« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
pihaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zoo phar the Naamathite, went, and did according as the Lord commanded them : the Lord also accepted 70b.* The objections which are now made to the facrifice of Christ, equally apply to all expiatory facris fices; the offering up of which, had not the former fuperfeded them, would have continued to
If an innocent character offer to die in the room of a guilty fellow-creature, it is not ordinarily accepted, nor would it be proper that it should. For he may have no just right to dispose of his life ; or if he have, he has no power to resume it : there may likewise be no such relation between the parties, as that the suffering of the one thould express displeasure against the conduct of the other. Befides this, there may be no great and good end accomplished by such a substitution, to society : the lofs sustained by the death of the one might be equal if not superior to the gain from the life of the other. If the evil to be endured might be survived ; if the relation between the parties were such, that in the sufferings of the one mankind would be impressed with the evil of the other ; and if by such a proceeding great advantage would accrue to society, instead of being accounted inadmiffible, it would be reckoned right, and wise, and good. If a dignified individual, by enduring some temporary severity from an offended nation, could appease their displeasure, and thereby save his country from the destroying sword, who would not admire his disinterested conduct ? And if the offended, from motives of humanity, were con
tented with expressing their displeafure by transferring the effect of it from a whole nation to an individual who thus ftepped forward on their behalf, would their conduct be cenfured as “ indif criminate revenge ?” The truth is, the atonement of Christ affords a display of justice on too large a scale, and on too humbling a principle, to approve itfelf to a contracted, felfish, and haughty mind.
CHA P. V.
The confftency of the Scripture Doctrine of Redemp
tion with the modern opinion of the Magnitude of Creation.
It is common for Deity to impute the pro
T is common for Deifts to impute the progress of their principles to the prevalence of true phie lofophy. The world, they fay, is more enlightened; and a great number of discoveries are progressively making, which render the credibility of the scriptures more and more fufpicious. It is now a commonly-received opinion, for instance, among men of science, that this world is but a point in creation; that every planet is a world, and all the fixed stars so many suns in the centres of so many systems of worlds; and that as every part of creation within our knowledge teems with life, and as God hath made nothing in vain, it is highly probable that all: these worlds are inhabited by intelligent beings, who are capable of knowing and adoring their Creator. But if this be true, how incredible is it that so great a portion of regard should be exercised by the Su
preme Being towards man as the scriptures reprefent'; how incredible especially it must appear to a thinking mind that Deity should become incarnate, should take human nature into the most intimate union with himself, and thereby raise it to such fingular eminency in the scale of being, though compared with the whole of creation, if we comprehend even the whole species, it be less than a neft of infects compared with the unnumbered millions of animated beings which inhabit the earth.
This objection, there is reafon to think has had a very confiderable influence on the speculating part of mankind. Mr. Paine in the First part of his Age of Reason, * has laboured after his manner to make the most of it, and thereby to disparage
Christianity. “Though it is not a direct article of “ the Chriftian fyftem, he says, that this world
which we inhabit is the whole of the habitable « creation ; yet it is so worked up therewith from
what is called the Mofaic account of the creation, " the story of Eve and the apple, and the counter
part of that story, the death of the Son of God, " that to believe otherwise, that is, to believe that " God created a plurality of worlds, at least as nu
merous as what we call stars, renders the Chrifa
tian fyftem of faith at once little and ridiculous, « and scatters it in the mind like feathers in the « air. The two beliefs cannot be held together in " tha fame mind; and he who thinks he believes “ both has thought but little of either." +
Again, Having discoursed on the vast extent of creation, he asks, “ But in the midft of these re« flections, what are we to think of the Christian " system of faith, that forms itself upon the idea of “ only one world, and that of no greater extent than
t p. 40.
twenty-five thousand miles ?” “ From whence
could arise the folitary and strange conceit that “ the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equal“ ly dependant on his protection, should quit the
care of all the rest, and come to die in our « world, because they say one man, and one wo
man had eaten an apple ? And on the other
hand, are we to suppose that every world in the “ boundless creation had an Eve, an apple, a fer
pent, and a Redeemer? In this case, the person " who is irreverently called the Son of God, and “ sometimes God himself, would have nothing else
to do than to travel from world to world, in an “ endless succession of death, with scarcely a mo
mentary interval of life."*
To animadvert upon all the extravagant and offenfive things even in so small a part of Mr. Paine's performance as the above quotation, would be an irksome task. A few remarks however may not be improper.
First, Though Mr. Paine is pleased to say in his usual style of naked affertion, that “the two beliefs
cannot be held together; and that he who thinks •“ he believes both, has thought but little of either;"
yet he cannot be ignorant that many who have adInitted the one, have at the same time held fast the other. Mr. Paine is certainly not overloaded with modesty when comparing his own abilities and acquisitions with those of other men; but I am inclined to think, that, with all his assurance, he will not pretend that Bacon, or BOYLE, or NEWTON,
to mention no more, had thought but little of philofophy or Christianity. I imagine it would be within the compass of truth were I to say, they bestowed twenty times more thought upon both these fubjects than ever Mr. Paine did. His extreme ignorance of Christianity, at least, is manifest, by the numerous gross blunders of which he has been detected.
Secondly, Supposing the scripture account of the Creation to be inconsistent with the ideas which modern philosophers entertain of its extent ; yet it is not what Mr. Paine represents it. It certainly does not teach “ that this world which we inhabit « is the whole of the habitable creation." Mr. Paine will not deny that it exhibits a world of happiness, and a world of misery, though in the career of his extravagance he seems to have overlooked it.
Thirdly, If the two beliefs, as Mr. Paine calls them, cannot be consistently held together, we need not be at a loss to determine which to relinquish. All the reasoning in favour of a multiplicity of worlds, inhabited by intelligent beings, amounts to no more than a strong probability. No man can properly be said to believe it : it is not a matter of faith, but of opinion. It is an opinion too that has taken place of other opinions, which in their day were admired by the philosophical part of mankind as much as this is in ours. Mr. Paine seems to wish to have it thought, that the doctrine of a multiplicity of inhabited worlds is a matter of demonstration : but the existence of a number of heavenly bodies, whose revolutions are under the direction of certain ‘laws, and whose returns therefore are the objects of human calculation, does not prove that they are all jnhabited by intelligent beings. I do not deny that