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the beginning of the human race, spread themselves over different portions of the earth ? Has it in its character and constitution any thing in common with

any of them? Do not they, one and all, stand condemned before a moral reasoning theist, not only as wholly unsupported by external evidence, but as unworthy and opposite te the very nature of a moral governor of the world? On these grounds, had the Christian revelation never made a claim on the belief of mankind, they and we should have been warranted in rejecting them all, froin the elegant mythology of Greece and Rome to the black and horrible superstitions of the Hindoos. Allowing them, in short, to have had any origin but in the fears, or in the lusts of men, they could only have been ascribed to the agency of demons conspiring in one region and at one period to allure, and at another to terrify their votaries from the primæval worship of the one true God.

Contradistinguished from all these, and victorious over many, stands the revelation purporting to have been made to mankind by Jesus Christ, and at this moment prevailing almost over all the civilized portions of the globe. Now this is the phenomenon to be accounted for. That it was not spread by conquest they must admit;—and that, instead of falling in with aud flattering the corrupt passions of human nature, it set itself in array against them all, and, without compromise or concession, totally refuses to admit any intercommunity with moral evil. Again—this system, whatever may be its origin, is wholly theistic; its modes of worship are pure and simple: bloodless, though teaching a propitiation through blood, and chaste, while they inculcate the warmest love of God

and man.

say

Let us not be mistaken as overstating the merits of Christianity. We mean not to confound it with the additions which have been heaped upon it, or, as some inquirers are too apt to do, with the abuses and corruptions which in some instances have sunk it almost to the level of paganism, but as it exists, pure and unadulterated, in the single volume which is competent to bear witness to its general character.

We then that a phenomenon so extraordinary is, at least, entitled to investigation. That the divine origin of such a system is not, like every other, ancient or modern, in the world, negatived, as a revelation, by its own character and constitution, is manifest. We are reasoning with men, who, as we hope and trust, believe in the existence of a Moral Governor of the universe, and to their own principles we confidently appeal in affirming that, independently of all external testimony, such a religion may have proceeded from God. If it should, their rejection of it, previously to all reasonable inquiry, must be highly offensive to the Deity;--if it should

not,

not, they will, at least, have lost the triumph of having demonstrated the existence of another phenomenon, more singular even than the former; namely, an alliance of eighteen centuries between the purest morality and the most artful imposture.

Unhappily Dr. Chalmers has taken a very different course, and either from prejudices of his education in a Calvinistic church, or from some other cause, with which we are not acquainted, has commenced and continued his work in persevering efforts to depreciate the internal evidence for the truth of the Christian revelation. It is the peculiarity of that system, for a very obvious reason, to exalt the physical, at the expense of the moral, attributes of the Divinity; and while it professes to own and to reverence the latter, to represent those qualities, while existing in the Almighty, to be of so transcendent a nature, that little can be antecedently inferred from them with respect to his probable conduct towards his creatures upon earth. In this spirit, and as an apology for resting the entire weight of his cause on external evidence, we are told by Dr. Chalmers of the internal evidence* that, as appears to many, no effectual argument can be founded upon this consideration, because they do not count themselves enough acquainted with the designs or character of the Being from whom the Messenger professes to have come.

Were the author of the message some distant and unknown individual of our own species we would (should) scarcely be entitled to found an argument upon any comparison of ours between the import of the message and the character of the individual, even though we had our general experience of human nature to help us in the speculation. Now of the invisible God we have no experience whatever. We are still further removed from all direct and personal observation of him, or of his counsels. Whether we think of the eternity of his government, or the mighty range of its influence over the wide departments of nature and of providence, he stands at such a distance from us as to make the management of his empire a subject inaccessible to all our faculties.'

• It is evident, however, that this does not apply to the second topic of examination.

• The bearers of the message were beings like ourselves, and we can apply our safe and certain experience of man to their conduct and their testimony. We may know too little of God to found any argument upon the coincidence which we may conceive to exist between the subject of the message and our previous conceptions of its author. But we may know enough of man to pronounce upon the credibility of the messengers. Had they the manner and physiognomy of honest men? Was their testimony resisted, or did they persevere in it? Had they any interest in fabricating the message-or did they suffer in con sequence of this perseverance ?-did they suffer to such a degree as to constitute a satisfying pledge of their integrity ? Was there more than one messenger, and did they agree as to the substance of that commu

nication

nication which they made to the world? Did they exhibit any special mark of their office as messengers of God; such a mark as none but God could give, and none but his approved messengers could obtain possession of? Was this mark the power of working miracles, and were these miracles so obviously addressed to the senses as to leave no suspicion of deceit behind them? These are questions which we feel our competency to take up and to decide upon. They lie within the legitimate boundaries of human observation, and upon the solution of these do we rest the question of the truth of the Christian religion. p. 15, 16.

Thus precipitately and indiscretely does our author surrender to its assailants, even before a summons received, one of the strongest outworks of revelation. Let us inquire, therefore, what he loses by the concession, and whether that concession were necessary,

With respect then to the weight of internal evidence as grounded on a previous knowledge of the moral attributes of God, we are compelled to enter our protest most seriously and solemnly against his assertion—that of the invisible God we have no experience whatever, and that we are still further removed from all direct and

personal observation of him and his counsels.

On this point we are very sure that our author and St. Paul are at issue. The great apostle built his argument for the inexcuseableness of vice and immorality in the heathen world on this solid foundation, that they had, under all their disadvantages, an opportunity of acquiring the knowledge of the one true God from contemplating his external works.

* For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; who hold the truth (the truth of natural religion) in unrighteousness : because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the Creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; even his eternal power and godhead; so that they are without excuse.

What then, if we are to believe an inspired apostle, is to become of this rash assertion, which, indeed, amounts to nothing less than the annihilation of all natural religion at a stroke? But the fact is, that, although in a revelation, claiming to come from God, many things beyond what the limited faculties of man could ever contemplate as antecedently probable might reasonably be expected,

say

that we have no intimation from the light of nature, no experience whatever, of God and of his counsels, is equivalent to asserting that a pure and an impure, a moral and immoral revelation are equally proveable by the same external evidence which appears for the truth of Christianity. Is it then of no account, or is it not rather of the utmost importance to the argument, that in the ge

yet to

* Rom. c. i, v. 18-20.

nuine Christianity of the New Testament there is nothing which leaves it to be inferred that its author was a cruel, capricious being? That in his conduct, as there represented, no characters appear but those of mercy, truth, and sanctity? But, in fact, it is next toimpossible to separate the two species of evidence from each other; so that in a desperate attempt to effect that very purpose, our author has actually and very unskilfully interwoven them. Had they, he asks, the manner and physiognomy of honest men ? &c. &c.Now this is internal evidence; for the characters of the witnesses are those of the religion. We have another and a powerful objection to our author's manner of enforcing the external testimony for the Gospel, singly and exclusively. He appears to us to think it capable of proving any thing short of a contradiction; and to the miracles alone would he confidently appeal for the truth of the Christian revelation-in other words, that it came from God. We will, therefore, try this question upon its own merits. Remove then, in the first place, all idea of a Moral Governor of the world; let it be taken as antecedently indifferent what the character of an alleged revelation should be ---that in confirmation of it, the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the deaf recover their hearing, (all without natural means) and the dead are raised. According to Dr. Chalmers, this evidence alone lands us (in his own elegant phrase) in the conclusion, that a religion, so proved, be its moral character what it may, is necessarily from God. Supposing, again, that on looking further into the thing conceived to be thus proved, it should turn out to be a system cruel, libidinous, and idolatrous, it follows, of course, that the author of this revelation must delight in such enormities. Those moral attributes, therefore, of which we were previously ignorant in a state of nature, are now disproved by revelation. Neither does our author, in his disposition to arrogate every thing in favour of external testimony, seem to be aware that the fact of the Gospel miracles may be allowed, and his conclusion eluded or denied. Perhaps there may be some among his philosophical readers on the banks of Forth or Clyde, who may impute them to the agency of demons. This objection, which was that of Celsus and other philosophical infidels of old, has, however, been repeatedly and satisfactorily answered: by Dr. Chalmers, in the precipitance of his zeal, it has been wholly overlooked.

In this attempt to vindicate the neglected rights of that species of proof on behalf of Revelation which the author has very unreasonably depreciated, we desire not to be misunderstood. Pure morality affords of itself little evidence of the divine origin of a system in which it is inculcated. There is much good morality in the Koran. A cool and clear-headed impostor will always discern the advantage of adapting his doctrines to the moral

sense

weakness of superstition, and they feel that they are descending when they bring down their minds 10 a subject which engrosses so much respect and admiration from the vulgar.

It appears to us that the peculiar feeling, which the sacredness of the subject gives to the inquirer, is, upon the whole, unfavourable to the impression of the Christian argument. Had the subject not been sacred, and had the same testimony been given to the facts which are connected with it, we are satisfied that the history of Jesus in the New Testament would have been looked upon as the best supported by evidence of any history that has come down to us.

It would assist us in appreciating the evidence for the truth of the Gospel history, if we could conceive for a moment that Jesus, instead of being the founder of a new religion, had been merely the founder of a new school of philosophy, and that the different histories which have come down to us had merely represented him as an extraordinary person, who had rendered himself illustrious among his countrymen by the wisdom of his sayings and the beneficence of his actions. We venture to say, that bad this been the case, a tenth part of the testimony, which has actually been given, would have been enough to satisfy us. To form a fair estimate of the strength of the Christian argument, we should, if possible, divest ourselves of all reference to religion, and view the truth of the Gospel history purely as a question of erudition' (we should rather have said abstract fact). •If at the outset of the investigation we have a prejudice against the Christian religion, the effect is obvious, and without any refinement of explanation, we see at once how such a prejudice must dispose us to annex suspicion and distrust to the testimony of the Christian writers.'

In all this and more, which, with some degree of unnecessary circumlocution, our author has added to the same purpose, there is much both of truth and originality. There is much also on which an acute and willing adversary would fasten—there is something too on which a friendly critic may fairly animadvert.

And first, with respect to that unfeeling severity of ratiocination which seems to be required by Dr. Chalmers as a necessary ingredient in a fair investigation of the evidences of ChristianityIf it were intimated to a person who had hitherto thought himself intitled to the reversion of a princely fortune, that his title on inquiry might probably turn out to be defective--would it be possible that he should set about an investigation so momentous to bimself, in the same disposition of mind with his solicitor? Assuredly not: but the real question is (and it certainly involves considerable difficulties in the science of human nature) what would be the effect of his natural anxiety on the operations of his understanding? Perhaps it would be different, and even opposite, in different men. The timid, the diffiderit, and the desponding, would, through the overwhelming pressure of apprehended loss, and the too probable disappointment of their fondest hopes, be driveu for present relief into

the

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