By Richard Watson
INTERNAL EVIDENCE of the Truth of Scripture-COLLATERAL EVIDENCE.
TILE internal evidence of a revelation from God has been stated to be that which arises from the apparent excellence and beneficial tendency of the doctrine. (Vide chap. ix.) This at least is its chief characteristic, though other particulars may also be included in this species of proof, and shall be adduced.
The reader will recollect the distinction made in the chapter just referred to, between rational and authenticating evidence. It has been observed, that there are some truths made known to us through the medium of a revelation from God, which, though in their nature undiscoverable by the unassisted faculties of man, yet, when once revealed, carry to our reason, so far as they are of a nature to be comprehended by it, the demonstration which accompanies truth of any other kind (Vide chap. ix.) But it is only within the limit just mentioned that this position holds good; for such truths only must be understood as are accompanied with reasons or rational proofs in the revelation itself, or which, when once suggested to the mind, directs its thoughts and observations to surrounding facts and circumstances, or to established truths to which they are capable of being compared, and by which they are confirmed. The internal evidence of the Holy Scriptures, therefore, as far as doctrine is concerned, is restrained to truths of this class. Of other truths revealed to us in the Bible, and those in many instances fundamental to the system of Christianity, we have no proof of this kind; but they stand on the firm basis of Divine attestation, and suffer no diminution of their authority because the reasons of them are either hidden from us for purposes of moral discipline, or because they trans. cend our faculties. If we had the reasons of them before us, they would not be more authentic, though to the understanding they would be more obvious. Such are the doctrines of a trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead; of' the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ; of his Divine and eternal Sonship, &c. Such are many facts in the Divine government-as the permission of evil, and the long apparent abandonment of heathen nations-the unequal religious advantages afforded to individuals as well as nations-and many of the circum. stances of our individual moral trial upon earth. Of the truth of these doctrines, and the fitness of these and many other facts, we have no internal evidence whatever; but a very large class of truths which are found in the revelations of Scripture, afford more or less of this kind of proof; and make their appeal to our reason as well as to our faith ;-in other words, their reasonableness is such, that though the great demonstration does not rest upon that, it affords an additional argument why they should be thankfully received, and heartily credited.
The first and fundamental doctrine of Scripture is, the existence of God; the great and the sole First Cause of all things; eternal, self' existent, present in all places, knowing all things; infinite in power and wisdom; and perfect in goodness, justice, holiness, and truth. That this view of the Divine Being, for which we are indebted to the Scriptures alone, presents itself with powerful rational demonstration to the mind of man, is illustriously shown by that astonishing change of opinion on this great subject which took place in pagan nations upon the promulgation of Christianity, and which in Europe continues to this day substantially unaltered. Not only those gross notions which prevailed among the vulgar, but the dark, uncertain, and contradictory researches of the philosophers of different schools have passed away; and the truth respecting God, stated in the majesty and simplicity of the Scriptures, has been, with few exceptions, universally received, and that among enlightened Deists themselves. These discoveries of revelation have satisfied the human mind on this great and primary doctrine; and have given it a resting place which it never before found, and from which, if it ever departs, it finds no demonstration until it returns to the "marvellous light" into which revealed religion has introduced us. A class of ideas, the most elevated and sublime, and which the most profound minds in former times sought without success, have thus become familiar to the very peasants in Christian nations. Nothing can be a more striking proof of the appeal which the Scripture character of God makes to the unsophisticated reason of mankind.
Of the state and condition of MAN it is represented in our holy writings, the evidence from fact, and from the consciousness of our own bosoms, is very copious. What man is, in his relations to God his maker and governor, we had never discovered without revelation; but now this is made known, confirmatory fact crowds in on every side, and affords its evidence of the truth of the doctrine.
The Old and New Testaments agree in representing the human race as actually vicious, and capable, without moral check and control, of the greatest enormities; so that not only individual happiness, but social also, is constantly obstructed or endangered. To this the history of all ages bears witness, and present experience gives its testimony, All the states of antiquity crumbled down, or were suddenly over. whelmed, by their own vices; and the general character and conduct of the people which composed them may be read in the works of their historians, poets, and satirists, which have been transmitted to our times. These, as to the Greeks and Romans, fully bear out the darkest colouring of their moral condition to be found in the well known first chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Church at Rome, and other pas sages in his various epistles. To this day, the same representation depicts the condition of almost all pagan countries, and, in many respect too, some parts of Christendom, where the word of God has been hidden from the people, and its moral influence, consequently, has not been suffered to developed itself. In those countries also where that corrective has been most carefully applied, though exalted beyond comparison in just, honourable, benevolent, and sober principles and habits, along with the frequent occurrence of numerous and gross actual crimes, the same appetites and passions may be seen in constant contest with the laws of the state; with the example of the virtuous; and the controlling influence of the word of God, preached by faithful ministers, taught as a part of the process of education, and spread through society by the multiplication of its copies since the invention of printing. The Holy Scriptures therefore characterize man only as he is actually found in all ages, and in all places to the utmost bounds of those geographical discoveries which have been made through the adventurous spirit of modern navigators.
But they not only assume men to be actually vicious, but vicious in consequence of a moral taint in their nature,-originally and inevitably so, but for those provisions of grace and means of sanctity of which they speak; and as this assumption is the basis of the whole scheme of moral restoration, through the once promised seed of the woman, and the now actually given Jesus, the Saviour so they constantly remind him that he is "born in sin, and shapen in iniquity," and that, being born of the flesh, "he cannot please God." What is thus represented as doctrine appeals to our reason through the evidence of unquestionable fact. The strong tendency of man to crime cannot be denied. Civil penal laws are enacted for no other purpose than to repress it; they are multiplied in the most civilized states to shut out the evil in all those new directions toward which the multiplied relations of man, and his increased power, arising from increased intelligence, have given it its impulse. Every legal deed, with its seals and witnesses bears testimony to that opinion as to human nature which the experience of man has impressed on man; and history itself is a record chiefly of human guilt, because examples of crime have every where and at all times been much more frequent than examples of virtue. This tendency to evil, the Scriptures tell us, arises from "the heart,"-the nature and disposition of man; and it is not otherwise to be accounted for.- Some indeed have represented the corruption of the race, as the result of association and example; but if men were naturally inclined to good, and averse to evil, how is it that not a few individuals only, but the whole race have become evil by mutual association? This would be to make the weaker cause the more efficient, which is manifestly absurd. It is contrary too to the reason of the case, that the example and association of persons naturally well disposed, should produce any other effect than that of confirming and maturing their good dispositions; as it is the effect of example and association, among persons of similar tastes and of similar pursuits, to confirm and improve the habit which gives rise to them. As little plausibility is there in the opinion which would account for this general corruption from bad education.- How, if man in all ages had been rightly affected in his moral inclinations, did a course of deleterious education commence? How, if commenced, came it, that what must have been so abhorrent to a virtuously disposed community was not arrested, and a better system of instruction introduced? But the fact itself may be denied, as the worst education inculcates a virtue above the general practice, and no course of education was ever adopted purposely to encourage immorality. In the Scriptures alone we find a cause assigned which accounts for the phenomenon, and we are bound therefore by the rules of philosophy itself to admit it. It is this, that man is by NATURE prone to evil; and as it would be highly unreasonable to suppose, that this disposition was implanted in him by his benevolent and holy Maker, we are equally bound in reason to admit the Scripture solution of the FALL of the human race from a higher and better state.
A third view of the condition of man contained in the Scriptures, is, that he is not only under the Divine authority, but that the government of heaven as to him is of a mixed character; that he is treated with severity and with kindness also; that considered both as corrupt in his nature and tendencies, and as in innumerable instances actually offending, lie is placed under a rigidly restraining discipline, to meet his case the first respect, and under correction and penal dispensation with relation to the latter. On the other hand, as he is an object beloved by the God he has offended; a being for whose pardon and recovery Divine mercy has made provision; moral ends are connected with these seventies, amid nature and providence as well as revelation are crowned with instances of Divine benevolence to the sinning race. The proof of these different relations of man to God, surrounds us in that admixture of good arid evil, of indulgence and restraint, of felicity and misery, to which he is so manifestly subject. Life is felt in all ordinary circumstances to be a blessing; but it is short and uncertain, subject to diseases and accidents. Many enjoyments fall to the lot of men; yet with the majority they are attained by means of great and exhausting labours of the body or of the mind, through which the risks to health and life are greatly multiplied; or they are accompanied with so many disappointments, fears, and cares, that their number and their quality are greatly lessened. The globe itself, the residence of man, and upon whose fertility, seasons, exterior surface, mind interior stratification so much of the external felicity of man depends, bears marks of a mingled kind of just and merciful government suited to such a being as man in the state described in the Scriptures, and to none else. It cannot be supposed, that if inhabited by a race of beings perfectly holy and in the full enjoyment of the Divine favour, this earth would be subject to destructive earthquakes, volcanoes, and inundations; .to blights and dearths, the harbingers of famine; to those changes in the atmosphere which induce wide-wasting epidemic disorders; to that general sterility of soil which renders labour necessary to such a degree, as fully to occupy the time of the majority of mankind, prevent them from engaging in pursuits worthy an intellectual nature, and wear down their spirits; nor that the metals so necessary for man in civilized life, and, in many countries, the material of the fire by which cold must be repelled, food prepared, and the most important arts executed, should be hidden deep in the bowels of the earth, so that a great body of men must be doomed to the dangerous and bumbling labour of raising them! These and many other instances show a course of discipline very incongruous with the most enlightened views of the Divine character, if man be considered as an innocent being. On the contrary, that lie is under an unmixed penal administration, is contradicted by the facts, that the earth yet yields her increase ordinarily to industry; that the destructive convulsions of nature are but occasional; and that, generally, the health of the human race predominates over sickness, arid their animal enjoyments over positive misery. To those diverse relations of man to God, as stated in the Bible, the contrarieties of nature and providence bear an exact adaptation. Assume man to be any thing else than what is represented in Scripture, they would be discordant and inexplicable; in this view they harmonize. Man is neither innocent nor finally condemned-he is fallen and guilty, but not excluded from the compassion and care and benignity of his God.
The next leading doctrine of Christianity is time restoration of man to the Divine favour, through the merits of THE VIC ARIOUS AND SACRIFICIAL DEATH OF CHRIST, the incarnate Son of God. To this many objections have been offered; but, on the other hand, many important reasons for such a procedure have been overlooked. The rational evidence of this doctrine, we grant, is partial and limited; but it will be recollected, that it has been already proved, that the authority and truth of a doctrine mire not thereby affected. It is indeed not unreasonable to suppose, that the evidence of the fitness and necessity of such a doctrine should be to us obscure. "The reason of the thing," says Bishop Butler, "and the whole analogy of nature should teach us, not to expect to have the like information concerning the Divine conduct, as concerning our own duty." On whatever terms God had been pleased to offer forgiveness to his creatures, if any other had been morally possible, it is not to be supposed that all the reasons of his conduct, which must of course respect the very principles of his government in general, extending not only to man, but to other beings, could have been explained; and certain it is, that those to whom the benefit was offered would have had no right to require it.
The Christian doctrine of atonement as a necessary merciful interposition, is grounded upon the liability of man to punishment in another life, for sins committed against the law of God in this; and against this view of the future prospects of mankind there can lie no objection of weight. Men are capable of committing sin, and sin is productive of misery and disorder. These positions cannot be denied. That to violate the laws of God and to despise his authority are not light crimes, is clear from considering them in their general effect upon society, and upon the world. Remove from the human race all the effects produced by vice, direct and indirect; all the inward and outward miseries and calamities which are entirely evitable by mankind, and which they wilfully bring upon themselves and others, and scarcely a sigh would be heaved, or a groan heard, except those extorted by natural evils, (small comparatively in number) throughout time whole earth. The great sum of human misery is the effect of actual offence; and as it is a principle in the wisest and most perfect human legislation to estimate the guilt of individual acts by their general tendency, and to proportion the punishment to them under that consideration, the same season of time case is in favour of this principle, as found in Scripture; and thus consider, ed, the demerit of the sins of an individual against God becomes incalculable. Nor is there any foundation to suppose, that the punishment assigned to sin by the judicial appointment of the Supreme Governor is confined to the present life; for before we can determine that, we must be able to estimate the demerit of an act of wilful transgression in its principle, habits, and influence, which, as parties implicated, we are not in a state of feeling or judgment to attempt, were the subject more within our grasp. But the obvious reason of the case is in favour of the doctrine of future punishment; for not only is there an unequal administration of punishments in the present life, so that many eminent offenders pass through time present state without any visible manifestation of the Divine displeasure against their conduct, but there are strong and convincing proofs that we are placed in a state of trial, which continues throughout life, and the result of which can only be known, and consequently we ourselves can only become subjects of final reward or punishment, after existence in this world terminates. From the circum stances we have just enumerated to indicate the kind of government which is exercised over the human race, we must conclude, that, allowing the Supreme Governor to be wise and just, benevolent and holy, men are neither treated as innocent nor as incorrigibly corrupt. Now, what reason can possibly be given for this mixed kind of administration, but that the moral improvement of maim is the object intended by it? The severity discountenances and restrains vice; the annexation of inward felicity in all cases, (and outward in all those instances in which the result depends upon the conduct of the individual,) to holy habits and acts, recommends and sanctions them, and allures to the use of those means which God has provided for enabling us to form and practise them. No other final causes, it would appear, can be assigned for the peculiar manner in which we are governed in the present life; and if the deterring and correcting severity on the one hand, and the alluring and instructive kindness on time other, which mark the Divine administration, continue throughout life; if, in every period of his life here, man is capable, by the use of the prescribed means, of forming new habits and renouncing old ones, and thus of accomplishing the purposes of the moral discipline under which he is placed, then is be in a state of trial throughout life, and if so, he is accountable for the whole course of his life; and his ultimate reward or punishment must be in a state subsequent to the present.
It is also the doctrine of Scripture, that this future punishment of the incorrigible shall be final and unlimited; another consideration of great importance in considering the doctrine of atonement. This is a monitory doctrine which a revelation only could unfold; but being made, it has no inconsiderable degree of rational evidence. It supposes, it is true, that no future trial shall be allowed to man, time present having been neglected and abused; and to this there is much analogy in the constant procedures of the Divine government in the present life. When many checks and admonitions from the instructions of the wise, and the examples of the forward, have been disregarded, poverty and sickness, infamy and death, ensue, in a thousand cases which the observation of every man will furnish; the trial of an individual, which is to issue in his present happiness or misery, is terminated; and so far from its being renewed frequently, in the hope of his finally profiting by a bitter experience, advantages, and opportunities, once thrown away, can never be recalled. There is nothing therefore contrary to time obvious principles of the Divine government as manifested in this life, in the doctrine which confines the space of man's highest and most solemn probation within Certain limits, and beyond them cutting off all his hope. But let this subject be considered by the light thrown upon it by the circumstance, that the nature of man is immortal. With those who deny this to be the prerogative of the thinking principle in man, it would be trifling to hold this argument; but with those who do not, the consideration of the subject under this view is important.
The existence of man is never to cease. It follows then from this, that either time future trials to be allowed to those who in time present life have been incorrigible are to be limited in number, or, should they successively fail, are to be repeated for ever. If the latter, there can be flC Ultimate judgment, no punishment or reward and consequently the Divine government as implying these, (and this we know it does, from what takes place in tile present life,) must be annihilated. If this cannot be maintained, is there sufficient reason to conclude, that all to whom trial after trial is supposed to be afforded in new and varied circumstances, in order to multiply the probabilities, so to speak, of their final recovery from rebellion, will be at length reclaimed? Before this can be answered, it must be recollected, that a state of suffering which would compel obedience, if we should suppose mere suffering capable of producing this effect, or an exertion of influence upon the understanding and will which shall necessitate a definite choice, is neither of them to be assumed as entering into the circumstances of any new state of trial. Every such future trial, to be probationary at all, that is, in order to bring out the existence of a new moral principle, and by voluntary acts to prove it, must substantially be like the present, though its circumstances may vary. Vice must have its allurements; virtue must rise from self denial, and be led into the arena to struggle with difficulty; many present interests and pleasures must be seen in connection with vice; time rewards of obedience must, as now, be not only more refined than mere sense can be gratified with, but also distant: the mind must be capable of error in its moral estimate of things, through the influence of the senses and passions; and so circumstanced, that those erroneous views shall only be prevented or corrected by watchfulness, and a diligent application to meditation, prayer, and the use of those means of information on immoral subjects which almighty God may have put within their reach. We have no right in this argument to imagine to ourselves a future condition where the influence of every circumstance will be directed to render vice most difficult to commit, arid virtue most difficult to avoid; for this would not be a state of trial: amid if in this present life, men have obstinately resisted all admonitions from heaven; obdurated themselves against all the affecting displays of the Divine kind ness, and the deterring manifestations of the Divine majesty; it is most reasonable to conclude, that a part of them at least would abuse successive trials, and frustrate their intention, by attachment to present and sensual gratification. What then is to become of them? If we admit a moral government of rational creatures at all, their probation cannot be eternal, for that leads to no result; if probation be appointed, it implies accountability, a judicial decision, and that judicial decision, in the case of the incorrigible, punishment.] Whenever then tile trial, or the series of trials, terminates as to these immortal beings, time subsequent punishment, of what kind soever it may be, must be eternal. This doctrine of Scripture rests therefore upon others, of which time rational evidence is abundant and convincing ;-that almighty God exercises a moral government over his creatures; that the present life is a state of moral discipline and trial; and that man is immortal. If these are allowed, the eternal duration of future punishments, as to the obstinately wicked, must follow; amid its accordance with the principles just mentioned, is its rational evidence.
That atonement for the sins of men which was made by the death of Christ, is represented in the Christian system as the means by which mankind may be delivered from this awful catastrophe-from judicial inflictions of the displeasure of a Governor, whose authority has been contemned, and whose will has been resisted, which shall know no mitigation in their degree, nor bound to their duration; and if an end, supremely great and benevolent, can commend any procedure to us. The Scriptural doctrine of atonement commends this kind of appeal to our attention. This end it professes to accomplish, by means which, with respect to the Supreme Governor himself, preserve his character from mistake and maintain the authority of his government; and with respect to man, give him the strongest possible reason for hope, and render more favourable the circumstances of his earthly probation. These are considerations which so manifestly show, from its own internal constitution, the superlative importance and excellence of Christianity, that it would be exceedingly criminal to overlook them.
How sin may be forgiven without leading to such misconceptions of the Divine character as would encourage disobedience, and thereby weaken the influence of the Divine government, must be considered as a problem of very difficult solution. A government which admitted no forgiveness, would sink the guilty to despair; a government which never punishes offence, is a contradiction-it cannot exist. Not to punish, is to dissolve authority; to punish without mercy, is to destroy, and, where all are guilty, to make the destruction universal. That we cannot sin with impunity, is a matter determined. The Ruler of the world is not careless of the conduct of his creatures; for that penal consequences are attached to offence, is not a subject of argument, but is made evident from daily observation of the events and circumstances of the present life. It is a principle, therefore, already laid down, that the authority of God must be preserved; and it ought to be observed, that in that kind of administration which restrains evil by penalty, and encourages obedience by favour amid hope, we and all moral creatures are the interested parties, and not the Divine Governor himself; whom, because of his independant and efficient nature, our transgressions cannot injure. The reasons therefore which compel bun to maintain his authority, do not terminate in himself. If he becomes a party against offenders, it is for our sake, and for the sake of the moral order of the universe, to Which sin, if encouraged by a negligent administration, and by entire or frequent impunity, would be the source of endless disorder and misery: and if the granting of pardon to offence be strongly amid even severely guarded, we are to refer it to the moral necessity of the case as arising out of the general welfare of accountable creatures, liable to the deep evil of sin, and not to any reluctance on the part of our Maker to forgive, much less to any thing vindictive in his nature,-charges which have been most inconsiderately and unfairly brought against the Christian doctrine of Christ's vicarious sufferings. If it then be true, that the relief of offending man from future punishment, and his restoration to the Divine favour, ought for time interests of mankind themselves, and for the instruction and caution of other beings, to be so bestowed, that no license shall be given to offence; that God himself while he manifests his compassion, should not appear less just, less holy, than the maintenance of an efficient and even awful authority demands; that his commands shall be felt to be as compelling, amid that disobedience shall as truly, though not so unconditionally, subject us to the deserved penalty, as though no hope of forgiveness had been exhibited, we ask, on what scheme, save that which is developed in the New Testament, these necessary conditions are provided for? Necessary they are, unless we contend for a license and an impunity which shall annul the efficient control of the universe, a point which no reasonable man will contend for; and if not, then he must allow an internal evidence of the truth of the doctrine of Scripture, which makes the offer of pardon consequent only upon the securities we have before mentioned. If it be said, that sin may be pardoned in the exercise of the Divine prerogative, the reply is, that if this prerogative were exercised toward a part of mankind only, the passing by of the others would be with difficulty reconciled to the Divine character; and if the benefit were extended to all, government would be at an end. This scheme of bringing men within the exercise of mercy, does not therefore meet the obvious difficulty of the case; nor is it improved by confining the act of grace only to repentant criminals. For in the immediate view of danger, what offender, surrounded with the wreck of former enjoyments, feeling time vanity of guilty pleasures, now past for ever, and beholding tile approach of the delayed, but threatened, penal visitation, but would repent? Were this principle to regulate human governments, every criminal would escape, and judicial forms would become a subject for ridicule. Nor is it the principle which the Divine Being in his conduct to men in the present state acts upon, though in this world punishments are not final and absolute. Repentance does not restore health injured by intemperance, property wasted by profusion, or character once stained by dishonourable practices. If repentance alone can secure pardon, then all must be pardoned, and government dissolved, as in the case of forgiveness by the exercise of mere prerogative; if a selection be made, then different and discordant principles of government are introduced into the Divine administration, which is a derogatory supposition.
To avoid the force of these obvious difficulties, some have added reformation to repentance, and would restrain forgiveness to those only, who to their penitence add a course of future obedience to the Divine law. In this opinion a concession of importance is made in favour of the doctrine of atonement as stated in the Scriptures. For we ask, why an act of grace should be thus restricted? Is not the only reason this, that every one sees, that to pardon offence either on mere prerogative, or on the condition of repentance, would annul every penalty, and consequently encourage vice? The principle assumed then is, that vice ought not to be encouraged by an unguarded exercise of the Divine mercy; that the authority of government ought to be upheld; that almighty God ought not to appear indifferent to human actions, nor otherwise than as a God "hating iniquity," and "loving righteousness." Now precisely on these principles does the Christian doctrine of atonement rest. lt carries them higher; it teaches that other means have been adopted to secure the object; but the ends proposed are the same; and thus to the principle on which that great doctrine rests, the objector can take no exception-that point he has surrendered, and must confine himself to a comparison of the efficiency of the respective modes, by which the purposes of moral government may be answered in the exercise of mercy to the guilty in his own system, and in that of Christianity. We shall mint in order to prove "the wisdom" as well as the grace of the doctrine of the Bible on this subject, press our opponent with the fact, important as it is, that in the light vouchsafed unto us into the rules of the government of God over men with reference to the present state merely, we see no reason to conclude any thing with certainty as to the efficacy of reformation. A change of conduct does not, any more than repentance, repair the mischiefs of former misconduct. Even the sobriety of the reformed man does not always restore health ; and time industry and economy of the formerly negligent and wasteful, repair not the losses of extravagance. Nor is it necessary to dwell upon the consideration which this theory involves as to all the principles of government established among men, which in flagrant cases never suspend punishment in anticipation (if a change of conduct; but which in the infliction of penalty look steadily to the crime actually committed, and to the necessity of vindicating time violated majesty of the laws. The argument might indeed be left here; but we go farther and show, that the reformation anticipated is ideal, because it is impracticable.
To make this clear it must be recollected, that they who oppose this theory of human reconciliation to God, to that of the Scriptures, leave out of it not only the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, but other important doctrines; and especially that agency of the Holy Spirit which awakens the thoughtless to consideration, and prompts and assists their efforts to attain a higher character, and to commence a new course of conduct. Man is therefore left, unassisted, and uninfluenced, to his own endeavours, and in the peculiar, unalleviated circumstances of his actual moral state. What that state is, we have already seen. It has been argued that nothing can account for the practical corruption of mankind, but a moral taint in our hearts, a propensity of nature to evil and not to good; and that every other mode of accounting for the moral phenomena which the history of man and daily experience present, is inconclusive and contradictory. How then is this supposed reformation to commence'? We do not say, the exchange of one vice for another, that specious kind of reformation by which many are deceived, for the objector ought to have the credit of intending a reformation which implies love to the purity of the Divine commands; cordial respect for the authority of our Maker; and not partial, but universal obedience. But if the natural, unchecked disposition of the mind is to evil, and supernatural assistance be disallowed, "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" To natural propension, we are also to add in this case, as reformation is the matter in question, the power of habit, proverbially difficult to break, though man is not in fact in the unassisted condition which the error now opposed supposes. The whole of this theory assumes human nature to be what it is not; and a delusive conclusion must, therefore, necessarily result. If man be totally corrupt, the only principles from which reformation can proceed do not exist in his nature; and if we allow no more than that the propensity to evil in him is stronger than the propensity to good, it is absurd to suppose, that in opposing propensities the weakest should resist the most powerful,-that the stream of the rivulet should force its way against the tides of the ocean. The reformation, therefore, which is to atone for his vices, is impracticable.
The question proposed abstractedly, How may mercy be extended to offending creatures, the subjects of the Divine government, without encouraging vice, by lowering the righteous and holy character of God, and the authority of his government, in the maintenance of which the whole universe of beings are interested'? is therefore at once one of the most important and one of the most difficult which can employ the human mind. None of the theories which have been opposed to Christianity, afford a satisfactory solution of the problem. They assume principles either destructive to moral government, or which cannot, in the circumstances of man, be acted upon. The only answer is found in the Holy Scriptures. They alone show, and indeed they alone profess to show, how God may be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. Other schemes show how he may be merciful; but the difficulty does not lie there. This meets it, by declaring "the righteousness of God," at the same time that it proclaims his mercy. The voluntary sufferings of an incarnate, Divine person, "for us," in our room and stead, magnify the justice of God; display his hatred to sin; proclaim "the exceeding sinfulness" of transgression, by the deep and painful suffering of the substitute; warn the persevering offender of the terribleness as well as the certainty of his punishment; and open the gates of salvation to every penitent. It is a part of the same Divine plan to engage the influence of the Holy Spirit, to awaken that penitence, and to lead the wandering soul back to him. self; to renew the fallen nature of man in righteousness, at the moment he is justified through faith, and to place him in circumstances in which he may henceforth "walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." All the ends of government are here answered. No license is given to offence; the moral law is unrepealed; the day of judgment is still appointed; future and eternal punishments still display their awful sanctions; a new and singular display of the awful purity of the Divine character is afforded; yet pardon is offered to all who seek it; and the whole world may be saved!
With such evidence of suitableness to the case of mankind; under such lofty views of connection with the principles and ends of moral government, does the doctrine of THE ATONEMENT present itself. But other important considerations are not wanting, to mark the united wisdom and goodness of that method of extending mercy to time guilty, which Christianity teaches us to have been actually and exclusively adopted. It is rendered indeed "worthy of (ill acceptation," by the circumstance of its meeting the difficulties we have just dwelt upon,-difficulties which could not otherwise have failed to make a gloomy impression upon every offender awakened to a sense of his spiritual danger; but it must be very inattentively considered, if it does not farther commend itself to us, by not only removing the apprehensions we might feel as to the justice of the Divine Lawgiver, but as exalting him in our esteem as "the righteous Lord, who loveth righteousness," who surrendered his beloved Son to suffering and death, that the influence of moral goodness might not be weakened in the hearts of his creatures-as a God of love, affording in this instance a view of the tenderness and benignity of his nature infinitely more impressive and affecting than any abstract description could convey, or than any act of creating and providential power and grace could furnish, and therefore most suitable to subdue that enmity which had unnaturally grown up in the hearts of his creatures, and which, when corrupt, the so easily transfer from a law which restrains their inclination to the Lawgiver himself. If it be important to us to know the extent arid reality of our danger, by the death of Christ it is displayed, not in description, but in the most impressive action; if it be important that we should have assurance of the Divine placability toward us, it here received a demonstration incapable of greater certainty: if gratitude is the most powerful motive of future obedience, and one which renders command on the one part, and active service on the other, "not grievous but joyous," the recollection of such obligations as the "love of Christ' has laid us under, is a perpetual spring to this energetic affection, and will be the means of raising it to higher and more delightful activity for ever. All that can most powerfully illustrate the united tenderness and awful majesty of God, and the odiousness of sin; all that can win back the heart of man to his Maker and Lord, and render future obedience a matter of affection and delight as well as duty; all that can extinguish the angry and malignant passions of man to man; all that can inspire a mutual benevolence; and dispose to a self-denying charity for the benefit of others; all that can arouse by hope or tranquillize by faith, is to be found in the vicarious death of Christ, and the principles and purses for which it was endured.
"Ancient history tells us of a certain king who made a law against adultery, in which it was enacted that the offender should be punished by the loss of both eyes. The very first offender was his own son. The ease was most distressing; for the king was an affectionate father, well as a just magistrate. After much deliberation and inward struggle, he finally commanded one of his own eyes to be pulled out and one of his son's. It is easier to conceive than to describe what must have been the feelings of the son in these most affecting circumstances. His offence would appear to him in a new light ; it would appear to him, not simply as connected with painful consequences to himself, but as the cause of a father's sufferings, and as an injury to a father's love. If the king had passed over time law altogether, in his son's favour, he would have exhibited no regard for justice, and he would have given a very inferior proof of affection.
"If We suppose that the happiness of the young man's life depended on time eradication of this criminal propensity, it is not easy to imagine how the king could more wisely or more effectually have promoted this benevolent object. The action was not simply a correct representation of the king's character,-it also contained in itself an appeal most correctly adapted to the feelings of the criminal. It justified time king in the exercise of clemency; it tranquillized time son's mind, as being a pledge of the reality and sincerity of his father's gracious purposes toward him; and it identified the object of his esteem with the object of his gratitude. Mere gratitude, unattractcd by an object of moral worth, could never have stamped an impression of moral worth on his cha racter; which was his father's ultimate design. We might suppose the existence of this same character without its producing such an action; we might suppose a conflict of contending feelings to be carried on in the mind without evidencing, in the conduct flowing from it, the full vehemence of time conflict, or defining the adjustment of the contending feelings; but we cannot suppose any mode of conduct so admirably fitted to impress the stamp of the father's character on the mind of the son, or to associate the love of right and the abhorrence of wrong with the most powerful instincts of the heart. The old man not only wished to act in perfect consistency with his own views of duty, but also to produce a salutary effect on the mind of his son; and it is the full and effectual union of these two objects, which forms the most beautiful and striking part of this remarkable history.
"There is a singular resemblance between this moral exhibition, and the communication which God has been pleased to make of himself in the Gospel. We cannot but love and admire the character of this excellent prince, although we ourselves have no direct interest in it; and shall we refuse our love and admiration to the King and Father of the human race, who, with a kindness and condescension unutterable, has, in calling his wandering children to return to duty and to happiness, presented to each of us a like aspect of tenderness and purity, and made use of an argument which makes the most direct and irresistible appeal to the most familiar, and at the same time the most powerful principles in the heart of man?
"A pardon without a sacrifice, could have made but a weak amid obscure appeal to the understanding or the heart. It could not have demonstrated the evil of sin; it could not have demonstrated the graciousness of God; and therefore it could not have led man either to hate sin or to love God. If the punishment as well as the criminality of sin consists in an opposition to the character of God, the fullest pardon must be perfectly useless, while this opposition remains in the heart; and the substantial usefulness of the pardon will depend upon its being connected with such circumstances as may, have a natural and powerful tendency to remove this opposition, and create a resemblance. Tim pardon of the Gospel is connected with such circumstances; for the sacrifice of Christ has associated sin with the blood of a benefactor, as well as with our own personal sufferings,-and obedience with the dying entreaty of a friend breathing out a tortured life for us, as well as with our own unending glory in his blessed society. This act, like that in the preceding illustration, justifies God as a lawgiver in dispensing mercy to the guilty; it gives a pledge of the sincerity and reality of that mercy; and, by associating principle with mercy, it identifies time object of gratitude with the object of esteem, in the heart of the sinner."
Inseparably connected with time great doctrine of atonement, amid adapted to the new circumstances of trial in which the human race was placed in consequence of the lapse of our first parents, is the doctrine of the influence of the Holy Spirit; and this, though supposed by many to be farthest removed from rational evidence, can neither be opposed by any satisfactory argument, nor is without an obvious reasonableness.
The Scriptures represent man in the present state as subject not only to various sensible excitements to transgression; and as inafluenced to resist temptation by the knowledge of the law of God and its sanctions, by his own sense of right and duty, and by the examples of the evils of offence which surround him; but also us solicited to obedience by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and to persevering rebellion by the seductions of evil spirits.
This is the doctrine of revelation, and if the evidences of that revelation can be disproved, it may be rejected; if not, it must be admitted, whether any argumentative proof can be offered in its favour or not. That it is not unreasonable, may be first established.
That God, who made us, and who is a Pure Spirit, cannot have immediate access to our thoughts, our affections, and our will, it would certainly be much more unreasonable to deny than to admit; and if the great and universal Spirit possesses this power, every physical objection at least to the doctrine in question is removed, and finite unbodied spirits may have the same kind of access to the mind of man, though not in so perfect and intimate a degree. Before any natural impossibility can be urged against this intercourse of spirit with spirit, we must know what no philosopher, however deep his researches into the causes of the phenomena of the mind, has ever professed to know-the laws of perception, memory, and association. We can suggest thoughts and reasons to each other, and thus mutually influence our wills and affections. We employ for this purpose the media of signs and words; but to contend, that these are the only media through which thought can be conveyed to thought, or that spiritual beings cannot produce the same effects immediately, is to found an objection wholly upon our ignorance. All the reason which the case, considered in itself, affords, is certainly in favour of this opinion. We have access to each other's minds; we can suggest thoughts, raise affections, influence the wills of others; and analogy therefore favours the conclusion, that, though by different and latent means, unbodied spirits have the same access to each other, and to us.
If no physical impossibility lies against this representation of the circumstances of our probation, no moral reason certainly can be urged against the principle itself, which makes us liable to the contrary solicitations of other beings. That God our heavenly Father should be solicitous for our welfare, is surely to be admitted; and that there may be invisible beings who are anxious, from various motives, some of which may be conceived, amid others are unknown, to entice us to evil, is made probable by this, that among men, every vicious character seeks a fellowship in his vices, and employs various arts of seduction, even when he has no interest in success, that he may not be left to sin alone. In point of fact, we see this principle of moral trial in constant operation with respect to our fellow creatures. Wino is not counselled, and warned, and entreated by the good? Who is not invited to offence by the wicked? What are all the instructive, enlightening, and influential institutions which good and benevolent men establish and conduct, but means by which others may be drawn and influenced to what is right? and what are all the establishments and devices to multiply the gratifications and pleasures of mankind, but means employed by others to encourage religious trifling, and indifference to things devout and spiritual, and often to seduce to vice in its grossest forms? The principle is therefore in manifest operation, and he who would except to this doctrine of Scripture, must also except to the Divine government, as it is manifested in the facts of experience, and which clearly makes it a circumstance of our probation in this world, that our opinions, affections, and wills should be subject to the influence of others, both for good and evil.
By reference to this fact, we may also show the futility of the objection to tine doctrine of supernatural influence, which is drawn from the free agency of man. Tine Scriptures do not teach that supernatural influence, either good or bad, destroys our freedom and accountability. How then, it is asked, is the one to be reconciled with the other? The answer is, that we are sure they are not incompatible, because, though we may be strongly influenced and solicited to good or evil conduct by virtuous or vicious persons; though they may enforce their respective wishes by arguments, or persuasions, or hopes, or fears; though they may carefully lead us into circumstances which may be most calculated to undermine or to corroborate virtuous resolutions; we are yet conscious that we are at liberty either to yield or to resist; and on this consciousness, equally common to all, is founded that common judgment of the conduct of those, who, though carefully well advised, or assiduously seduced, are always treated as free agents in public opinion, and praised or censured accordingly. The case is the same where the influence is supernatural, only the manner in which it is applied is different. In one it operates upon the springs which most powerfully move the will and affections from without, in the other it is more immediately from within; but in neither case is it to lee supposed that any other beings can will or choose for us. The modus operandi in both Cases may be inexplicable; but while the power of influencing our choice ma belong to others, the power of choosing is exclusively and necessarily our own.
Since therefore no reason physical or moral can be urged against the doctrine of Divine influence; since the principle on which it is founded, as a circumstance in our trial on earth, is found to accord entirely with the actual arrangements of the Divine government in other cases, every thing is removed which might obstruct our view of the excellence of this encouraging tenet of Divine revelation. The moral helplessness of man has been universally felt, and universally acknowledged. To see the good and to follow the evil, has been the complaint of all ; and precisely to such a state is the doctrine of Divine influence adapted. As the atonement of Christ stoops to the judicial destitution of man, the promise of the Holy Spirit meets the case of his moral destitution. One finds him without any means of satisfying the claims of justice, so as to exempt him from punishment ; the other, without the inclination or the strength to avail himself even of proclaimed clemency, and offered par. don, and becomes the means of awakening his judgment, and exciting, and assisting, and crowning his efforts to obtain that boon, and its consequent blessings. The one relieves him from the penalty, the other from the disease of sin; the former restores to man the favour of God, the other renews him in his image.
To this eminent adaptation of the doctrine to the condition of man, we ma add the affecting view which it unfolds of the Divine character. That tenderness and compassion of God to his offending creatures; that reluctance that they should perish; that Divine and sympathizing anxiety, so to speak, to accomplish their salvation, which were displayed by "the cross of Christ," are here in continued and active manifestation. A Divine Agent is seen "seeking," in order that he may save, "that which is lost;" following the "lost sheep into the wilderness," that he may "bring it home rejoicing ;" delighting to testify of Christ, because of the salvation he has procured; to accompany with his influence his written revelation, because that alone contains" words by which men may be saved ;" affording special assistance to ministers, because they are the messengers of God proclaiming peace; and, in a word, knocking at the door of human hearts; arousing the conscience; calling forth spiritual desires; opening the eyes of the mind more clearly to discern the meaning and application of the revealed word; and mollifying the heart to receive its effectual impression :-doing this too without respect of persons, and making it his special office and work to convince the mistaken ; to awaken the indifferent ; to comfort the penitent and humble; to plant and foster and bring to maturity in the hearts of the obedient every grace and virtue. These are views of God which we could not have had hut for this doctrine; and the obvious tendency of them is, to fill the heart with gratitude for a condescension so wonderful and a solicitude so tender; to impress us with a deep conviction of the value of renewed habits, since God himself stoops to work them in US; and to admonish us of the infinite importance of a personal experience of the benefits of Christ's death, since the means of our pardon and sanctification unapplied can avail us nothing.
We may add, (and it is no feeble argument in favour of the excellence of this branch of Christian doctrine,) that we are thereby encouraged to aspire after a loftier character of moral purity, and a more perfect state of virtue; as well as to engage in more difficult duties. Were we left wholly to our own resources, we should despair; and perhaps it is exactly in proportion to the degree in which this promise of the Holy Spirit is apprehended by those who truly receive Christianity, that they advance t lie standard of possible moral attainment. That God should "work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure," is a reason why we should "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling;" for as our freedom is not destroyed, as even the Spirit may be "grieved" and quenched," our fall would be unspeakably aggravated by our advantages. But the operation of God within us is also a motive to the working our salvation "out,"-to the perfecting of our sanctification even to eternal life. None can despair of conquering any evil habit, who steadily look to this great doctrine, and cordially embrace it; none can despair of being fully renewed again in the image of God, when they know that it is one of the offices of the Holy Spirit to effect this renovation; and none who habitually rest upon the promise of God for all that assistance which the written word warrants them to expect in difficult and painful duties, and in those generous enterprises for the benefit of others which a hallowed zeal may lead them to engage in, will be discouraged in either. "In the name of God," such persons have in all ages "lifted up their banners," and have thus been elevated into a decision, a boldness, an enterprise, a perseverance, which no other consideration or trust could inspire. Such arc the practical effects 9f this doctrine. It prompts to attainments in inward sanctity and outward virtue, which it would have been chimerical to consider possible, but for the aid of a Divine influence; and it leads to exertion for the benefit of others, the success of which would otherwise be too doubtful to encourage the undertaking.
It would be easy to adduce many other doctrines of our religion, which, from their obvious excellency and correspondence with the experience and circumstances of mankind, furnish much interesting internal evidence in favour of its Divinity; but as this would greatly exceed the limits of a chapter, and as those doctrines have been considered against which the most strenuous objections from pretended rational principles have been urged; the moral state and condition of man; the atonement made by the death of Christ for the sins of the World; and the influences of this Holy Spirit,-it may have been sufficient for the argument to have shown that even such doctrines are accompanied with important and interesting reasons ; and that they powerfully commend Christianity to universal acceptance. What has been said is to be considered only as a specimen of the rational proof which accompanies many of the doctrines of revelation, and which a considerate mind may wit h case enlarge by numerous other instances drawn from its precepts, its promises, and those future and ennobling hopes which it sets before us. The wonderful agreement in doctrine among the writers of the numerous books of which the Bible is composed, who lived in ages very distant from each other, and wrote under circumstances as varied as can well be conceived, may properly close this part of the internal evidence. "In all the bearings, parts, and designs of the book of God, we shall find a most striking harmony, fitness, and adaptation of its component parts to one beautiful, stupendous, and united whole; and that all its parts unite and terminate in a most magnificent exhibition of the glory of God, the lustre of his attributes, the strict and true perfection of his moral government, the magnitude and extent of his grace, and love, especially as manifested in the salvation and happiness of man, in his recovery from moral pravity, and restoration to a capacity of acquiring happiness eternal." (LLoYD's Horae Theologicce.) This argument is so justly and forcibly expressed in the following quotation, as to need no farther elucidation :- "The sacred volume is composed by a vast variety of writers, men of every different rank and condition, of every diversity of character and turn of mind; the monarch and the plebeian, the illiterate and learned, the foremost in talent and the moderately gifted in natural advantages, the historian and the legislator, the orator and the poet,-each has his peculiar province; 'some prophets, some apostles, some evangelists,' living in ages remote from each other, under different modes of civil government, under different dispensations of the Divine economy, filling a period of time which reached from the first dawn of heavenly light to its meridian radiance. The Old Testament and the New, the law and the Gospel; the prophets predicting events, and the evangelists recording them; the doctrinal yet didactic epistolary writers, and he who closed the sacred canon in the Apocalyptic vision ;-all these furnished their respective portions, arid yet all tally with a dove-tailed correspondence; all the different materials are joined with a completeness the most satisfactory, with an agreement the most incontrovertible.
"This instance of uniformity without design, of agreement without contrivance; this consistency maintained through a long series of ages, without a possibility of the ordinary methods for conducting such a plan; these unparalleled congruities, these unexampled coincidences, form altogether a species of evidence, of which there is no other instance in the history of all the other books in the world.
"All these variously gifted writers here enumerated, concur in this grand peculiarity,-that all have the same end in view, all are pointing to the same object; all, without any projected collusion, are advancing the same scheme; each brings in his several contingent without any apparent consideration how it may unite with the portions brought by other contributors, without any spirit of accommodation, without any visible intention to make out a case, without indeed any actual resemblance, more than that every separate portion being derived from the same spring, each must be governed by one common principle, and that principle being truth itself, must naturally and consentaneously produce assimilation, conformity, agreement. What can we conclude from all this, but what is indeed the inevitable conclusion,-a conclusion which forces itself on the mind, and compels the submission of the understanding ;-that all this, under differences of administration, is the work of one and the same great omniscient and eternal Spirit !" (Mrs. MORE'S Character of St. Paul.)
The second branch of the internal evidence of the Scriptures consists of their moral tendency; and here, as in doctrine, the believer may take the highest and most commanding ground.
If, as to the truths revealed in them, the before "unknown God," unknown even to the philosophers of Athens, has been "declared" unto us; if the true moral condition, dangers, and hopes of man have been revealed; if the "kindness and good will of God our Saviour unto man" has appeared; if the true propitiation has been disclosed, and the gates of salvation opened; it through the promised influences of the Holy Spirit, the renewal of our natures in the image of God originally borne by man, the image of his holiness, is made possible to all who seek it; if we have, in the consentaneous system of doctrine which we find in the Scriptures, every moral direction which can safely guide, every promise which can convey a blessing suitable to our condition, and every hope which can at once support under suffering, and animate us to go through our course of trial, and aspire to the high rewards of another life; the moral influence of such a system is as powerful as its revelations of doctrine are lofty and important.
One of the most flagrant instances of that malignity of heart with which so the infidel writers have assailed the Scriptures, and which, more than any thing, shows that it is not the want of evidence, but a hostility arising from a less creditable source, which leads them, in the Spirit of enmity and malice, wilfully to libel what they ought to adore,- is, that they have boldly asserted the Bible to have an immoral tendency. For this, the chief proof which they pretend to offer is, that it records the failings and the vices of some of the leading characters in the Old and New Testaments.
The fact is not denied: but they suppress what is equally true, that these vices are never mentioned with approbation; that the characters stained with them are not, in those respects, held up to our imitation; and that their frailties are recorded for admonition. They dwell upon the crimes of David, and sneer at his being called "a man after God's own heart:" But they suppress the fact, that he was so called long before the commission of those crimes; and 'that he was not at any time declared to be acceptable to God with reference to his private conduct as a man, but in respect of his public conduct as a king. Nor do they state, that these crimes are, in the same Scriptures, represented as being tremendously visited by the displeasure of the Almighty, both in the life of David, and in the future condition of his family. From such objectors the Bible can suffer nothing, because the injustice of their attacks implies a constrained homage to the force of truth. Even this very objection furnishes so strong an argument in favour of the sincerity and honesty of the sacred writers, that it confirms their credibility in that which unbelievers deny, as well as in those relations which they are glad, for a hostile purpose, to admit. Had the Scriptures been written by cunning impostors, such acknowledgments of crimes and frailties in their most distinguished characters, and in some of the writers themselves, would not have been made.
The evangelists all agree in this most unequivocal character of veracity, that of criminating themselves. They record their own errors and offences with the same simplicity with which they relate the miracles and sufferings of their Lord. Indeed their dulness, mistakes and failings, are so intimately blended with his history by their continual demands upon his patience and forbearance, as to make no inconsiderable or unimportant part of it. This fidelity is equally admirable both in the composition and in the preservation of the Old Testament, a book which every where testifies against those whose history it contains, and riot seldom against the relators themselves. The author of the Pentateuch proclaims, in the most pointed terms, the ingratitude of those chosen people toward God. He prophesies that they will go on filling up the measure of their offences, calls heaven and earth to witnel against them that he has delivered his own soul, and declares that as they have worshipped gods which were no gods, God will punish them by calling a people who were no people. Yet this book, so disgraceful to their national character, this register of their own offences, they would rather die than lose. ' This,' says the admirable Pascal, ' is an instance of integrity which has no example in the world, no root in nature.' In the Pentateuch and the Gospels, therefore, these parallel, these unequalled instances of sincerity, are incontrovertible proofs of the truth of both." (Mrs. More's Character of St. Paul.)
It is but just to say, that the malignant absurdity and wickedness of charging the Scriptures with an immoral tendency, have not been incurred by all who have even zealously endeavored to undermine their Divine authority. Many of' them make important concessions on this point. They show in their own characters the effect of their unbelief, and probably the chief cause of it: Blount committed suicide, because be was prevented from an incestuous marriage; Tyndal was notoriously infamous; Hobbes changed his principles with his interests; Morgan continued to profess Christianity while he wrote against it. The moral character of Voltaire was mean and detestable: Bolinbroke was a rake and a flagitious politician. Collins and Shaftesbury qualified themselves for civil offices by receiving the sacrament, while they were endeavouring to prove the religion of which it is a solemn expression of belief, a were imposture; Fume was revengeful, disgustingly vain, and an advocate of adultery and self murder; Paine was the slave of low and degrading habits; and Rousseau an abandoned sensualist, arid guilty of the basest actions, which he scruples not to state and palliate. Yet even some of these have admitted the superior purity of the morals of the Christian revelation. The eloquent culogium of Rousseau on the Gospel and its Author, is well known; it is a singular passage, and shows, that Lt is the state of the heart, and not the judgment, which leads to the rejection of the testimony of God.
Nor is it surprising that a truth so obvious should, even from adversaries, extort concession. No where but in the Scriptures have we a perfect system of morals; and the deficiencies of pagan morality only exalt the purity, the comprehensiveness, the practicability of ours. The character of the Being acknowledged as Supreme must always impress itself upon moral feeling and practice; the obligation of which rests upon his will. We have seen the views entertained by pagans on this all-important point, and their effects. The God of the Bible is "holy" without spot ; "just" without intermission or partiality ; "good,"-boundlessly benevolent and beneficent; and his law is the image of himself; "holy, just, and good." These great moral qualities are not as with them, so far as they were apprehended, merely abstract, and therefore comparatively feeble in their influence. In the person of Christ, our God incarnate, they are seen exemplified in action, displaying them selves amidst human relations, and the actual circumstances of human life. With them, the authority of moral rules was either the opinion of the wise, or the tradition of the ancient, confirmed it is true, in some degree, by observation and experience; but to us, they are given as commands immediately from the supreme Governor, and ratified as HIS by the most solemn and explicit attestations. With them, many great moral principles, being indistinctly apprehended, were matters of doubt and debate; to us, the explicit manner in which they are given excludes both: for it cannot be questioned, whether we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves; to do to others as we would they should do to us, a precept which comprehends almost all relative morality in one plain principle; to forgive our enemies; to love all mankind; to live "righteously" and "soberly," as well as "godly ;" that magistrates must be a terror only to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well; that subjects are to render honour to whom honour, and tribute to whom tribute is due; that masters are to be just and merciful, and servants faithful and obedient. These and many other familiar precepts are too explicit to be mistaken, and too authoritative to be disputed; two of the most powerful means of rendering law effectual. Those who never enjoyed the benefit of revelation, never conceived justly and comprehensively of that moral stale of the heart from which right and beneficent conduct alone can flow, and therefore when they speak of the same virtues as those enjoined by Christianity, they are to be understood as attaching to them a lower idea. In this the infinite superiority of Christianity displays itself. The principle of obedience is not only a sense of duty to God, and the fear of his displeasure; but a tender love, excited by his infinite compassions to us in the gift of his Son, which shrinks from offending. To this influential motive as a reason of obedience, is added another, drawn from its end: one not less influential; but which heathen moralists never knew,-the testimony that we please God, manifested in the acceptance of our prayers, and in spiritual and felicitous communion with him. By Christianity, impurity of thought and desire is restrained in an equal degree as their overt acts in the lips and conduct. Humanity, meekness, gentleness, placability, disinterestedness, and charity, are all as clearly and solemnly enjoined as the grosser vices are prohibited; and on the unruly tongue itself is impressed "the law of kindness." Nor are the injunctions feeble; they are strictly LAW, and not mere advice and recommendations. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" and thus our entrance into heaven, and our escape from perdition, are made to depend upon this preparation of mind. To all this is added possibility, nay certainty of attainment, if we use the appointed means. A pagan could draw, though not with lines so perfect, a beau ideal of virtue, which he never thought attainable; but the "full assurance of hope" is given by the religion of Christ to all who are seeking the moral renovation of their nature; because "it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure."
When such is the moral tendency of Christianity, how obvious is its beneficial tendency both as to the individual and to society! From every passion which wastes, and burns, arid frets, and enfeebles the spirit, the individual is set free, and his inward peace renders his obedience cheerful and voluntary; and we might appeal to infidels themselves, whether, if the moral principles of the Gospel were wrought into the hearts, and embodied in the conduct of all men, the world would not be happy ;-whether, if governments ruled, and subjects obeyed by the laws of Christ ;-whether, if the rules of strict justice which are enjoined Upon us regulated all the transactions of men, and all that mercy to the distressed which we are taught to feel and to practise came into operation ;-and whether, if the precepts which delineate and enforce the duties of husbands, wives, masters, servants, parents, children, fully and generally governed all these relations, a better age than that called golden by the poets, would not be realized, and Virgil's Jam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna, be far too weak to express the mighty change? Such is the tendency of Christianity. On immense numbers of individuals it has superinduced these moral changes; all nations, where it has been fully and faithfully exhibited, bear, amidst their remaining vices, the impress of its hallowing and benevolent influence: it is now in active exertion, in many of the darkest and worst parts of the earth, to convey the same blessings; and lie who would arrest its progress, were lie able, would quench the only hope which remains to our world, and prove himself an enemy, not only to himself; hut to all mankind. What then, we ask, does all this prove, but that the Scriptures arc worthy of God, and propose the very ends which rendered a revelation necessary? Of the whole system of practical religion which it contains we may say, as of that which is embodied in our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, in the words of one who, in a course of sermons on that Divine composition, has entered most deeply into its spirit, and presented a most instructive delineation of the character which it was intended to form : " Be christianity in its native form, as delivered by its great Author. See a picture of God, as far as he is imitable by man, drawn by God's own hand.-What beauty appears in the whole! How just a symmetry What exact proportion in every part! How desirable is the happiness here described! How venerable, how lovely is the holiness !" (WesLEY'S Sermons.) "If," says Bishop Taylor, "wisdom, and mercy, and justice, and simplicity, and holiness, and purity, and meekness, and contentedness, and charity, be images of God, and rays of Divinity, then that doctrine, in which all these shine so gloriously, and in which nothing else is ingredient, must needs be from God. If the holy Jesus had come into the world with less splendour of power and might demonstrations, yet the excellency of what he taught makes him also fit to be THE MASTER OF THE WORLD." (Moral Demonstration of the Truth of the Christian Religion.)
INTERNAL EVIDENCE of the truth of the Scriptures may also be collected from their style. It is various, and thus accords with the profession, that the whole is a collection of books by different individuals; each has his own peculiarity so strongly marked, and so equally sustained throughout the hook or books ascribed to him, as to be a forcible proof of genuineness. The style of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the evangelists, and St. Paul, are all strikingly different. The writers of the New Testament employ Hebrew idioms, words, and phrases. The Greek in which they wrote, is not classical Greek; but, as it is observed hr Bishop Marsh, "is such a dialect as would be used by persons educated in a country where Chaldee or Syriac was spoken as the vernacular tongue; but who also acquired a knowledge of Greek by frequent intercourse with strangers." This therefore affords an argument from internal evidence, that the books were written by the persons whose names they boar; and it has been shown by the same prelate, that as this particular style was changed after the destruction of Jerusalem, the same compound language could not be written in any other age than the first century, and proof is obtained from this source also in favour of the antiquity of the Scriptures of the New Testament. An argument to the same point of antiquity is drawn by MICHAELIS from the accordancy of the evangelic history and the apostolical epistles with the history and manners of the age to which they refer. " A Greek or Roman Christian," he observes, " who lived in the second or third century, though as well versed in the writings of the ancients as Eustathius or Asconius, would still have been wanting in Jewish literature; and a Jewish convert in those ages, even the most learned rabbi. would have been equally deficient in the knowledge of Greece and Rome. if then the New Testament, thus exposed to detection, (had it been an imposture,) is found, after the severest researches, to harmonize with the history, the manners, and the opinions of the first century, and since the more minutely we inquire, the more perfect we find the coincidence, we must conclude that it was beyond the reach of human abilities to effectate so wonderful a deception."
The manner of the sacred writers is also in proof, that they were conscious of the truth of what they relate. The whole narrative is simple and natural. Even in the accounts given of the creation, the flood, the exodus from Egypt, and the events of the life and death of Christ, where designing men would have felt most inclined to endeavour to heighten the impression by glowing and elaborate description, the same chastened simplicity is preserved. " These sober recorders of events the most astonishing, are never carried away, by the circumstances they relate, into any pomp of diction, into any use of superlatives. There is not, perhaps, in the whole Gospel a single interjection. not an exclamation, nor any artifice to call the reader's attention to the marvels of which the relaters were the witnesses. Absorbed in their holy task, no alien idea presents itself to their mind: the object before them fills it. They never digress ; are never called away by the solicitations of vanity, or the suggestions of curiosity. No image starts up to divert their attention. There is, indeed, in the Gospels much imagery, much allusion, much allegory, but they proceed from their Lord, and are recorded as his. The writers never fill up the intervals between events. They leave circumstances to make their own impression, instead of helping out the reader by any reflections of their own. They always feel the holy ' ground on which they stand. They preserve the gravity of history and the severity of truth, without enlarging the outline or swelling the expression.'" (Mrs. MoRE's Character of St Paul.)
Another source of INTERNAL EVIDENCE, arising from incidental coincidences, which, from "their latency and minuteness," must be supposed to have their foundation in truth, is opened, and ably illustrated by Dr. Paley, in his "Horae Paulinae," a work which will well repay the perusal.
Much of the COLLATERAL EVIDENCE of the truth of the Scriptures generally, and of Christianity in particular, has been anticipated in the course of this discussion, and need not again be resumed. The agreement of the final revelation of the will of God, by the ministry of Christ and his apostles, with former authenticated revelations, has been pointed out ; so that the whole constitutes one body of harmonious doctrines, gradually introduced, and at length fully unfolded and confirmed. The suitableness of the Christian revelation to the state of the world, at the time of its communication, follows from the view we have given of the necessity, not only of a revelation generally, but of such a revelation as the mercy of God has vouchsafed to the world through his Son. It has also been shown, that its historical facts accord with the credible histories and traditions of the same time; that monuments remain to attest its truth, in the institutions of the Christian Church; and that adversaries have made concessions in its favour. Our farther remarks on this subject, though many other interesting particulars might be embraced, must be confined to two particulars, but each of a very convincing character. The first is, the marvellous diffusion of Christianity in the three first centuries; the second is, the actual beneficial effect produced, and which is still producing, by Christianity upon mankind.
With respect to the first, the fact to be accounted for is, that the first preachers of the Gospel, though unsupported by human power, and uncommended by philosophic wisdom, and even in opposition to both., succeeded in effecting a revolution in the opinions and manners of a great portion of the civilized world, to which there is no parallel in the history of mankind. "Though aspersed by the slander of the malicious, and exposed to the sword of the powerful, in a short period of time they induced multitudes of various nations, who were equally distinguished by the peculiarity of their manners, and the diversity of their language, to forsake the religion of their ancestors. The converts whom they made deserted ceremonies and institutions, which were defended by vigorous authority, sanctified by remote age, and associated with the most alluring gratification of the passions." (KETT's Sermons at the Bampton Lecture.)
After their death the same doctrines were taught, and the same effects followed, though successive and grievous persecutions were waged against all who professed their faith in Christ, by successive emperors and inferior magistrates. Tacitus, about A. P. 62, speaking of Christianity says, "This pernicious superstition, though checked for a while, broke out again, and spread not only over Judea, but reached time city of Rome also. At first they only were apprehended who confessed themselves to be of that sect; afterward a vast multitude were discover. ed, and cruelly punished." Pliny, the governor of Pontus and Bithynia, near eighty years after the death of Christ, in his well known letter to Trajan, observes, "The contagion of this superstition has not only invaded cities, but the smaller towns also, and the whole country." He speaks too of the idol temples having been "almost forsaken." To the same effect the Christian fathers speak. About A. 1). 140, Justin Martyr writes, "There is not a nation, Greek or Barbarian, or of any other name, even of those who wander in tribes, and live in tents, among whom prayers and thanksgivings are not offered to the Father and Creator of the universe in the name of the crucified Jesus." In A. D. 190, Tertullian, in his Apology, appeals to the Roman governors-" We were but of yesterday, and we have filled your cities and towns; the camp, the senate, and the forum." In A. P. 220, Origen says, "By the good providence of God, the Christian religion has so flourished and increased, that it is now preached freely, and without molestation." These representations, Gibbon contends, are exaggerations on both sides, produced by the fears of Pliny, and the zeal of the Christian fathers. But even granting some degree of exaggeration arising not designedly from warm feel ings, an unquestionable occurrence proves the futility of the exceptions taken to these statements by the elegant but infidel historian. The great fact is, that in the year A. P. 300, Christianity become the established religion of the Roman empire, and paganism -was abolished: and it follows from this event, that the religion which thus became triumphant after unparalleled trials and sufferings must have established itself, previously to its receiving the sanction of the state, in the belief of a great majority of the one hundred and twenty millions of people supposed to be contained in the empire, or no emperor would have been insane enough to make the attempt to change the religion of so vast a state, nor, had he made it, could he have succeeded.
The success of Christianity in the three centuries preceding Constantine, has justly been considered as in no unimportant sense miraculous, and as such, aim illustrious proof of its Divinity. "The obstacles which opposed the first reception of Christianity were so numerous and formidable, and the human instruments employed for its diffusion so apparently weak and insufficient, that a comparison between them will not only show that the passions after opposition of man, far from impeding the Divine designs, may ultimately become the means of their perfect accomplishment, but will fully demonstrate the Divine origin of Christianity by displaying the powerful assistance which time Almighty supplied for its establishment." (KETT'S Sermons.) Time astonishing success of Christianity under such circumstances, amid at so early a period, affords a strong confirmation to time truth of miracles, because it implies them, as no other means can be conceived b which aim attention so general should have been excited to a religion which was not only without the sanction of authority and rank, but opposed by both ; time scene of whose facts lay in a province the people of which were despised ; and whose doctrines held out nothing but spiritual attainments. By the effect of miracles during the lives of the first preachers, public curiosity was excited, and they obtained an audience which they could not otherwise have commanded. This power of working miracles was transmitted to their successors, and continued until time purposes of Infinite Wisdom were accomplished. They decreased in number in the second century, and left but a few traces at time close of the third. T lie increase of Christians implied even more than miracles; such was the holy character of the majority, during time continuance of time reproach and persecutions which followed the Christian name ; such time patience with which they suffered and the fortitude with which they died ; that the influence of God upon their hearts is as manifest in time new and hallowed character which distinguished them, and the meek, forgiving, and passive virtues which they exhibited, to the astonishment of the heathen, as his power in the miracles by which their attention was first drawn to examine that truth which they afterward believed and held fast to death.
The actual eject produced by this new religion upon society, and which it is still producing, is another point in the collateral evidence-:
for Christianity has not only an adaptation for improving the condition of society; its excellence is not only to be argued from its effects stated on hypothetical circumstances ; but it has actually won its moral victories, amid in all ages has exhibited its trophies. 'In every pagan country where it has prevailed, it has abolished idolatry with its sanguinary and polluted rites. It also effected this mighty revolution, that the sanctions of religion should no longer be in favour of the worst passions and practices, but be directed against them. It ham; raised the standard of morality, and by that means, even where its full effects have not been suffered to display themselves, has insensibly improved the manners of every Christian state: what heathen nations are, in point of morals, is now well known; and the information on this subject which for several years past has been increasing, has put it out of the power of infidels to urge time superior manners of either China or Hindostan. It has abolished infanticide and human sacrifices, so prevalent among ancient and modern heathens; put an end to polygamy and divorce; and, by the institution of marriage in an indissoluble bond, has given birth to a felicity and sanctity in time domestic circle which it never before knew. It has exalted the condition and character of woman, and by that means has humanized man; given refinement and delicacy to society; and created a new and important affection in the human breast-the love of woman founded on esteem; an affection generally unknown to heathens the most refined. It abolished domestic slavery in ancient Europe; and from its principles time struggle which is now maintained with African slavery draws its energy, and promises a triumph as complete. It has given a milder character to war, and taught modern nations to treat their prisoners with humanity, and to restore them by exchange to their respective countries. It has laid the basis of a jurisprudence more just and equal ; given civil rights to subjects, and placed restraints on absolute power; and crowned its achievements by its charity. Hospitals, schools, amid many other institutions for the aid of the aged and the poor, are almost exclusively its own creations, and they abound most where its influence is most powerful. The same effects to this day are resulting from its influence in those heathen countries into which time Gospel has been carried by missionaries sent out from this and other Christian states. In some of them idolatry has been renounced ; infants, and widows, and aged persons who would have been immolated to their gods or abandoned by their cruelty, have been preserved, and are now "the living to praise its Divine Author, as the y do at this day." In other instances the light is prevailing against the darkness ; and those systems of dark and sanguinary superstition which have stood for ages only to pollute and oppress, without any symptom of decay, now bet ray the shocks they have sustained by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and nod to their final fall.
 The Scripture character of the Divine Being is thus strikingly drawn out by Dr. A. Clarke in his note on Gen. i, 1
"The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being. The Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence: he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, most simple, and most spiritual of all essences: infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true, and holy: the cause of all being, the upholder of all things; infinitely happy, because infinitely good; and eternally self sufficient, needing nothing that he has made. Illimitable in his immensity inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence: known fully only to himself', because an infinite mind can only be comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived; and who, from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, right, and kind."
 See the argument largely and ingeniously exhibited in GISBORNE'S Testimony of Nat. Theol.
 "Remarks on the Internal Evidence of time Truth of Revealed Religion by THOMAS ERSKINE, Esq."-This popular and interesting volume contains many very striking, just, and eloquent remarks in illustration of the internal evidence of several doctrines of the New Testament, and especially of that of the atonement. It is to be regretted, however, that it sets out from a false principle, and builds so much truth upon the sand. "The sense of moral obligation is the Standard to which reason instructs maim to adjust his system of natural religion," and this is "the test by which lie is to try all pretensions to religion." The
Principle of time book therefore is to show the excellence of Christianity from its embodying the abstract principles of natural religion in intelligible and palpable action-a gratuitous and unsubstantial foundation.
 "I wilh confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of this Gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction: how mean, bow contemptible are they, compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book at once so simple and sublime, should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage, whose history it contains, should be himself a mere man? Do we find that lie assumed the tone of an enthusiast or ambitious sectary? What sweetness, what purity in his manners! Whit an affecting gracefulness in his delivery! What sublimity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discourses ! What presence of mind in his replies ! How great the command over his passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live, and so die, without weakness, and without ostentation? When Plato described his imaginary good man with all the shame of guilt, yot meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he described exactly the character of Jesus Christ: the resemblance was so striking that all the Christian fathers perceived it.
"What prepossession, what blindness must it be. to compare the son of Sophronicus (Socrates] to the Son of Mary ! What an infinite disproportion is there between them Socrates dying without pain or ignominy, easily sup. ported his character to the last : and if his death, however easy, had not crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his wisdom, was any thing more than a vain sophist. He invented, it is said, the theory of morals. Others, however, had before put them in practice ; he had only to say, therefore, what they had done, and to reduce their examples to precept. But where could
Jesus learn among his competitors, that pure and sublime morality, of which he only has given us both precept and example? The death of Socrates, peaceably philosphizing with his friends, appears the most agreeable that could he wished for; that, of Jesus, expiring in the midst of agonizing pains, abused, Insulted, and accused by a whole nation, is the most horrible that could be feared Socrates, in receiving the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who administered it; but Jesus, in the midst of excruciating tortures, prayed for his merciless tormentors. Yes! if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God. Shall we suppose the evangelic history a mere fiction? Indeed, my friend, it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested as that of Jesus Christ. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the difficulty, without obviating it; it is more inconceivable, that a number of persons should agree to write such a history, than that one only should furnish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the diction, and strangers to the morality contained in the Gospel, the marks of whose truth are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor would be a more astonishing man than the hero."
 The collateral testimony to certain facts mentioned in Scripture, from coins, medals, and ancient marbles, may be seen well applied in HORNE'S Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures, vol. i, p
 success of Mohammed, though sometimes pushed forward as a parallel is, in fact, both as to the means employed and the effect produced, a perfect contrast. The means were conquest and compulsion; the effect was to legalize and sanctify, so to speak, the natural passions of men for plunder and sensual gratification; and it surely argues either a very frail judgment, or a criminal disposition, to object, that a contrast so marked should ever have been exhibited as a correspondence. Men were persuaded, when they were not forced, to join the ranks of the Arabian impostor by the hope of plunder, and a present and future life of brutal gratification. Men were persuaded to join the apostles by the evidence of truth, and by the hope of future spiritual blessings, but with the certainty of present disgrace and suffering.
 Attempts have been made to deny time existence of miraculous powers in the ages immediately succeeding that of the apostles, but it stands on the unanimous and successive testimony of the fathers. Gibbon, on this subject, has borrowed his objections from "'rime Free Inquiry" of Dr. Middleton, whose belief in Christianity is very suspicious. This book received many able answers; but none more so than one by the Rev. John Wesley. It is a triumph to truth to state, that Dr. Middleton felt himself obliged to give up his ground by shifting the question.
 Among time Greeks, the education of women was chiefly confined to courtezuns.
 For an ample illustration of the actual effects of Christianity upon society, see Bishop PORTEUS'S Beneficial Effects of Christianity, and RYAN'S History of the Ejects of Religion on Mankind.