Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

though they had hereby overturned Christianity, have ever been to him the cause of a moment's uneasiness. If Christianity be of God, as he verily believes it to be, they cannot overthrow it. He must be pollefed of but little faith who can tremble, though in a form, for the Safety of the vessel which contains his Lord and Master. There would be one argument less for the divinity of the Scriptures, if the same powers which gave existence to the Anti-Christian dominion had not been employed in taking it away.

But though truth has nothing to fear, it does not follow that its friends should be inactive. The Lord confers an honour upon his servants in condescending to niake use of their humble efforts in preferving and promoting his interest in the world. If the present attempt may be thus accepted and honoured by Him to whose name it is humbly dedicated, the writer will receive a rich reward.

*

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

* The powers of Europe, signified by the Ten Horns, or Kings, into which the Roman empire should be divided, were to give their kingdoms to the Beast. They did so; and France particularly took the lead. The same powers, it is predicted, shall hate the Whore, and burn her flesh with fire. They have begun to do so; and in this business also France has taken the lead. Rev. xvii. 12, 13, 16,

17, 18.

1

INTRODUCTION.

The controverfies between believers and

HE controversies between believers and unbelievers are confined to a narrower ground than those of professed believers with one another. Scripture testimony, any farther than as it bears the cha-, racter of truth, and approves itself to the conscience, or is produced for the purpose of explaining the nature of genuine Christianity, is here out of the question. Reason is the common ground on which they must meet to decide their contests. On this ground Christian writers have successfully clofed with their antagonists : so much so, that of late ages, notwithstanding all their boast of reason, not one in ten of them can be kept to the fair and honourable use of this weapon.

On the contrary, they are driven to substitute dark infinuation, low wit, profane ridicule, and grofs abufe. Such were the weapons of Shaftesbury, Tindal, Morgan, Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Hume, and Gibbon ; and fuch are the weapons of the author of The Age of Reafon. Amongst various well-written performances in answer to their several productions, the reader may fee a concise and able refutation of the greater part of them in Leland's Review of the Deiftical writers. It is not my design to go over the various topics

usually difcuffed in this controversy, but to select a fingle one, which I conceive has not been so fully attended to but that it may yet be considered with advantage. The internal evidence which Christianity poffefses, particularly in respect of its holy nature, and divine harmony, will be the subject of the prefent inquiry.

Mr. Paine, after the example of many others, endeavours to discredit the Scriptures by representing the number of hands through which they have passed, and the uncertainty of the historical evidence by which they are supported. “ It is a mat

ter altogether of uncertainty to us, he says, whe" ther such of the writings as now appear under " the names of the Old and New Testament, are “ in the same state in which those collectors say “ they found them; or whether they added, altered, abridged, or dressed them up.”

»* It is a good work which many writers have undertaken, to prove the validity of the Christian history; and to show that we have as good evidence for the truth of the great facts which it relates as we have for the truth of any ancient eventst whatever. But if in addition to this it can be proved that the Scriptures contain internal characteristics of divinity, or that they carry in them the evidence of their authenticity, this will at once answer all objections from the supposed uncertainty of historical evidence.

Historians inform us of a certain valuable medicine, called Mithridate, an antidote to poison, and which is still in reputation. It is faid to have been “ Invented by Mithridates, king of Pontus; that

[merged small][ocr errors]

“ the receipt of it was found in a cabinet, written “ with his own hand, and was carried to Rome by “ Pompey; that it was translated into verse by De

mocrates, a famous physician ; and that it was “ afterwards translated by Galen, from whom we « have it."* A modern caviller might take it into his head to object to the authenticity of this hiftory; he might alledge that the preparation has palsed through so many hands, and that there is so much hear-fay and uncertainty attending it, that no dependance can be placed upon it, and that it had better be rejected from our Materia Medica. But of what account would such an objection be in the estimation of mankind ? They would afk, Has it not been tried, and found to be effectual ; and that in a great variety of instances ? Such are Mr. Paine's objections to the Bible; and fuch is the answer that may be given him.

This language is not confined to infidel writers. Mr. Locke speaks of what he calls « Traditional Revelation," or Revelation as we have it, in such a manner as to convey the idea, that we have no evidence of the Scriptures being the Word of God, but from a succession of witnesses having told us so.t But I conceive these sacred writings may contain such internal evidence of their being what they profefs to be, as that it might with equal reason be doubted whether the world was created by the power of God, as whether they were written by the inspiration of his Spirit : and if so, our dependence is not upon mere tradition.

It is true, the scriptures having been conveyed to us through the medium of man, the work must necessarily in some respects have been humanized ; yet there may be sufficient marks of divinity upon it to render it evident to every candid mind that it is of God.

* Chambers's Diet. Mithridate. Human Und. B. IV. Chap. xviii.

We may call the Mosaic account of the Creation, a tradition, and may be said to know through this medium that the heavens and the earth are the productions of divine power. But it is not through this medium only that we know it: The heavens and the earth carry in them evident marks of their divine original. These works of the Almighty speak for themselves ; and in language which none .but those who are wilfully deaf can misunderstand. Their found is gone forth throughout all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Were any man to pretend that its being a matter of Revelation; and to us merely traditional Revelation, that God made the heavens and the earth, and therefore that a degree of uncertainty muft neceffarily attend it; he would be reminded that the thing itself carried in it its own evidence.

Let it be candidly consider+ ed whether the same may not be said of the Holy Scriptures. They will admit of historical defence; but they do not require it. Their contents, come through whose hands they may, prove them to be of God. It was on this principle that the gospel was proclaimed in the form of a testimony. The primitive preachers were not required by him who fent them to prove their doctrine in the manner that philosophers were wont to establish a proposition ; but to declare the counsel of God, and leave it. In delivering their message, they commended themselves to every man's conscience, in the fight of God.

It is no objection to this statement of things that

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »