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to be from the heaven where God is, and from the God who dwells there, he starts up, as though it were a concern of his ? What is heaven or God to the pagan who has never before heard these words distinctly uttered, except that his heart and his innost sympathies testify to him, that this heaven may be his home, and that this God may be his Father, though from the one he is now an exile, and with the other he is at fearful odds ? What means the opposition of bis feelings to the gospel, for the first time proclaimed, now manifesting itself in proud scorn and brutal indifference, or again bursting forth in mad and fiendish rage, if it does not testify, that there is now sounded loud in his ears the same truth which his better judgment has always whispered to him? (“their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.") How can the bearer of these glad tidings from above, hope, “by manifestation of the truth," to commend himself “to every
man's conscience in the sight of God," unless the same conscience had before given a testimony, which this new witness now comes forward more fully to substantiate and confirm, as well as to render more definite and particular? How could an apostle speak of those who,“ having not the law, are a law to themselves," if it were not true, that wherever man is, even though no word of authority is spoken to him by another on earth or from heaven, yet he cannot, if he would, avoid regarding every action of his own either with self-approbation or self-reproof?
But we need not rest the truth of our position upon what is presupposed in revelation, and appealed to in its pages, in the most free and unqualified terms. Look at man as he is, without any light from heaven. As he utters so frequently those strange words, right and wrong, it cannot be supposed, that he is merely repeating certain sounds which have been handed down from generation to generation, ever since our common parent, to which he attaches no meaning. Nothing like this can for a moment be supposed to be true. They give utterance to feelings which live as freshly in his bosom, and assert an authority there as vigorously, as when these words first sell from the lips of man. We find it true in heathen countries, that the invisible world, and its close neighborhood to the world which we see, is recognized, --falsely conceived of, we admit, but still recognized with far greater frequency, and controls the minds of the people with a sway far more extensive and unquestioned, than where the truth concerning this world is more clearly known. If we look to the literature of these nations, the knowledge of a serious concern in these weighty realities, will appear every where animating and giving life to the language. Was not Socrates a martyr to the truth, and of the truth too which may be known of man, from a contemplation of himself and the works of God? It may, we think, be reasonably doubted, whether the conversation recorded by Xenophon, as having occurred between Socrates and Aristodemus, does not leave on the mind a belief of the being and attributes of God, as convincing as the more detailed argument in Paley's Natural Theology. We have not a doubt, that the dying speech of Cyrus is far better fitted to raise the tone of moral feeling in the breast of a young man, and to confirm his faith in the reality of moral distinctions, than the treatise on Moral Philosophy by Paley, though he was an arch-deacon.
But it is not here our design to show how much may be known by man, whenever he honestly consults his own conscience; but to establish the position, that, according to the declarations of revelation, and undoubted facts, something may be thus known. With this granted, we proceed to observe, that, if moral science has any important office of its own to perform, this science must be prosecuted on independent grounds. We say it boldly, not fearing the interpretation which any honest man will give to our words, that, to accomplish any thing for his own science, or to aid the cause of revealed iruth, the chair of the moral philosopher must be separate from that of the theologian. What is his object? It is to draw out in scientific form, all that man may know of himself as a moral being, and of God as his moral governor, before he is met by a revelation. To accomplish this object, he must, for the time being, lay aside bis faith in revelation, and look at man with the eyes only of a philosophic inquirer. In this attitude, he must attempt to state to himself, in accurate and well-defined propositions, all that a mind unbiased by pride or passion would see from its own resources to be true. Whatever such a mind might thus know as certainly true, to this he should give his assent; not with a wavering faith, because it is an article in the creed of nature, or because other men have thought they honored God's word by contending, that for the knowledge of this truth we are indebted to revelation alone. On such ground as he finds sure, he should plant his foot with a firm and determined step. Whenever the voice within and around him is dubious and equivocal, he should observe that it is so; but still, without forgetting to give his faith as an inquirer, into all truth which may be discerned in nature, no less than to what is uttered in revelation. Every line of light which he can trace out through its whole course, he should follow with a steady eye, nor neglect to pursue every one that is in part only visible, as far as it can be followed with certainty.
With the truth of which he has in this way become master, and with the many glimpses and probable indications which are suf ficiently clear to awaken inquiry and to excite conjecture, but not so certain as to satisfy either, he is prepared to meet the message wbich claims to be from heaven. He meets it as a moral being,
with all his feelings as such a being fully awake. As he thus brings it home to himself, without waiting for the credentials of the messenger who bears it, he feels, from the bottom of his heart, that it recognizes and re-proclaims all that he before knew to be true, and that it lengthens out and supplies all that was before abruptly broken off; as the cloud which has rested upon a part of the landscape, rises so slowly and so insensibly, that we cannot easily say where is the exact limit which shuts out a portion of its beauties. The man who will present himself as be is before God, with the light of nature only to shine on both, and will look with an honest eye on himself, as he there stands, may be sure, that enough may be seen, certainly that enough may be guessed at, to make him tremble with fearful apprehension. The wholesome fear thus excited, prepares him to welcome the gospel as indeed glad tidings to such a one as he counts himself to be. These views of the gospel and of man, enter largely into every close and powerful exhibition of the evidence for jis truth. The preacher may not indeed know it, while it is not the less true, that the course of thought which he prosecutes with so great success, involved the elements of an independent moral science with its true relations to revealed theology. It is, in short, the course of reasoning which leads sinful and degraded man to see, that it is not the gospel which makes him a sinner, but that it finds him already one, and is to him, self-destroyed as he is, an undeserved gift, a blessed boon. It leads man to see, that the gospel has no ground to beg of him, but that, however much in pity it may stoop to his brutish and ignorant stupidity, yet it stands alone in conscious dignity, and waits for him to come forward and secure to himself the blessings which it has in its gist.
There are modes of presenting the evidence for the truth of the gospel, which, instead of settling any moral truth beforehand, place an exclusive reliance upon the argument from miracles. The result of such a procedure, if the thoughts of those who are in this way addressed by the gospel were honestly told, would be something like this: “Here is a system which is sent forth with signs and wonders, proclaiming not deliverance merely, but establishing by its testimony, the fact, that men are sinners. If I reject it as a remedy, I rid mysell of the belief that I need one." Under any view, it is at least true, that to believe that one is a sinner, on the strength of the evidence of miracles, as well as the fact, that there is a deliveravce, requires double the faith which the other method demands. The unbeliever, when addressed by the “historical evidence" only, reasons, that if a single flaw can be detected in the chain of the argument, there will be a relief not merely from the obligation to accept its offers of mercy, but from the burden of guilt which it is imagined the gospel imposes on the conscience. Is the gospel when thus presented, nothing else than “glad tidings of great joy?” Does the fact, that it is offered to man, make him a moral being? If it does not, then moral science, or the investigation into what it is to be a moral being, should not commence with the proof of the truth of the gospel history.
There is one other consideration, which we think of the highest importance in the decision of this question. It is not merely true, that the course of reasoning by which the gospel is best set home on the heart of sinsul man, is that which involves a just recognition of moral philosophy as an independent science; but it is also true, that it depends on right reasoning of this sort for its hold on the mind of the believer. Go to the unlettered christian, and ask him what it is that commends the gospel as true to his better judgment, to his purest and his best affections? He may not be able to analyze the process of reasoning which gives support to his faith, and to which it ever turns, in the hour of his weakness, to gather fresh strength ; but it will invariably be true, that he has a deep and unshaken conviction in the fact, that he is a moral being, and in the serious and weighty import of all those relations which are involved in such a fact. He also knows what the gospel is in its fitness to such a being as he is, and feeling his necessities as one responsible, guilty, weak, and therefore wretched, and looking up to the glory and perfection of the offered remedy, the faith which appropriates it to himself, springs forth unbidden, and fastens with a grasp stronger than death on the “ glorious gospel of the Son of God.” But to possess just views of myself, as a moral being, before the gospel is received by me, and while the question of its truth, and of my obligation to accept it, is yet undecided, is to have correct, though, it may be, inadequate views of morals, as an independent science. We quote a sentiment from Baxter, which, though not uttered by him in exactly the connection in which we present it, may yet be fairly quoted to our purpose :
“I do more of late than ever," says he, “discern a necessity of a methodical procedure in maintaining the doctrine of christianity, and of beginning at natural verities as presupposed fundamentally to supernatural truths.”
We have chosen to present these considerations at length, both because we believe them to be the true views of the noblest of all sciences, and that our readers may bear them in mind as principles by which to test the main object and leading features of the work before us. Were authority needed, by wbich to confirm their correctness, we would refer any one who feels the need of such support to strengthen his convictions, to Dr. Chalmers. We refer to his testimony on this point the more readily, as bis opinions of the intrinsic importance of ethical science, and the
place which it should assert to itself in commending christianity to man, bave, as it would seem, experienced an important revolution. Some years since, a work from his pen appeared, on “ The Evidence and Authority of the Christian Religion," in which he asserts of the internal evidence for christianity, that, in his opinion, no effectual argument can be founded on this consideration." We have been favored with the perusal of two lectures of his, introductory to his theological course, which were delivered some time after the treatise spoken of was published, from which it would seem, that his estimate of the moral evidence for the truth of christianity has been greatly enhanced. We quote the following passage from one of these lectures :
With no other support than that of the bible and of the conscience, there can be made to merge a conclusive argument on behalf of christianity; a most satisfying view may be struck out from the direct testimony of the one, and the reflex testimony of the other. Such is our conviction of the might and efficacy of the internal evidence, that, on the strength of it alone, we hold the unlettered peasant, ignorant though he is of all the intermediate history between the apostolic and the present age, to be afforded sufficient evidence for becoming a right believer; and all destitute as he is of scholarship, to weigh and estimate the doctrines of antiquity, he can discern the consistency of its various parts with each other. He can recognize in all its announcements, the voice of one who speaks with heavenly authority; and this is an internal evidence. He can take upon him the impression of that deep and dignified sacredness, by which, from beginning to end, it is so thoroughly invested; and this is an internal evidence. He can come into contact with that moral honesty with which it speaks to him, and announces that it is worthy of all acceptation; and this, too, is an internal evidence. He can feel the suitableness of its doctrines to the wants of nature; and this, too, is an evidence struck internally. He can observe a marvelous accordance between its statements and the statements of his own heart ; and this forms that internal evidence which the bible itself calls the manifestation of truth in the conscience.' Pulpit, No. 479, p. 328.
Very recently he has published a treatise “ On the adaptation of external nature to the Moral and Intellectual constitution of Man." To this work we would refer those of our readers who interest themselves in thorough investigations of this sort, as one which maintains the views of moral science which we have advanced, and which appear to us more worthy of attention, from the fact
, that they differ so widely from the views which are implied in the former treatise on the evidence of christianity. In that volume he contended, that no argument could be made out of its internal evidence, because we can know nothing of God, except as he reveals himself to us in his word. The object of