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But that. I should not leave him a single loop-hole to creep out, or an inch of ground to stand upon, I now assert, that not only are these vital laws changeable and inconstant, but the physical laws also. What think you of the shower of stars that fell in this country? Was that very natural? What think you of the showers of stones that haye fallen in various parts of the world? What think you of the fact that within the last century not less than THIRTEEN stars, none of them below the sixth magnitude, seem totally to have perished; forty to have changed their magnitude; and ten new stars to have appeared? Do these phenomena go to prove the constancy, regularity, and the unchangeableness of the laws of nature? This ground of argument must indeed be abandoned, and it must be admitted, that to disbelieve things, because they are contrary to experience, or because they appear to us, contrary to the laws of nature, is both fallacious and absurd.
Lastly, if, for the sake of argument, the principle be admitted, “ that things contrary to experience ought not to be believed,” then according to that very principle, Christianity must be true! For,
1st. It is contrary to experience, for any record of transactions, with one-tenth part of the evidence Christianity possesses, to turn out false. Therefore, Christianity must be true,
2d. It is contrary to experience, for any man to lay down his life in attestation of a fact, which fact turned out fallacious. This the Apostles did. Therefore, Christianity must be true. . .
3d. It is contrary to experience, for bad men, (which the Apostles must have been, if what they reported was not true,) to go about the world trying to make men good. The Apostles did this. Therefore, Christianity must be true.
ved,” then contrary to expo, the principle be
4th. It is contrary to experience, for Good men to go about the world, with a string of lies, in order to make men good. This the Apostles did. Therefore, Christianity must be true.
5th. It is contrary to experience, for the religious principles of a nation, even the smallest that ever existed, not to say the Roman Empire, which contained sixteen hundred thousand square miles, to be changed in the course of a few years, by the preaching of a few illiterate unassisted fishermen; this occurred to the Roman Empire by the preaching of the first Christians, without any human aid; therefore, they must have had divine aid. Therefore, Christianity must be true. .
6th. It is contrary to experience, for enthusiasts to preach against enthusiasm; this the Apostles did; therefore they were not enthusiasts. Therefore, Christianity must be true.
7th. It is contrary to experience, for any religion to be established by miracles performed prior to its establishment. Christianity was established by miracles performed prior to its establishment. Therefore, Christianity must be true.
8th. It is contrary to experience, for spurious coin to be made, or for bank bills to be counterfeited, where there had been no genuine coin, nor genuine bank bills. Therefore, spurious miracles having existed, proves incontrovertibly, that there must have been genuine ones. Therefore, Christianity must be true.
What does the infidel now gain by his fundamental rule, “that things contrary to experience ought not to be believed? Will he, for once in his life, act consistently? If so, he must believe that Christianity must be true!
EXODUS. The title of the second book of the sacred writings; it signifies a departure from, or going out; and is so called, because in it is described the departure of the Jews from Egypt. It contains a history of about one hundred and forty-five years. See Pentateuch.
FACE. The face of God denotes his favour. Dan. ix. 17. “ Cause thy Face to shine upon thy sanctuary.” (See also Ps. xxxi. 16.) In reference to God, therefore, it is always used figuratively, denoting either his presence, countenance, or favour. As the eyes of God denote his knowledge and presence: “His eye is in every place, to behold good and evil.” Prov. xv. 3. Ps. xi. 4. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Pet. iii. 12.) That is, his countenance, and his protection are turned away from the wicked.
FACE TO FACE. It is written in Exod. xxxiii. II, “ And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.". This does not by any means imply, that Moses, or any other human being, had ever actually seen the face of God, (for God hath, strictly speaking, no parts,) but that Moses was directly opposite to the place where the more immediate glory of God was concentrated. He was in this way, face to face (vis a vis) to God, when God spoke to him by his representative. (See Communications.) Moreover, it does not necessarily follow, that one man cannot speak to another man, face to face, without his seeing the face of the person speaking to him; for two persons may speak to each other in the dark, and not see each other's face; or two blind men may speak together; or lastly, two persons may speak to each other face to face, and yet such a curtain, veil or cloud, may be between them, that they could not see each other's face; therefore, even admitting; that it was actually God himself who spoke to Moses face to face, it is not a necessary consequence that Moses must have actually seen God's face. (See Language. Back parts.)
FAITH. There has been, and there is, so much useless and unjustifiable mystery, connected with this simple word, that I deem a few remarks thereon indispensably necessary: particularly, as I am persuaded, nothing has produced so much scepticism in the world, as the unwarrantable and incomprehensible meanings attached to many scriptural words; as if, because they occur in the Bible, therefore they are to have quite a different sense from what they possess when in other books.
The Apostles used the word faith in the same sense we do at the present day, in common discourse. We are properly said to believe what any man says, when we are persuaded that what he says is true. There is no difference betwixt our believing any common testimony, and our believing that of the gospel, but what arises from the nature of the testimony. For thus the apostle John states the matter, 1 John v. 9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; so must produce greater certainty or firmness of persuasion.
When once a man believes a testimony, he becomes possessed of a truth; and that truth may be said to be his faith. Yea, we have no idea of truth, but with reference to its being believed. The question about faith must be set aside, when the inquiry turns upon, how a man is affected by a testimony which he believes. His passions and affections are set in motion, according to the nature of the thing testified, or according as the testimony brings him matter of joy or grief, hope or fear.
Now, we often become possessed of truths bringing us pain or pleasure, when it would be ridiculous to say, we contributed any thing to the obtaining of them. If the alarm-bell brings me pain, or if the great guns of a neighbouring castle, intimating some public occasion of joy, bring me pleasure, at unawares; I am not conscious that my pain or my pleasure was of my own procuring, unless some nice reasoner should say, I became possessed of the sad or of the joytul truth, by performing the duty of hearing.
As the whole efficacy of faith flows from the nature and importance of the thing testified, he who is justified by faith, IS JUSTIFIED BY WHAT HE BELIEVES. He has peace with God; nor conscious of any difference betwixt himself and others; but hearing that Jesus is the Christ, or that he hath fulfilled all righteousness, which now becomes to him a truth, so HIS FAITH. As Jesus Christ and the apostles often speak of faith and the truth indifferently, or to the same purpose; we may just point at a few instances. John i. 17: Truth came by Jesus Christ. Gal. iii. 23: But before faith came. Verse 25: But after that faith is come. John xvii. 19: That they also might be sanctified through the truth. Acts xxvi. 18: which are sanctified by faith that is in me. John xvi. 13: the spirit of truth. 2 Cor. iv. 13: the spirit of faith. John xviii. 37: every one that is of the truth. Gal. iii. 9; they which be of faith. Acts vi. 7: obedient to the faith. 1 Pet. i. 22: in obeying the truth. 2