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Before we come, however, to the main and direct point of our proposition, namely, “ that 6 the practical and moral records of the Bible " are the very picture of man;": I cannot forbear adverting to what appears a most valuable indirect evidence of its having proceeded from a thorough knowledge of man's nature : I mean an evidence resulting from the “ manner in “ which it appears to be provided, in its very “ foundation, with an anticipative answer to all “ difficulties merely philosophical or speculative;" an answer, not palpably and artificially inserted with any view to repel objection ; but arising naturally out of the substance of its historical detail.
When we consider, on the one hand, the nature of the Book; its end and object, namely, “ human happiness ;” its evidently restricted limits, and almost exclusive attention paid to its own proper end alone; its disregard, apparently intentional, of all subordinate subjects ; (affording on all such only the scantiest and shortest notices which the necessity of the case demanded ;) when we consider this, I say, on the one hand, and on the other, the comparatively
selected examples, such as may be sufficient to elucidate the manner in which they have affected one mind. It must then be left entirely to the reader's own thoughtful judgment (if he be disposed to listen to the kind of evidence) to select other, or more numerous, or better instances for himself.
unimportant and subsidiary influence only, which either“ physical” or “ abstract” knowledge has, or ever can have, by itself, on man's real essential happiness; I think it may well appear, with respect to physical difficulties in particular, a matter even of astonishment - that a perishable philosophy should attempt to undermine the rock of moral truth, through the medium of objections purely scientific.
Let the authenticity of the elder Scriptures be disproved in other ways ; let the “ facts” be otherwise accounted for, or disproved, on which the excellent Leslie has so triumphantly in- Short and
easy Mesisted in their favour; let the credibility of any thod with
the Deists. “ revelation” be disproved; or, at least, the credibility of the Bible, as one, upon fair moral grounds, and by better evidence of a like character, than that by which it is supported : let this be done, and philosophical objections may then join in, to swell the shout of triumph, raised by other conquerors over their falling victim. But till that be done, I have no power to understand how such objections are admissible as valid, in such a question. They are objections of a wrong kind. Carry them to their utmost height; suppose them in possession of the field; to what conclusion do they come? They only terminate in a gulph of fathomless uncertainty, even in their own sphere. Receive them, (to the rejection of Scripture,) and they leave unprovided
for, and unexplained, a mass of moral difficulty, of which but to think, in sober seriousness, without the Bible to explain it, appears to be treading on the very verge of madness. The inference, however, favourable to the divine authority of Scripture, which we think is to be drawn from its reserve upon all physical or abstract questions, extends equally to both classes of objection, whether “ scientific” or “ speculative.” And it is derived from the following general consideration.
KNOWLEDGE, it would appear, has been the deadly snare to man from the very beginning. The temptation of Paradise surely cannot present itself to the unbiassed understanding, as having been other than an inward and spiritual temptation, operating through the intellect.
Now, let the question be put, whether, under this view, it be or be not every reflecting man's own honest experience, that this inheritance “ of being liable to peculiar temptation through “ the intellect,” has descended from our first parent unto his children of this day?
If we take our station among the gloomier interpreters of human nature, we shall not for a moment doubt it. If we prefer being the advocates of its dignity ; then, in proportion as we lay the greater claim of inheritance to man's loftiest capacities, so will the liability of those capacities to abuse fasten itself upon us, as a
consequence unavoidable: unless indeed it can be proved, either that “ experience does not lead us to acknowledge the present state as a state of trial ;” or, that “knowledge uniformly carries its own correctives with it;" or, that“ learning is always humble;" or " science universally distinguished by exemption from petulance or tyranny :" — which who will undertake to prove?
From the very indistinctness, then, and indefiniteness of holy Scripture on the points in question, (points, on which increase of years has shown, with an increased conviction, the necessity of some general restraint to man,) we derive our indirect evidence of the proposition which we maintain from the text; viz. that “ Scripture is the record of that wisdom, which “ alone knoweth truly what man is, and needeth “ not that any should testify of him, for its better e information:" which treats him accordingly, even as such a one as from the beginning it knew him to be; not allowing him, indeed, to become a rebel, yet still not wishing him to be a slave ; resisting (it is most true) the usurpations of “ knowledge;" yet, surely, neither condemning its just rule, nor encouraging “igno“ rance."
The human intellect is still a sort of " para6 dise.” Its extent is wide as the extent of the
Cf. Lect. created universe ; within its grasp is every
thing that is pleasant to the sight, and good for wholesome food. The sun and the moon shining in their courses ; the earth in all its beauty; the sea with all its wonders; every art and every science that can either adorn or benefit life; every detailed branch of morals or of politics ; every lofty flight of poetry ; every thing, in short, that imagination can devise, or research into treasures inexhaustible discover; all are open to its power. From all these
sources flows a stream to water the garden, partCf. Gen. ii. ing itself, not into four, but into innumerable
But there is still a tree, of which it may not taste; there is some one spiritual temptation to be resisted and overcome ; there is one restriction. We say to him who is intrusted as the lord of this extensive sovereignty ; “ All “ these things are thine; but only take heed, so that thou be not wise against thy Maker. “When thou comest to suspect concerning Him, 6 be sure that thou art fallen into thy time “ of trial. Be not thou rebellious, like to that 66 rebellious house, which fell from heaven. There “ is but one thing here demanded of thee. Take “ that, when thou shalt find it, in humility ;
“ digest it in faith ; and it shall turn within thy Cf. Ezek. “ taste as honey for sweetness."