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liar an importance, and the difficulties so formidable an appearance.
Now whether or not we can vindicate the principle of adaptation (before referred to,) to the peculiar ideas and conditions of the parties addressed, it is at least clear that the representations in question were, in point of fact, as specially adapted to the apprehensions of the Israelites, as they are utterly unsuited to us at the present day.
But distinctions of this kind are by no means generally understood among professing Christians. And the extensive prevalence of peculiar notions with regard to the meaning and application of the Old Testament, and especially of the Decalogue, is such as to excite a strong feeling of offence at whatever tends to throw discredit on their literal authority.
To those whose views are such as to amalgamate together all the different parts of the Bible into one, and who do not recognize the distinctions between the different portions of the Divine revelations, a difficulty found in one part will assume the character of an objection to all other parts, and seriously endanger the stability of the whole. And to those who have been led habitually to combine together the religion of the Old Testament with that of the New, whatever is found to preclude the literal acceptation of passages in the Books of Moses, and in the law given to the Jews, will naturally assume the tone of a disparagement to their whole religion.
The contradictions directly affecting the passages containing the account of the seven days, whether in Genesis or Exodus, doubtless oppose fatal objections to the opinions of those who imagine the institution of the Sabbath to apply to Christians. To those who recognise in Genesis the supposed primæval institution of that observance, the rejection of the historical character of the passage of course destroys the main argument on which their opinion is built. And to those who adopt the obligations of the Judaical Decalogue, the difficulties must appear especially formidable, and little less than subversive of religion*
On the other hand, patient attention to the manifest distinctions between the several different divine dispensations, whether to the Jews or the patriarchs, recorded in the collected volume of the Scriptures, will exhibit, in the characteristics of Christianity, a total independence of those passages (whether in Exodus or Genesis,) which are involved in physical contradictions.
Let the candid inquirer then search the records of the New Testament for the simple doctrines of Jesus Christ and his apostles. And perceiving the distinct and independent nature of that doctrine, and assured of the immovable firmness of that rock of moral evidence on which its truth is built, he will be able to afford unhesitatingly to confess and avow, to its full extent, the existence of palpable contra
* See Note S.
dictions between the language adopted in the Old Testament, and in the delivery of the Jewish law, and the existing evidences of the order of creation, without any impeachment of the religion he professes.
Systematic theologians, indeed, of several schools not acknowledging the spiritual simplicity of Christianity, have too commonly distorted and disfigured its heavenly features by an incongruous admixture partly of human conceits, partly of the peculiarities of the Judaical, or even, perhaps, earlier dispensations.
But a more simple and direct inquiry into the religion of the New Testament seems to me to lead with increasing clearness to the conviction that such views are but perversions of its real spirit. And from such perversion alone it is that Christianity can ever be exposed to danger, or its credit in the least affected by the circumstance that language at variance with what is now known for physical truth, was employed in the delivery of their law to the Jews, or in recounting to them the records of an earlier age, in passages on which nothing in the new and spiritual religion of the gospel is anywhere made to depend by its Divine founder or his apostles.
When, therefore, we consider these contradictions, they appear but to add clearness to an enlightened view of Christianity; and we may ask with increased confidence, what have we to do with these things? In what way does the question concern the Christian faith? If God thought fit to manifest himself thus to the Jews, what is that to us? To Christians we know he has manifested himself in his Son, teaching an universal moral law, a worship in spirit and in truth.
In this section we have considered the contradictions which exist between the dramatic representations and poetical imagery of the Bible, and the phenomena disclosed to geological research at far greater length than the real simplicity of the case would call for, if men were disposed to view it in its real simplicity. But when such a mass of prepossession opposes the admission of rational views of the matter, we are necessitated to enter more at large on the principles involved, in order to clear away the erroneous notions which have encumbered the whole subject.
We have been led into this discussion in direct relation to the main argument, which refers to the proper order and chain of evidence connecting the proofs of natural and revealed truth. We have traced the dependence of natural theology upon the conclusions of inductive science; and contended for the necessity of natural theology as the foundation of the evidences of revelation. Hence we have maintained the essential independence of physical and revealed truth; and have also observed
how science, at the very threshold, forces upon us a remarkable warning against mistaking the purport of revelation; thus inspiring those who are able to profit by it with due caution and enlightened discrimination in the use and application of its varied contents. The question respecting a particular discrepancy, at first sight perhaps, seeming of no great importance, is found to involve a very important consideration of principles ; and to afford a sort of test for the due discernment of the distinct design and purport of the several portions of which the Scripture records are composed *.
* See Note T.