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this indulgence? Miracles must, therefore, be wrought at all times, in all places, and before every individual of mankind. And what would be the consequence? Mi. racles would cease to be miracles, and the whole course of nature would be thrown into confusion and disorder. So unreasonable are the demands of wayward men!
Many parts of the Old Testament are extremely dull, uninteresting, and even unintelligible?”
Considering the ages in which it was written; the 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; and that many hundreds of places are really inaccurately translated; 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*. 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 avowed Infidel, with these qualifications, I believe, 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 professediy 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 books of the New Testament, such
as no man can reconcile ?”
* It is no inconsiderable proof of the truth of some of the historical books of the Old Testament, that the ten tribes of Israel, which were carried captive by SHALMANESER, king of Assyria, upwards of 2500 years ago, and which had been supposed to be lost and swallowed up among the nations through which they were scattered, are now found to exist as a distinct people, in the eastern parts of the world, under the name of Afghans. Their traditions are little more than a mutilated and perverted history of the ancient ferws. See the second volume of the Asiatic Researches, for a fuller account of these people.
We deny that there is either contradiction, absurdity, or falsehood, in this inestimable Volume*. 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 pure, 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 í punish“ment denounced against sin in the Gospel? This seems
* “ Holy Scriptures are an adorable mixture of clearness and obscu. rity, which enlighten and humble the children of God, and blind and harden those of this world. The light proceeds from God, and blind. ness from the creature."
This is an observation of that admirable Divine, Dr. WILSON, late Bishop of Sodor and Man, whose works contain a rich magazine of pi. ous and useful observations. If all our Bishops and Clergy had lived, and preached, and wrote in the spirit of this good man, there would have been few Infidels this day in England.- Bishop WILSON, 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.”-See his Works, vol. 1. p. 34, quarto edit.
The public is greatly indebted to the present Archbishop Newcome, an Irish Prelate, for his learned labours on biblical subjects. This sound scholar declares his opinion to be, that “every genuine proposition 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 criticism."-See his Harmony.
Though Dr. Mill has enumerated more than 30,000 variations in the manuscripts and versions of the New Testament, it is very remarkaable, and highly satisfactory, that they do not, when all put together, af. fect any thing essential, either in the doctrines or precepts of the Gospel.
+ In the 35th of Archbishop Tillotson's Sermons, every thing is said upon the eternity of the torments of hell, that can be known with any
“ hard, and indeed inconsistent, with the goodness and
mercy of the Divine Being?"
Guilty man is an improper judge in this matter. InfiEnite wisdom hath seen good to denounce such punishment
against incorrigible transgressors, and, therefore, we may be.well 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 re“ straints ?"
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
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 * ?”
certainty. It is a discourse well worth the serious attention of the
be reckoned the late Bishop Newton and Dr. David HARTLEY, have been of opinion, that eternal punishment, properly so called, is no where denounced in Scripture. If so, the objection is of no force in any point of view. Consult Scarlett's New Testament on Universal Resiitution. We may be assured, however, in every event of things, the Judge of all the earth
* There are several circumstances, as we have already in part observed, still in existence, strongly corroborative of the truth of the Bible. The Mosaic history of the creation, is confirmed by the present appearance of
will do right.
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 par. ticular, were put into all hands, scattered into all naţions, translated into various languages. They have been quoted by innumerable authors, appealed to by all parties of Christians, and 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 consolatory 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
things : Noah's flood by a variety of natural phenomena, and the ges neral 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 supplied them with water, which is still in existence, and visible to the curious in. quirer, besides the names of places, and the traditions of the present inhabitants : the history and prophecies concerning Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Egypt, Jerusalem, and 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 earthquake at the crucifixion of Christ, is still visible, and bears witness to the preternatural concussion. Let the curious reader consult Shaw and MAUNDRELI's Travels, together with BRYANT's Dissertation on the Divine Mission of Moses, and his Observations on the Place of Residence given to the Children of Israel in Egypt, and their Departure from it, for several of the above particulars.
Noah's ark is found, by the most accurate observations of modern geometricians, to have been contrived after the very best form for the purposes for which it was intended ; and its dimensions perfeally well suited to receive the burden designed for it. It has been calculated to contain upwards of 72,000 tons burden.
Consult DODDRIDGE's Lectures for Heathen Testimonies, to the facts of the Old Testament.
of God's truth.
The gates of hell shall not prevail against
“ 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 upon earth :)".
Granted. Do you, therefore, infer that the Gospel itself as an imposture? This argument is good for nothing. It proves too much. 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, yirtuous, and heavenly minded, after rejecting the Gospel ?, I could produce you a thousand instances where men have become better by cordially embracing it; and we may defy you to produce one instance where any man became
“Can any man, of an enlightened and liberal mind, em"brace the mysterious doctrines of Christianity? What must “such an one think of the Trinity, the Atonement, the In
carnation, and those other unaccountable peculiarities of " that institution, which have been a stumbling block to many persons in every age of the church-p?" 03
* See LARDNER's Credibility, passim; SIMPSON's Essay on the Au. thenticity of the New Testament, where the evidence is brought into one short view; and Lord Haile's Disquisitions concerning the Antiquities of the Christian Church.
The celebrated Philosopher, Bonnet, of Geneva, 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 num"ber of proofs; by such striking, solid, and various proofs, as are those "facts on which the religion of Jesus Christ is founded.”
+ Consult Simpson's Apology for the Doctrine of the Trinity, on this objection, where the subject is treated at large.
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 sacri.