Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

reasoning must spring. And thirdly, it is the source of moral sentiment, by which man receives the knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood; and it is that power by which he is enabled to feel the obligation of duty, both to God and his fellow creatures. It is, in fine, when duly cultivated, a spark of a divine intelligence in the soul, descending from God, by an influent stream of light intended “to enlighten every man that cometh into the world;" and in this superior view of it, it is a law written in the heart, the first rudiments of justice, benignity, universal love and charity.

But with all the powers annexed to the term reason, as generally understood, it can surely never include in it, either a mediate or immediate revelation in its applicability to matters of religion. Were reason in itself all sufficient in determining human conduct, as in the case of animals, we should expect no deviation from that universal law by which all creatures are bounded; we should expect, what is invariably opposed to fact and experience, namely an universal conformity with its dictates. But the question is, are these deductions fairly warranted from the premises ? Is reason really that faithful counsellor and unerring guide, by which man can safely direct his steps to the object which most concerns him, even to the knowledge, worship and adoration of the Most High God? alas ! human reason in this respect falls infinitely short of its proposed end; for in the direction of human conduct, it in. variably manifests its weakness; and in all ages has exhibited its incompetence for the attainment of true knowledge, or the promo. tion of the real happiness of the human race. How clear then is the presumption that man must be possessed of a higher principle than reason, weak and fallible as it is, by the cultivation of which, and which alone, he may attain the true object of his creation, namely, the heartfelt, not the mere speculative knowledge of God, of his attributes and his requirements from his creatures, as destined for an immortal state of existence.

Will not this immediately suggest to our minds, the vast disproportion there is, between reason and rationality, between that limited faculty, which adapts itself to the exigences of the passing scene of this fleeting life, and that pure and genuine rationallity, which, when under the influence and guidance of Revelation, is capable of elevating its possessor to the knowledge, love and practice of the laws and institutions of the heavenly world and state ? It is an evident but humiliating truth, that whilst we observe our fellow men, in the full exercise of natural reason, prosecuting with unwearied diligence their worldly avocations, and anxiously engaged in the pursuit of an imaginary phantom miscalled happiness; yet, as it respects divine and eternal things, are betraying a palpable insanity; for how notorious is the fact, that at the period they are adepts in that “wisdom of the world, which is foolishness with God,” they are as ignorant of God, of the nature of their own souls, of the laws of the eternal kingdom of order and peace, as the very brutes they profess to despise.

Would we then retain that superiority over the lower rank of animals, which in reality confers on us the dignified title of man; be it ever deeply impressed upon our attention, that until a more exalted principle than mere natural reason be opened in our minds, however effective it may be in the prudent management of our secular concerns, for imbueing them with speculative knowledge and science; in unfolding the diversified phenomena and laws of a mere ephemeral existence; with all these supereminent privi. leges, with all these boasted efforts of reason, we are acting a most delusive unreasonable part; for to all intents and purposes, we are spiritually insane, so long as we persist in the neglect of cultivating that true rationality which establishes a communion between God and the soul; attracting it by a Divine influence to the ardent pursuit of its supreme good, and fixing its purest affections on the eternal realties of the heavenly state.

In conclusion, may it be the devout prayer of every true disciple of the holy Jesus, that his kingdom may indeed come, and abide permanently in the hearts of his whole rational offspring. And may the subject under consideration lead us to a perception of our true dignity and supreme happiness, and convince us, that though the things which are seen and are temporal, may demand the free exercise of the reasoning faculties to perfectionate ; yet, that the things which are unseen and are eternal, are alone capable of being possessed and enjoyed by the truly rational man, who to knowledge is disposed to add virtue, to faith obedience; and who, in the exercise of the christian graces, will believe the testimony of an Apostle who declares, that "the greatest of these is charity.”

T. F. CHURCHILL. Bristol.

INSCRIPTION ON THE CROSS. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. Jobn xix. 19.

In the present paper I propose to go into the inquiry respecting the inscription which was put over the cross of Christ; and shall undertake to show, that although the four Evangelists give, to

appearance a varied account of it; yet the account is not varied in reality--that the Evangelists are in perfect agreement with each other, and that the objection which is raised by Deists against the New Testament, from this apparently varied account, is entirely groundless.

It would be a very great sacrifice of time, to enter into any long detail of the objections, fruitless as they are, which the Deists make to the Bible as a Divine Revelation. With those who profess Deistical opinions, ridicule is considered as the test of truth; and hence we find that with such persons, sarcasm and worthless wit supply the place of real investigation; in this state of mind, it is impossible, with any degree of accuracy, to investigate any subject, however trifling it may be, much less to investigate a subject connected with theology, and with the spiritual things of an hereafter.

The principal doctrine of the Deists is a belief in God or a Supreme Being, the word being derived from the Latin word Deus, God. Although they believe in a God, yet they deny the possibility of any revelation from him; and hence they suppose that God does not at all concern himself about the world of nature, about the human race, or about their conduct and their pursuits that these matters are all too low and mean for the Almighty's notice, and hence they fall into the reasoning of Lucretius, the Epicurean poet, who says :

“ For whatsoe'er's divine must live at peace,
In undisturb'd and everlasting ease;
Nor care for us, from fears and dangers free,
Sufficient to his own felicity.
Nought here below, nought in our power it needs,

Ne'er smiles at good, nor frowns at wicked deeds." Now to profess a belief in a Divine Being, in a Great First Cause, as the Source and Spring from whence all created subjects had their birth, is to believe that this Divine Being, is the tender Father of all his rational and intelligent offspring, and to suppose that a Father, more especially a Divine Father, who is in Himself perfect, and infinitely good and wise, could suffer his children to wander in doubt and uncertainty respecting his will, and to give them no information whatever of their true condition as rational beings--no knowledge of what they really are, or of what they will be-whether there is, or is not a future state of existence-but that this divine and perfect Father, would torture and distract the minds of his children with doubts, uncertainties, and vain conjectures of the future, is to suppose what is incompatible with the parental duties of a Father; and therefore must not, cannot be attributed to Him who is our heavenly Father, and whose boundless love, and tender mercies are certainly over all his works. We must, then, conclude, because reason forces upon us the conclusion, that a Divine Father would not leave his children in doubt and uncertainty respecting his will and pleasure: but that he would make known his will—that he would reveal himself to his children, and make known to them those important realities, for the enjoy. ment of which they were expressly created. It is then, as far as we can judge of great things by small, the height of absurdity and consummate folly, to believe in the existence of a Divine Being, and to call him Father, and with the same breath to deny the

possibility and probability of this Father manifesting any tender solicitude for the welfare of his children—that he would keep them in ignorance, darkness, and doubtful conjecture about matters of the most importance to them ? Such a supposition is not at all reasonable! it is a riddle of absurdity! a conclusion as false as it is base and wicked. The belief in a God, as the tender Father of the human race necessarily begets a belief in a Divine Revelation from him ; for to believe in the former and to deny the latter, is to suppose, what can not be proved, (because inconsistent with reason) that God, who is our Father, careth nothing for his children! A human father would blush at such conduct, and to attribute it to our divine Father, is, to say the least of it, a riddle of absurdity !-a motley mass of contradiction; which needs only to be exposed, to be rejected as a worthless ground, untenable and unsafe!

The denial of a Divine Revelation by those who maintain De. istical principles, arises from the great attachment which these persons

have to the things of sense. With these the bodily senses are every thing! they are set up as the infallible judges even of God himself! of His providence, and of all subjects connected with the spiritual things of religion and life : whereas we know that we are continually deceived by the bodily senses : first impressions strike these senses very forcibly, and we generally find, them to be erroneous: thus it appears to the senses that the sun of our system makes a progressive movement from east to west ;, when the truth is that it makes no such movement; but this appearance arises solely from the diurnal revolution which the earth makes upon its own axis, forming by such movement the days and nights, and giving the fallacious appearance of the rising of the sun in the east, and of its setting in the west. Again, it appears as though the eye saw objects at a distance; but the truth is, that every object seen by man is, as it were, painted upon the retina of the eye; and thus the eye sees every object in itself, con

trary to the general appearance and to the general belief. The senses then are not to be depended upon for accuracy of judgment in all cases, and especially in especially in spiritual matters. “The sorceries of sense confine the soul to earth, and make it think meanly of spiritual things! They dismount it from its native wing, and, like the serpent in the fall, throw it down to lick the dust, and crawl in such a thought.”

The lovers of the principles of Deism reject the Holy Scriptures as a Divine Revelation, because, they say, many things therein, are discordant, contradictory, false, and unworthy of a Divine Being ! But are they quite sure that their judgment is so perfect and infallible that it is impossible for them to err? May they not, from the weakness and imperfect state of all human judgment, be themselves deceived in some of their conclusions ? it surely is not an impossible case; but a very probable one! and hence it is possible for them to be “lovers of argument:” but “ averse to sense! boasters of liberty, fast bound in chains !"

The Deists to confirm themselves in their disbelief of a Divine Revelation are at great pains to select from the Scriptures, such parts as appear in their literal form to be contradictory, and without making any allowance for the imperfections of translations, and without at all suspecting their own judgment in the case, they instantly proceed in their beloved work of ridicule—which to them (but to nobody else) is the test of truth; after which follow contempt, rejection, and a total denial.

It is not the object of this paper to answer all the objections which these infallible reasoners make to the Scriptures as a Divine Revelation ; but simply to confine it to one subject ; and if it can be shown that their reasoning is false in one instance, we may fairly presume that it may be so in others. And thus it is prudent to look upon their evidence with a great deal of caution and suspicion. The subject to which we must confine ourselves in this paper

is that of the inscription which was put on the cross of Jesus Christ. Respecting this subject, these reasoners tell us that “not any two of the four Evangelists agree in reciting, exactly in the same words, the written inscription, short as it is,” and this, to them, is a sufficient reason for rejecting, as spurious, the history of the circumstance altogether. This is a most illogical inference ; for although they do not recite the inscription precisely in the same words, yet they all agree in the general fact; and when we reflect that this inscription was written in three different languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, it is more than probable that the trifling differene of which they complain, may, in some measure, arise from the dif

« EdellinenJatka »