« PreviousContinue »
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he Jerusalem. through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen :
negligent lives of its professed followers, or their too indolent
Let us then leave for a short time the impregnable walls of the
One thing only is necessary to be premised-the Christian in this great controversy appeals to facts, experience, and history, while he shrinks from no abstract reasoning, from no metaphysical inquiry, from no supposed philosophical deductions, he asserts that his religion is established throughout upon attested and undeniable facts. He demands only of the opponents of Christianity, that the religion they would establish in its place be founded upon facts equally well attested; and upon evidences equally satisfactory and undeniable.
It is certain that evil is every where around us. It is concealed in our heart within-it is visible in our bodies without, in a countless train of infirmities, diseases, and afflictions. It is seen above us in the storms of heaven, around us in the evils of life, and beneath us in the graves of the dead.
The question whence, and why is evil permitted in this world? baffles all but the Christian. If God could prevent evil and did not, where is his benevolence? if he wished to prevent evil, and could not, where is his power? Here the infidel is baffled, and his proud reason staid. Reason without revelation has not, and cannot solve the dark and mysterious difficulty. Christianity alone unfolds to man the origin of evil in this world, and while it explains the cause, appoints the remedy. "An enemy hath done this," and "the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." We are assured that an evil and malignant spirit superior to man, influenced the mind of man to an act of disobedience. This is the recorded fact, and daily experience confirms its reasonableness and probability. Evil is still continued by the same means, by which it originated. Thousands are hourly misled by one powerful or depraved mind. The sophistries of infidelity, the splendour of ambition, the gold of avarice, are demons all pointing to the forbidden fruit, to a transgression of the sacred law: and the authority of custom, the fear of ridicule, the false shame of the cowardice that dares not differ with the multitude, are all the enemies of our virtue, and poisoners of our happiness. Man tempts man
8 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his riod, 4742. sion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty Vulgar Æra,
to sin: if wicked men, ambitious conquerors, &c. &c. can con-
We are called upon to believe rather than to fathom these
But what are the discoveries of infidelity which could supersede this religion? What philosopher in ancient days, or what speculator in modern times, who have dared to reject the account of the origin of evil in this world given us in revelation, has been able for one moment to propose any satisfactory explanation of this great mystery; or offer any thing either to allay its bitterness, or to remove its sting. All is wild and vain conjecture; they know only that evil exists, and they have no remedy whatever for the melancholy conviction, but a gloomy patience without hope of future good, or deliverance from present sorrow.
Shall we go on to the next great event after the birth of the world? The testimony of revelation has sometimes been rejected in this question also. If, however, the discoveries of our present eminent geologist, and the conclusions of scientific or curious inquirers, both at home and abroad, may be received as arguments; there is sufficient evidence to assure us that at no very remote period, an universal deluge overspread the whole surface of the globe, the traces of which are every where distinguishable. The traditions of all nations confirm the same truth. Their records in no one instance proceed higher than this event; the chronology of the Egyptians, and the Hindoos, which boasted a more ancient descent, have been long since consigned to oblivion. Let me then put this question, and ask if any invention of natural religion, that vain idol of the imagination, can discover an ade
Julian Pe- days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the king- Jerusalem. riod, 4742. dom of God: Vulgar Era,
quate cause for this universal deluge; or does tradition relate
On this view of the subject, every difficulty respecting the Polytheism of antiquity is solved. All the mystery of its early origin, and the causes of the institution of barbarous rites and absurd notions respecting the Deity, are easily and satisfactorily explained. Let him who rejects Revelation, and yet believes in the power of the unassisted reason of man to frame for itself a consistent system of rational religion, contemplate the history of his species, and account for the incomprehensible series of mysterious absurdities he there surveys. Was it not the real, genuine, undoubted majesty of human reason which fully displayed itself when the scientific Chaldean paid his homage to fire, as to a God-when the dignified Persian bowed down to the host of heaven-and the deeply-learned Egyptian acknowledged the divinity of the reptile or the vegetable. If the advocate of the supremacy of human reason would be further gratified, I would refer him to the contemplation of the more northern nations, and bid him there behold its triumphs in the massacre of human victims, when the bloodbedewed priest, as in the plains of Mexico, in a subsequent period, tore the palpitating heart from the still living breast of the sacrifice, and spoke in his mystic augury the will of a ferocious Deity. Human reason proposed the worship of the sword of God Attila, and reveled in the banquet of those warriors, who drank mead from the skulls of their enemies in the halls of Valhalla. Human reason, unincumbered by revelation, gradually instructed the passive population of Hindostan to burn their widows, to murder their infants, and to torture their own bodies. Cruelty, lust, and ignorance assumed the place of repentance, faith, and knowledge; and the conquest of unassisted reason over the mind of man, was consummated in the golden clime of India, till the white horse of Brunswick pastured on its fair meadows, and the sons of Japhet forsook the shores of England to overthrow this proud temple of the idol God.
We will now consider human reason in its most admired form in the schools of philosophy in Greece, of which the Pythagorean or Italic was the most distinguished for the reasonableness of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, and the excellence of its discipline. Among the Pythagoreans was taught the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator, and providential Preserver of the Universe—the immortality of the soul, and future rewards and punishments. Though these opinions were blended with many sentiments which are not warranted by Revelation, there is certainly much to be admired and wondered at in the systems of Pythagoras. Yet even here, if the advocates of the sufficiency of human intellect should here feel inclined to triumph, they must do so upon Christian principles only; for it
Julian Period, 4742. Vulgar Æra,
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount Jerusalem.
is demonstrable that this great philosopher kindled his faint
If, then, the learned, deeply-reasoning and talented Greek, was not able, by his own powers of reasoning, to frame any consistent code of religion by which to govern himself, or to benefit mankind, much less shall we find that the more modern philosophers, who have ventured to reject Christianity, are more perfect guides, or are favoured with greater discernment. Shall we, for instance, follow Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who assures us that the indulgence of the passions is no greater crime than the quenching of thirst, or yielding to sleep?-Or shall we believe, with Mr. Hobbes, that inspiration is madness, and religion ridiculous, and the civil law of a country is the only criterion of right and wrong?-Shall we agree with Blunt, the disappointed, self-possessed suicide, that the soul is material-or with Lord Shaftesbury, that the Scriptures are an artful invention, that the idea of salvation is absurd, and join in his untranscribable blasphemies against the meek and blameless Jesus?-Shall the Jew Spinoza direct us, when he teaches us that God is the soul of the world, and not the ruler; but that all things proceed, not from the will or government of an all-wise Creator, but from a necessary emanation from the physical energy of the material universe, the passive fountain of existence? Shall we agree with him that there is no Creator, no providence, no necessity for worship, nor any well grounded expectation of a future state?-Or shall we rather become the votaries of Collins, and believe that man is a mere machine, and the soul is material and mortal?-Or praise, with Tindal and Morgan, and Chubb and Bolingbroke, the dignity of reason, the excellence of natural religion, professing to admire Christianity, while we deny its doctrines and ridicule its truths?-If these Hiero
Julian Pe- called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's Jerusalem, riod, 4742. journey. VulgarÆra,
phants are not received as our guides into the temple of their natu
Let us now advert, for a moment, to the effects produced by