Imatges de pàgina
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Christianity to furnish eyes to those who will not see. Evidence that will force its way irresistibly through prejudice and unwillingness, compelling submission, she does not promise. Enough to satisfy abundantly cvery candid, serious, diligent, humble inquirer, sho iloes profess to give. If she ever exhibit more, it is beyond her stipulation, and more than any have reason to demand.

The pride of human reason is often deeply offended at the claims of Christianity. The gospel demands to be received as a revelation of truth, communicated by authority, so that a wise man shall have no room to ascribe his knowledge of God and of his will to his own powers of discovery; but has to sit, just where the ignorant and lowly must sit, at the feet of Jesus. This pleases not the speculative and ambitious turn of the human intellect. Men like to find out truth by reasonings of their own, rather than by the authoritative declarations of another, even though that other be infallible wisdom. They love to theorize and conjecture, and try the ingenuity of their own faculties, so as to praise themselves for whatever is ascertained. Hence, in matters of science, there was a long and hard struggle before they could be brought down from the proud flights of speculation, and consent to the self-denial of the inductive method, submitting to be instructed only by the revelations of experiment and in the unpro. tending school of fact. To adopt the same method in matters of religious investigation, many are not yet willing To give up all speculation-philosophy,

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Evidences.

falsely so called”—and consent to receive, instead of being ambitious to discover, religious truth; to receive it at a source where the humblest and the lof. tiest mind must drink together out of the same cup; lo receive it on the simple testimony of a well-attested revelation, which lies as open to the peasant as the philosopher, this the wise men of the world are slow of heart to consent to. Their pride of reason is offended. Did an account come to them from the other continent of certain novel and interesting phenomena recently observed in the heavens, they would see at once how unphilosophical it would be to commence theorizing upon the question of their truth, and then reject them because inconsistent with certain previous speculations of their own. They would institute but the one inquiry, Is there reason to depend upon the accuracy of the observations, and the honesty of the reports of those from whom these state. ments proceed? Satisfied on this head, they would at once receive the phenomena, and every truth resulting therefrom, on the great principle of modern science, that whatever is thus collected by induction must be received, notwithstanding any conjectural hypothesis to the contrary, until contradicted or limited by other phenomena equally authenticated. Now we only ask them not to disown the philosophy of Newton in examining the evidence of the religion of Christ; to try the celestial wonders, the me. canique celesteas given by Christ and his apostles, not by theory or speculation, but precisely as they would try any other, in the open field of fact and induction. We do not ask them to believe, unless upon the credit of facts. But we do ask, that what- . ever is thus proved they will receive, notwithstanding any conjectural hypothesis to the contrary. The whole argument for Christianity, so far from being in any degree theoretical or speculative, is eminently one of experimental evidence and inductive simplicity. We take the position that our Lord Jesus Christ professed to make a revelation from God. It is conceded that if he attested his communications by miracles, he sealed that profession as true.

We say he did thus attest them. But miracles are facts, phenomena, to be proved by the testimony of eyewitnesses, like any phenomena in physics. To such testimony we appeal. We ask the unbeliever to refute it; and if he cannot, to receive the revelation, and bow to its declarations as the attested word of God. But here, unfortunately, we set the rule of sound philosophy against the dispositions of an unhumbled heart. The latter has the victory often, and the wise man goes to work to oppose our facts with his theories, our testimony with his speculations, till he flatters himself, because he has covered up his

eyes in his own mazes, that he has refuted the evidences of Christianity. Hence, therefore, another cause that learned men are not all believers in Christianity. They are not all humble enough, in a question with which heart and life are so much connected, to abide by the results to which the principles of philosophical investigation would naturally lead them. But hence, also, a most important reason that whoever of you may have doubts as tu the gospel of Christ, should, in the pursuit on which we have entered, be cautious, candid, ready to learn, and determined to embrace the

uth

herever it should be found.

One consideration more. It is true of Chris. tianity, as of many other excellent subjects, that objections are more easily invented than answered. Objections in such matters are usually light affairs, floating on the surface of men's thoughts. Answers, to be solid, must be heavier and lie deeper, requiring, like the pearl, both labor and skill to bring them up and fashion them for use.

But Christianity is peculiarly exposed to objections, from the simple fact that as it meets every body and compels every body to say yea or nay to its requirements, every body must needs have something to say, however unreasonable, in its favor or against it. Few indeed would venture to give an opinion, without some study, on a question in science or polite literature; but the most ignorant and unthinking will undertake an opinion upon the merits of the gospel, and raise an objection in a breath which would require much patience and some learning to refute. Hundreds hear the objection; thousands relish, retain, and are poisoned by it; while perhaps not one of them has the disposition to hear, or patience enough to under stand, the reply. Evil hearts can do what only gool and well-instructed minds can undo. “Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to

answer.

When this is done, the same question will be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written on the subject. And as people in general, for one reason or another, like short objections better than long answers, in this mode of disputation, if it can be styled such, the odds must ever be against us; and we must be content with those for our friends who have honesty and erudition, candor and patience, to study both sides of the question."*

These observations explain the lamentable fact, that in a large portion of society, there is so much more acquaintance with the cant and slang of infidelity, than with the reasonings in support of Christianity; that our young men are often so familiar with the boasting and floating calumnies which the troubled sea of infidelity is ever casting up, with its mire and dirt, in the face of the gospel; while, with the innumerable efforts by which Christian science has scattered all such poisonous exhalations to the winds, many have not the most trifling acquaintance.

All these considerations are at least sufficient to impress us with the eminent importance of the most serious attention to the spirit and manner in which one proceeds in the study of the evidences of Christianity.

Let me urgently recommend docility, in this pur. suit. By this, I mean nothing resembling credulity;

, but an open-hearted and humble-minded readiness to weigh evidence with simplicity of purpose in the

* Horne's Letters on Infidelity.

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