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CREDULITY OF THE DISCIPLES OF BALFOUR.
A CAREFUL observer of the different systems of religious.error will generally find them the most wanting in respect to those things, wherein their pretensions are highest. The Infidel boasts of a great enlargement and deliverance from superstitions, but if the biography of many of the leading Infidels can determine the matter, infidel character is especially prone to superstitions. Infidels are fond of dwelling upon and magnifying the existing differences among Christians, on questions with regard to religion and morals, while the writings of Infidels on these subjects, furnish one complete mass of contradiction and jargon. No class of persons make higher pretentions to candor than Infidels, and none violates its plainest rules more egregiously. None accuse their opponents more largely of credulity, while the charge of credulity attaches with unanswerable force to the Infidel. The compass of infidel credulity is thus vividly set forth in the language of Horne _“ They admit that a few illiterate Jews devoted to a national religion, conquered their prejudices, and published a universal religion, which was free from the numerous rites and ceremonies of their nation, that they taught religious and moral doctrines, surpassing the wisdom of the highest heathenssubdued the power and policy of Jews and Gentiles-speedily propagated their tenets among many nations, and conquered the pride of learning, without divine assistance. The opposers of revelation admit that many persons united in propagating a forgery which produced them no advantage, and that not one of them was induced, either by promises or threats, to betray a plot, or disown a testimony which exposed them to inconveniences, to insult, imprisonment, tortures and deaththat imposto rs were attached to virtue, and voluntarily endured every evil, in order to propagate opinions that were beneficial to society, but detrimental to themselves—that bad men reformed the religion and manners of all nations, or that good men attempted it by fraud and imposture. They admit that a few ignorant fishermen were able to make proselytes in opposition to power and prejudice, to eloquence and learning,—that crafty men chose for their hero a crucified malefactor, and suffered every evil in order to establish the religion of an impostor who deluded them by false promises, if he did not rise from the dead." Yet these are the men who pity the credulity of all the world except themselves. Universalism makes equally large pretensions to deliverance from superstition, and credulity. But it were easy to show, that few are more credulous than he who admits the various tenets embraced in that system. The truth is, that as when the heart of man throws off the pressure of moral restraints, it becomes the more a slave to lust, exchanging deliverance from the fear of God, for bondage to satan ;-so the understanding, when it exchanges the dominion of truth for that of error, affects to rest on a more solid basis than before, while leaning on the most airy delusion. The man congratulates himself on his rationality, his ability to make the word of God harmonize with an improved philosophy, and feels the sincerest pity for those who can be so credulous as to satisfy themselves with vulgar opinions ; while in fact, all he has gained is, that strong delusion to believe a lie. He has come to such a state of mind, that the greatest absurdities can be devoured on the one hand, and the most cogent reasons despised on the other.
Having examined at some length, the most material of Mr. B.'s views and interpretations, I have thought best here to go back, and get some illustrations of the credulity of those who embrace the system of Universalism, according to Balfour. In the first place, that so large a part of the Bible should relate to the destruction of Jerusalem, is a matter that requires some credulity to digest. I have deemed it worth the while to be
stow some labor, and patience in order to ascertain, how much of the New Testament is made, in the books of Messrs. B. and W. before me, to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the national calamities connected with it. For this purpose I have selected the gospel according to Matthew, and undertaken to analyze it with reference to this question. I have (livided this gospel into three parts—those 'passages which contain the mere narrative of the historian-those which contain the discourses of Christ, and are made to refer to the destruction of Jerusalen, and the national judgments connected with it-and those containing such of Christ's discourses as have not been made to refer to that event. I have done this, that it may be seen how much of this gospel is left after taking out all that they refer to that event. And I have chosen this Book as a fair specimen of the other gospels;—presuming that the proportion so referred in them also, will not materially differ. *
By this examination it appears, that by the amount of one chapter more of the preaching of Christ, reported in Matthew's Gospel, respects the destruction of Jerusalem, than was employed on all other subjects. Before we can admit the interpretations of these men, we must bring our minds to believe that Christ in his discourses said more about the destruction
*The whole of the first and second chapters contain the genealogy and history of the birth and childhood of Christ, and must be placed under the head of narrative. The third chapter, giving an account of John the Baptist, and his preaching, and the baptism of Christ, is all nartative, except that portion which is a report of John's preaching. This, though not one of Christ's discourses, may with no unfairness as it relates to this enquiry be counted with them. And these verses are by Mr. W.p. 1, made to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. The fourth chapter, contains the narrative of the temptation of Christ, and of the calling of his disciples; and is all narrative. The fifth, sixth and seventh, contain the sermon on the mount. None of this is narrative, except the first two verses of the fifth and the last two of the seventh. Chap. 5, verses 21–26 is referred by Mr. B.'s Inq. p. 135 to the destruction of Jerusalem. Verses 27—30, p. 137 is referred to the same. Chap. 7: 15—20 Mr. W. p. 25 refers to the same. 21-27 Mr. W. p 28 refers to the same. The next chapter is all narrative, except verses 11 and 12: and these Mr. W. refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Of chap. 9, all narrative except 12—17. And
of Jerusalem, than he said in preaching of the gospel. For Mr. B. admits that this kind of discourse was not preaching the gospel. In his first Inquiry, p. 200 he says, " In all the texts where he (Christ) speaks of hell, he was not preaching the gospel, but addressing the Jews about temporal calamities coming on them as a people.” According to this principle, Christ preached but very little Gospel. Then if these writers had given us a complete commentary of the whole gospel of Matthew, they would have found the same necessity of referring no small portion of what they have left us for gospel, to the destruction of Jerusalem, and so making it no gospel. Almost all that they have commented on, they have thus ungospelled, and what reason have we to believe that they would spare the rest? Now were I called upon to give credit to the views of this class of commentators, I should here be stumbled at the threshhold-should deem it a bold tax upon my credulity, to be asked to believe, that the great subject of Christ's preaching was found in the destruction of Jerusalem, that spiritual and immortal interests were a mere circumstance, an incidental adjunct of the other. And if I ever succeeded in digesting the monstrous absurdity, I would be honest enough to call things by right names, and label the New Testament “JERU
this is not referred to national calamities. Of chap. 10, the first 5 are narrative, 14 and 15 referred by Mr. B. Essays 249, to national calamities. And 28-31 is referred Inq. p. 150 to the same. Of chap. 11, first 4 narrative, 20–24 referred by Mr. B. p.58 to the destruction of Jerusalem. Of chap. 12, verses 1, 2, 9-17, 22-24 and 46-50 are narrative and 25—32 Mr. B.'s 2d Inq. p. 299 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. And 33–37 in Essays p. 251 is referred to the same. And 38–42 in Essays p. 251 is referrea to the same. And 43–45 Mr. W. p. 37, refers to the same. Of chap. 13 the 3 first are narrative 24-30, Mr. W, p. 51 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. The next 8 verses Mr. w. p. 61, refers to the same. The last 6 are narrative. "Chap. 14, all narrative. Of chap. 15, none is referred to the destruction of Jerusalem. 25 of its verses narrative. Of chap. 16, first 16 verses narrative. 21 -23 narrative, 24–27 Essays p. 32 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. 17 all narrative. Chap. 18 two first narrative, 7 -14 by Mr. W. 10 referred to the destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. 19 the 1, 2, 3, 7, 10 and 16, narrative, all after the 16 referred by Mr. W. p. 182 to the destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. 20, SALEM's DestRUCTION FORETOLD.” And then I would lay it aside, as a book which interested me no more than any other treatise upon times and events so remote,-as fit only for antiquarian purposes_lay it aside on the ground that what was written mainly and so exclusively for the men that lived near 2000 years ago, could claim little authority and influence over
When I read in the Old Testament, histories and prophecies relating to temporal affairs, and national events, I feel an interest in it and derive instruction from it, because I see in all those events a preparation for the introduction of the gospel dispensation. I see in all previous events, the whole creation groaning and travailing, to bring forth him who was the redemption of the church. And therefore I see an ample reason, why all those histories and prophecies, should have a place in an inspired book, bearing the name of the “ Revelation of Jesus Christ.” And I see how to derive divine and practical instruction from them all. Considered in this light evangelical prophecy becomes as important, interesting and practical as evangelical history. But when all the historical, didactic and hortatory parts of the New Testament, are made to termiminate in Jerusalem's destruction, an event having so few important connexions with the world's subsequent history, and
first 16 verses, continuation of the ame subject and Mr. W. referred to the samne. The next 8 and last 5 narrative. Chap. 21, first 23 and last 2 narrative. 33—44 by Mr. W. p. 196, referred to destruction of Jerusalem. Chap. 22, first 14 referred by Mr, W. p. 117 to the destruction of Jerusalem, the next 14 and verses 33— 36 and 41 and 42 and 46 are narrative. Chap. 23, all is directed towards a conclusion which Mr. B. p. 163 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, and is so connected that if any refers to that, all does. The next two chapters both Mr. W. and Mr. B. argue at great length in a reference of them to the destruction of Jerusalem. The next 3 are all narrative except the last 3 verses. And here ends the book. Now the reader may if it be worth his while taking these results and put them together and he will find this general result.—There are in Matthew's gospel aocording to this examination of universalist interpretations,
523 verses of narrative, 296 referred to the destruction of Jerusalem and 257 of Christ's disa courses not referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, i. e. 39 verses more of Christ's discourses referred to the destruction of JerusaJem, than of those which are not so referred.