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cluded, by the nature of the subject, from transmitted to us from a distant country. the benefit of observation. There is no an- And in a science, the processes of which tecedent experience to guide or to enlighten are so lengthened in point of time, our prinus. It is not right, for man to assume what ciples should also in part be founded on the is right, or proper, or natural for the Al- observations of others, transmitted to us mighty to do. It is not in the mere spirit from a remote antiquity. Any observations of piety that we say so; it is in the spirit of our own are so limited, both in point of of the soundest experimental philosophy. space and of time, that we never think of The argument of the Christian is precisely opposing their authority to the evidence what the maxims of Lord Bacon would dis- which is laid before us. Our whole attention pose us to acquiesce in. The argument of is directed to the validity of the record; and the infidel is precisely that argument which the moment that this validity is established, the same maxims would dispose us to re- we hold it incumbent upon us to submit ject; and when put by the side of the Chris- our minds to the entire and unmodified tian argument, it appears as crude and as impression of the testimony contained in it. unphilosophical as do the ingenious specu- Now, all that we ask is, that the same prolations of the schoolmen, when set in oppo-cess of investigation be observed in theolo sition to the rigour, and evidence, and pre- gy, which is held to be so sound and so lecision, which reign in every department of gitimate in other sciences. In a science of modern science.
such extent, as to embrace the wide domain of The application of Lord Bacon's philoso- moral and intelligent nature, we feel the litphy to the study of external nature was a tleness of that range to which our own perhappy epoch in the history of physical sci- sonal observations are confined. We shall ence. It is not long since this application be glad, not merely of the information has been extended to the study of moral transmitted to us from a distant country, and intellectual phenomena. All that we but of the authentic information transmitcontend for is, that our subject should have ted to us by any other order of beings, in the benefit of the same application; and we some distant and unknown part of the creacount it hard while, in every other depart- tion. In a science, too, which has for its ment of inquiry, a respect for truth is found object the lengthened processes of the disufficient to repress the appetite for sys- vine administration, we should like, if any tem-building, that theology, the loftiest and record of past times could enable us to exmost inaccessible of all the sciences, should tend our observations beyond the limits of still remain infected with a spirit so ex- our own ephemeral experience; and if there ploded, and so unphilosophical; and that are any events of a former age possessed ihe fancy, and theory, and unsupported of such a peculiar and decisive character, speculation, so current among the Deists as would help us to some satisfactory conand demi-infidels of the day, should be held clusion in this greatest and most interesting paramount to the authority of facts, which of the sciences. have come down to us with a weight of On a subject so much above us and be evidence and testimony, that is quite unex- yond us, we would never think of opposing ampled in the history of ancient times. any preconceptions to the evidence of his
What is science, but a record of observed tory. We would maintain the humility of phenomena, grouped together according to the inductive spirit. We would cast about certain points of resemblance, which have for facts, and events and appearances. We been suggested by an actual attention to would offer our minds as a blank surface the phenomena themselves? We never to every thing that came to them, supporthink of questioning the existence of the ted by unexceptionable evidence. It is not phenomena, after we have demonstrated the upon the nature of the facts themselves, genuineness and authenticity of the record. that we would pronounce upon their crediAfter this is demonstrated, the singular or bility, but upon the nature of that testiunexpected nature of the phenomena is not mony by which they were supported. Our suffered to weaken their credibility,-a credi- whole attention would be directed to the bility which can only be destroyed by the authority of the record. After this was authority of our own personal observation, or established, we would surrender our whole some other record possessed of equalor supe- understanding to its contents. We would rior pretensions. But in none of the inductive school down every antipathy within us, sciences is it in the power of a student to and disown it as a childish affection, unverify every thing by his own personal ob- worthy of a philosopher who professes to servation. He must put up with the ob- follow truth through all the disgusts and servations of others, brought home to the discouragements which surround it. There convictions of his own mind by creditable are men of splendid reputation in our entestimony. In the science of geology, this lightened circles, who never attended to is eminently the case. In a science of such this speculation, and who annex to the extent, our principles must be in part Gospel of Christ nothing else than ideas founded upon the observations of others, I of superstition and vulgarity. In braving their contempt, we would feel ourselves ment is often expended in bringing about in the best element for the display and ex- this accommodation. It is, of course, a work ercise of the philosophical temper. We of greater difficulty, to convince this descripwould rejoice in the omnipotence of truth, tion of people, though in point of fact, this and anticipate in triumph, the victory which difficulty has been overcome, in a way the it must accomplish over the pride of science, most masterly and decisive, by one of the and the fastidiousness of literature. It would soundest and most philosophical of our not be the enthusiasm of a visionary which theologians. would support us, but the inward working To another description of Christians, this of the very same principle which sustained attempt to reconcile the doctrines of ChrisGalileo, when he adhered to the result of tianity with the light of natural religion is his experiments, and Newton, when he op- superfluous. Give them historical evidence posed his measurements and observations for the truth of Christianity, and all that to the tide of prejudice he had to encoun- natural religion may have taught them will ter from the prevailing taste and philoso- fly like so many visionary phantoms before phy of the times.
the light of its overbearing authority. With We conceive tặat inattention to the them the argument is reduced to a narrower above principles has led many of the most compass. Is the testimony of the apostles and popular and respected writers in the Deisti- first Christians sufficientto establish the credical controversy to introduce a great deal bility of the facts which are recorded in the of discussion that is foreign to the merits New Testament? The question is made to of the question altogether; and in this way rest exclusiyely on the character of this testithe attention is often turned away from the mony, and the circumstances attending it; point in which the main strength of the and no antecedent theology of their own is argument lies. An infidel, for example, suffered to mingle with the investigation. If objects against one of the peculiar doc- the historical evidence of Christianity is found trines of Christianity. To repel the objec- to be conclusive, they conceive the investition, the Christian conceives it necessary gation to be at an end; and that nothing reto vindicate the reasonableness of that doc- mains on their part, but an act of unconditrine, and to show how consistent it is with tional submission to all its doctrines. all those antecedent conceptions which we Though it might be proper, in the present derived from the light of natural religion. state of opinion, to accommodate to both All this we count superfluous. It is im- these cases, yet we profess ourselves to beposing an unnecessary task upon ourselves. long to the latter description of Christians. Enough for us to have established the au-We hold by the total insufficiency of nathority of the Christian revelation upon the tural religion to pronounce upon the intringround of its historical evidence. All that sic merits of any revelation, and think that remains is to submit our minds to the fair the authority of every revelation rests exinterpretation of Scripture. Yes; but how clusively upon its external evidences, and do you dispose of the objection drawn from upon such marks of honesty in the composithe light of natural religion? In precisely tion itself as would apply to any human perthe same way that we would dispose of an formance. We rest this opinion, not upon objection drawn from some speculative sys- any fanatical impression of the ignorance tem, against the truth of any physical fact of man, or how sinful it is for a weak and that has been well established by observa- guilty mortal to pronounce upon the countion or testimony. We would disown the sels of heaven, and the laws of the divine system, and oppose the obstinacy of the administration. We disown this presumpfact to all the elegance and ingenuity of the tion, not merely because it is sinful, but bespeculation.
cause we conceive it to be unphilosophical, We are sensible that this is not enough and precisely analogous to that theorising to satisfy a numerous class of very sincere a priori spirit, which the wisdom of Baand well disposed Christians. There are con has banished from all the schools of many of this description, who, antecedent philosophy. to the study of the Christian revelation alto- For the satisfaction of the first class, we gether, repose a very strong confidence in refer them to that argument which has been the light of natural religion, and think that prosecuted with so much ability and sucupon the mere strength of its evidence, they cess by Bishop Butler, in his Analogy of can often pronounce with a considerable Natural and Revealed Religion. It is not degree of assurance on the character of the so much the object of this author to found divine administration. To such as these, any positive argument on the accordancy something more is necessary than the ex- which subsists between the process of the ternal evidences on which Christianity divine administration in nature, and, the rests. You must reconcile the doctrines processes ascribed to God by revelation, as to of Christianity with those previous concep- repel the argument founded upon their suptions which the light of nature has given posed discordancy. To one of the second them; and a great deal of elaborate argu-class, the argument of Bishop Butler is not
called for ; but as to one of the first class, ( no right to retain his theism, if he rejects we can conceive nothing more calculated to Christianity upon difficulties to which naquiet his difficulties. He believes a God, tural religion is equally liable. If Chris and he must therefore believe the character tianity tells us, that the guilt of a father has and existence of God to be reconcileable brought sufferings and vice upon his poste with all that he observes in the events and rity, it is what we see exemplified in a thouphenomena around him. He questions the sand instances among the families around claims of the New Testament to be a reve- us. If it tells us, that the innocent have lation from heaven, because he conceives, suffered for the guilty, it is nothing more that it ascribes a plan and an economy to the than what all history and all observation Supreme Being, which are unworthy of have made perfectly familiar to us. If it his character. We offer no positive solu- tells us of one portion of the human race tion of this difficulty. We profess ourselves being distinguished by the sovereign will to be too little acquainted with the charac of the Almighty for superior knowledge, ter of God; and that in this little corner of or superior privileges, it only adds one his works, we see not far enough to offer inequality more to the many inequalities any decision on the merits of a government, which we perceive every day in the which embraces worlds, and reaches eter-gifts of nature, of fortune, and of provinity. We think we do enough, if we give dence. In short, without entering into all a sufficiency of external proof for the New the details of that argument, which Butler Testament being a true and authentic mes- has brought forward in a way so masterly sage from heaven; and that therefore no- and decisive, there is not a single impeachthing remains for us, but to attend and to ment which can be offered against the God submit to it. But the argument of Bishop of Christianity, that may not, if consistently Butler enables us to do still more than this. proceeded upon, be offered against the God It enables us to say, that the very thing ob- of Nature itself ; if the one be unworthy of jected against in Christianity exists in na- God, the other is equally so; and if in spite ture; and that therefore the same God who of these difficulties, you still retain the conis the author of nature, may be the author viction, that there is a God of Nature, it is of Christianity. We do not say that any not fair or rational to suffer them to outpositive evidence can be founded upon this weigh all that positive evidence and testimo analogy. But in as far as it goes to repel ny, which have been adduced for proving that the objection, it is triumphant. A man has the same God is the God of Christianity also.
On the Way of Proposing the Argument to Atheistical Infidels. If Christianity be still resisted, it appears with pre-conceptions. It will not take what to us that the only consistent refuge is history offers to it. It puts itself into the Atheism. The very same peculiarities in same unphilosophical posture, in which the the dispensation of the Gospel, which lead mind of a prejudiced Cartesian opposed its the infidel to reject it as unworthy of God, theory of the heavens to the demonstration go to prove, that nature is unworthy of and measurment of Newton. The theory him, and land us in the melancholy confu- of the Deist upon a subject where truth is sion, that whatever theory can be afforded still more inaccessible, and speculation still as to the mysterious origin and existence more presumptuous, sets him to resist the of the things which be, they are not under only safe and competent evidence that can the dominion of a supreme and intelligent be appealed to. What was originally the mind. Nor do we look upon Atheism as a evidence of observation, and is now trans more hopeless species of infidelity than formed into the evidence of testimony, comes Deism, unless in so far as it proves a more down to us in a series of historical docustubborn disposition of the heart to resist ments, the closest and most consistent that every religious conviction. Viewed purely all antiquity can furnish. It is the unforas an intellectual subject, we look upon the tunate theory which forms the grand obmind of an Atheist, as in a better state of stacle to the admission of the Christian mipreparation for the proofs of Christianity racles, and which leads the Deist to an exthan the mind of the Deist. The one is a hibition of himself so unphilosophical, as blank surface, on which evidence may make that of trampling on the soundest laws of a fair impression, and where the finger of evidence, by bringing an historical fact history may inscribe its credible and well- under the tribunal of a theoretical princiattested information. The other is occupied ple. The Deistical speculation of Rousseau, by which he neutralized the testimony of Christianity. We do not ask him to prethe first Christians, is as complete a trans- sume the existence of God. We ask him gression against the temper and principles to examine the miracles of the New Testaof true science, as a category of Aristotle ment merely as recorded events, and to adwhen employed to overrule an experiment mit no other principle into the investigain chemistry. But however this be, it is tion, than those which are held to be satisevident that Rousseau would have given a fying and decisive, on any other subject readier reception to the Gospel history, had of written testimony. The sweeping prinhis mind not been pre-occupied with the ciple upon which Rosseau, filled with his speculation; and the negative state of Athe-own assumptions, condemned the historical ism would have been more favourable to the evidence for the truth of the Gospel narraadmission of those facts which are connect- tive, can have no influence on the blank ed with the origin and establishment of our and unoccupied mind of an Atheist. He religion in the world.
has no presumptions upon the subject; for This suggests the way in which the evi- to his eyes the phenomena of nature sit so dence for Christianity should be carried loose and unconnected with that intelligent home to the mind of an Atheist. He sees Being, to whom they have been referred as nothing in the phenomena around him, that their origin, that he does not feel himself can warrant him to believe in the existence entitled, from the phenomena, to ascribe any of a living and intelligent principle, which existence, any character, any attributes, or gave birth and movement to all things. He any method of administration to such a does not say that he would refuse credit to Being. He is therefore in the best possible the existence of God upon sufficient evi- condition for submitting his understanding dence, but he says that there are not such to the entire impression of the historical appearances of design in nature, as to sup- evidence. Those difficulties which perplex ply him with that evidence. He does not the Deist, who cannot recognize in the God deny the existence of God to be a possible of the New Testament the same features truth; but he affirms, that while there is and the same principles in which they have nothing before him but the consciousness invested the God of Nature, are no difficulof what passes within, and the observation ties to him. He has no God of nature to of what passes without, it remains an asser- confront with that real though invisible tion destitute of proof, and can have no power which lay at the bottom of those more effect upon his conviction than any astonishing miracles, on which history has other nonentity of the imagination. There stamped her most authentic characters. is a mighty difference between not proven Though the power which presided there and disproven. We see nothing in the should be an arbitrary, an unjust, or a maargument of the Athiest which goes farther lignant being, all this may startle a Deist, than to establish the former sentence upon but it will not prevent a consistent Atheist the question of God's existence. It is alto- from acquiescing in any legitimate infergether an argument ab ignorantia; and ence, to which the miracles of the Gospel, the same ignorance which restrains them viewed in the simple light of historical facts, from asserting in positive terms that God may chance to carry him. He cannot bring exists, equally restrains them from assert- his antecedent information into play upon ing in positive terms that God does not this question. He professes to have no anexist. The assertion may be offered, that, tecedent information on the subject; and in some distant regions of the creation, this sense of his entire ignorance, which lies there are tracts of space which, instead of at the bottom of his Atheism, would exbeing occupied like the tracts around us punge from his mind all that is theoretical, with suns and planetary systems, teem only and make it the passive recipient of every with animated beings, who, without being thing which observation offers to its notice, supported like us on the firm surface of a or which credible testimony has brought world, have the power of spontaneous down to it of the history of past ages. movements in free spaces. We cannot say What then, we ask, does the Atheist make that the assertion is not true, but we can say of the miracles of the New Testament? If that it is not proven.
It carries in it no he questions their truth, he must do it upon positive character either of truth or false- grounds that are purely historical; he is hood, and may therefore be admitted on ap- precluded from every other ground by the propriate and satisfying evidence. But till very principle on which he has rested his that evidence comes, the mind is in a state Atheism ; and we therefore, upon the entirely neutral ; and such we conceive to strength of that testimony which has been be the neutral state of the Atheist, as to already exhibited, press the admission of what he holds to be the unproved assertion these miracles as facts. If there be nothing of the existence of God.
then, in the ordinary phenomena of nature, To the neutral mind of the Atheist, then, to infer a God, do these extraordinary pheunfurnished as it is with any previous con- nomena supply him with no argument? Does ception, we offer the historical evidence of la voice from heaven make no impression
upon him? And we have the best evidence demands our attention,-the testimony of a which history can furnish, that such a voice man who in addition to evidences of honesty was uttered; “ This is my beloved Son in more varied and more satisfying than were whom I am well pleased.” We have the evi- ever offered by a brother of the species, had dence of a fact for the existence of that very a voice from the clouds, and the power of Being from whom the voice proceeded, and working miracles, to vouch for him. We the evidence of a thousand facts, for a power do not think the account which this man superior to nature; because, on the impulse gives of himself can be viewed either with of a volition, it counteracted her laws and indifference or distrust, and the account is processes, it allayed the wind, it gave sight most satisfying. “I proceeded forth, and to the blind, health to the diseased, and, at came from God.”—“He whom God hath the utterance of a voice, it gave life to the sent speaketh the words of God.”—“Even dead. The ostensible agent in all these won- as the Father said unto me, so I speak." derful proceedings gave not only credentials He hath elsewhere said that God was his of his power, but he gave such credentials Father. The existence of God is here laid of his honesty, as dispose our understanding before us, by an evidence altogether distinct to receive his explanation of them. We do from the natural argument of the schools; not avail ourselves of any other principle and it may therefore be admitted in spite of than what an Atheist will acknowledge. He the deficiency of that argument. From understands as well as we do, the natural the same pure and unquestionable source signs of veracity which lie in the tone, the we gather our information of his attrimanner, the countenance, the high moral butes. “God is true.”—“God is a spirit." expression of worth and benevolence, and, He is omnipotent,“ for with God all things above all, in that firm and undaunted con- are possible. He is intelligent, “for he stancy, which neither contempt, nor poverty, knoweth what things we have need of." nor death, could shift from any of its positions. He sees all things, and he directs all things, All these claims upon our belief, were ac- “for the very hairs of our head are numcumulated to an unexampled degree in the bered," and "a sparrow falleth not to the person of Jesus of Nazareth ; and when we ground without his permission." couple with them his undoubted miracles, The evidences of the Christian religion and the manner in which his own personal are suited to every species of infidelity. appearance was followed up by a host of We do not ask the Atheist to furnish himwitnesses, who, after a catastrophe which self with any previous conception. We ask would have proved a death-blow to any him to come as he is; and upon the strength cause of imposture, offered themselves to of his own favourite principle, viewing it as the eye of the public, with the same powers, a pure intellectual question, and abstracting the same evidence, and the same testimony, from the more unmanageable tendencies of it seems impossible to resist his account of the heart and temper, we conceive his unthe invisible principle, which gave birth and derstanding to be in a high state of preparamovement to the whole of this wonderful tion, for taking in Christianity in a far purer transaction. Whatever Atheism we may and more scriptural form, than can be expecthave founded on the common phenomena ed from those whose minds are tainted and around us, here is a new phenomena which I pre-occupied with their former speculations.
On the Supreme Authority of Revelation. If the New Testament be a message, rity of the New Testament, because the from God, it behoves us to make an entire plan and the dispensation of the Almighty and unconditional surrender of our minds, which is recorded there, is different from to all the duty and to all the information that plan and that dispensation which they which it sets before us.
have chosen to ascribe to him. We speak There is, perhaps, nothing more tho- of Christians, who profess to admit the roughly beyond the cognizance of the hu- authority of this record, but who have man faculties, than the truths of religion, tainted the purity of their profession by and the ways of that mighty and invisible not acting upon its exclusive authority; Being who is the object of it; and yet who have mingled their own thoughts and nothing, we will venture to say, has been their own fancy with its information ; who, made the subject of more hardy and adven- instead of repairing in every question, turous speculation. We make no allusion and in every difficulty, to the principle of at present to Deists, who reject the autho-l“ What readest thou," have abridged the