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different manners which prevailed; the frequency of allusions to ancient customs and circumstances no longer known; considering too that we generally read it in one of the most literal of all translations ; it is truly wonderful it should be so intelligible as it is, and appear to so much advantage. Most of our objections to those admirable writings are founded in our own ignorance.(9) Before we set up to be critics upon the Bible, let us make ourselves thorough masters of the three languages in which it is written, and of the customs which prevailed in those countries, and in those ages when it was written. An arowed infidel, with these qualifications, is not this day to be found in England. No person of a serious cast of mind, of pure morals, and a competent share of learning, can be an infidel. Shew us the man of this description, who professedly rejects the divine mission of Jesus Christ, and we shall think the cause of infidelity less desperate.
“But are there not many contradictions, absurdities, and falsehoods in the book of the New Testament, such as no man can reconcile?"
We deny that there is either contradiction, absurdity, or falsehood, in this inestimable volume.(20)
(9) It is no inconsiderable proof of the truth of some of the historical books of the Old Testament, that the ten tribes of Is. rael, which were carried captive by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, upwards of 2500 years ago, and which had been supposed to have been lost and swallowed up among the nations through which they were scattered, are now found to exist as distinct people, in the eastern parts of the world, under the name of Af. ghans. Their traditions are little more than a mutilated and per. verted history of the ancient Jews.
(20) “ The holy Scriptures are an adorable mixture of clearness and obscurity, which enlighten and humble the children of God, and blind and harden those of this world. The light proceeds from God, and blindness from the creature.”
This is an observation of Bishop Wilson. If all our bishops and clergy had lived and preached and wrote in the spirit of this all pure,
There are, we grant, certain apparent blemishes of these kinds, but not even one that is real. Learned men have vindicated it from these charges with all reasonable evidence. Can we suppose that such a man as Locke would have said, that “it is all all sincere; nothing too much, nothing wanting,” if such charges could be made good against it? But supposing the New Testament did abound with both contradictions, absurdities, and falsehoods, this circumstance, though less honourable in itself, would by no means render null the divine mission of Jesus Christ. He might be the true Messiah notwithstanding. Impartial men should weigh this well, before they make the real or supposed blemishes of Scripture a ground of their rejecting the Saviour of the world.
“Why was so severe a penalty as everlasting(1) punishment denounced against sin in the gospel? This seems hard, and, indeed, inconsistent with the goodness and mercy of the Divine Being?”
good man, there would have been few infidels this day in England. He, though entitled to the honour, always declined sitting in the house of lords, saying, “ That the church should have nothing to do with the state. Christ's kingdom is not of this world."
The public is greatly indebted to the present Archbishop Newcombe, for his learned labours on biblical subjects. This sound scholar declares his opinion to be, that “ every genuine propo. sition in Scripture, whether doctrinal or historical, contains a truth when it is rightly understood; and that all real difficulties in the gospels will at length yield to the efforts of rational criti. cism.”
Though Mill has enumerated more than 30,000 variations in the manuscripts and versions of the New Testament, it is very remarkable, and highly satisfactory, that they do not, when all put together, affect any thing essential, either in the doctrines or precepts of the gospel
(1) Tillotson has said every thing upon the eternity of the torments of hell that can be known with any certainty. This discourse is well worthy the serious attention of the reader, especially in the present time of relaxed divinity, and more relaxed morality.
Guilty man is an improper judge in this matter. Infinite wisdom hath seen good to denounce such punishment against incorrigible transgressors, and, therefore, we may be weli assured, it is consistent with infinite goodness and mercy. If the denunciation of eternal torments will not restrain men from sin, much less would a shorter duration have done it.
“The gospel of Christ bears too hard upon the pleasures of mankind, and lays us under too severe restraints?"
Does it then rob us of any pleasures worthy the rational nature? It restrains us, indeed, but it only restrains us from things that would do us harm, and make us and our fellow creatures miserable. It admits of every rational, manly, benevolent, and humane pleasure. Nay, it allows every sensual enjoyment that is consistent with the real good, and true happiness, of the whole compound nature of man. It enjoins every thing that can do us good, and it prohibits every thing that will do us harm, under penalties of the most alarming kind. Could a Being of infinite benevolence and perfection do better, or act otherwise consistently with those perfections ?
“How can we at this distance of time know, that the writings contained in the Bible are genuine? May they not have been corrupted, and many additions made to them by designing men in after ages:"(2)
(2) There are several circumstances still in existence, strongly corroborative of the truth of the Bible. The Mosaic history of the creation is confirmed by the present appearance of things; Noah's flood by a variety of naiural phenomena, and the general history of the world: The destruction of Sodom, by the face of the country around, and the ruins which have been discovered; the passage of the Israelites through the wilderness, by the rock that sup. plied them with water, which is still in existence, and visible to the curious inquirer, besides the names of places, and the traditions of the present inhabitants: the history and prophe. ies concerning Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Egypt, Jerusalem, and
Never were any writings conveyed down with so good evidence of their being genuine as these. Upon their first publication, the books of the New Testament, in particular, were put into all hands, scattered into all nations, translated into various languages. They have been quoted by innumerable authors, appealed to by all parties of christians, an made the standard of truth in every question of moment. We can trace them back through every age to the period in which they were written. And extremely remarkable and consolotary is the consideration, that notwithstanding the innumerable times they have been copied, and the various errors, sects, and parties which have arisen, the corruptions which have prevailed in the church, and the revolutions and convulsions which have taken place among the nations, the Bible has continued fundamentally the same, insomuch that from the very worst copy or translation in the world, we may easily learn the genuine doctrines of christianity. The divisions and squabbles of men have been wonderfully over-ruled to the establishment of God's truth. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.(3)
other cities and countries, are all confirmed by the present state of those places and countries: the birth and resurrection of Christ are established by the existing circumstances of the christian church; and it is remarkable, that the cleft'in the rock, which is said to have been made by the earth at the crucifixion of Christ, is still visible, and bears witness to the preternatural con. cussion. 1
Noah's ark is found by the most accurate cbservations of modern geometricians, to have been contrived after the very best form for the purposes for which it was intended; and its dimensions perfectly well suited to receive the burden designed for it. It has been calculated to contain upwards of 72,000 tons bur. den.
(3) Bonnet assures us, after a very serious and accurate examination of the subject, that there is no ancient history “ so well attested, as that of the Messenger of the gospel; that there are no historical facts supported by so great a number of proofs; by such striking, solid, and various proofs, as are those facts on which the religion of Jesus Christ is founded."
“ But, notwithstanding all the boasted advantages of the gospel, are not many who profess to believe in Christ, and who attend the ordinances of religion, the arrantest knaves
earth?” Do you, therefore, infer that the gospel itself is an imposture? Some professors of natural religion are bad men; therefore natural religion is an imposture; there is no God. Some great pretenders to philosophy are knaves; therefore philosophy is all an imposition upon mankind. Some deists are immoral men; therefore the principles of deism are founded in error and delusion. Was it ever known that any man grew more moral, pious, virtuous, and heavenlyminded, after rejecting the gospel? I could produce you a thousand instances where men have become better by cordially embracing it; and we defy you to produce one instance where any man became worse.
“ Can any man of an enlightened and liberal mind, embrace the mysterious doctrines of christianity? What must such an one think of the Trinity, the Atonement, the Incarnation, and those other unaccountable peculiarities of that institution, which have been å stumbling block to many persons in every age of the church?”(4)
(4) It appears to me indubitable, that all the real doctrines of religion, as contained, not in this or the other human institution, but in the New Testament, are defensible on the purest principles of reason, without sacrificing any one of its mysterious doctrines. There is no need that we should carry our candour and complaisance so far, to gain the approbation of any man, or set of men whatever.
The mysterious doctrines of religion have caused some sceptical men to reject those Scriptures in which they are contained ; others have explained and refined them away. So, because the doctrines of religion have been abused to superstition and folly,, abundance of our fellow creatures, without due consideration, are disposed to cast off all religion whatever. Ill judging men! What is human nature, without religion? How horrible the state of the world, without religion? Let Cicero speak its importance to human happiness : “ Religione sublata, perturbacio