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the most essential principles of his nature. The external and internal evidences for the divine origin of the holy scriptures, especially when combined, are perfectly conclusive ; so that a rejection of them does not arise from a want of evidence, but from some other cause, which no degree of evidence, however intense, could ever do away, and which, consequently, not even miracles the most stupendous could ever counteract. If the evidences of Christianity, which we now have, be insufficient to ensure a belief in it, no sufficient evidence could at all be had; -to establish this point is the design of the present remarks. This declaration is directly contrary to the opinion of mankind generally ; and from this circumstance, as well as from the importance of the subject itself, it demands a careful investigation.
Suppose the continuance of miracles to be this stronger evidence to which the deist wishes to have access, (and I know of none more satisfactory) such a continuance of miracles, it is contended, would be far from producing the desired effect. We do not deny that miracles were necessary, at the ushering in of Christianity, to prove that it was from God; they were the seal of heaven affixed to the divine message, and being transmitted to us, in such circumstances as to render deception impracticable, they as much attest the truth of revelation to us, as they did to those in whose presence they were immediately perform ed. But the continuation of these miracles is not at all essential to our conviction of the truth of scripture; on the other hand such a continuation of them, would necessarily counteract the effect which a few have produced, i. e. would disprove that very revelation which they would be brought to support. On the supposition that miracles yet took place, every person might claim equally to have them performed in his immediate presence, and for his own satisfaction: if they were not done in his immediate presence, he must depend for the truth of their actual performance upon the testimony of others, and would of course be in the same condition, with respect to them, as we now are with respect to those which took place at the introduction of Christianity. This condition would even be worse, because the continued tradition of miracles for near two thousand .years, would necessarily enlist in its favour the prejudices and passions of men, and, no doubt, a numerous class would be interested in practising deception. Whereas, the aspostles, upon whose testimony we at present rely, we know could gain nothing from their religion only on the supposition of its being true. The continuance of miracles could be of use then, only to those who had a full and fair view of them in circumstances where deception would be an impossibility. Let then a miracle take place as often as this hypothesis would render it
necessary, the counteraction of the laws of Nature would be so frequent, that these laws could no longer be called general.
*Now a miracle being a counteraction of the general laws of Nature, can take place only so long as these laws remain general; hence, we see, that so frequent a repetition of miracles, by destroying the general laws of Nature, must take away every possibility of their own existence.
From the abstract principle let us descend to a particular instance, and we will soon perceive that such a frequent repetition of miracles, instead of doing away the doubts of men, would throw the mind into complete scepticism. Perhaps every man if asked what particular miracle would produce the greatest effect upon our religious creed, would instantly reply, the mission of a messenger from the dead, who had himself witnessed the transactions of eternity :" let this be the miracle to which the disbeliever in revelation has access, and if this be insufficient to induce belief, we may take it for granted that none would be efficacious. Agreeably, therefore, to his hypothesis, suppose that many millions, since the days of our Saviour, had risen from the dead, and attested that there are such places as heaven and hell—then would we be sagely told, that these persons were hired by a selfish priesthood to practise deception upon mankind; or that animation was merely suspended, and their visions of eternity occasioned as dreams are by what had occupied their former thoughts; or, finally, that such a frequent restoration of life must be occasioned by some unknown law of Nature, and the torments of the supposed hell fire were, perhaps, produced by the reanimated blood forcing a passage through the obstructed stiffened veins, and their imaginary paradise resulted either from the refined vibrations of the nervous system, or from the contrast between violent agony and entire freedom from pain, in the same manner as a person just recovered from an acute pain, often feels the most exquisite sensations of pleasure. And not only would these surmisings arise in the present state of human nature, but there wculd not be wanting grounds for incredulity. We see, therefore, that the present evidences of Christianity are the most perfect and satisfactory imaginable, and a' disbelief of the holy scriptures results not from a want of evidence, but from some other cause which can never be at all af. fected by evidence.
* Some persons, who are fond of quibbling, will tell us that a counteraction, or suspension of the laws of Nature, as it is frequently effected by human, and may be by angelic instrumentality, does not imply a miracle. To such persons we may reply, that " although we know not the point at which bodily strength must stop, but that a man cannot carry Atlas or Andes on his shoulders, is a safe position;" so a miracle is a miracle, and no man cu do these miracles except God be with him.
The deist not only refuses to admit the most conclusive evidence, but would substitute for it a felo de se witness; an unattainable and unsatisfactory kind of testimony, as though he were wiser than Infinite Wisdom ; yet these are the persons who style themselves freethinkers, just as though freethinking and nonthinking would lead a man to the same conclusion. If, however, to this Proteus class we apply the restoring wand, we shall find them “an evil and adulterous generation, seeking after a sign, but no sign shall be given it:" "John came neither eating nor drinking," what have ye to say to this ye infidels ? “ he hath a devil :” but “the Son of man came eating and drinking;" what now? “Behold a man gluttonous and a wine bibber."
Revelation was established by miracles, “but I want a miracle myself.” It exhibits to you daily miracles in the development of its prophecies, and the transforming efficacy of its doctrines; “my reason is a sufficient guide to me, I know my wants better than my Creator does :" but wisdom is justified of her children;" you are a sign to yourselves ; your unbelief and rejection of it, is itself a strong evidence of the truth and purity of the sacred scriptures. If Paine, at each subsequent period of his life, had “not found the Bible and Testament to be much worse books than he had before conceived,” it would instead of diminishing the probability of their spuriousness, been a great increase to it: “ For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Ye have one sign, the well-attested death and resurrection of Him who is mighty to save ; if ye believe not this, even the heathen shall rise up in judgment against you to condemn you; ye have Moses and the prophets, hear them. The proofs of their being from God are strong and satisfactory-if you hear not these your case is really a desperate one, which no human exertions, no power of demonstration can ever remedy.
A Synopsis of Didactic Theology. By the Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely,
D. D. Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church in the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia : published by J. Crissy, 177 Chesnut street, opposite the State House.pp. 308.
(Concluded from p. 429.) The sixth commandment has planted a hedge around our property ; but the selfishness of human nature is so great, that multitudes break through an enclosure which the interests of mankind require to be regarded as sacred. There are several
passages in the exposition of this article of the Decalogue which deserve to be selected.
The secret purloining of domestics is justly rebuked by Dr. E.
“ Sec. III. Servants think it no harm, to take now and then something belonging to their masters; but it is stealing, if they could not take the same with permission. Would you lay your hand upon the thing, were the eyes of your employer upon you? Withdraw it, then, for if conscience makes your hand tremble, touch not, taste not; it is theft. • But it is of no great value; and our masters will not miss it.? Is it worth taking? Then it is valuable; you know not what are their designs, or what may be its consequence, under particular circumstances. Ask for it: if they are willing to spare it, you will gain lawful possession : for otherwise you are as guilty, for taking the value of three cents, as of three hundred dollars. Exhort seryants to be obedient to their own masters; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity.' Tit. ii. 9, 10.” P. 259.
Let children attend to the following observation on the progress of the vice of stealing :
• Many who have concealed some plaything found at school or elsewhere, and used as if it were their own, have afterwards become more daring thieves. From the concealing of a penknife, which has peculiar charms for children, they have gone to the robbing of a pear-tree; from pilfering out of gardens the tempting melons, to the plundering of a cornfield, a cellar, or store house; and from house-breaking to murder and the scaffold.”—P. 264.
Not a few who have passed the years of discretion, will do well to regard the just remarks that are made in some subsequent sections of this chapter.
“ More property is stolen under the pretence of trade, than in every other manner. The merchant too often bows obsequiously, has the best of every thing, tells you none of his neighbours will deal sa fairly by you as himself; and asserts that every thing you may please to fancy is the very best in his collection of merchandise.”—P. 265.
“Make no uncommon pretensions to friendship in trade, for there is knavery in such kindness. Any one who purchases without an intention of paying, or without seeing probable means of satisfying just demands upon him, is really no better than a person who should come in the night and drive your oxen from their stalls. Yet it is the maxim of some, if you must sink, sink in deep water;' or in other words, if you must break and cannot pay all your debts, make as many more, and cheat as many persons as possible. Be as much a knave as possible! These principles of iniquity have become very fashionable, in some well-dressed thieves, that strut at large, and tell you, by their daily expenses, that they closed their business to retire from the bustle of the world and live like gentlemen of pleasure. Under the solemnity of an oath, in the name of God, what are these persons? Thieves and robbers! For knowingly to involve an innocent man under the pretence of trade, is carrying away, contrary to his consent and knowlcdge, his hard-earned interest, to support our extravagance.
“ To procure bondsmen, when your own credit is not good, when you know they must advance the money, is stealing from the man who desires kindly to assist you: this is a mixture of ingratitude and theft! To practise fraud in procuring a policy of insurance; or to destroy privately the articles insured is theft; plain, shameful theft."-P. 266.
Alas! how frequently is this commandment violated by merchants, shopkeepers, and heads of families, in the manner stated in the eleventh section.
“SEC. XI. Unnecessary delay in the settlement of accounts, and in the payment of debts, often takes away, contrary to his consent, our neighbour's property. Punctuality is not only the life of business, but honesty; for one negligent man may derange a great many payments, and put numbers to needless expense. llired servants are most likely to suffer from this source, for there are many esteemed a good sort of people,' who think it no part of honesty to be just to scrvants. I have known domestics, who have made them. selves slaves for years, without being able to bring their employers to a settlement, or to find themselves convenient apparel for public worship. What could they do? they are helpless, they have kept 110 book account; and are unable to employ an attorney and purchase justice: they must suffer, or their employers must be just men, rendering to every one what is due. The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again.' "The wages of him that is hired, shall not abide with thee all night until the morning,' was a general rule fo: the Jews, that the day labourer's family might not suffer hunger.”—P. 267.
The tenth commandment refers to all the preceding precepts in the second table, and shows in what a spiritual manner they are to be explained.
« This last commandment is more extensive than any other of the second table; for it forbids any inorılinate emotion towards our neighbour, or any of his possessions. Obey this, and you will perform your whole duty towards you fellow men; for without coveting the honour, authority and liberty of parents, none would dishonour them: without coveting a man's life, none would unlawfully take it away; and without coveting his neighbour's wife, estate, or character, no man would practise adultery, theft, or false witness."-P. 275.
To this Synopsis Dr. E. has subjoined two notes containing valuable matter. There are, however, some expressions in them with which we do not accord; we deem it incorrect to say, as he does in p. 295, that by " Jehovah's withdrawing his positive influence to holiness,” Adam was reduced to a state of trial. We believe that all that divine influence imparted to man in his primitive state was continued till he had committed sin; that his state of trial commenced from the moment of his existence; and consequently no withdrawing of divine influence was at all necessary to constitute this state of probation. In p. 300, the author advances the same idea, and connects it with this observation: “His (Adam's) holiness was a proof of God's sufficiency to make a creature holy and happy; but no evidence that ever an innocent creature is able to preserve himself in a state of purity and felicity.” That the original holiness of man was the gift of God is not to be doubted ; nor ought it to be doubted that innocent man had imparted to him full and ample moral ability to keep all the requirements of the divine law; and if he did possess this ability, there is no impropriety in affirming, that in the exercise of this gift of God, he was “able to preserve himself in a state of purity and holiness.” Yet, at the same time, it must be admitted, that with all the glorious endowments of his holy nature man was not free from danger; he was liable to fall; he did fall; but then he fell through neglect of watchfulness against temptation, and of the due exercise of his origi.