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À PORTRAITURE OF MODERN SCEPTICISM.

169 The celebrated Mr. Addison, in discoursing on the same 3. Let the high standard of the morality of Christiunity be subject, says, “ After perusing the book of Psalms, let a judge examined with impartiality, and it cannot fail to arouse attenof the beauties of poetry read a literal translation of Horace tion to its extraordinary claims. For though the uncomor Pindar, and he will find int hese two last such an absurd-promising sanctity of revealed truth is among the chief reasons ity and confusion of style, with such a comparative poverty which induce men to cavil at its evidence, and secretly to reof imagination, as will make him sensible of the vast supe-ject its authority, it is, nevertheless, one of the most powerful riority of Scripture style.”

and indubitable proofs of its proceedings from the fountain of If we examine carefully the pathetic story of Joseph and infinite purity and benevolence.* his brethren; the songs of Moses at the Red Sea, and on the On this subject the celebrated John Locke has said, “The borders of the promised land ; the sublime narrative of the morality of the gospel doth so far excel that of all other books, giving of the Law from Mount Sinai; the celebrated prophecy that to give a man full knowledge of true morality, I would of Balaam; the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the send him to no other book than the New Testament. And, Temple; the visions of the Jewish prophets, particularly verily, if we examine all the writings of the most enlightenthose of Isaiah ; the odes of Jesse's son; the matchless ser-ed and virtuous of the heathen world, and compare or rather mon on the Monnt; the public appeals of the apostles before contrast them with the writings of inspiration, we shall be heathen tribunals; and the mystic symbols of the Apocalypse, fully satisfied of the accuracy of this great man's opinion. we cannot but be struck and awed with the unrivalled diction, That there are fine passages on certain branches of morals, in the surpassing imagery, and the lofty conceptions of the in- some of the writings of pagan philosophers and poets, we do spired writers. Let all the other books of antiquity be pro- not attempt to deny ; but the great question is, what were duced ; let the classic page disclose its richest stores ; let the their writings as a whole, and what were the views of moralentire mass of apocryphal writings undergo the strictest scru- ity generally entertained and acted upon among their discitiny; let Egypt, and Greece, and Arabia bring forth the proud- ples? Is it not notorious that self-murder,f that crimes which est monuments of their genius; let the most dazzling passa- admit of no description, that theft, that sacrilege, that forniges of the Koran be separated from the mass of its absurdi- cation, that adultery, that révenge, that pride, that dissimuties; let all ages and all nations vie with the writers of the lation in the worship of the gods, | that habitual disregard of Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and it will be seen, by a the duty of prayer, and that awful irreverence for the name judge of the most inferior grade, that no argument can be held of the Great Supreme, are taught, with an unblushing effronfor a single moment as to the comparative grandeur of the tery, by some of the chief patrons and guardians of pagan book commonly called the Bible, that it throws the whole morality? Who does not know that some of the most brilround of other productions into the shade, and that it is writ-liant passages, both of the Greek and Latin classics, cannot ten altogether in a style and manner which admits of no suc- be read by ingenious youth without involving the risk of a cessful rival or counterfeit.

total downfal of their morals ?** We shall find no counterNow, what is the force of this particular argument? Why, part, indeed, to the writings of heathen antiquity, unless we the Bible was written by the posterity of Abraham; a people turn to the licentious and utterly reckless productions of proverbial for their destitution of all mental refinement, and modern infidelity, in which every thing like disguise is laid who, in their secular history, have displayed a marked infe- aside, and men are taught to do, without restraint, whatever riority to all the other nations of antiquity. The conclusion their own vile inclinations may dictate. then is, if the wonderful volume known by the name of the

How unlike the imperfect and often polluted writings of Bible was verily the production of several Jews, who lived men is the system of morality laid down and detailed in the in different ages of the world, they must have written under several books of the Old and New Testament! Let any a direction and an impulse more than human; they must man devote a reasonable period to the examination of the have written under the guidance of that Spirit, to whom they spirit and moral precepts of Christianity, and he will be themselves trace their loftiest aud humblest inspirations. 1 compelled to admit its unsullied purity, its coincidence with feel that this conclusion is sound and rational. Try the Bible all our natural notions of right and wrong, and its indubitable by any other Jewish production of any age whatsoever, try it tendency to improve human intercourse, and to constitute by any work that has ever emanated from the pen or the ge- mankind a community of brothers. Did all men believe and nius of man, and the feeling must resistlessly take possession obey the dictates of Revelation, what a mighty and favouraof the mind, that the words which God speaks, -- They are ble revolution would be wrought in the entire frame-work of spirit, and they are life." Unlike every other document that society! What habit of known evil does it not proscribe ? has been handed down from a remote antiquity, the volume What irregular passion does it not forbid ? What acknow of inspiration carries along with it, in the unutterable dignity ledged virtue does it not enforce ?

What kindly or generous and sublimity which pervade all its parts, an evidence of the affection does it not inculcate? How lofty is its standard of source whence it sprung; an evidence which could not fail action! Though self-interest is not and cannot be excluded to strike the mind even of an untutored savage, who might from a system so adapted to the nature of man, yet it is only ineet with it accidentally in some vast desert, and who had permitted to occupy a subordinate place in the morality of no living teacher to unfold to him the character or merciful the gospel. There men are urged to endure and act as designs of the God whom it reveals. How can men of taste, seeing Him who is invisible;" there we are commanded to and genius, and literature, remain blind to this argument do no act of beneficence to be seen of men; there the honour The very poetry, the lofty and well sustained imagery, the of God and the good of others are the objects at which they unparalleled diction of the sacred volume, will rise up in are called habitually to aim; there the surface morality of judgment against them, inasmuch as their dislike to the truths the world is treated with scorn, and a right state of the of revelation has led many of them to overlook qualities thoughts and affections is imperatively demanded; there which would have commanded their profoundest veneration had they been able to discern them in a single uninspired * Lord Bolingbroke himself has said, that “The gospel is in all production. It may be added here, that the few infidels who cases one continued lesson of the strictest morality, of justice, of behave written in commendation of the style of the inspired nevolence, and of universal charity." Works, rol. v. p. 138. writers have totally neglected to account for the commanding . + Seneca thus pleads for self-murder : "It' thy mind be melanand indubitable superiority of the Scriptures to all other com- tion; wherever thou lookest, there is an end to it. See that precipice! positions. Upon any hypothesis but that of their divine ori- there thou mayest have liberty. Seest thou that sea, that river, that gin the attempt must utterly fail. My only

wish is, that well? liberty is at the bottom of it ; that little tree freedom hangs intelligent men would make the honest effort to satisfy their upon it. Thy own neck, thy own throat, may be a refuge to thee own convictions that the Bible might have been written by from such servitude ; yea, every vein of thy body.” Deira, lib. iii

. such persons as the Jewish patriarchs and the Fishermen of cap. 15. P. m. 319. Plutarch, and Cato, and Brutus, and Cassius, Galilee, without any divine afflatus; when such an attempt and Cicero, all agree to justify the crime of self-destruction. See has been made by them, I am satisfied that, whether they are

# Juvenal, Satyr ii, ver. 10. Diog. Laertus, vol. i. pp. m. 165, 166. led to embrace the Holy Scriptures as the word of God or Ś Millar's History of the Propagation of Christianity, vol. i. pp: not, they will be compelled to admit the fact that, upon all 63–65. the canons of literary criticism ever admitted, there is nothing | Epictetus bids his disciples“ temporise and worship the gods whatever to warrant the idea that the Bible has been furnished after the fashion of their country.” Enchiridion, cap. 38. p. m. 56. to mankind in the same way, and on the same principles as See A. Fuller's Works, vol. i. p. 37. other documents of a remote antiquity. When men are know not what is convenient.”

Pythagoras forbids prayer to God," because," says he, "you bronght thus far there is great reason to hope that they will ** Is it not a heavy disgrace that in Christian countries so much look with some measure of devoutness and integrity at the of the time of youth should be spent pouring over the vitiated pages whole question of Christian evidence,

of the ancient classics. Vol. II.-W.

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meekness, and humility, and condescension, are represented |riod of the world's deliverance from the cruel vassalage of as the true path to greatness; there haughtiness and pride sin ? " Men would then,” to use the words of an eminent diare associated with all that is mean and worthless; there an vine, " universally do justice, speak truth, show mercy, exerassuming and lofty air is forbidden even in the ordinary in- çise mutual forgiveness, follow after peace, bridle their tercourses of social life; there covetousness is branded as appetites and passions, and lead sober, righteous, and godly idolatry; hatred as murder, and hidden lust as adultery ; lives. Murders, wars, bitter contentions, cruel oppressions, there every species of resentment is absolutely prohibited ; and unrestrained licentionsness, would no more desolate the there the refusal to forgive an injury is described as an world, and fill it with misery ; but righteousness, goodness, effectual barrier in the way of the exercise of divine mercy; and truth would bless the earth with a felicity exceeding all there all detraction, all backbiting, all evil speaking, all envy, our present conceptions. This is, no doubt, the direct tenall malice, all circumvention, are shown to be inconsistent dency of the scriptural doctrines, precepts, motives, and with the hope of eternal life, and the state of acceptance promises : nothing is wanting to remedy the state of the through a Redeemer.

world, and to fit men for the worship and felicity of heaven, There is indeed one grand peculiarity belonging to the but that they should believe and obey the Bible. And if many morality of Christianity, which distinguishes it from that of enormous crimes have been committed under the colour of every other system, viz:—the sublime and all-subduing char-zeal for Christianity, this only proves the depravity of man's acter of its motives. Many useful virtues were enjoined by heart; for the Scripture, soberly understood, most expressly the Gentile philosophers, but they had no paramount consid- forbids such practices; and men do not act thus because they erations by which to ensure obedience to their own precepts; duly regard the Bible, but because they will not believe and they had no moral engine of sufficient power to urge a sinful obey it."* race onward in the path of obedience. Hence their code of Now the argument for the divine origin of Christianity morals was almost a dead letter, little regarded by them- arising from its transcendent morality, may be viewed in vaselves, and totally overlooked by the mass. But who can rious lights. In the first place, how comes it to pass, that of glance for a moment at the morality of the Bible without all the religions which have sought to obtain the suffrages of coming into contact with those mighty and heart-stirring con- mankind, that of Jesus of Nazareth is incomparably the most siderations which are fitted to rouse all the sensibilities of pure and benevolent in its tendency ? How comes it to pass, human nature, and to subdue into willing and grateful obedi- moreover, that among a rude people, such as were the Jews, ence the most stubborn and rebellious of the race? Let the there should have arisen a system of faith and worship, which, following examples of the class of motives referred to suffice : for grandeur of conception and sanctity of character, outstrips “ Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, all the other records of time? Is there not in this very cirand sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." “Let cumstance a presumption of the highest order in favour of the all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil- divine origin of Christianity? speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye But supposing, in the second place, that the apostles of our kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, Lord were chargeable with the crime of dexterously imposing even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." “Come a false religion upon mankind, how happens it that they set out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, themselves with such zeal and ardour to oppose the prejuand touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and dices and preconceived notions of their countrymen? How will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and happens it that they took the very method the least likely to daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” “God so loved the conciliate their good opinion, and to secure their hearty apworld, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever proval ? How happens it that in their system of morality they believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” not only struck a death blow at the pride and hypocrisy of “ Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” their own nation, but insisted on a purity of heart and life “Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in which they knew must expose them to the hatred and derilowliness of mind let each esteem other better than them-sion of all mankind? Upon a mere human calculation they selves.” “Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify adopted a method which could only issue in a perfect failure. God in your body and in your spirit, which are his." ("The Had they flattered the depravity of man; had they introduced love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that a scheme which winked at any of his corruptions; had they if one died for all, then were all dead : and that he died for imitated the subsequent conduct of the False Prophet; had all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto they promised to their disciples a life of ease and sensual inthemselves, but unto him that died for them and that rose dulgence; had they exhibited in their own history an exempagain.”

tion from poverty, reproach, persecution, and death; in a How mean and poverty-stricken are the motives of all other word, had there been any one thing in the scheme of doctrine systems when compared with the religion of Christ Jesus! they taught to secure the esteem and to call forth the approA book which founds its code of morals upon such consider-bation of a corrupt and vitiated state of society, we might ations can never surely be the production of man. In the then have been left to suspect that they had artfully constructwide range of his efforts there is nothing analagous. The faired a system to suit the depraved taste of mankind, and to inference, therefore, is, that a greater than man speaks to us raise themselves to notoriety by pandering to the vices of in the living oracles.

human nature. But when the very reverse of this is the case; It may be safely affirmed, that if Christianity were cor- when the morality of the Gospel is so lofty and unbending as dially embraced as the religion of mankind, it would

renovate to surrender none of its claims to meet the prejudices either the entire fabric of society. It is impossible for any one to of Jews or Gentiles; when it is so pre-eminent as to stand say advisedly, or with truth, that one immoral habit, or one forth, in solitary grandeur, amidst the religions of all ages and irregular thought or desire, receives a sanction from the wri- all nations; when it is found to embody every quality which tings of Christ and his apostles. The Christian may often is fitted to diffuse peace, and justice, and benevolence among have reason, through the infirmity and corruption of his fallen mankind; when it is impossible to detect in it a single prenature, to blush on account of the very imperfect manner in cept which would not elevate the character of man and augwhich he acts out his great principles; he may often have oc- ment all his personal and relative enjoyments, what ought casion to mourn that in him the religion of Jesus has such an any thoughtful or considerate mind to conclude respecting it, unworthy representative; but he can at all times refer with but that it is the offspring of the Fountain of all Purity, and exultation and triumph to the glorious charter of his hopes; that it has been vouchsafed by Him in mercy to heal the disand while he sees that “the wickedness of man upon earth tempers and redress the miseries of our fallen race? is great,” he may unhesitatingly assure himself that the to- I conclude this chapter in the words of one who cannot be tal neglect or but partial reception of Christianity is the sole suspected of any undue partiality to the Christian faith, of one cause of the crime and wretchedness which abound. The who, unhappily for himself, did not allow the convictions of enemies of revelation themselves being judges, what can they his judgment to rule his decisions or to form his character: predicate of its probable tendency on the race but unmixed "The Gospel, that divine book, the only one necessary to good ? Must they not own that all the moral evil which a Christian, and the most useful of all to the man who may abounds in the earth is in direct violation of the doctrines and not be one, only requires reflection upon it to impress the precepts of revealed truth ? Must they not, however reluct- mind with love for its author, and resolution to fulfil his preantly, concede, that the principles of deism are feeble and cepts. Virtnie never spoke in gentler terms; the profoundest powerless as a system of moral renovation, compared with wisdom was never uttered with greater energy or more simthe high and holý dictates of the Gospel? Who does not per- plicity. It is impossible to rise from the reading of it withceive that if a time should ever arrive when all men shall give heed to the words of Christ, that that will be the precise pe

See Scott's Essays, vol. ii, of his works, p. 21.

out a feeling of moral improvement. Look at the books of dictates of natural conscience. The particular modifications the philosophers, with all their pomp; how little they are com- of divine perfection which are seen displayed in the pages of pared with this! Shall we say that the history of the Gos- revelation may be to a great extent new, but the great quespel is a pure fiction? This is not the style of fiction; and the tion is,-Are not these modifications such as to fall in and history of Socrates, which nobody doubts, rests upon less harmonize with all that the reason of man would suggest to evidence than that of Jesus Christ. After all, this is but him, as suited to the character of God and the condition of shifting the difficulty; not answering it. The supposition, human nature? I am satisfied that the discoveries of the that several persons had united to fabricate this book, is more Bible, though so transcendently glorious, are, in their great inconceivable than that one person should have supplied the outline, answerable to all our natural conceptions of the Most subject of it. The spirit which it breathes, the morality High, as the supreme moral governor. which it inculcates could never have been the invention of

Two things seem necessary to authenticate a religion as Jewish authors; and the gospel possesses characters of coming from God,-first, that the facts and representations truth so strịking, so perfectly inimitable, that the inventor which it contains should be such as to exhibit all that is lofty would be a more astonishing object than the hero."* in wisdom, mighty in power, awful in purity, and subduing Let attention be devoted

in kindness; and, second, that the representation thus afford4. To the coincidence of Christianity with the character of God, ed of the divine character should, when contemplated and beand the actual condition of man.[.

lieved by man, be fitted, by the laws of his being, to transThere is a marked tendency in the human mind to trace re- form him into the divine image, and to make him

a partaker sults to some adequate cause. Hence our dissatisfaction in of the divine happiness. The very first showing of Christithe mere perception of facts which, in our present state of anity is to this effect. It proposes, by an overwhelming knowledge, we cannot account for; and hence also the rest- manifestation of the character of God in the great scheme of less effort made by us to discover some principle of causation redemption, to raise man from his present state of sin and resufficient to produce the phenomena beheld. The revolutions bellion, and to confer on him that elevated species of blessof the heavenly bodies must impress every one endowed with edness which arises from conformity to the will of an infinitely reason that there is some mighty impulse to which they are perfect Being. all obedient; and the feeling we have of the existence of such “When," says an eloquent writer, "we read a history an impalse has roused that inquiry into the laws of the ma- which authoritatively claims to be an exhibition of the characterial universe which has led to all the discoveries of modern ter of God in his dealings with men; if we find in it that science, and which has enabled us to trace, in the one perva- which fills and overflows our most dilated conceptions of ding law of gravitation, the reason of certain revolutions and moral worth and loveliness in the Supreme Being, and at the appearances, which without such an application of the human same time feel that it is triumphant in every appeal that it faculties must have been hid in perpetual obscurity. makes to our conscicnces in its statements of the obliquity

Nor is the tendency in man to reason from effects to causes and corruption of our own hearts, and if our reason farther the only one discoverable in the examination of what may be discovers a system of powerful moral stimulants, embodied in called his mental instincts. It is obvious that he is equally the facts of this history, which necessarily tend to produce in prone to reason from causes to effects ; so that when he has the mind a resemblance to that higher character which is there satisfied himself as to the existence of a particular cause, and portrayed; if we discern that the spirit of this history, gives has acquired some knowledge of the mode in which it oper- peace to the conscience by the very exhibition which quickens ates, he is prepared to concede that other effects may be at- its sensibility; that it dispels the terrors of guilt by the very tributed to it besides those which he has already discovered, fact which associates sin with the full loathing of the heart; provided they are in no way inconsistent with the facts and that it combines in one wondrous and consistent whole our relations now perceived.

most fearful forebodings, and our most splendid anticipations Now, the tendencies thus described will be found equally for futurity, that it inspires a pure and elevated and joyful to manifest themselves in reference to mental and moral sci- hope for eternity by those very declarations which attach a ence, as in reference to the phenomena of the material uni- deeper and more interesting obligation to the discharge of the verse. It is to these laws of our nature that we are indebted minutest part of human duty, if we see that the object of all for many of those inductions by which we are enabled to its tendencies is the perfection of moral happiness, and that judge of the characters and actions of men, and to predicate these tendencies are naturally connected with the belief of its what may or may not be reasonable to anticipate in certain narration; if we see all this in the gospel, we may then say giren circumstances.

that our own eyes have seen its truth, and that we need no Apply these general principles to the investigation of the other testimony. We may then well believe that God has subject in hand. The Bible is a book professing to come been pleased, in pity to our wretchedness, and in condescenfrom heaven. Is it, then, a communication possessing any sion to our feebleness, to clothe the eternal laws which reguthing in common with our ordinary associations? or is it a book late his spiritual government in such form as may be palpable so entirely new as to furnish us with no means of judging of to our conceptions, and adapted to the urgency of our necessit by the exercise of that ordinary tendency of our nature ities."* which leads us to judge of causes by their effects, and of ef- Such an interposition has the Eternal Majesty of heaven fects by their causes? The slightest examination of the vouchsafed in the revelation of mercy by Christ Jesus, a reChristian scheme will convince any impartial mind that the velation which abounds in all that is awful and all that is view of the divine character and government which it presents tender; which describes God as the avenger of sin, and the is in strictest harmony with what may be deduced from the Saviour of the guilty; which exhibits the loftiest claims of the survey of nature, the phenomena of divine providence, and the lawgiver, and the tenderest attributes of compassion; which

makes moral impunity infinitely odious and detestable, by the * J. J. Rousseau, vol. xxxvi. of his works, p. 36, Ed. Paris, 1788 very means whereby it is forgiven; which points to a guilty -1793.

race reclaimed and saved, while the Glorious Projector of the * L'evangile, ce divin livre, le seul necessaire a un chretien, et le scheme stands forth before the intelligent universe in the inefplus utile de tous a quiconque ne le serait pas, n'a besoin que d'etre fable majesty of spotless and unchangeable purity. medite pour porter dans lame l'amour de son auteur, et la volonte

Does reason tell us, that as God has seen fit to create yarid'accomplir ses precepts. Jamais la vertu n'a parle un si doux langage; jamais la plus profonde sagesse ne s'est exprimee avec tant ous orders of intelligent creatures, to him they must all be d'energie et de simplicite. On n'en quitte point la lecture sans se accountable, and over them all he must exercise the right and sentir meilleur qu'auparavant. Voyez les livres des philosophes the control of a moral governor ? Revelation comes in with avec toute leur pompe: qu'ils sont petits aupres de celui-la! Dirons its direct and absolute assurance upon this point, resolving all nons que l'histoire de le vangile est inventec a plaisir? Ce n'est pas the doubts which sin had fostered in the human mind, and sont moins attestes que ceux de Jesus Christ. Au fond, c'est reculer his determination to punish every infringement of his rightainsi qu'on invente; et les faits de Socrate, dont personne ne doute, proclaiming God's right to rule, his title to obedience, and la difficulte sans la detruire. Il seroit plus inconcevable que plusieurs hommes d'accord eussent fabrique ce livre, qu'il ne l'est qu'un seul cous government. Had the Bible said less on this head, or en ait fourni le sojet. Jamais les auteurs Juiss n'eussent trouve ni spoken a language quite different, it would have been at variee ton ni cette morale; et l'evangile a des caracteres de verite si ance with the simplest dictates of sound reason. If there be frappans, si parfaitement inimitables, que l'inventeur en seroit plus one God, the creator and upholder of the universe, the founEtonnant que le heros."-See Dr. J. P. Smith's admirable answer to tain of all being, and of all happiness, it follows by resistless a printed paper entitled “ Manifesto of the Christian Evidence So

consequence, that he is the governor of the world he has ciety."

+ The Author is greatly indebted, in this part of his essay, to a made, and that the laws by which he governs must be in acwork entitled.“ Remarks on the Interna! Evidence for the Truth of Revealed Religion.By Thomas Erskine, Esq. Advocate.

* Erskine on Internal Evidence, third edit., pp. 18, 19.

cordance with the dictates of his own pure and benevolent|dust. He feels that this world is a wilderness, and all its nature. The Scriptures teach us distinctly what those prin- inhabitants mourners; but he is unable to solace himself in ciples are ; but in doing so, they do not violate one of all our the prospect of a blessed immortality. He finds himself the natural conclusions.

subject of indefinite forebodings, and discovers nothing in the Does the reason of man whisper to him, that the Being who wide range of created nature that can fill up the desires of a made him is the constant inspector of his actions, and that a mind distanced from its native element; but how to impart a period may arrive when an account will be required of the fixed character to his hopes, and how to satisfy his enlarged manner in which he has passed the few short years of his desires, he knows not. Let him turn, then, to the welltransitory existence? Revelation does not proffer its aid to springs of salvation, let him view the character of God as set repress this natural and almost universal feeling; but to place forth in the doctrine of the gospel, let him examine for himit

upon the sure basis of a divine communication, to impart to self the great mystery of godliness, let him yield up his whole it the character of an incontrovertible truth, and to raise it to soul to the impression of redeeming love, let him implore the the potency of an all-pervading and all-subduing motive. spirit of Christ to unfold the infinite grace and loveliness of

Does a secret monitor disturb man's inward repose, and his character, let him how down his reason to the verities of tell him that he has sinned against his own acknowledged the cross; then will his guilt subside, his fears vanish, his standard of duty, and fill him with awful forebodings of judg- prospects brighten ; then will his soul glow with ardent love ment to come, and urge him to many a vain expedient for to God, then will the darkness which broods over the scenes the settlement of that score of guilt which he knows he has of earth be scattered; then will the truth of revelation be felt; been contracting from the earliest dawnings of reason ? Reve-then will the self-evidencing power of the gospel be verified; lation does not lift up its voice to repress the natural testi- and then will the proud objector be converted into a little mony of conscience, but to cause it to be heard in yet louder child," and the vain disputer into a meek and humble disciple strains of condemnation ; to strip man of all vain conceit of of the Son of God. excellence which, in his fallen state, he does not possess; to show, by the pure standard of the written law, how far he has departed from his original integrity ; to present such an image

SECTION II. of his moral defection as shall

cause him to loathe and abhor himself in dust and in ashes before God; and to teach him the

The external evidence of Christianity. utter insufficiency of all human aid to extricate him from that state of condemnation and sin into which, by rebellion against By the external evidences of Christianity we are to underthe righteous Lawgiver of the universe, he has sunk.

stand those attestations to its divine origin which have been Does the mind of man, conscious of its own evil desert, either directly vouchsafed from heaven, or which may be inand no less conscious of the blight which sin has spread over fallibly traced in its early success and in its great moral results. all the sources of human enjoyment, sigh after some hidden And if, by an impartial survey of the various topics connectwell-spring of life, some new manifestation of the character of ed with internal evidence, we are compelled to admit the God, which shall dart a ray of mercy and hope across the presumptuous boldness of those who can disburden their gloom of his apostacy; some divine balm that shall heal those minds of all apprehension in rejecting a scheme distinguishwounds which have been inflicted in his lacerated spirit ? Sed alike by its grandeur and adaptation; by a careful examYes, my beloved reader, such have been, and such are the ination of external evidence, we are driven to the conclusion, wishes and aspirations of the guilty spirit of man, He has that the rejector of Revelation is at war with omnipotence, departed from “ the fountain of living waters,”, and the entire and that he is standing out against a species of proof which range of creature enjoyment has proved but a broken cistern demands of every intelligent and accountable creature the to him. He is not, indeed, rightly affected with the true na- most prompt and unhesitating submission. Such is the ture of his malady, nor does he properly appreciate the means nature and such the variety of external evidence, that it leaves by which his peace and happiness may be restored ; but he is every man inexcusable who remains in secret or avowed in that precise state in which, if he will open the revelation of oppositon to the claims of the gospel. In treating of the subGod, and prayerfully examine its contents, he will find the ject of external evidence I beginvery blessings after which he sighs, and in the application of 1. With Miracles. them, will perceive that the Author of his being is also the If the Bible be from God, it must be true in itself, irreGod of his salvation.

spective of all miraculous attestation; and if it be not from In the promise of a Saviour, divinely accomplished in the God, it is equally clear that no miracle can have been vouchfulness of time, and in the propitiatorý sacrifice of the cross, safed on its behalf. A miracle is an act of Omnipotence, which we behold a scheme which bears along with it indubitable deviates from, or suspends the ordinary course of nature,* and proofs of its conformity to the character of God, and of its which is fitted to produce an impression upon rational beings adaptation to the guilt and necessity of man. It is so far, in- by the very circumstances of its singularity and its unacdeed, above all his natural conceptions of a divine interposi-countableness. Such an interposition we may assure ourtion, that it may well be styled " the wisdom of God in a selves would not be granted in support of any messenger not mystery ;” but it is at the same time so exquisitely adjusted from God, or of any doctrine containing in it the slightest to his moral relations, and to the moral catastrophe in which shade of imposture. he is involved, that he has only to open his eyes that he may The most inveterate enemies of Revelation have been comsee, and his heart that he may feel. The problem of his sal-pelled to admit that a miracle wrought by any being professing vation is here solved, while the claims of the moral governor to act under the authority of God, would be a sufficient eviremain unimpaired. His conscience tells him that he is a dence of the divinity of his mission. “We know," said a transgressor; but it suggests no effectual method of escape Jewish ruler to Christ, “ that thou art a teacher come from from merited condemnation. But Christianity points him to God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, “the blood of the Lamb,” to the “one offering” of Jesus except God be with him.” A principle is here admitted Christ, “ for the sins of the people.” He feels that he is at which it is impossible, consistently with sound reason, to a fearful moral distance from God; but he sees in the method deny; it is this: that a teacher working miracles furnishes of his reconciliation the means whereby his nature may be indubitable evidence that his mission is from God. To test, reclaimed, and learns that a heart all rebellion may be drawn with utmost severity, the evidence of miraculous interposiby the mighty attractions of divine love into the habit of cheer- tion in any given instance, must be an imperative duty, but ful, unreserved, and filial obedience.

to withhold our assent to any doctrine after the finger of OmTo doubt that such a scheme, so perfect in its conformity to all that we connect with the infinitely pure Spirit, and so Dr. Samuel Clarke has said that “A miracle is a work effected admirably adapted to the nature, condition, and prospects of in a manner unusual, or different from the common and regular man,—to doubt that such a scheme is from heaven, is to do method of providence, by the interposition of God himself, or of violence to the surest inductions of enlightened reason, to some particular doctrine, or in attestation of the authority of some

some intelligent agent superior to man, for the proof or evidence of turn a deaf ear to the voice of conscience, and obstinately to particular person.” The Rev. Richard Watson, in his Theological lose sight of a coincidence which distinctly shows that the Dictionary, observes, that “A miracle, in the popular sense, is a nature of man and the means of his redemption lay claim to a prodigy or an extraordinary event which suprises us by its novelty, common origin.

In a more accurate and philosophic sense, a miracle is an effect Without the provisions of the Bible, man is a wanderer which does not follow from any of the regular laws of nature, or and an outcast. He beholds, in some measure, his responsi- tled constitution and course of things. Accordingly, all miracles prebility and his guilt; but he has no well defined prospect of suppose an established system of nature, within the limits of which how it may fare with him when his body goes down to the they operate, and with the order of which they disagree."

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nipotence has inscribed over it its celestial origin, is to We hear much among infidel writers of the immutability trample reason in the dust, and to set up in its place the most of the laws of nature; but whence do they learn that these inveterate and stupid prejudice.

laws are never to be infringed on by the omnipotent will of The question, then, is, did Christ and his apostles perform the Infinite Mind? It is surely no proof that the Almighty the miracles attributed to them in the books of the New Tes- is a changeable being because he either creates a world, or tament ? and did they appeal to those miracles in confirma- acts according to his own infinite perfections in governing it. tion of the message they delivered ? In reading the inimitable There is often a great deal of assumption in the use of the discourses of Christ, no one can hesitate for a moment as to terms “laws of nature,' course of nature,” &c., as em. the nature of the appeal made by Him to miracles. “The ployed by writers of a sceptical turn. If in the use of such works,” said He, “ which the Father hath given me to finish, terms it were only intended to assert, that the Most High the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the has subjected the material universe to the government of cerFather hath sent me.” “ The works that I do in my Father's tain great laws, which act uniformly, except when he is name, they bear witness of me.” “If I do not the works of pleased to suspend or to counteract them, there could be no my Father, believe ine not. But if I do, though ye believe objection whatever to the phraseology employed; but when not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe they are spoken of as a kind of intelligent and independent that the Father is in me, and I in him." “ Believe that I am power; when they are described as something almost distinct in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the from the continued exercise of the divine behest; when they very work's sake.” Here miracles are assumed, upon the are regarded as an imperative control, binding even the will ordinary principles of reason, to be a sufficient evidence of of Deity itself, they are placed in an imposing light, to which Christ's mission from the Father to every impartial and un- they have no conceivable title. “Our knowledge of the biassed mind. So unhesitatingly did Jesus of Nazareth use ordinary course of things, though limited, is yet real; and this argument, that when the disciples of John came to him therefore it is essential to a miracle, both that it differs from to inquire whether he was indeed the Christ, his only reply that course, and be accompanied with peculiar and unequivowas, “ Go and show John again those things which' ye do cal signs of such difference. We have been told, that the hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, course of nature is fixed and unalterable; and therefore it is the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised not consistent with the immutability of God to perform miraup, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”* And cles. But, surely, they who reason in this manner beg the when the apostles of our Lord allude, at any time, to the point in question. We have no right to assume that the power by which they perform their several miracles, they Deity has ordained such general laws as will exclude his invariably refer to the all-potent charm of that name which interposition; and we cannot suppose that he would forbear is above every name;" as when the helpless paralytic was to interfere where any important end could be answered. healed at the beautiful gate of the Temple—If we, this This interposition, though it controls, in particular cases, day,” said Peter, “ be examined of the good deed done to the the energy, does not diminish the utility of those laws. It impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it leaves them to fulfil their own proper purposes, and effects known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by only a distinct purpose, for which they were not calculated. the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, If the course of nature implies the laws of matter and motion, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man into which the most opposite phenomena may be resolved, it stand here before you whole."

is certain that we do not yet know them in their full extent; The whole question of miracles, then, must resolve itself and, therefore, that events which are related by judicious and into a matter of fact. And the attempt of Hume and others disinterested persons, and at the same time imply no gross to blink the fact, by assuming the insufficency of any testi- contradiction, are possible in themselves, and capable of a mony to transmit the knowledge of a miraculous occurrence, certain degree of proof. If the course of nature implies the is neither more nor less than to affirm, that if God should whole order of events which God has ordained for the governat any time see fit to perform a miracle, in attestation of some ment of the world, it includes both his ordinary and extraormessage of mercy to a ruined race, he could not adopt any dinary dispensations, and among them miracles may have method by which the certain evidence of its occurrence could their place as a part of the universal plan. It is, indeed, be preserved from age to age. It is not surely, the spirit of consistent with sound philosophy, and not inconsistent with sound philosophy in which any man asserts that a miracle is pure religion, to acknowledge that they might be disposed contrary to experience. It may not, indeed, come under the by the Supreme Being at the same time with the more ordihead of the ordinary experience of mankind; but that it is nary effects of his power; that their causes and occasions contrary to it cannot be shown. According to our ordinary might be arranged with the same regularity; and that in reexperience, bodily disease, when successfully removed, is (ference chiefly to their concomitant circumstances of persons subdued by the influence of certain human remedies which and time, to the specific ends for which they were employed, God is pleased to bless. According to the wonderful history and to our idea of the immediate necessity there is for a of the gospel, disease is often rebuked by a word, a look,

an divine agent, miracles would differ from common events, in exercise of the secret will of the miraculous agent. But which the hand of God acts as efficaciously, though less what is there, we ask, in these two distinct classes of facts visibly. On this consideration of the subject, miracles, inopposed to each other? They may each, indeed, belong to stead of contradicting nature, might form a part of it. But a distinct chain of causation; they may be totally independent what our limited reason and scanty experience may compreevents; they may admit and require various kinds of proof; but hend, should never be represented as a full and exact view he who says that they are contrary the one to the other, uiters of the possible or actual varieties which exist in the works a sentiment opposed to true philosophy, and commits his good of God."* sense in his zeal to overturn the evidence of the gospel.: It is daring and presumptuous in the extreme to attempt, “To pronounce a miracle to be false,” says a distinguished by reasonings à priori, to set aside the physical possibility writer, “ because it is different from experience, is only to of a miracle, or to assume that human testimony is inadequate conclude against its general existence from the very circům- to the task of rendering it available to the conviction of manstance which constitutes its particular nature; for if it were kind. If the argument à priori is at all to be admitted in a not different from experience, where would be its singularity ? question of mere fact, where the senses were originally apOr what particular proof could be drawn from it if it happen- pealed to, it were easy to show that the miraculous attestaed according to the ordinary train of human events, or was tions of the gospel are entitled to all the benefits which it can included in the operation of the general laws of nature ? We possibly yield. No one can prove that it is contrary to the grant that it does differ from experience; but we do not pre-determined arrangements of Divine Providence that miracles sume to make our experience the standard of the divine should be wrought; no one can assert, in the spirit of true conduct." +

science, that it may not have been a part of the great scheme

of God's moral government thus to step aside from the rule * The last clause of this appeal is founded on the argument for of his ordinary procedure; no one can advisedly say that if Christianity which is derived from prophecy, and which will be an occasion worthy of miraculous interposition should preglanced at in a subsequent part of this treatise. It was a distinct sent itself to the divine omniscience, God would fail to grant part of Messiah’s prophetic character thas when he appeared he such interposition; no one can seriously contemplate the proshould preach glad tidings to the meek”-that is, to the poor.fessed objects of Christianity, or examine in detail its wondIsaiah, lxi. 1. + See “ A Dissertation on Miracles,” &c., by George Campbell,

rous provisions, without being constrained to admit, that it D.D.

# See the Rev. Richard Watson's Theological Dictionary, under See the Rev. Richard Watson's Theological Dictionary, under the article “ Miracles."

the article “ Miracles."

a

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