Imatges de pàgina
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titled, Observations on diver's passages of scripture from voyages and travels into the Eaft..

Some objections to revelation are founded upon an ignorance of the lanzunge of the scriptures, and' of the phrafeology which is alınost peculiar to the oriental ħations; and some unbelievers have been so exceedingly rash and precipitate in their censures, as not to have looked beyond the very words, or : verses to which they have objected, when otherwise a child would have seen no difficulty.

M. Voltaire; in more than one of his pieces, represents the Jews as cannibals, and pretends to prove from Ez. xxxix. 17-20. that God encou. rages them with the promise of - feeding on the flesh of their enemies*: But if he had read so much as the verse preceding, he must have seen that the whole passage was a fine apostrophe, adiressed to the birds and beasts of prey, and was intended to express, in a very emphatical manner, a very great overthrow of the enemies of the Jews. And thcu fon of man, Thus faith the Lord God, Speak thou unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, -4femble yourselves; and come, gather yourselves on every fide to my sacrifice, that I do facrifice for you, even a great facrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye mall eat the fles of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of

* Traité sur la Tolerance,' p. 118.

bullocks,

bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye Mall eat fat till ye be füll, and drink blood till ye ve drunken, of my facrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Thus ye Yhall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, faith the Lord God. .

When, afterwards; this author acknowledges his mistake, as he does in a postscript to the abovementioned treatise, he says, by way of apology for it, but contrary to all common sense, that two of the verlies which I' have recited might have been addressed to the Jews, as well as to the birds and beasts. What can we think of the fairness and competency of judgment in this most distinguished of modern unbelievers, when he is capable of write ing in this very absurd and unguarded''manner.

SECTION III.

Some objections which more nearly affect the proper

evidence of revelation, especially respecting the artient and present state of the belief of it:

IT has been said hy some modern unbelievers, that I the books which were written by the early adverfaries of christianity have been suppressed by the friends of it, fo that we cannot at this day tell what was written against, or objected to christian

ity, at the first promulgation of it. But this is an assertion destitute of all proof, or probability; for then all christian writers must have carefully avoided the mention of such books, in their own writings, which are come down to us; whereas, they have been so far from doing any thing like this, that it is the opinion of critics, that almost the whole of Celsus's treatise against christianity is transcribed into Origen's answer to it, and a great part of Julian's into that of Cyrıl. Eusebius has also preserved large extracts from the writings of Porphyry; and the same has been the conduct of other christian apologists, with respect to other opponents of christianity

No persons more sincerely regret the loss of these writings than learned christians of the present age; but in the same undistinguishing ravages of time, have perished what we regret more, namely, the writings of many early christians, and antient historians. Besides, how could it, in reason, be expected, that christians should take any peculiar care of the writings of their adversaries. If those supposed writings had contained any thing decisive against christianity, they would certainly (considering the very great advantages under which they were written, for the space of three hundred years) have effectually prevented the spread of christianity, and would have preserved themselves; whereas the

universal universal neglect into which they fell is, if any thing, an argument of their futility, and furnishes a reason why we should comfort ourselves for the loss of them.

It has been said, that if Christ worked so many miracles as the evangelical history represents, healing all the diseased that applied to him, and in three instances raising the dead, he must necessarily have converted the whole Jewish nation, and all the strangers in the country; as it could not but be concluded, that a man who controlled the course of nature must have the concurrence and affiftance of the God of nature, and consequently a sufficient testimony of a divine million.

To this it is replied, that the preaching of Christ seems to have had all the effect that it could be supposed to have had, adınitting his divine mission. Great numbers of those who were of an ingenuous disposition, on whom evidence could produce its proper effect, did become the disciples of Christ, notwithstanding he persisted in disclaiming all worldly honours, and that character which they imagined to be inseparable from the promised Merfiah ; an effect which nothing but the fullest and best grounded conviction can be supposed to have produced.

With respect to the rest of the Jews, and especially the chief priests and rulers, it should be conlidered how incredulous strong prejudices, and

especially especially those which arise from vicious habits, usually make men. It was with the bulk of the Jews a fixed, though an erroneous persuasion, that the Messiah would assume temporal power, and deliver his country from the yoke of the Romans. This they imagined to be the specific character of the Messiah, as deduced from .prophecies which they were convinced came from God. To the evidence of miracles, therefore, they would opposë that of the scriptures, and, consequently, the mira: " cle's of Moses and the prophets, with which they seemed to be irreconcilable; and this, joined to their vicious habits, which rendered them extremely averse to the pure doctrines of the gospel, (having no idea that repentance was at all neceffary. to their being intitled to the blessings of the Mes. siah's kingdom, which they thought belonged to all the children of Abraham) must have rendered them extremely obdurate, with respect to the evidence of the divine mission of Christ; so that it is not to be. wondered that so many of them perfifted in their hatred and opposition to him, notwithstanding all his miracles..

Unhappily; alfo, the Jews were at that time infected with the notion of the power of demons, and evil spirits, and thought it possible, that by a confederacy with them, Christ might heal those diseases which were usually ascribed to their power over mankind; and they had probably some

fimilar

mirac) 'oppom many

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