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the gospel? These are evidently in the support of a bad cause, perthe advantages connected with haps, one or two examples might be Christianity ; they are so completely adduced of the remarkable consisttheir own as to be an inheritance. ency and steady co-operation of But I am convinced that if Provi- many individuals, though a series of dence had sent me, from its birth, a ages, like the company of the Jesuits, little Indian, to make him a member or the supporters of the papal digof my family, he would be as sus. nity. But the unanimity of the ceptible of the gospel as a baptized sacred writers has been produced child. The milk of a Christian and sustained by the purest princimother is no more christianized ples, and in the furtherance of a than that of a heathen.
cause which secures the present · Mary. Sir, no doubt remains with rights, and tends to the final happime on the point. These explana- ness of mankind. Deceit and falsetions even give me the key to some hood, error and absurdity, superstiother difficulties that I have met tion and fanaticism, vice and inwith in the Acts of the Apostles on piety, selfishness and oppression, the same subject.
with all the bad passions and corAug. I will be bound it is the rupt practices of a fallen world, inbaptism of the households of which stead of being sanctioned or allowed you are so often talking.
in the records of the gospel, are Mary. Just so.
severely censured, and unequivoJohn. Yes, but we hear of no cally forbidden. The doctrines children among them.
which the sacred volume inculcates, Mary. Very true, but I must say, ne- respecting the nature and governvertheless, it appears that these con- ment of God, the state and destinaversions by whole families, in which tion of man, the means provided by all believed, did not. continue long; divine wisdom for our redemption, for we find in the Epistles that there and the person and offices of the were believing husbands with unbe- Redeemer, all recommend themlieving wives, and vice versa. Thus, selves to our belief by their own reawhen one of the wedded pair was sonableness, or by the competent decidedly an unbeliever, it appears testimony of their divinely authothat he was regarded as such, even rized teachers. The duties it enjoins in the case when the head of a in all the branches of piety and virhouse became converted ; and that tue, are in the highest degree proper when a whole house was baptized, and unexceptionable. Its ritual init was because the whole house had stitutions are at once simple, and believed in God. (Acts xvi. 31.) yet dignified; rational, and yet im
pressive; solemn in their nature,
and salutary in their influence. Its Letters on the Evidences of Chris- motives likewise are elevated and
tianity, addressed to a young powerful, derived not from human Person of sceptical Opinions. authority, or the cold calculations of
a narrow selfishness, but from the LETTER III.
command of God, the native dignity
and usefuluess of doing right, · MY DEAR SIR,
mingled with the sanctions of a fuIn my last letter I requested you ture, judgment. In short, it conto notice the unity of design so re- demns and opposes sin under every markable from the commencement form, directs the mind to universal to the close of the sacred volume, holiness, and in language the most
expressive calls our attention to the into a state of moral ruin, from the highest attainment of moral excel. fatal consequences of which their lence, as the true end and glory of own wisdom and virtue are insuffiour being.
cient to deliver them. But, in conNo collection of books, of the nexion with these facts, wbich hissame number and magnitude, chosen tory and experience verify, it directs from the philosophers of antiquity, our faith to a Glorious Deli. could present to the world a system VERER, in whom all the families of of principles, or a code of morals, the earth may be blessed. To make at all commensurate, much less su- known the designs of God respect. perior, to the sacred volume. In ing the redemption and final happi. comparison with the descriptions ness of mankind, and to manifest given us in the prophetic writings the Divine Person by whom that reof the Divine attributes and autho- demption should be accomplished, rity, the most sublime paragraphs of were the primary objects of divine heathen writers on the same subject revelation, through all its discoveare puerile and contemptible. And ries, from the first promise to the in contrast with the proverbs of So- close of the apocalypse. After being lomon, and the moral instructions of intimated to the patriarchs, typified the New Testament, the most ap- by the Mosaic law, and predicted proved maxims of ancient moralists in glowing language by the prophets, confess their inferiority and retire. its manifestation was at length comAnd yet the writers of these books pleted and verified in the wonders were untutored in the schools, and of the New Testament, when “ the strangers to the beauty and effect of Father sent the Son to be the Savi. Grecian eloquence. Whence then, our of the world." Here the dismy friend, do you suppose, had coveries of all the dispensations cen. these men this wisdom, and how did tre, like rays of light issuing from they compose their invaluable in the same sun, and converging to one structions ? The only reply you can focus. To the Saviour, whom the give must be,“ That the prophe- 'apostles published, gave all the cies and precepts of holy writ, prophets witness, proving that “the came not in old time by the will of testimony of Christ is the spirit of men, but holy men of God spake as prophecy." His mediatorial work they were moved by the Holy and supreme authority as the Son Spirit.”
of God, being thus disclosed and If God had spoken to the fathers ratified by his ascension into heaven, by inspiration, merely to inculcate a and by the mission of his apostles, pure system of morality, the object the closing parts of revelation carry might have been deemed insufficient us forward, through the lapse of to require so extraordinary an inter- ages, to the last events and eternal position. , The very idea of a divine consequences of his spiritual reign. salvation includes the discovery of It not only foretells the ultimate some truths, which it would have triumphs of the cross, and the unibeen impossible to perceive by the versality of the Lord's kingdom, but light of nature, though perhaps, in announces also the certainty of his making such discoveries, the pro- second advent, as the Judge of all, motion of moral purity would be a and the final retributions he will ad. principal design. Now, in the sa- minister to an assembled world. The cred volume it is uniformly asserted parts of this scheme already accomor assumed, that the human race plished, justify and require our behave lost their innocence, and fallen lief in the final consummation of the whole; while the grandeur of its dis- in secret, and concealed in mystery, coveries constrains us to regard the possibility of a collusion might them as matters of pure revelation; have weakened this effect, and justiwhich no human imagination could fied the refusal of entire confidence. conceive, bearing upon their aspect But their number and magnitude, the image and superscription of the publicity of their performance, God.
and all the circumstances connected What, then, will you say, my with them, must have rendered their friend, if I mention still further in reality incapable of suspicion ; favour of the gospel, the suitable- while the transfiguration of our Sa. ness and sufficiency of its creden- viour, his resurrection from the tials, and the perpetuity and extent dead, and visible ascension into of its saving influence? If it be a heaven, with the train of conseright maxim that every kind of truth quences resulting from it, must have should be verified by evidences raised the evidence of his divine suitable to its own nature, a divine mission to a high degree of sensi. revelation ought, doubtless, to be ble demonstration, as well as moral confirmed by superpatural proof. certainty. No person professing to be an in. With respect to ourselves, who spired prophet, or an angel from live in an age so remote, the conheaven, would be entitled to the clusion arising from these miracufaith and obedience of mankind, lous interpositions must, of course, unless he produced credentials to be less decisive. But, if the books prove his mission, the reality and in which these miracles are recorded truth of which might be ascertained be true, and if the facts themselves by a sober and upright inquirer. are thereby sufficiently confirmed, Now, in unison with this principle, no lapse of time, or distance of siwe are assured by the sacred writers tuation, can invalidate their authothat Moses and the prophets, under rity; but the evidence they afford, the Old Testament, and our Lord in attestation of the Christian faith, and his apostles under the New, ra- is equally conclusive and irresistible. tified their divine mission and au- If, however, the written testimony thority by a series of miracles which be less convincing than the testino persons could perform, unless mony of our senses, the deficiency God were with them. To those thence arising is abundantly supwho were eye-witnesses of these mi- plied by the accomplishment of racles, who accompanied Moses in prophecy, which may be deemed a the wilderness, or saw the works standing miracle, whose evidence and heard the sayings of our Lord, becomes more luminous and induwhat evidence could be more un- bitable, as time and events verify questionable and convincing? It is the anticipations of the prophetic in itself a species of evidence suited vision. To this may be added, as a to the nature of the case, and like confirmation of our faith in modern the truth it proposes to ratify, is ad. times, the amazing success of the dressed to all men with the same apostles' ministry, and the moral propriety and force, and may be change produced in the heathen equally understood and ascertained world, merely by the preaching of a by the prince and the peasant, the few unlettered men, in defiance of pbilosopher and the clown. If, in- the most powerful prejudices and deed, the miracles wrought by the passions, customs and interests, forfounders of our religion had been few titied by a combined and implacain number, and those few performed ble opposition. The perpetuity of its influence, also, through a series fit by its instructions. By ourselves of ages, notwithstanding the assaults these holy records have been reof its adversaries and the corrup- ceived under every advantage; tions of its friends, is a fact which while considerations of the utmost nothing can account for but the importance require us personally to force of truth, and the admission of examine and practically to observe its intrinsic worth and immutable them. Happy are they who, like authority, as a divine system. Many, Timothy, from their childhood indeed, have been its moral triumphs have known the holy scriptures, and the trophies of its saving power which are able to make us wise unto in all ages, and in every district of salvation, through our Lord Jesus the Christian world. By a spiritual Cbrist. “ For all scripture divinely efficacy, which no other system can inspired, is profitable for doctrine, boast, it has delivered, and is still for reproof, for correction, for in. delivering, multitudes from the gall struction in righteousness, that the of bitterness and the bonds of ini- man of God may be perfect, quity, translating them out of dark. thoroughly furnished unto every ness into marvellous light, and fitting good work.” them by its holy influence for the And this hope I have hitherto sacred enjoyments of eternity. It felt, and shall still retain, in remay, therefore, be as truly affirmed ference to a friend, for whose best of persons in the present day, as our interests, present and eternal, my Lord said of the Pharisees, If they most fervent prayers shall ascend to believe not Moses and the prophets, the Divine throne. Yes, my dear Christ and his apostles, neither Sir, I still feel a cheering persuasion would they be persuaded, though that you will, in due time, surmount one rose from the dead.
the difficulties which sopbistry has · If, then, all these evidences con- raised around you, and that you cur to ratify the Christian doctrine, will come forth from the trial with the inspiration and divine authority your faith strengthened, your piety of the sacred volume, as the unerr.' renewed, and your talents fitted for ing standard of divine truth, arises superior usefulness. If you pursue from it as a natural and necessary these inquiries in a right spirit, diconclusion. Every consideration vine light will disperse the darkness which rendered a divine revelation in which the truth seems to be indesirable or expedient, constrains volved. Doubts and difficulties will us to believe that, instead of ceasing become less formidable as you apwith the removal of its messengers, proach them; and you will at or of being left to the doubtful and length reach those delightful regions corrupt medium of tradition, its dis- of faith, hope, and charity, where coveries and institutions would be the Sun of righteousness, in his mepreserved entire, and the knowledge ridian lustre, irradiates the soul. of them transmitted to the world by Many considerations forbid me a written testimony. This testimony to apologize for these lengthened preserves the truth in its native pu- epistles, which, I have no doubt, rity, amidst all the revolutions of you will read with due seriousness society, and the fluctuations of hu- and candour. I need not say it will man belief; and is likewise equally give me pleasure at all times to accessible to men in all ages and solve, as far as I am able, any in every tongue, when they inquire doubts and perplexities you may after truth, and are willing to bene- wish to communicate. With best wishes for your prosperity, I remain, tion and consciousness of their vast my dear friend,
importance? If we have not attained Yours, very affectionately, the same degree of feeling as others, Harlow.
we ought to examine ourselves for
the cause, mourn over our lukeON CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE. warmness, and apply with in
creased diligence and importunity CHRISTIAN Experience has ever to Him, who is the source of all been an object of ridicule both to good, for a more copious supply of the mere formalist and the openly his Spirit. profane. It is true, indeed, there A profession of feeling without an have not been wanting individuals ability to assign any cause at all, or in every age to give plausibility to any adequate cause, may justly exthe objections, and to furnish a pre- pose a man to the charge of enthutext for the sneers, of such persons, siasm. The use of expressions by their enthusiastic conceits and without any ideas being attached to fanciful imaginations; but this does them, may be properly denominated not prove that all religious feeling is “ cant.” If a man profess to be enthusiasm, and all Christian expe- indescribably happy, and can furrience the produce of a distempered nish an inquirer with no reason for brain. Is not feeling an essential his felicity, or no better reason than part of our nature? Are we not all some vision or imagination of his constituted with susceptibilities of own mind, he deserves to be refear and hope, joy and grief, grati- garded as an enthusiast; but if he tude and love? Why is it irrational can assign an adequate cause, why that these feelings should be carried is he charged with irrationality? If into religion? Is there nothing in his happiness arise from the immureligion calculated to excite them ? tability of the promises, and the Is there nothing in the justice of grandeur of the prospects exhibited God to excite vur fears nothing in the gospel, and the scriptural in the promises of his mercy to evidence he has of being interested inspire our hope ? nothing in the in them, why is he accounted an plenitude of his goodness to call enthusiast ? Religious feelings, when forth our gratitude ? nothing in they result from correct views of the riches of his grace to kindle our divine truth, and are attended with love ? nothing in the consciousness a holy life, cannot possibly be too of his approbation to fill our hearts intense. Can we love God with too with joy and gladness ? Not to feel, much fervour? Can our gratitude indeed, would be to manifest a to him, “ who loved us, and gave heart too depraved by sin to be himself for us,” be too ardent? Can susceptible of the impressions of a well-grounded hope ofiminortality moral excellence; too hardened by and unutterable felicity in the preperseverance in iniquity to feel the sence of God, excite a joy too force of moral obligation.
powerful? When we consider the Nor are religious feelings to be perfections of the Deity, their decondemned on account of their in- velopement in the redemption of man tensity. If the objects of the pre- by Jesus Christ, and the import of sent life will bear no comparison the term "eternity," are we not painwith those of eternity, is it at all fully sensible that our most powersurprising that the mind should be ful emotions are far too languid for more highly excited by the latter, the occasion ? when brought to a due considera- That any individuals, calling