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farlan, it is the most miserable and unpoetical that was ever attempted; nor can we discover what advantage is to follow from rendering an Erse poet, word for word, into a learned language, without paying the smallest regard to the essential idiom or phraseology of that language. Such phrases as Lora nimborum for cloudy Lora, and Ùlin cithararum for the musical Ulin perpetually occur; and may perhaps be defended as copies of a very familiar Gaelic idiom. But why write super tumulo arduo, instead of in collo edito ; and what are we to make of the phrase Est princeps sub laude? If the fame of Ossian were to be estimated through the medium of such a translation, or rather travestie as this, it certainly would never have excited a literary warfare in this enlightened age and nation. Art. II. An Illustration of the General Evidence establishing the Reality
of Christ's Resurrection. By George Cook, A. M. Minister of Laurence-Kirk. 8vo. pp. 323. Price 7s. 6d. boards. Longman and Co.
1808. THE merit and importance of this work will justify us to our
readers, in giving them an ample account of its contents, and describing pretty much at large its excellences and defects. The plan of the writer is “ to examine the evidence for the reality of the resurrection, to determine whether that evidence be sufficient to produce a rational and steady belief.” In pursuance of this design, he divides his subject into four distinct heads.
“ The general evidence,” he says, “ arises from the following sources :
1. From the prophecies of Jesus, that at a certain time he was to rise from the dead, conjoined with his wisdom.
2. From the fact, that, at this precise time, his body was, by the confession of all who had access to know, not to be found in the sepulchre in which it had been laid, although the most effectual precaution had been taken to prevent its removal.
3. From the positive testimony of the disciples, that after this time they frequently saw bim, conversed with him, and received from bim those instructions upon which they acted in publishing his gospel.
4. From the success which attended their preaching, founded upon the alledged fact that he had actually risen.” pp. 3, 4.
The first and second part occupy but a small proportion of the volume. The author seems to reserve himself for the two latter general divisions, under which he has introduced a series of arguments, for the most part forcible, and always judiciously arranged, clearly illustrated, and adorned by an excellent
style. The third part shows that the apostles could not be deceived themselves, and that they did not intend to deceive others. The former position is established by considering the manner of Christ's appearance, as recorded in the evangelical history. The latter embraces a great variety of topics. The author describes the disappointment of the apostles when their master was crucified; he shows that they must have been con. vinced that an attempt to deceive the world would be impracticable, that the propagation of Christianity could not gratify any passion, or bring with it any temporal advantage to the apostles, and was not such an undertaking as would naturally suggest itself to men of their habits of thinking, that they could not have been influenced by the notion that the end justified the means, that they underwent the most dreadful persecutions, and even sacrificed their lives, though they knew beforehand what sufferings they must endure. He farther considers the difference between their case and that of those who have suffered for false opinions, the advantages which they would have derived from retracting their testimony, the cheerfulness and alacrity with which they submitted to persecution and death, and the support given to the argument by their preceding conduct. On that branch of the argument which shows that the apostles did not intend to deceive others, the following excellent remarks are introduced.
• But if, notwithstanding all this, it be still thought that the apostles derived, from their own reflection, the eplarged views which they possessed, or adhered to them without any belief of their being the dictates of in, spiration, this much, it would seem, must be granted, that their moral perceptions were exquisitely acute, that they have had the strongest admira, tion of virtue, the strongest zeal for the promotion of piety, when they (undertook so difficult a work to secure the triumph of virtue, and to establish the principles of a purer religion. If this, however, was the case, and if it was not, no account, supposing them to be impostors, can be given of their appearing as teachers; in what manner shall it be reconciled with a great part of what they taught? They blended the most sublime truths with the strangest falsehoods; they suggested the most striking motives for the conscientious discharge of duty, but these motives derived all their force from the truth of what they knew to be a fiction of the imagination ; they spent a great part of their lives in upwearied efforts to delude mankind, and were guilty of what, to them who certaiply thought most justly of God, must have appeared the most shocking profanity, They laid it down as the fundamental principle of their system, without the acknowledgment of which, they admitted none into the society which they formed, that the Almighty had given a divine mission to a man, who they were certain had no such mission ; that this man, whose body was corrupting in the tomb where it had been deposited, had been raised from the dead, and had ascended to heaven; that he had been honoured in higher regions as the saviour of the human race, and had been constituted the Judge, to whom all who have ever lived, are, on the great day of retribution, to render an account of their actions. What can be conceived more wicked and more blasphemous, than those declarations, if they who made them were assured that they had no foundation in truth ; yet they were published for the sole design of promoting the glory of God, by increasing the number of those who honoured and obeyed him; they were published by men who zealously inculcated the sacred obligation of the most undeviating integrity; and who represented falsehood even in the best of causes, as meriting the indignation of heaven. There was then, in the character of the apostles, upon the supposition of their giving a false testimony, a junction of the most exalted virtue and the most consummate depravity; an union most unnatural, the existence of which it is difficult to conceive.' pp. 60-62.
Under the fourth head, Mr. Cook, after establishing the fact that the apostles did extensively diffuse the Christian religion, and represent the resurrection of Jesus as the foun, dation upon which the truth of their religion must be placed, proceeds to shew the impracticability of any attempt to establish Christianity at that time, either among the Jews or Gentilcs, if it had not been divine.
This part of the work, which is very copious in discussion, divides itself into two sections. The first is employed in pointing out the obstacles which must have prevented the Jews from embracing Christianity, on the supposition of its falsehood. Here the attachment of the Jews to their own institutions, their fond expectation of a temporal conqueror to res. cue them from Roman bondage and lead them on to universal dominion, their repugnance to own a crucified criminal as the promised Messiah, and their indignation at the removal of the distinction between Jew and Gentile, are well illustrated. The author contends, that this argument is strengthened by the consideration of the inflexible firmness, with which the Jews adhered to the faith of their fathers, amid the frequent vicissi. tudes of fortune which they experienced after their return from Babylon to the time of Jesus Christ. He then offers some remarks on the conduct of those Jews who rejected Christianity, and very naturally accounts for the silence of Josephus concerning our Lord. He observes,
· Had any other account, (such an account as intelligent men who knew the whole story of the resurrection to be an imposition, and who had in their possession irresistible proof of this, would have given) ever been pub. lished, it would, in all probability, have been directly mentioned, or some allusion would have been made to it, by the historians of Jesus; because to have passed it over without notice, without some attempt to refute it, would have been virtually to give up the cause. But whatever might have been the conduct of the evangelists, there is an author of that period, in whose writings we should have certainly found it. Josephus, the Jewish hisa torian, himself of the priesthood, and warmly attached to the interests, and apparently to the faith of his nation, who wrote a history of the memo. rable siege, and of the complete destruction of Jerusalem, and who lived after Christianity had made considerable progress, could not have omitted so interesting a document. Yet he has preserved a total silence respecting the resurrection, that passage in which the life of Jesus is shortly given being certainly spurious. It may then be inferred that he knew of no contradictory testimony to that of the apostles; the more so as the publication of it would have contributed to ingratiate him with the Roman emperor, and would thus have promoted his interest, no less than have gratified his enmity to the religion of Christ. pp. 155, 156.
The second section of the fourth part describes the obsta· cles which would have prevented Christianity, if it had not
been divine, from being embraced by the Gentiles, and especially by the subjects of the Roman empire. The author shows the powerful influence which Paganism exerted over the mind, and the causes from whence it arose. Men were enconraged in the indulgence of strong passions by the looseness of Pagan morality, and the example of their gods; the Romans were taught to ascribe their victories and grandeur to the interference of tutelary deities, and to adopt or abandon enterprizes, as the auguries, and other ominous intimations, were favourable or adverse. He observes farther, that the belief in household deities, and the sentiments which were commonly entertained respecting them, were calculated to increase very much the influence of paganism. It is then shown that Christianity was not adapted to destroy the attachment to those religions which it found existing among mankind ; on account of the abjuration of idolatrous worship which it required, the lowly appearance of Jesus Christ, the strictness of the morality of the New Testament, the features of character which the Romans most admired, contrasted with the humility and meekness of the Saviour and his disciples, and the universal contempt of that nation to which the first preachers of Christianity belonged. It is farther proved that Christianity could not have recommended itself by operating on any general principles of their nature; such as, the love of the marvel. lous, an aptitude to be biassed by strong hopes and fears, or a love of ease and indulgence. From these premises the author infers, : That there were no natural causes, which, abstracting from positive evidence, could even facilitate the progress of Christianity, but that there were the strongest natural causes to retard that progress; and, consequently, that had it been proposed to the Gentile world, without any thing to evince its divine origin but its intrinsic excellence, and the unsupported assertions of its teachers that it was a revelation from heaven, little serious attention would have been paid to it, and few or none would have been converted; that it must therefore have been accompanied with some external evidence eminently adapted to impress the mind, and, in fact, appearing so decisive as to induce men without hesitation to renounce the most obstinate and deep rooted prejudices; and finally, that this evidence must have been, by all who were converted, scrupulously, and minutely examined, because there was no previous inclination to regard it as sufficient, but every motive to reject it; and because there was no room for enthusiasm to warp and misa lead the judgment.' pp. 270, 271.'
He then proceeds to consider the nature of the evidence which the preachers of Christianity adduced, consisting of the miracles which they wrought themselves, and the fact of the resurrection which they constantly asserted; and he shows the facility with which those who did not witness the exercise of the miraculous powers, might have satisfied their minds of the truth of the assertion, that Christ rose again; as the Jews were widely dispersed, and there was a chain of communication between Jerusalem, the scene of the resurrection, and the most remote countries in which the Apostles taught. In addition to this, the attention of the Roman Emperors had been, for various reasons, particularly directed to transactions in Judea.
A historical illustration of the argument follows, by which the attention of the reader is called to the very limited success which had attended the efforts in more modern times to disseminate the Christian Religion among heathen nations, or even to introduce reformation of religious sentiment among Christians themselves. The work concludes with some remarks, respecting the obligation to yield assent to positive evidence of such a kind and measure as is adduced in support of Christianity.
We consider it as a capital defect in this work, that the genuineness of the evangelical history is assumed. In almost every publication on the evidences of Christianity we find so many truths taken for granted which we have heard denied or questioned, that we begin to think it has been our unhappiness to mix with unbelievers who have carried their scepticism to a greater extent than is common among that description of men. We have remarked, that such characters, for the most part, affirm the New Testament to be altogether an imposture; they contend that the miracles never were performed, that the names, the labours, the travels, and the whole history of the apostles are feigned ; and when they take up a book on the evidences of the Christian Religion, which assumes the genuineness of the evangelical records, they take the liberty of indulging their ridicule, if they happen to be of that class whose minds cannot be awed to seriousness even by considera. tions which relate to death, judgement, and eternity; or if they are of the number of those who wish to discover on which side the truth lies, they shut the book with disappointment, and, perhaps, confirmed scepticism. “I wanted proof