this will now represent the amount of credit due to the miracle; and should we still imagine another and another, we should soon arrive by a most rapid multiplying process at many million-fold millions by which to estimate the value of the historical proof which might be accumulated in favor of a miraculous story." The reasoning here seems to be, that since the falsity of one instance of testi
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. p. 146.
2 Ibid. p. 147.
mony, such as that for the Christian miracles, would be a miracle, therefore the falsity of the several instances, which we actually have, is more than a miracle; and so there is a balance of evidence against Mr. Hume. A refutation of this character would probably have pleased the skeptic not less than did the essay of Dr. Campbell. Most theologians will doubtless choose to avail themselves of the anterior probability of a revelation, in discussing this question; and then, since miracles would be incident to any message from God, the objection of Mr. Hume disappears at once. We do not demand “miraculous” testimony in order to the belief of events which are thus rendered probable.
The historical evidence for a revelation, “partly external, and partly internal,” is admirably presented by Dr. Chalmers. Perhaps no portion of his writings exhibits more clearness and purity of style than is manifest throughout the pages given to this subject. The Scriptures wear "a credible aspect, a certain tone and bearing of honesty." These are “the natural signs of truth," " so many tokens of veracity," fitted“ strongly to prepossess us in (their) favor."1 Each narrator's “consistency with himself” is additional reason for our faith in his narrative. He cannot "by a skilful crossexamination be made to break down." This credibility is still further increased " when we institute the same process (of cross-questioning) on (the) several witnesses, comparing or confronting their testimonies with each other.”: Such comparison of the inspired writers brings to light many "hidden harmonies," which “no impostor would have buried so far beneath the face of his composition.” The Evangelists do not seem to be aware of their consistency with each other. The correctness of the Biblical chronology is confirm- , ed by the facts of profane history. Each one of the sacred penmen so locates personages and events, not only within but outside of his own sphere, as to be in harmony with the authentic statements of uninspired writers. Besides, the events of sacred history" have left certain vestiges behind
1 Insts. Theol. Vol. I. pp. 158, 159. 3 Ibid. p. 161.
2 Ibid. p. 160.