« ÎnapoiContinuați »
the rectitude of his moral government. This is argued at length, but we cannot delay to put our readers in possession of the entire argument. We do not profess ourselves to be altogether satisfied with it, and we are inclined to believe that the best criterion is to see that miracle is accompanied with prophecy, and the truth substantiated in accordance with it. With this topic the second book is closed.
The third book, which is the commencement of the second volume on the Evidences, consists of four chapters on the consistency of Scripture with itself, the moral evidence for the truth of the New Testament, the experimental evidence, and the portable character of the evidence for the truth of Christianity. These several topics are discussed in a very full, satisfaetory, and convincing manner. We are desirous to put our readers in possession of the views and style of thie author, but lament that our limited pages prevent our doing 80 to any extent. We can only afford room for a brief ex. tract under each. The following must suffice as a specimen of the argument on the consistency of Scripture :" Scripture throughout is replete with this internal evidence; but, without instancing any other or separate portions of it, let us advert for one moment to that great and general coincidence that unity of purpose and counsel, by which, from first to last, the whole of it is pervaded. in the whole bistory of the world, there is nothing that hears the least resemblance to it,- an authorship beginning with Moses and terminating with the Apostle John, that is, sustained by a series of writers for 1500 years, many of them isolated from all the rest, and the greater part of whom were unknowing and unknown to each other, insomuch that there could be no converse and no possible concert between them. A con. spiracy between parties or individuals so situated, had been altogether superhuman. 'Their lots were cast in different generations; and nothing can explain the consistency or continuity of their movements towards one and the same great object, but that they were instruments in the hands of the one God, who, from generation to generation, keeps unchangeably by the counsels of His unerring wisdom, and the determinations of bis unerring will. The conrergency towards one and the same fulfilment of so many different lights, appearing in different ages of the world, and placed at such a distance from each other, admits, we think, but of one interpretation,--nor, witbout the power and the prescience of an overruling God, can we account for that goodly, that regular progression of consen taneous and consecutive authorship, which is carried forward by the legislators and seers and historians of the children of Israel. And thjs eridence is not confined to the articulate testimony of their writings. The ritual, the institutions, the events, of which their priestly and consen crated land was the theatre, all tell us of the same thing; and announce that divine harmony which connects the dim prefigurations of the elder with the brighter developments of the latter dispensation. There is a minute and microscopic cognizance which might be taken of the harmonies of Scripture, and which comes intimately home to the conviction of the inquirer ; but there is also a consistency of greater lineaments, -an vabroken continuity of design, which passes onward from century to cen
tury,-the congruitics, not of one personal history, but of a scheme that commences with the first origin, and has its consummation in the final destinies, of our species--a succession of profest revelations, of which the first and last stand apart at the distance of greatly more than a millennium, yet all actuated by one reigoing spirit, and having for their object the establishment of a spiritual economy, which might reconcile glory to God in the highest with peace on earth and good will to men,-these form the correspondences, not of a story that embraces but the transactions of one individual, but of a system which is commensurate to the world, and bespeaks in its leading characters the mind and the majesty of God."'--p. 31, vol. IV.
• The truth is, that the Bible may be said to present us with a general outline of the world's history,--as consisting in the movement of nations, in the rise and fall of earth's great empires, in the most noted chronological eras ; and adventuring, as it does, both on the names of countries, and the monarehs that ruled over them, and the manners that characterised their people,-never did imposture, if imposture indeed it be, so expose herself to a thousand lights of cross-examination, or so mul. tiply her vulnerable points, by the daring and extended sweep, that she has thus taken among the affairs of men. There is something incredible io a compact or conspiracy of deceivers, the scheme and spirit of which were handed down from one to another through a whole millennium ; but that one and all of them should have sustained such a general his.. toric consistency through the whole of that period, that no glaring con. tradiction has yet been detected, between the multitude of incidental no. tices that the penmen of Scripture have made to the countries around Judea, and at a great distance from it, and the actual state of the world that sacred and profane history should so have harmonized, as that a con. sistent erudition, made up of an immense variety of particulars, has ac. tually been raised and established out of the connexion between them, that tbere should be such a sustained coincidence from the first dawn. ings of history, and extended by means of prophetic anticipation to the to present day,--truly, apart from the peculiar evidence of prophecy alto. $ gether, there is much in the artless and unforced agreemnents which are everywhere spread over so broad a surface of comparison, as to stamp the strongest appearance of truth both on the general narrative of the Bible, and by implication, on the miraculous narrative, that, without the slightori est appearance of ingenuity or elaborate design, is so incorporated therewith.”p. 46, vol. IV,
The Moral Evidence is derived from the nature of the ethical system delivered by the apostles, and the subject matter of their testimony. The evidence arising from this's source is thus justified against the opposition of gaiosayers in the following passage:
“What vught to abate the formidableness of this evidence (regarded by them as if it were a secret of free-masonry and only for the initiated, ) and make it less repulsive in their eyes, is, that, however lofty and re
* See Shuckford, Prideaux, and Russel on the connexiows between sacred and pro. fane History
mote from erery present view and vision of theirs, there is a series of patent and practicable steps by which they and all others might be led to the perception of it. There is one most obvious principle, clear of all mysticism, and which they will not refuse,--that if once convinced on rational, or on any, evidence, of the Bible being indeed a message from the God of heaven, it is their urgent, their imperative duty to read that Bible ; or, after having studied and been satisfied with the credentials of the book, now to explore with all docility and labour the contents of the book. There is another principle of an equally elementary character which they cannot refuse to admit, and should not refuse to act uponthat, however strange and transcendental the light of spiritual Christiani. : ty may appear in their eyes, they have at least a light of conscience within them wbich they are bound to follow so as to accompany their devout and diligent reading of the Scriptures with the most faithful observation of all which this inward monitor tells them to be right, and as scrupulous an avoidance of all which it tells them to be wrong. Thus far they walk on a plain path ; and there is but one suggestion more, which, if theirs be indeed an honest respect for the authority of Scripture, (as sufficiently vindicated to their apprehension on the ground of its argumentative and literary evidence alone,) they will not shrink from,ếand that is, the obligation as well as the efficacy of prayer, and of prayer for other and higher manifestations of the truth than they have yet been permitted to enjoy. They surely do not imagine such to be the fulness and perfection of their knowledge, that there is no room in their minds for any further enlargement or further illumination.
Let us then sup. pose them to have actually entered on this process,--a most careful perusal of His word, -a most careful and conscientious doing of His will as far as is known to them, -and withal, most earnest prayer for the visitation of that light which they have not reached, but now most honestly aspire after. We think that the truth of Scripture may be perilled on the result of such an enterprise; and that, because its own declarations will either be verified or disproved by it. For here are men will. ing to do the will of God; let us see whether they will not be made to know of Christ's doctripe that it is of God. Here are men keeping the sayings of the Saviour; let us see whether He will not manifest himself to them in such a way as He doeth not unto the world.t Here are men making a conscientious use of the light they have; and let us see whether in their history there will not be the fulfilment of the saying, that to him who hath more shall be given. I Here are men giving earnest heed to the
let us see whether the promise will not be accomplished, that the day shall dawn and the day-star arise in their hearts. § Here are men seeking intently, and with all earnestness seeking ; let us see whether or not the declaration of the Saviour will come to pass, he that seek. eth findeth.ll Here are men, while in the busy and anxious pursuit of that truth which is unto salvation, conforming their walk as far as in them lies to all the lessons of piety and righteousness ; let us see whether the glorious assurance will not be realized, that to him who ordereth his conversation arigbt I will shew my salvation. Such seems then to be the economy of the Gospel. It has an incipient day of small things,
• John vii, 17. f John xiv. 21. § 2 Pet. i. 19. || Matt. vii. 8. & Psalm 1. 23.
Matt. xxv. 29. i. Zechariah iv, 10.
which, if not despised but prosecuted aright, will terminate in a day si large and lofty manifestations. It takes its outset from the plainest biddings of conscience. It has its consummation in the things of the Spirit of God, which the natural man cannot receive, neither can be know them, because they are spiritually discerned. It begins with that which all may apprehend, and all may act upon. It ends with that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; but which God reveals by His Spirit, even by the Holy Ghost given to those who obey him.* Ho-is quenched, He is grieved. He is resisted: by our despite of Him and of His suggestions, -or, which is every way tan.tamount to this, the despite and disobedience done by us to the suggestions of our own conscience. Were we faithful to the lesser light, the larger would at length shine upon us. Did we hunger and thirst after these higher revelations of the Gospel, then their glory and their fulness would at length be ours. This is the constitution of things. There is a connexion established between disobedience and spiritual desertion,ấbe who hateth his brother is in darkness.'t. And there is a connexion between obedience and spiritual discernment, the path of the upright is like the shining light which sbineth more and more unto the perfect day.' The every-day virtues of the Gospel form the steps of that ladder, by which we ascend to the mystic glory of its full and fivished revelations. The moral is the conductor to the spiritual. Conscientiousness in practice leads to clearness in theology. • The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.'s "He meeteth him that worketh righteousness.'ll
Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wicked ness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own Besh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rere-ward.!! If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted" soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.'"...p. 83, vol. IV.
By the experimental evidence is meant the felt agreement between the wants of which the singer is conscious and the provision to meet them in the Gospel of Christ. It is thus stated :
“ After these prefatory and general observations on the experimental evidence, we may now resolve it into three leading particulars, -viewing it first as an evidence grounded on the accordancy which obtains hetween what the Bible says we are, and what wc find ourselves to be,secondly, as an evidence grounded on the accordancy between what the Bible overtures for our acceptance, and what we feel ourselves to need, and third, ur most strictly experimental, as an evidence grounded on the accordancy between what the Bible tells of the events and the changes
* 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. + 1 John ii. 11. Prov. iv. 18. § Psalm xxv. 14.
Isaiah lxiv. 5. I lsaiah lvii, 6–8. ** Isaiah lviii, 10. .
and the advancements which take place in the mind of an exercised Christian, and what this Christian realizes in his own personal history, in the process which he actually describes, and the transitions from ove state and one character to another which he actually undergoes.”-p.98,vol.lv.
In the exposition of the first of these branches, the following passage occurs :
“Now what is the nature of those scriptural affirmations which con. science may try and may decide upon ? They relate of course to those matters which fall within the recognition of this faculty, or lie upon that territory over which its view is extended. It is indeed a most peculiar averment on the part of the Bible, when it appounces, and that without reserve or modification, the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the heart; when it predicates not of one mind, but of every mind which has not been transformed by the influence of its own doctrines, that it is enmity against God; when it casts abroad over the face of a world teeming with specimens of humanity, the charge that in each and all of these specimens we shall detect such a lore to the creature as is exclusive of love to the Creator ; when, with the most unveering and unabating consisteney, it charges a great moral and spiritual corruption on all the members of the human family, --josomuch as to affirm that there is gone righteous, do not one, and that all are so much by nature the children of disobedience as hy nature to be the children of wrath. On this particular ground, the Bible stands aloof from every composition that has not borrowed from its own pages. We meet with nothing like it in the whole region of authorship. There is misanthropy we admit. There is the in. dignation of man against his fellows. There are satire and severity and sentiment directed against the vices of society. There is the soreness of human feeling on the part of those who have been outraged of their rights, or mortified in their vanity, or driven to spleen and to solitude by some morbid peculiarity of temperament, and there find relief from their agitations by wreaking a wholesale contempt upon the species. There is the distempered eloquence of Rousseau, and there is the darkly vindictive poetry of Byron, and there is the biting irony of Swift, all arraigning the nature which they wear. But each is evidently asserting his own controversy. Each of them is avenging his own quarrel. It is not the 'ungodliness of man which forms any article of their impeachment against him. Theirs is all an indictment preferred against men for their universal deceit and malignity the one against the other; and, with sucb a tone of resentfulness too, as implies that they had felt themselves to be the suflerers. It is in the Bible alone where we see an indictment preferred against our whole species in the name of God. It is there alone where the universal charge is advanced, of departure and revolt against Him who made them. It is there alone where, without any tincture from the soreness of wounded humanity, we meet with the grave and unimpassioned, and at the same time most decisive and persevering assertion of a great controversy, bę. tween God and all that is human in this world's wide and peopled terria tory. It is there that, in the records of an embassy, the profest object of which is not to retaliate upon man by severe denunciation, but toʻreconcile him by the offers of pardon, he is charged with a sinfulness as uni. versal among the individuals of his race, as is the death which they have to undergo. It is not with the Bible as it is with the capricious judg