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tion, generate a solid of finite capacity;" that "a variable space shall be continually augmenting, and yet never become equal to a certain finite quantity."
These are depths which the mathematician can solve no better than Christians can explain the great mysteries of redemption. But they do not hinder him. He can use, as the elements of his calculation, doctrines thus incomprehensible without feeling any diminution in the certainty of the result. Why may not a Christian, with equal reason, include among the articles of his belief doctrines no more incomprehensible, without embarrassing his assurance of the duties and consolations which result from them?
If mysteries be valid objections to that which speaks of God and his relations to man, why are they not at least as formidable in all those branches of human knowledge in which created and finite subjects alone are involved? But they are not treated as objections by the mathematician or the philosopher. The former asks no question but, simply, what is demonstrated? the latter, what is proved, either by experiment or by testimony? If phenomena be well attested, he does not wait to understand their cause, or mode, or effects; he does not suspend belief till he has harmonized their peculiarities with a favorite hypothesis, or with previous observations. He sets them down among the truths of science, and believes: taking for granted that though he may not understand them, there is One that does; and though he should never discover the
theory by which such events are shown to be in agreement with all others, there is still a harmony which pervades "all things in heaven and earth, and under the earth."
Such is the application of inductive philosophy to the mysteries of nature. Let the mysteries of revelation be treated with equal justice, and instead of employing them as objections to its truth, you will acknowledge them as essential to its nature and portions of its glory.*
But there are many who object to Christianity, not only because they cannot understand the nature, but because they cannot see the reason, of certain things contained in or connected with it. For example, it is well known that God is gracious and merciful, and desireth not the death of a sinner, and that he has all power to save whom he will; and yet it is revealed that without the sacrifice of Christ, and without conversion and faith, the sinner cannot be saved. Why, it is asked, this circuitous method, this expense of suffering, when a word from the Almighty would save the world? An intelligent Christian could give many answers to this question; but what if he had none? Would the way of salvation, as revealed in the gospel, be in any degree less credible? Shall we refuse to believe the ways of God till he has laid all his reasons before us? Why not as well deny his works on the same indefensible ground? Why believe that a sick man cannot recover without a tedious
* See an admirable article on Mysteries in Religion, in Gregory's Letters, vol. 1.
course of medicine? God can raise him with a word. Why cultivate the ground, and seek the mediating office of the sun for the raising and ripening of your grain? God can load your fields with harvests without such a circuitous process. Why his power is not exerted immediately for these purposes, you can no more explain than why a sinner cannot be saved but by faith in the sacrifice of Christ. Your belief in the importance of intermediate steps depends as little upon the reasons of the divine appointments in one case as in the other.
Again, you read that the gospel is of inestimable importance to the happiness of man, a wonderful exhibition of divine grace to sinners, and yet there are hundreds of millions who have never heard of it; and it is asked, Why, since God is infinitely good and merciful, as well as mighty, has not such an immeasurable blessing been communicated to all mankind? This question is often put as a strong objection to the divine origin of the gospel. Were it taught in the Scriptures that those who had never had the gospel will be judged by its light and privileges, the objection would have force. But there is no such doctrine. The objection is reasonable only so far as there is reason in a creature's requiring the Creator to explain his ways, and admit him to his councils, before he will believe them. Does a philosopher stand on such grounds? Does he doubt the immense difference between the gifts and blessings, the privileges and improvements, of a native of England and those of a savage of Kamtschatka, because he knows not for
what reason it was so ordained? Does he deny that the former are inestimable, because not universal? Will one refuse to believe that he has a mine of gold in his field, or that the gold is worth his seeking, because all men are not equally favored? Shall a husbandman despise the genial rain upon his grass because his neighbor's fleece is dry? If God has not seen fit to reveal the reasons for which he has distributed the gifts of nature, of providence, or of grace with an unequal hand, I find nothing to complain of. I can still believe that those gifts are from above, and are excellent, and distributed under the guidance of infinite wisdom.
That there are no difficulties connected with the Scriptures, and with the doctrines of revealed religion, it would be saying too much for the intelligence, education, and study of the general reader, to assert. Until all shall be candid, studious, patient, and humble, some will find many difficulties in Christianity. If a child, instead of beginning arithmetic in the el ments, should dive at once into the midst of a calculation of algebraic roots and powers, he would scarcely escape being stifled with difficulties. Thus, however, do most objectors to Christianity endeavor to appreciate its doctrines. Instead of learning first the first principles, they plunge without ceremony amidst the deepest mysteries of the gospel. It is well said, "Objections against a thing fairly proved are of no weight. The proof rests upon our knowledge, and the objections upon our ignorance. It is true that moral demonstrations and religious doctrines may be
attacked in a very ingenious and plausible manner, because they involve questions on which our ignorance is greater than our knowledge; but still, our knowledge is knowledge, or in other words, certainty is certainty. In mathematical reasoning, our knowledge is greater than our ignorance. When you have proved that the three angles of every triangle are equal to two right angles, there is an end of doubt, because there are no materials for ignorance to work up into phantasms; but your knowledge is really no more certain than your knowledge on any other subject."
If it be a valid objection to religion, that to some minds it presents difficulties which cannot be solved, then there is no department of human knowledge that may not be legitimately condemned. What is more certain than the existence of a material universe ? or of the necessary connection of cause and effect? But even in these, wise heads have succeeded in discovering difficulties which it would puzzle much more sensible people to remove by a process of reasoning. That matter is infinitely divisible, is assumed in science as fundamentally certain. That the doctrine, however, involves very great difficulties, is palpable to all common-sense; inasmuch as, to suppose a foot measure divided into an infinite number of parts requiring an infinite number of portions of time to pass over them, and yet to be passed over in a moment, is to make a moment infinite, in other words, eternal; for although it should be said that the portions of time would be infinitely small, still