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over-zealous enthusiast who trusted to feeling rather than evidence, and the persecutor who would make faith the result of brute and tyrannical force. In the mean time, branches of evidence hitherto unexplored, have been carefully traced, and new veins of equal richness discovered, still to be worked. Coincidences and correspondences the most minute but frequently the most astonishing, have been designated, collected with great care, and exhibited in the most elaborate and convincing manner. I speak of the internal evidences of our religion, which are every day unsolding therselves in some new and valuable particular, and inviting and rewarding the pains of the fair and honest inquirer.
PLAN OF THE FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY.
Plan of the Founder of Christianity, by F. V. Reinhard, S. T. D.
Court Preacher at Dresden. Translated from the Fifth German Edition, by Oliver A. Taylor, A. M., Resident Licentiate, Theological Seminary, Andover. New York. Çarvill, 1831.
We give this volume our cordial welcome as a valuable contribution to the Evidences of Christianity. We are indebted for its appearance among us, to the labors of a resident student in the Theological Seminary at Andover, who has shown his good judgment in the selection of the work, and his good scholarship in the ability of the translation. The original has been celebrated, among the voluminous writings of its distin
guished author, for its comprehensive views of the spirit of the gospel, its rich historical illustrations, and its clearness and depth of argument. We are not aware that the topic, which Reinhard selected, for the basis of his reasonings, had ever before been treated with the precision and fulness, which he brings to its respective details; although it has since been so often incidentally noticed, that probably not many of the views here presented will be absolutely new to the majority of readers. Still they are discussed at so much length, and with such a degree of ability in the present volume, that we are confident it will be read with interest by the sincere inquirer after christian truth.
The idea at the foundation of Reinhard's reasoning is that the plan devised by Jesus for the good of mankind, was so far above that of the great men of antiquity who had labored for the benefit of the human race, that it proves him to have been an extraordinary teacher, a messenger sent froin God. This idea is unfolded, under several distinct heads, all of which have a direct bearing on the great conclusion of the argument, and are calculated to throw much light on the history and character of our Saviour.
We will give our readers several extracts as specimens of the work. The following remarks are from the closing part of an interesting comparison of Jesus Christ, with former teachers and philanthropists.
'Hitherto, therefore, we have searched in vain among all the benefactors of the human race to be met with in antiquity, in order to find a man, who thought in as great, noble and benevolent a manner as the founder of Christianity, and succeeded in the attainment of enlarged views and the formation of plans of general utility. The result of our investigations is manifestly this: The human race have at all times had great men, who, whenever circumstances required, and special occasion
presented, with a noble solicitude in various ways devoted all their powers to the welfare and improvement of their brethten in the respective countries to which they belonged. The state of the age, however, in which they lived, and the mode of thinking then prevalent, restricted them to narrow linits, and unhappily induced those spirits which were the most capable of bold undertakings, to confine their attention to plans, which savored more of warlike courage and strength, and a disposition to conquer others, than of rational benevolence and gentle goodness of heart. Benevolent views extending to all, and plans intended for the good of mankind at large, were unheard of in antiquity. The standard which people then possessed, was a standard for estimating a greatness of mind entirely different from that boundless wisdom and goodness, which grasp at the world, and are wholly engaged in the universal diffusion of knowledge, virtue and happiness.
As, therefore, there is no instance of such a man to be met with in history, so, as, a general consideration, it is very probable, that we shall search even in the poetical world in vain for a hero, who ever attained to such greatuess. Indeed, it is a matter of fact, that no ancient poet ever set up before himself such an ideal perfection. Honier, that inimitable master at sketching and portraying human character, that exquisite painter of the morals of his age, never conceived of such a thing. His heroes think and act as the limited knowledge of those times and the dispositions and feelings of men, almost in a state of total barbarity, required them to do. The descriptions which he gives of his very gods are destitute of every trace of real greatness and exaltationa He who has been educated in any measure agreeably to the principles which Jesus undertook to make universal, would be ashamed to think and act like the gods of Homer. The discerning philosophers of antiquity itself discovered his faults and censured them, in this respect. Though Virgil exhibits the superior learning and refinement of his age, yet he is by no means so bappy in his nioral descriptions as Horner, nor so nice in the formation of a character. His Æneas gave himself up to the control of fate, without ever devising or undertaking any thing great or extensive. In general, the greatest men delineated by the poets of antiquity were heroes, and on that very account, very far removed from the formation of such schemes of benevolence, as those of which we are here in pursuit. With the exception, therefore, of the very feeble traces of an all-comprehensive goodness, to be met with in the fictions above quoted respecting Osiris and Hercules, which, by the bye, came very fur short of what the founder of Christianity undertook to effect, it is manifest, that even the poets of
the old world were never able to attain to those elevated views and that greatness of thought, which shine forth from the intentions of Jesus.
The plan, therefore, devised by the founder of Christianity, was a new one, and without exainple. The way upon which he entered had never been marked by the footsteps of a single human being. No mind before him had ever conceived of a plan of such compass and particular benevolence. What conclusion must be drawn from this wonderful phencmenon ? What shall we infer from it with respect to the dignity and authority of the man, whose :houghts were wiser, pobler, more exalted, and more benevolent, than those of the greatest men before him? Let us pass on to this investigation. pp. 185—7.
The argument from the intelligibility of the Christian religion is thus stated.
• A religion that lays claim to universal dominion over the hearts of men, must also be intelligible in matter and form. In regard to matter, it must contain a short summary of those truths of general utility, which the very weakest intellects are able to receive, and which can be delivered and represented in such a manner as to be obvious even to children. As in a universal religion, more depends upon doing than thinking, its essential truths must contain nothing that fosters idleness or is a subject of reflection merely, or a problem for scrutinizing reason to solve. Every doctrine that it inculcates must be intelligible, adapted to impress the heart, and practicable in life. Hence it follows, that while it is capable of receiving a systematic form, it must be in no respects incapable of becoming active and useful. The truths of which it is composed, must indeed admit of being worked over by philosophizing reason, farther developed, reduced to general principles, and brought into a scientific connexion with each other; for otherwise it would not satisfy those who are under too great a necessity to think and investigate not to be gratified in this respect in every thing, and of course even in religion. The original and ordinary form of a universal religion, however, must be character. ized by a natural intelligibility, and possess a clearness and simplicity, which shall render it easy to survey and apply every thing that belongs to it. This intelligibility must be exkjbited also in its proofs. They njust lie so near to ordinary intellects and common sense as to be as it were self-evident; among the most distinguished of which must be reckoned the authority of God, derived from revelation. With this authority the inultitude at large can by no means dispense. They are unable to receive any assistance from the controversies carried on by philosophers respecting subjects of the utmost im
portance to mankind, or to form an opinion of these dissentions. They are unable even to solve the doubts that arise in their own minds, and therefore, must have the declarations and decisions of God to lead them to the truth, and in all cases furnish them with pacifying security. Indeed, there are moments, as is well known, in which the most acute thinkers welcome this guidance, and anxiously desire the aid of this higher decision. A religion, which is to become a universal religion, must therefore possess the form of a revelation, and embody the substance of rational religion. While it has the testimony of God in its favor, it must be confirmed by the principles of reason. It must rest upon matters of fact, but not as if it were altogether dependent upon them.' pp. 202-4.
We were pleased with the following view of the originality of our Saviour's plan.
"The plan with which Jesus occupied himself, whether we look at its purport or its extent, was perfectly new, and one of which no human being had ever had the least conception. Many plans had been formed before Christ, for the improvement of single nations and states, and many efforts had been made to carry them into execution, but none of them struck deep enough. Their projectors satisfied themselves with checking the grossest abuses and disorders, and never thought of radically curing the evil in existence. The founder of Christianity alone reached an elevation to which no reformer before him bad ever approached. He conceived the exalted, and, in the most appropriate sense of the word, the divine idea of in reality new creating and regenerating the whole human family. It was not his intention to attack a few vices, denounce a few abuses, and rectify here and there a disorder. It was his intention to create mankind anew, and stop up the very sources of wickedness. Think of the greatness presupposed in the formation of such a plan! No benefactor of mankind before Jesus, had ever observed how little could be accomplished by singly attacking the bad habits that prevailed, without striking at the root from which they sprung. Hence, he, who as a legislator or ruler, had to do with whole nations, satisfied himself with being able to produce and maintain external order among them; aud he, who as a philosopher and moralist attempted to accomplish more, and endeavored to effect an internal reformation also, limited his efforts, and confined himself to the education of a few select disciples. Jesus possessed deeper, wider and more correct views, than all the reformers that preceded him. He alone penetrated into the most secret wants of mankind and knew what was peculiarly needful for them. He alone commenced his reforma