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or both without reference to their cause. No Christian can read Paley's volume without feeling his faith strengthened. But it may be questioned whether it ever converted an infidel ; its proof is too elastic to bind the stubbornness of an infidel.
The most capable argument hitherto offered is undoubtedly that arising from the consecutive nature of the three dispensations; for all that we can require for the truth of Christianity is, to prove
that it has been the work of God. That fact once ascertained, its doctrines and promises must be received as they are given. But the succession of the three requires so much chastised and calm inquiry, which the indolence of scepticism will not undertake; and so much clearing away of matters originating solely in local circumstance, of which its prejudice is glad to take advantage; that hitherto few arguments have been less practically effectual.
The argument proposed in the present volume differs from all that have preceded it, much in principle, and totally in form. Its object is to prove that “ Christianity is the direct work of Providence ;” and this, not by any mere probability arising from its original weakness and subsequent power; nor from its moral superiority; nor from the sufferings undergone by sincere minds in its cause; nor even from its prophetic testimonies ; but from the comparison of facts acknowledged by all, without reference to religious opinion. It will be shown that the leading facts of Christian history have been the leading facts of the two former dispensations, Judæism and the Patriarchal religion ; and that those facts have occurred in the three, not merely in essence, but with the same purpose, and in the same order; yet that no mere dry sequence has been observed in the order of the respective dispensations, but that they have received in each those slight variations of shape and colour which exhibit a supreme adapting hand, varying the process, but distinctly preserving the principle.
Those facts in the Patriarchal dispensation, were, ---that man first remained for a certain period in a state, of which little more is known than that he existed—that he then became the father of two sons
-that they offered sacrifices, of which one was rejected and the other received—that the elder slew the younger, was deprived of his inheritance, and exiled for ever-that a third son was born to supply the place of the slain brother—that he became the founder of a sacred line-that his descendants grew corrupt—that they were swept away by a great, direct act of Divine justice—that a remnant, who had adhered to virtue, were preserved by the Divine interposition—that from a state of suffering and desolation, they were suddenly raised into boundless dominion, and became the regenerators of the world—that a new apostasy arose, grew singularly powerful, crushed the pure family of the Pa. triarchal house, and, finally, was in its turn crushed by a direct interposition of Heaven'. It will be shown, that all those facts have been gone through twice subsequently, in the Jewish and Christian eras, with attendant circumstances, proving that Providence continued to exercise a constant provision for their performance, and for their suitableness to the necessary changes arising from three states of mankind so totally distinct as those of the Patriarchal, the Jewish, and the Christian, world.
Whether this proof can be effected, the reader will ascertain in the subsequent pages. But if it' can, there is an end to all defence on the part of Scepticism ; it may still determine to disbelieve; but it cannot deny, with any claim to rationality. If three such series are established, maintaining this broad, plain, and unbroken parallelism with each other, it is utterly impossible to conceive that chance has had any thing to do with the subject. The most startling contradiction of the order of nature could not present a stronger difficulty, than the supposition that this connection was the work of casualty. If it be shown to be true; the acknowledgment of a Providence, as the
The Jewish series begins, not with the representative of Adam, but of Seth, and then proceeds regularly; the Christian series begins with the representative of Adam, but of course the completion of the Cycle is still in the future. For the Sethite commencement of the Jewish a sufficient reason is assigned.
Author of Christianity, is no more capable of dispute than the properties of the triangle. It is demonstration.
But it will be found, that not merely the nature and order of the leading facts in the three dispensations are exactly the same, but that the individual characters of the leading men and nations are the same; that individuals born two thousand years, and whole empires, asunder, have had precisely the same part in the several series; with the same character of mind, the same successes, and reverses ; that Joseph in Egypt and St. Paul in Greece, that Ezra in Judæa and Luther in Germany,
that Alexander in Asia and Napoleon in Europe, have especially been the direct providential agents in the same departments of their series ; and that among
all the natural distinctions of country, objects, ability, and creed, they have been preserved in a singular adherence to the great predominating principle, of effecting the purposes of Heaven in the service of its revelation.
It is also perfectly probable, that to place the evidence of religion in this especial point of view, as the strongest, has been a peculiar purpose of Heaven"; from the very nature of types and prophecy. The chief value of prophecy is certainly not in what it could communicate at the time of its delivery; for, excepting its occasional menaces to the guilt of the Jewish kings, its predictions, even of the character of the Messiah, were declaredly and in
tentionally obscure. To us, who have seen its accomplishment, what is its chief value ? Certainly not in giving us a knowledge of facts, of which we know enough from their occurrence before our eyes. Its chief value is, as proof that those facts have been long since contemplated by Providence, that they are a part of a plan, that Providence was the author of the plan, and was conversant and active in realizing the transaction. The types of Christ still more strongly sustain this view. To the actual type, or to the men of its age, the similitude must have been unknown, and therefore useless ; to us, who have the history of Christ before us, his types are comparatively unimportant, as sources of knowledge, while his life remains written in the Gospels. Their chief value is, that they prove a plan, that they demonstrate an intention of Providence to act, ages before the intention was to be fulfilled, and that in the fulfilment they compel us to trace the action to the agency of Providence.
But considerations of the most solemn and anxious nature, must thus be opened to the view of European Protestantism. The heaviest scourge that fell upon Judah was the visitation of a period corresponding in all its characters to the period on which we are now entering. The personal alliances of the chosen people with the surrounding heathen ; the consequent leaning to their opinions; and the partial adoption of their man