Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

re

eve

ality and truth; difficulties, and subjects of cavil, (in number, almost as many, as in substance they are unimportant;) all at once present themselves as fit subjects only for a temper of silent reverence, and more severe self-introspection :these are phenomena, in the believer's case, which we shall observe, and must secretly account for to ourselves.

Again : while this is so, there is evidently no miracle at work. We see the gross and "natural" impressions of the book still exerting their own influence upon the mind of the unbeliever. The voices of scorn and laughter are still levelled at those very things, in which we perceive no room for ridicule. We can clearly trace the swellings of an intellectual pride within the breast of the scorner; as though he had found a purer justice for himself, and a nobler wisdom; and saw and could expose weakness and injustice there, where his fellow man no longer doubts that there is both equity and power:-these are appearances, in the opposing case, which must be accounted for, too.

But there is only one way of accounting for both.

If we try the supposition of a general intellecCf. Lect. tual debasement, or original weakness of underiii. $.2.

standing, among the communion of “believers,” or of decided intellectual superiority, characterizing the average of their antagonists, it helps us nothing; for (as it has been said already) such hypothesis is not borne out by facts.

If we could discover, concerning a reasonable individual, (hitherto accounted an enlightened man in his generation, as well by enemies as friends, but not hitherto spiritually minded,) that, from the moment he became a sincere practical Christian, his intellectual powers dried up, and withered; and he became narrow-minded, and lost his attainments of former knowledge; this might explain much. But neither is this so.

“Christians” are no less capable of all the duties of " men of science," or of “good citizens,” than those who differ from them. They are no less capable of threading all the mazes of perplexed reasoning; of establishing the just canons of reasoning; of weighing evidence, by canons established.

Of course we are speaking thus only of the higher capacities, both among believers and unbelievers. Let an equality, therefore, in all natural points be admitted between these, generally; and he who first transgresses the limit, to demand more than such equality, shall be pronounced the less candid man, and the less im- Note b. partial judge.

Is it possible, then, to doubt, as a mere question of fact and of experience, that there is not

Lect. iii.

essentially in the human understanding itself any invincible resistance to a “revelation?" nor even to a revelation encompassed, as the Bible is, with all those avenues to subordinate objection, which prove a stumbling block to so very

many :-which (I am quite willing to admit) it Cf. Lect. ii. may be, and is, a severe spiritual temptation to pp. 50_57.

overcome, in the outset; but still a temptation not insuperable.

Is it possible to doubt this, on the one hand? and on the other, can it be denied, (as the correlative of the same proposition, that then

there is, there must positively be, a yet higher Cf. Pascal, and more discerning power still, than the utThoughts, xiv. 1. most compass of mere intellect? a power which xxix. 2.

can subdue the human understanding, without destroying it; which can tamé, without annihilating it; which can enlarge it, by a new and

additional branch of apprehension altogether, Cf. Lect. y: without demanding, in exchange, the sacrifice of part2.9.2.

any of its former possessions ? ,

Look at these things, I say, and the impression arising from that internal character of “Scrip“ture,” which has been here described, must appear likely to have proved to many, and likely yet to prove, among the strongest witnesses of its divine authority. If, indeed, we have not been attributing, throughout, an imaginary character to Scripture altogether;-if it be true, that while these painful things are matter of offence to unbelieving minds; while to natural apprehension in itself, and by itself, such countenance of a divine record presents features altogether undiscernible; no such offence takes place in minds rooted in the belief of Christ. What, then, is it which has removed the obstacle? The talisman is FAITH h.” .. j.. . Southey's

Thalaba, Place the light of REDEMPTION at the boun- v. 254. dary of these darker views and records : let it be seen, that the sufferings and death of JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF THE MOST High God, were the realities to which all former shadows, and dispensations, and preparations led: let it be thought, what a sum and character of guiltiness must have been in man, at once to require and

h Here, therefore, as during the progress of the foregoing thoughts an objection may have suggested itself of this nature; that " if such view of Scripture be correct; then what “ becomes of all the laboured eulogies, and high flown pane“ gyrics, which so many learned and eloquent men have be“ stowed on holy Scripture, as a work unrivalled in the “ grandeur of its thoughts and sublimity of its compo

sition?" here comes in the very secret of the case, by way of answer. Such panegyrists have bestowed their praise under the influence of “ faith.” Under the influence of faith, they have been received by others, assented to, extended. And, in truth, there cannot be any praise or admiration bestowed on holy Scripture, when surveyed by “ faith,” and “ taste,” and “ learning" united together, which it will not warrant, in every respect. It is the volume of the Spirit: wherefore its excellences, surveyed through the medium of appropriate faculties, are necessarily inexhaustible.

to justify this transcendent mystery: let it be considered, that, as the comprehension of all nations within the saving benefits of that awful sacrifice was, and is, the divine purpose, therefore his own recorded Word must be of a tendency and power, not calculated to flatter human pride, but to abase it; that man may come through trial of his spirit into heaven : let it be perceived and felt that the picture of ourselves, which the Bible exhibits, is a real one; that the original Inspirer of that holy volume assuredly knew what was in man, from the very beginning; that he there tells man truth, for man's own good; that man's happiness is his desire :--place the light of these considerations, as a beacon, at

the end of the inquiry, and the WORD OF GOD Ps. cxix. becomes indeed a lamp unto our feet, and a light

XV. unto our paths. The waters of Marah are sweet23, 24, 25. 2 Kings iv. ened, now; the death that was, before, in the

pottage, is turned into life!

For reflecting thus, and being convinced already that the Bible is a book wherein alone he may look for sure and unerring truth; the believer speedily perceives, that two cases might have been submitted to him, in either of which he might much more easily have been led to doubt the authority of a volume, purporting to be the depositary of authentic truth : namely; either “if it were found recording crimes, of

105. Εχο

38–41.

« ZurückWeiter »