« הקודםהמשך »
means properly authenticated; for, with the exception of the Scriptural writings, which were written in another language, in another country, several years after the recorded events are stated to have happened, and in a contradictory manner, there are but two single passages in all the contemporary authors which mention his name, and these are, one sentence in Josephus, which is notoriously allowed by critics to be an after-addition, and a short sentence in Tacitus, which was taken from the evidence of Christian witnesses before the tribunals. But, as in this concise account, the genuineness of all historical relations are admitted as facts, the authenticity of the New Testament will be allowed upon the same grounds ; because, as was stated in the outset, each system of theology should have the assistance of the same collateral aid to support its pretensions to divine origin and implicit belief. If, then, the Christian mode of worship, and the doctrinal points connected there with, are affirmed to be unequivocally true, and established by means of extraordinary and superhuman intervention in the display of miracles, the same admission must be made of all other religions which have been propagated by the interposition of the same astonishing events, and which events have been as firmly believed by their respective followers, as the Christian miracles are defended by the most stout-hearted champion of Jesus. With any other question connected with the investigation of the subject, we have here nothing to do, this being the grand climax of the argument; and by shewing that it is built upon a sandy foundation and with a rotten basis, the veracity of the whole falls to the ground without our being at the trouble of attacking its several parts in detail. The miracles of Christ are so well known and so easily referred to, that it would be an useless repetition to insert many of them in this place; a few shall be mentioned, that they may stand side by side with their foreign competitors, and invite scrutiny and examination.
The turning of water into wine--feeding the multitude with five barley-loaves, and two small fishes-the raising of Lazarus -restoring the blind to sight-and the resurrection and ascensionare well known to all Testament readers. Since the age of the Apostles, Protestant believers maintain that no miracles whatever have been since performed, and that all supernatural power expired with those holy men; but the Catholics, who are by far the greater number of the followers of Christ, as stoutly assert, that they are to this day, and have been since the commencement of their religion, of continual occurrence.*
* St. Augustine tells us, that, in the city of Hippo, there were 70 miracles performed in the space of two years connected with the building of a chapel in honour of St. Stephen ; and St. Dunstan, we are told, actually pulled the Devil's nose with a pair of tongs. So necessary indeed was the performance of miracles to the character of a Saint, that the old Catholics allowed none to be such, but those who had distinguished themselves by supernatural power.
: To reconcile these great points of opposition is impossible; and the only thing which can be said in its defence is, that neither party is acquainted with what its religion is.
RELIGION AND MIRACLES OF MAHOMET. The religion instituted by Mahomet was next ushered upon the political stage; and though for a short period it gained but few converts to its doctrines, yet, finally, it spread with immense rapidity, numbering as many followers in one hundred years, as Christianity has been able to boast of for eighteen hundred. The fundamental principle of this worship is the Unity of God, to restore which, in purity of idea, was stated by Mahomet to be the reason of his mission upon carjh. That there could be but one orthodox religion was a grand tenet of the Arabian prophet, and he endeavoured, by the precepts which he inculcated, to impress the minds of all men with the same belief. Without denying the divine mission of Christ, he asserted that he himself was a subsequent and a greater prophet, sent by the Almighty to perfect and firmly establish the only true system of theology. During twenty-three years, Mahomet was employed in dealing out slowly and separately, chapter by chapter, the system he was about to establish, and he produced them to his disciples as the genuine word of God, dictated by the Almighty himself; and, certainly, for beauty of sentiment, and elegance of diction, they have never been surpassed by any other of the revealed writings. With so much reverence and awe is this sacred volume held by the Mussulmen, that they dare not lay a hand upon it without having previously undergone a purification; and it is even said, that it is a crime punishable with death for a Christian to touch it. The materials of which the Koran is composed are obviously stolen from the Jewish and Christian writers, whose theological tenets it followed about five hondred years.
It is also much intermixed with allegorical tales and legendary anecdotes which were current in eastern countries.
MIRACLES were thought by Mahomet, as well as by all the former fouuders of a new sect, to be an indispensible article necessary to the proving and settling the divine nature of his system, and accordingly we find them interspersed throughout the pages of the Koran, though not in so great a number as in the New Testament. The grand, astonishing, and incontrovertible miracle to which the Koran lays claim is itself, being so pure, holy, so clearly bearing the marks of authenticity throughout its composition, that none but the Almighty power of God himself could have been the author of it: and when it is considered that Mahomet was a man without learning or endowments, it was impossible he could have written it.
Among the dogmas of Islamism, however, other minor miraculous events are recorded, among which are the 24,000 visits of the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet—that Mahomet travelled in one night through 90 Heavens, mounted upon the animal called Borak, one half woman and one half horse--that he walked in the sunshine withont producing a shadow, as ordinary mortals do-he caused trees and vegetation which had withered and decayed, to resume their verdure, and sprout out with freshness, as in the spring —thut being on a journey, and wanting water, he caused the empty wells and cisterns, which had been purched up with the drought, to gush forth with pure and wholesome water-and that he cut the body of the moon into two equal parts. The examination of the last established religion which has figured in the world having been effected, it remains merely to state in general terms, without commentary or argument, that if miracles prove Christianity to be true, they also prove all religions to be equally true-as it is generally admitted, there can be but one true religion, it necessarily follows, that not one is true.
TU MR. R. CARLILE.
Sir, There seems lo me something in Atheism so repugnant to the moral feelings of civilized man, that I sincerely doubt whether such a character as a real Atheist ever existed within the whole range of the human species. That you and many other individuals have openly denied the existence of a God, is not disputed; but whether pride, vain-glory, an affectation to be thought more wise and penetrating than others, have not induced them to make this gloomy boast, in which the decisions of the head are at variance with the dictates of the heart, may be considered as highly problematical.
Without recurring to the theories of Epicurus, Lucretius, Hobbes, or Spinosa, it may be safely asserted, that among our modern professing Atheists many have been found, such as your correspondent,.“ 0. O.” and others, who resolve all the phenomena in the universe into matter, motion, chemical affinities and repugnances, attraction, repulsion, and simple or complex organization. Intrenched under these scientific terms, which have an imposing appearance, they advance their theories with an overbearing confidence, as though truth could be laid under an. obligation to impudence. Deluded by these specious reasonings of men, who,
having found his instrument, forget,
many, unaccustomed to deep researches, have found themselves bewildered in'metaphysical labyrinths, from which they have discovered 'no way to escape.
Whenever the disbelief of the being of a God gains the ascendancy in the mind, the foundations of morals, of virtue, and of duty, and of obligation, are swept aside. A full conviction that there is a God, holy, wise, and just, links mar to eternity, and keeps alive, even in the otherwise most degenerate breast, a consciousness of future responsibility.
In answer to the question proposed by you, “ What is God?” proofs of which you seem so anxious to obtain, and yet defy all the talent and learning of the age to convince you of the existence. of such a Being, I submit the following sheets to your consideration; and to the attention of such of your readers who profess to entertain similar notions with yourself. Lord Bacon has somewhere said, “ That a little philosophy inclineth men's minds to Atheism; but depth in philosophy bringethi men's minds about to religion."
That there is a great First Cause of all finite existence, to whom contingencies and imperfections are alike inapplicable, results from the following propositions. But as the terms necessity and contingent frequently occur, it will be proper to explain the manner in which they are used.
In these propositions, thai, and that only, is considered to be necessary which cannot be perceived, either to be non-existent, or to exist differently from what it is, without involving a contradiction. That, on the contrary, is contingent, which either may bė, or may not be, without involving any contradiction.
These terms thus understood, it follows, 'that every being and thing that is in existence, or that is possible, must be either necessary or contingent ; because, in this respect, these two modes of existence embrace all that are possible and all that are real.
That which is contingent, might possibly not have existed, otherwise it would not be contingent; because the possibility of non-existence is included in our idea of contingency; and it is this possibility of non-existence that distinguishes contingent existence from necessary existence.
That, which might possibly not have been, cannot always aetually have been otherwise its non-existence would have been impossible : and if any Being, or substance, has always existed, that Being, or substance, could never have been contingent, because contingency implies a beginning, and also the possibility of actual non-existence.
That which is in its own 'nature contingent, and which has, on this account, not always been in actual existence, must, admitting it to exist, have had some cause of its existence; and consequently, the primary cause of all contingent existence must have been eternal.
That which has actually existed from eternity, cannot be contingent, because it cannot possibly have had a cause, or have ad.
mitted one ; and no Being, or substance, actụally existing, that thus necessarily excludes a cause, can resemble in its mode of existence those things and beings which have had a beginning.
That which is not contingent, and which has existed eternally, being without the possibility of a cause, must exist necessarily.
The First Cause of all contingent beings and things must exist necessarily; because, being prior to all beginning of existence, the possibility of its being contingent is excluded by its eternity.
The First Cause, existing necessarily, must have had its nature, which contains the aggregate of all its attributes, whatever they are, independently of all causes; because not one of these attria butes can be contingent; and, consequently, all its essential attributes must exist necessarily.
These attributes could not have been different from what they are ;: because if any difference be admitted to have been possible, something must have determined their present state of existence; and, in this case, they must be contingent.
An attribute that has limits, must have been determined to such limits as it has, by some cause ; but that attribute which is without any cause, must also be without limits.
That which is without limits, must be absolutely perfect in itself, according to its nature. The First Cause of every being and thing that had a beginning, and all its attributes, being necessarily existent, must therefore be absolutely perfect,
As the First Cause, and all the attributes of this First Cause, whatever they are, must exist necessarily, contingency cannot possibly reach them. Nothing can belong to its nature that includes any contingency. Hence every thing that is essential to its nature must belong to it necessarily. And because both its nature and its attributes must necessarily be beyond the reach of contingency, every thing that is not necessarily included in its nature, must necessarily be excluded from it.
All defects; all imperfections; all wants; all liabilities to accident and error, and all ignorance, are excluded necessarily, because they are contingencies, and cannot possibly exist in that cause, from which, by the nature of its existence, all contingencies are necessarily excluded. No absolute perfection can be contingent, because if contingent it would then include a beginping, and want independence; and therefore could not be absolute. All perfections that are not contingent must be eternal, because they are not contingent; and must be necessarily existent, because they are eternal. All eternal perfections must be immutable, because they are independent and eternal. All perfections which are thus eternal, independent, necessarily existent, and immu!able, must coincide with the nature of that cause, which is eternal, independent, necessarily existent and immutable. No absolute perfection can, therefore, be excluded necessarily from that nature with which it coincides ; and contingency cannot possibly reach that
Vol. XIV. No. 20.