« ПредишнаНапред »
ple, and brought them under the doom of a law, whose sanctions were unrelenting and immutable; it were no disparagement to God, should he, by an act of righteous indignation, sweep this offence away from the universe which it deformed; nor should we wonder, though, among the multitude of other worlds from which the ear of the Almighty was regaled with songs of praise, he should leave the strayed and solitary world to perish in the guilt of its rebellion. But tell me, oh! tell me, would it not throw the softening of a most exquisite tenderness over the character of God, should we sec him putting forth his every expedient to reclaim to himself those children who had wandered from him—and, few as they were, when compared with the host of his obedient worshippers, would it not impart to his attribute of compassion, the infinity of the Godhead, that, rather than lose the single world which had turned to its own way, he should send the mes
peace to woo and to welcome it back again ; and, if justice demanded so mighty a sacrifice, and the law behoved to be so magnified and made honorable, tell me whether it would not throw a moral sublime over the goodness of the Deity, should he lay upon his own Son the burden of its atonement, that he might again smile upon the world, and to hold out the sceptre of invitation to all its families ?"
To reject the volume of Divine Revelation as unnecessary, on the ground that the light of nature is sufficient to guide mankind into the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness, is monstrously absurd! For what can the boasted light of nature
do. “Surely,” says Mr. Dick,“ if the light of nature be sufficient, it is sufficient for nature's children ; and I know of none who so well deserve this character, as those who, in their intellectual and mora) features, are just such as nature formed them, having undergone no alteration for the worse or better, by art, or by tradition. If we wish to judge of the strength of unassisted reason, in order to ascertain whether it be sufficient for all the purposes of life and happiness, let us observe its operations in the rudest savages.”
But what has reason, or the light of nature, done for these savages ? Has it taught them the value of gold ? or even of iron ? Has it taught them the use of the pen ? the plough ? the loom ? the anvil ? or the spade ? As to the arts, they are inferior to the fowls of the air ; as to the sciences, they are on a level with the beasts of the field; as to literature, they are not a whit in advance of the antediluvians; and as to religion, it is a question if they know any more of its duties, and of its enjoyments, than the earth on which they tread. And if enlightened infidels can spend all their energies in opposition to that system of religion which alone is worthy of God, it is not likely that unenlightened savages have discovered any thing more worthy of his name and character. If the infidel, who cannot but be under some obligation to Christianity for the light he enjoys, cannot form a perfect system of religion, it is not likely that an untutored Indian can accomplish so great a work.
We may notice how insufficient human reason has been in all ages of the world, to conduct man aright
in the paths of virtue and happiness. If reason ever shone without a cloud upon the ways of man, we
suppose it was before sin and death entered into this world—in Paradise, where, uncontrolled by appetite, unbiased by prejudice, uncorrupted by example, uninfluenced by education, it had more power and freedom to act, and to act wisely, than it has ever had since. But did it suffice to keep man in that good and right way in which his Maker had placed him? It did not ! The subtilty of the serpent overcame him—the Devil out-reasoned him, and he fell from his first estate, by listening to the suggestions of one who set up his reason in opposition to Divine Revelation. Human reason is the parent of Idolatry. Time was when all mankind had the knowledge of God. “ But when they knew God they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. They professed themselves wise, but they became fools ; and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”—(Rom. i. 21–23.)
How was it in Egypt, the cradle of the sciences, the very place whither the sages of Greece, in after ages, perfected themselves in human learning ? Why, Egypt herself was the nursery of Idolatry. No doubt the sons of Noah had reason on their side, when they first proposed to improve upon the ancient forms of worshipping the invisible God,—when they first recommended to approach the Deity, through the medium of his works, and to adore those images
of his Eternal Power and Godhead which were visible, and within their reach! And there is no
question but reason was busy enough, when, in after ages, the wisdom of councils prevailed, so far to alter the few and simple forms of Christianity to a pompous and significant assemblage of forms and ceremonies, as should attract and influence the gazing multitude. And, without controversy, it was the project of reason, more than once or twice, so to explain some of the mysteries, and doctrines of our holy religion, as to open the flood gates of heresy, in every direction, upon the Christian church.
Moreover, when the wisdom of the church of Rome could go no farther than to establish the Pope for an infallible guide, in matters of faith and conscience, which was next to the greatest effort that could possibly be made, for it was making one man's reason the guide of the church universal,then reason seemed to take her rest, as it were, in a profound sleep ; but waking up again, after the lapse of ages, she found that things had gone wrong, and setting herself up for an infallible guide, she found in the Revolution of France as many worshippers as had ever paid their devotions at the shrine of St. Cloud. Then was the “ Age of Reason;" and but for a few of the spirits elect, whom God appointed to stand in the gap, the world would have been overrun with reason, such as it was, to the exclusion of religion altogether! And even now, there is danger lest Infidelity, under the name of Reason, or Rationalism, or something else, will prevail, and that religious creeds will be so modified and multiplied, as to exclude the light of Divine Revelation altogether.
A great many object to the volume of Inspiration as being unworthy of the character of God, because it has not been given to all the human race. “ It is as absurd,” say they, “ to suppose that the Bible emanated from the impartial and benevolent Author of the human race, as to suppose him to have created a sun, which should enlighten only one region of the globe !” This objection comes with a very bad grace from an infidel, whose idol is philosophy, and whose god is reason; for it is a truth that the same objection lies against philosophy and reason. All men are not philosophers,--all have not an equal share of reason to guide them; therefore reason and philosophy are not of God, because they are not given equally to all !
“ It is the greatest folly imaginable, to call in question the divine authority of the scriptures, because they have not been published as extensively, as in our opinion a divine revelation should be, since one great reason why this revelation is not universal, is the opposition of infidels. Let the unbeliever himself subscribe to the Divine authenticity of the Bible, and do all he can to promote its circulation, and the objection will soon fall.”
It is often denied that the Scriptures of the Old Testament are a Revelation from God, because they seem to sanction bloodshed and cruelty. The expulsion of the Canaanites from Palestine by Joshua, and the conduct of David as “ a man of war,” are often brought up against the sacred volume, as furnishing an objection too weighty to be removed. But in answer to this, it may be replied, “God, the great Governor of the universe, who possesses all