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and in retirement not at all. Such in fact is the character of infi dels. "Will you dare to assert," says Linguet, a French writer, in an address to Voltaire, "that it is in philosophic families we are to look for models of filial respect, conjugal love, sincerity in friendship, or fidelity among domestics? Were you disposed to do so, would not your own conscience, your own experience, suppress the falsehood, even before your lips could utter it ?"1

Much, however, of the immoral statements which are asserted to exist in the Bible, is founded on a wilful inattention to the wide difference that subsists between antient and modern manners. The characteristic distinction of modern manners is, the free intercourse of the two sexes in the daily commerce of life and conversation. Hence the peculiar system of modern manners; - hence that system of decorum, delicacy, and modesty (founded on the morality of Scripture) which belong entirely to this relation of the sexes, and to the state of society in which it exists. But in the antient world there was nothing of this intercourse. Women were either wholly shut up, as among the Asiatics of all ages; or were slaves, handmaids, and inferiors, as among the Jews, and in the patriarchal ages; or, by the effect of custom (as despotic as positive law), they could not converse or go abroad but with their own immediate family, as among the Greeks and Romans. Hence what we call and feel to be delicacy and modesty, and the whole system resulting from them, had no existence among such nations. Men wrote only to men; laws were given only to men; history was read only by men. Every thing was called by the name originally affixed to it; and as such names had no adjunctive signification, arising only from the intercourse of the sexes, they excited ideas of indelicacy or immodesty no more than similar names excite such ideas among the naked Indians. And hence, as a profound critic2 long ago remarked, there is the same difference between the free language of Scripture and the free language of the Greek and Roman writers, as there is between the nakedness of a courtesan and the nakedness of an Indian. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you persecute you. The grace of God, which bringeth salvation to all men, hath appeared; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.3


Such, reader, is an epitome of Christian morality. Judge of the falsehood of the assertion made by its enemies, that the Bible is the most immoral book in the world.4" The gospel," says the profound and penetrating Locke, whom no one will accuse of enthusiasm, contains so perfect a body of ethics, that reason may be excused from the inquiry, since she finds men's duty clearer and easier in revelation than in herself."5

1 Linguet was an admirer of Voltaire; but disapproved of his opposition to Christianity. See his Review of that author's works, p. 264. Fuller's Gospel its own Witness, pp. 72. 74, 75.

2 Dr. Bentley.

3 Matt. vii. 12. v. 44. Tit. ii. 11, 12.

4 Concerning the Contradictions to morality, which are falsely alleged to exist in the Scriptures, see the Appendix to this Volume, No. III. Sect. V.

5 Locke's Letter to Mr. Molyneux, A. D. 1696. Works, vol. iv. p. 327. 4to. edit.

X. OBJECTION 10. — The Bible inculcates a spirit of intolerance and persecution.

The antient adversaries of the Gospel, as well as their more modern copyists, have represented the religion of Jesus Christ as of an unsocial, unsteady, surly and solitary complexion, tending to destroy every other but itself. And it must be owned that it does tend to destroy every other, in the same manner as truth in every subject tends to destroy falsehood, that is, by rational conviction. The same objection might be urged against the Newtonian philosophy, which destroyed the Cartesian fables, or against the Copernican system, because the visions of Ptolemy and Tycho-Brahe vanished before it. The sun extinguishes every inferior lustre. And the glimmering lamps of human knowledge, lighted up by the philosophers, served indeed to conduct them as a light shining in a dark place: but this must naturally be sunk in a superior lustre, when the Sun of righteousness should arise. The Gospel therefore is so unsociable as to discredit error, with which it is as incompatible, as light with darkness. But it is evident to any one who will calmly examine the Bible, that its pages do not inculcate any such thing as a spirit of intolerance and persecution.1

It is well known that the Jews, who were distinguished for their spiritual pride and bigotry, and who regarded other nations with an almost absolute intolerance, were never more strongly marked by these characteristics than at the time when Jesus Christ appeared. Even the apostles were not exempted from a share of this character. Master, said John, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not; for he that is not against us is for us. Again, John and James, moved with indignation against the inhabitants of a Samaritan village, because they declined to receive their master, said unto him, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. So intolerant was the spirit even of the beloved disciple, and so benevolent was that of Christ. In this nation, then, and at this period, was Christ born and educated. But, instead of imbibing, countenancing, or warranting intolerance and bigotry, he taught, in all instances, their odiousness and guilt; and enjoined, with respect to every subject and person, the most absolute moderation, liberality, and candour; not indeed the fashionable liberality of licentious men in modern times, a professed indifference to truth and holiness; — but a benevolent and catholic spirit towards every man, and a candid and just one towards every argument and opinion. Distinctions of nations, sects, or party, as such were to him nothing; distinctions of truth and falsehood, right and wrong, were to him every thing. According to this scheme, he framed his instructions and his life; and the same catholic spirit and freedom from intolerance characterise the writings of his apostles.

The moderation of pagan governments, and their liberality in

1 Respecting the charges of cruelty brought against the Israelites for putting to death the Canaanites and other nations, see Appendix, No. III. Sect. V.

granting unlimited indulgence to the different modes of worship that obtained among the heathens, have been magnified by the opposers of Christianity, and eulogised as if universal liberty had been allowed, without any restraint upon the open or secret practices of men in the exercise of religion. But this representation is quite contrary to the truth. The Roman government, in its suppression of the Bacchanalian mysteries (which were infamous for their voluptuousness and debaucheries), conducted itself solely by the maxims of civil policy, without any regard whatever to the religious pretexts of the worshippers. And nothing can be more injurious to the religion of Christ than the malicious suggestion which one infidel repeats after another, that persecution for religion was indebted for its first rise to the Christian system; whereas the very reverse is the real truth, as might be proved by many facts, recorded in history. To instance only a few : the Athenians allowed no alteration whatever in the religion of their ancestors ; and therefore Socrates suffered death, as a setter forth of strange gods,3 in the same city of Athens in which, four hundred and fifty years afterwards, Paul of Tarsus was charged with the same crime, by certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts xvii. 18.) But were a similar severity to be employed by any Christian state, it would be imputed not merely to the policy of governors, but to the temper of priests. The odious bigotry of Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Mac. i. 41.) will not easily escape the recollection of any, but of those who will impute no fault nor arraign any crime, except it be found to involve in its consequences the friends of revealed religion. Had the law of the twelve tables at Rome, which prohibited the worship of new or foreign gods,4 been considered as the edict of a Christian prince, the loudest complaints would have been uttered against the spirit of bigotry by which it was dictated. And if the demolition of the temple of Serapis and Isis had been effected by the order of an ecclesiastical synod, instead of a heathen senate, it would doubtless have been styled an atrocious outrage upon the inalienable rights of private judgment, instead of being represented as proceeding from the use of " a common privilege," and ascribed to the "cold and feeble efforts of policy." 116 Tiberius prohibited the Egyptian and Jewish worship, banished the Jews from Rome, and restrained the worship of the Druids in Gaul;7 while Claudius employed penal laws to abolish their religion. Domitian

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1 See the very interesting account of the proceedings of the Roman government in this affair, in Livy's History, book xxxix. chapters 8-19. The celebrated decree against the Bacchanalian meetings is still extant on a plate of copper, which was dug up about the middle of the seventh century, and is now preserved in the imperial library at Vienna.

Isocrat. in Areopag. p. 374. edit. Basil. 1582.

3 Diog. Laërt. de Vitis Philosophorum, lib. ii. c. 5. § 19. tom. i. p. 174. edit. Longolii. Elian.Var. Hist. lib. ii. c. 13. Xenophon. Memorabilia Socratis, lib. i. c. 1. 4 Separatim nemo habessit Deos; neve novos, sive advenas, nisi publicè adscitos, privatim colunto. Cicero, de Legibus, lib. ii. c. 8. Op. tom. xi. p. 371. edit. Bipont.

Valerius Maximus, lib. i. c. 3. § 3. p. 44. edit. Bipont.

6 Gibbon's Decline and Fall, vol. i. p. 52. and note (15.)

7 Tacit. Annal. lib. ii. c. 85. Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. 3. Suetonius, in Tiberio, c. 36. Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. xxx. c. 4. tom. v. p. 48. edit. Bipont.

8 Suetonius, in Claudio, c. 25.

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and Vespasian banished the philosophers from Rome, and the former confined some of them in the islands, and whipped or put others to death. Nothing therefore can be more unfounded than the assertion, that intolerance and persecution owe their introduction to Christianity since the violent means, which for three hundred years after its origin were adopted for the purpose of crushing this very religion, at the time when its professors are universally acknowledged to have been both inoffensive and unambitious, are too well known to be controverted. It is the duty of every good government to provide for the security of society and of moral order. This, we have seen, was an important object of attention, even with pagan governments. The writings of the opposers of revelation, in our own day especially, are subversive of both. Under the mask of free inquiry (which the Gospel demands and invites, and of which it has stood the test for more than eighteen centuries, as it will to the end of time), they have compiled, without acknowledgment, from the oft-refuted productions of former infidels, and have circulated from the press, tracts of the most destructive tendency to the public morals and safety. And when they suffer the sentence of the deliberately violated laws of their country, they call it persecution. "But persecution in every degree, and whatever abridges any man in his civil rights on account of his religious tenets, provided he be a peaceable member of the community, and can give a proper ground of confidence, that his principles require or allow him to continue so, - is wholly contrary to the spirit of the Gospel;" as well as all acrimony, reviling, contempt, or misrepresentation, in religious controversy.

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It is readily admitted, that men, calling themselves Christians, have persecuted others with unrelenting cruelty, and have shed rivers of innocent blood; but the Gospel does not authorise such a conduct, and therefore is not chargeable with it. Such persecutions prove, that those who inflicted them were not animated by the spirit of real Christianity. Facts and experience, however, have proved that it is not the friends but the enemies of the Gospel, not sincere believers, but apostates and atheists, who have been the most cruel oppressors and persecutors both of civil and religious liberty. Of this we have a signal and memorable instance in the history of France during the revolution, where, not merely the usurped power of the papal antichrist was subverted, but the Christian religion itself was proscribed, and atheism, with all its attendant horrors, substituted in its place.3



THE harmony and intimate connection subsisting between all the parts of Scripture are no mean proof of its authority and divine

1 Suetonius in Domitiano, c. 10.; in Vespasiano, c. 13.

2 See pp. 205-208. supra.

3 Compare pp. 32, 33. supra. On the subject above discussed, the reader will find many interesting facts and profound observations in Mr. Fuller's Gospel its

original. Other historians differ continually from each other: the errors of the first writers are constantly criticised and corrected by succeeding adventurers, and their mistakes are sure to meet with the same treatment from those who come after them. Nay, how often does it happen, that contemporary writers contradict each other in relating a fact which has happened in their own time, and within the sphere of their own knowledge? But in the Scriptures there is no dissent or contradiction. They are not a book compiled by a single author, nor by many hands acting in confederacy in the same age; for in such case there would be no difficulty in composing a consistent scheme; nor would it be astonishing to find the several parts in a just and close connection. But most of the writers of the Scriptures lived at very different times, and in distant places, through the long space of about sixteen hundred years: so that there could be no confederacy or collusion; and yet their relations agree with, and mutually support each other. Not only human historians, but philosophers, even of the same school, disagree concerning their tenets; whereas the two testaments, like the two cherubs (Exod. xxv. 20.), look steadfastly towards each other, and towards the mercy-seat which they encompass. The holy writers, men of different education, faculties, and occupations, prophets, evangelists, apostles,— notwithstanding the diversity of time and place, the variety of matter, consisting of mysteries of providence as well as mysteries of faith, yet all concur uniformly in carrying on one consistent plan of supernatural doctrines; all constantly propose the same invariable truth, flowing from the same fountain through different channels. Go, then, to the sacred Scriptures; examine them closely and critically. Can you find one writer controverting the statements or opinions of his predecessor? One historian who disputes any fact which another had stated? Is there in the prophets any discrepancy in doctrines, precepts, or predictions? However they vary in style, or manner of illustration, the sentiment and the morality are the same. In their predictions they exceed one another in particularity and clearness, but where is there any contradiction? The same remarks apply to the New Testament. The leading doctrines of Christianity harmonise together one writer may enlarge upon and explain what another has said, may add to his account, and carry it further; but he never contradicts him. It is self-evident that the corruption of human nature, that our reconciliation to God by the atonement of Christ, and that the restoration of our primitive dignity by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, are all parts of one whole, united in close dependence and mutual congruity. The same essential agreement, and the same mutual dependency of one upon another, obtains also among the chief practical precepts, as well as between the doctrines and precepts of Christianity. Those tend to form the temper and character which these require. Whence, then, arises this harmony of Scripture? Had the writers been under no peculiar own Witness, part i. ch. 5. pp. 62-70. See also Mr. Haldane's Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation, vol. i. pp. 42—68.

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