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find it but a comfortless and unsatisfactory position, LECT. I. scarcely out of sight of the dark abyss of atheism, and far below the light and security of that high abode which true religion has prepared for us. Natural theology, at best, can only lead us to the exterior of the magnificent and universal temple of nature; show us its vast extent and its deep foundations; demonstrate its exact arrangements and its graceful ornaments; and thus, from the complicateness, the perfection, and the exactness of the whole work, instruct us to infer, that this temple had an architect, and that this architect must be infinitely wise, powerful, and beneficent. But the nobler province, the higher office of moral and religious instruction, pertains to revelation ; that leads us into the interior of the temple; unveils to us the shrine of the indwelling Deity; permits us to hear the voice of the living oracle, and instructs us to pay our homage at his footstool.
On all accounts, then, it is infinitely desirable Completed that revealed religion should appear to be true. tion. To resist fair and substantial evidence on its behalf, or to thrust its divine, its unrivalled benedictions from us, is to turn recreant to humanity, and act the assassin upon the purest and noblest aspirations of our nature. If what we hear within this temple is indeed a true and divine oracle, proceeding from that same wisdom which designed the vast fabric of the visible universe, then we may expect, that there will be discoverable indubitable evidence of harmony with all the other
General evidences of revelation.
parts of the system; and as, in natural theology, we can perceive a convergence of proof, arising from the physical and moral systems, to one and the same point, namely, the identity of the author of both, so we may hope to trace in revelation a still more marked, refined, and mysterious correspondence with the physical system, with our universal history, and our entire nature; and thus will be made certain the momentous, the deeply interesting proposition, that the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Founder of the moral system of man's nature, and the Author of the sacred volume, is one and THE SAME SUPREME and ETERNAL BEING.
There are chiefly two classes of arguments, or modes of reasoning, by which the sacred Scriptures are proved to be of divine inspiration; they are usually denominated the external and the internal evidences. The arrangement has been objected to, and it may not be strictly and critically exact, but it is sufficiently so for all ordinary purposes. These evidences it is not our intention to discuss, further than as some portions of them will be necessarily involved in our design.
We propose to take the Bible upon its own pretensions, that we may liave the opportunity of comparing it with facts, and thereby of showing, in case the argument shall be found satisfactory, that a strong additional evidence thus arises to its truth, and, consequently, to the identity of its authorship with that of the material system of the
universe, and the mental and moral constitution LECT. I.
This is the great proposition, the establishment of which, even after the admission of the direct arguments for the inspiration of holy Scripture, seems essential to the triumph of the christian faith. If the other evidences are necessary to prove the divine inspiration of the written word, this is necessary to establish its truth practically. For although its veracity would legitimately follow as a necessary inference, drawn by our reason from the already proved fact of divine inspiration, yet it will be an additional confirmation to our faith, of incalculable value, to perceive how its statements are experimentally and historically verified. In the one method we should infer its truth from its divine origin or inspiration ; in the other, we shall ascend from its accomplishment to its veracity, and its divinity will then follow as an undeniable consequence.
The direct evidences, as you are aware, are exceedingly numerous, arising from different and unconnected sources, complicated in their character, and continually augmenting. Virtually, or relatively to us, they may be denominated boundless and inexhaustible, because always progressive, thereby supplying matter to engage the diligent inquiries, and reward the fixed attention of every
successive generation; though to each, from the very first, has been afforded an ample sufficiency to justify its cordial reception of that measure of revelation which it possessed, and to
LECT. I. render disbelief inexcusable. It is, however, par
ticularly in the department of corroborative and historical evidence that our advanced position in science proves a vantage ground for the further corroboration of Scripture. The records of history, the researches of philosophers, the discoveries of antiquarians and travellers, frequently make important additions to the general fund, and clear up points only partially known, or involved previously in impenetrable mystery. All these sources are, at the present time, supplying numerous verifications, which could not have been anticipated by any projected calculation of probabilities, or any cautious
process of analogical argumentation. But, as yet, little has been attempted in the way of collecting these scattered materials, reducing them to an orderly arrangement, or displaying them so as to make them bear conjointly on the evidence of inspiration. The very scantiness of what has been hitherto accomplished in this department, while it may justify the present attempt, will, it is hoped, form some apology for the deficiency and immaturity which will doubtless be but too obvious to able and accomplished judges.
Some reasons for the present undertaking might be derived from the very nature of the argument we propose to pursue. It seems to possess, at least, one special recommendation. A very large proportion of the direct evidences, both internal and external, require much time, close attention, and some learning, duly to feel their force and
appreciate their value; but, if I am not deceived, Lect. I. the argument to be adduced from the fulfilment and verification of the Scripture, is one that ordinary minds may more readily feel. Mankind at large display a greater aptness for perceiving a conclusion that depends upon experiment and observation, than one which rests upon abstract reasoning. Possibly this circumstance may add some value to the present undertaking, and warrant some hope of its utility.
I shall now proceed to call your attention to the first class of revealed truths or facts, which seem to receive corroboration from our own proper knowledge and experience.
They may be denominated
Date of the world - Extinct races-Geological epochs
Order of creation — Theory of light— Origin of the human race in a single pair — Man's dominion over the mundane creation-- The social propensity of mankind The sentence denounced on the man and woman respectively after the fall.
Many distinct statements, brief, indeed, but Mosaic stateyet involving comprehensive and general principles, are laid down upon these subjects in the very first pages of revelation. From their re