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REVIEW OF BOOKS.
Lectures on some of the principal necessary to do their work over
Evidences of Revelation, deli- again. We have still to regret the vered at the Monthly Meetings devastations of time and the conof the Associated Ministers and vulsions of terrene affairs, in reChurches of the London Congre- ference to some of the fairest porgational Union. By the follow- tions of science, without even that ing Ministers : William Orme, melancholy resource which we entW. B. Collyer, D. D. dc. &c., joy, for instance, as it regards the H. F. Burder, M. A., James architecture of the ancients, of Stratten, William Walford, John tracing out of its ruins and fragPye Smith, D.D., Andrew Reed, ments some of its most graceful Spedding Curwen, Robert Philip, and valuable features. We are John Morison, Robert Winter, compelled to survey merely the D. D., Joseph Fletcher, M. A. empty places of these departments Holdsworth. 10s. 6d.
of knowledge—their site, with
scarce a fragment to do more than MODERN discoveries and improve- inform us, that such monuments ments, in almost every branch of of human ingenuity, and knowknowledge, have exerted an ex- ledge and genius, once existed. hilarating influence upon the hu- But could the whole intellectual man faculties. They have given stock of departed generations have something of the character of pro- been handed down unimpaired, phecy to the promptings of genius, and the mass gone on augmenting and wedded cheerful hope to sober age after age by numerical addi. and persevering industry. They tion, which would have resulted, have shown, that if the sphere of in reference to the main stock, in human knowledge and the field of geometrical accumulations, like discovery are not alsolutely in. money at compound interest, to finite, they are yet like the powers what a glorious height must every of knowledge, illimitable; at least branch of science have advanced by any definite lines which human at this late age of the world? experience or conjecture could What an elevation and refinement draw around them. There hence the human mind would have atarises a practical illimitableness, tained ! and how noble would have answering all the purposes of a been this intellectual annihilation real and demonstrable infinity of death and time! Thought would
Since the abstract sciences them- then, not merely have propagated selves have borne witness to the itself in a direct line, and an inadvancement of knowledge, and finite series, for that it does now; admitted most important and pal but that line would have been pable additions, although in many widening as it advanced, and that departments, they were deemed series would have been generating absolutely perfect, and incapable new and similar series ; or, like of simplification and discovery, time itself, it would have borne all who shall say, except of the its productions and accumulation matter of revelation itself, that along with it. This idea, however, the human mind has nothing fur- of illimitable and ever-advancing ther to attain or effect? Much of science is too great and too good the stock of knowledge amassed to be practically realized by a race by former generations has doubt- of fallen intelligences. The evil less been lost, and it has been passions of human nature, in the
convulsions and destructions they The suggestions of such timid and produce, will probably always inconsiderate, though well-meansupply in time to come, as they ing persons, are not to be rehave done in time past, an effici. garded. Their opinion, however ent counteraction to the accumu- well-intentioned, is founded in lative and aspiring propensities of misapprehension, and, if acted human intellect, and a salutary upon, would be found prolific of self-originating chastisement upon injurious consequences to the the apostacy and insubordination great cause of Christianity. We of the creature.
imagine the Christian argument to These remarks, if wholly inap- be essentially inexhaustible; and plicable to revelation in its own we persuade ourselves, that we substance or matter, are not so in perceive a pre-eminent display of reference to its evidences. That is divine wisdom and beneficence, a work which, like the publication in ordaining that every age shall of the Gospel itself, must be ever do its own share of the work, both and anon essayed: and though by adding something to the general large and satisfactory accumula- stock, and by adapting and applytions should be made, we do not ing the whole to the varying as. conceive that this will either sil- pects of the times. And this opinion persede the necessity, or destroy is sustained by the whole current of the possibility of future additions. history, since the first propagation
We confess ourselves by no of the Gospel. Every age has means disposed to acquiesce in added more or less of confirmation the opinion of those, who deem and illustration to the aggregate, that the completeness of the Chris- handed down from preceding tian argument, as it has been be- times; and thus, according to the queathed to us by our predeces- beautiful saying of Cicero, time, sors, leaves little to be anticipated which obliterates the comments of from the industry and acuteness of opinion, has progressively established the existing generation. Some per. und authenticated the dictates of sons have propagated such views truth. But although it should be of the perfection of the argument admitted that enough has been acin favour of revelation, as tend to complished to satisfy all reasondiscourage exertion, and repress able inquirers, it does not follow the ardour of continued and re- that nothing further should be atnewed effort. Despondency has tempted in order to leave incredubeen the result; and consecrated lity without excuse. Infidelity never genius and industry have been lays down its arms. Its mode of thus too often turned aside to attack frequently varies. Its ingeother mines, where, though the nuity is always discovering some veins might be of inferior metal, new point of assault, or fabricating they were represented as less ex some new missile. The defenders hausted by former researches, and of the Christian cause must theremore likely to repay the labour fore show themselves ready to of working. Some have discou- meet the enemy at every point, raged further examination and and prepared to test the supeeffort, under the notion that we riority of their weapons in every shall but injure what we attempt species of encounter. If, as we to improve; and that an edifice, conceive, the argument for Chrisreared by so many and such wise tianity is essentially inexhaustible, master-builders in past times, is then every new difficulty which not likely to receive any acces- human ingenuity and human scisions either of strength or beauty ence can discover, will issue in an from the skill of modern hands. additional proof of the divinity of the Gospel; it will supply a new economy, in not allowing the proof test of its truth, and proportion. to be exhausted by a single geneably confirm the faith of believers, ration. By this method, not only while it augments the absurdity of is provision made to gratify the disbelief. The discovery of such human mind, by the gradual addifficulties is by no means to be vancement of its discoveries and regretted. Though for a time acquisitions, but a principle is their solution may be unattain- kept in view, which is of great able, there can be no doubt as to importance to the success of the the result. They must be con- Christian cause, viz. that no converted into corroborative wit- victions are so deep and lively as nesses. Like fragments of rock those which result from our own which seem cast in the way of a discoveries and researches. Nor majestic river, as if to stay or is it unimportant to observe, that drive back its waters, they give the inexhaustibleness of the Chrisbut a momentary check to its tian argument seems wisely set as flow, while they augment its a counteractive to our gradual rebeauty and rouse it to new life, cession, in point of time, from the The sentiment which would dis- earliest, and therefore from the courage further effort, and settle clearest and fullest state of the down into an idle complacency Evangelic facts. It has often in what has already been done, been alleged by infidels, that the may be of a too selfish character. distance of time at which ChrisIt may arise from an unwilling- tianity is said to have been introness to undertake a labour, which, duced, greatly obscures its history, as it regards the undertaker's own and weakens the evidence which satisfaction, might be superfluous. its advocates derive from testiOr it may arise from the compa- mony. But instead of this being rative hopelessness of the labour. a fair and valid argument, it will We may deem that the accessions be found that the length of time each might hope to make, in so has contributed rather to confirm vast an argument, would sink and illustrate the original proof, down into a character of absolute by the gradual accretions of every littleness, and prove worthless in succeeding age. The means of the great amount. Men of genius trying the claims of Christianity and learning possibly despise the have increased with the increase character of gleaners in fields of knowledge, and every fresh where others have preceded them, test that could be applied to it has and reaped the harvest that can turned out to be a new witness. never be renewed. But such should By every new proof of the diffibe reminded, that single ears or culty of imposture, we approximate solitary grains gleaned in this field, to the proof of its impossibility ; may be preferable to whole shocks and the positive testimony derived gathered in other harvests. Leaving from history and philosophy, by out of view, therefore, altogether, becoming progressively complithe varying forms and tastes of cated, increases proportionally in infidelity, the new and insidious strength. The progress made in shapes which old and refuted ob- some branches of philosophy, in jections are continually assuming, natural history, in criticism, in and which alone would demand a geology, in chronology, and other corresponding reproduction and departments of human knowledge, adaptation of the argument, we has, it is true, started many new may be allowed to say, that Pro- difficulties, which at first, and vidence appears to us to have while the principles on which they chosen a most wise and interesting rested were but imperfectly underNo. 32. N.S.
stood, or the sciences which ori- ber of the circumstances brought ginated them but immature, seemed together. The application of this to present formidable objections mode of reasoning to the evidences to the claims of Christianity. It of revelation, will be immediately became necessary, therefore, to seen in reference to prophecy. It meet and remove, as far as pos- is on the minuteness of the detail, sible, all these objections. The the triviality of the circumstances, advocate of Christianity augments their complexity and number, that the strength of his cause, by show- the strength of proof depends. ing that there is no incompatibility Every additional particular affords between the discoveries of modern a new opportunity for detecting science and the testimony of re- imposition. Truth and reality alone velation; and in many cases he is can bear minute inspection. Falseable, not merely to show that there hood is but a picture, and will imis no descrepancy in the various pose upon us, only as the means witnesses, both direct and indirect, of scrutiny are diminished, or the but that their agreement excludes tests limited. Dissect a real flower, the possibility of fraud, and de- and every leaf supplies a fresh monstrates the divinity of inspira- and independent proof of the petion. The more real objections or culiar properties of the whole; difficulties which philosophy and but proceed in the same way history can propose, the better for with the artificial object, and the cause of the Gospel : because, every part and portion of the diof their solution, sooner or later, verse materials of which it is there can be no doubt; and be formed, will supply a fresh excause that solution, whenever it posure of the deception. comes, must convert the new ob- Now such, we apprebend, is jection into a new mode of trying the case with the argument for the the truth of the revelation. In divine origin of Christianity. So proportion as the tentumina are far from having come to an ultiboth multiplied and complicated, matum, or risen to a maximum of the proof grows stronger, and proof, we believe it destined to the application of it to minds of receive progressive additions until different structure, of various the end of time; and that not tastes, and of diverse kinds of merely in the way of improving knowledge, becomes more exten- and reconstructing old arguments, sively practicable. The whole ar- but by positive and palpable acgument thus represents a piece of cumulations. These may indeed dove-tailed work, or a complicated be minute and inconsiderable, system of machinery ; the skill of contemplated apart, but in their the workman is in proportion to aggregate they will become, yea, the complexity of the movements are becoming, important; sepaand the multiplicity of the parts : rately, they may not be of sufor, to borrow an illustration more in ficient weight to produce belief point-just as in a case of circum- or preclude infidelity, but united stantial evidence in a court of law; they become majestic and irrethe very intricacy, complexity, sistible, like the waves of the and multiplicity of circumstances ocean. Scarcely a mind of oritallying with the main question, ginal talent or extensive attainand contributing proof and light ment, has essayed in modern times from so many different quarters, to touch the Christian argument, and all independent and diverse, without adding something to the constitute the very strength of the general stock. The accuracy of case, augmenting progressively, philosophical deductions, the acaccording to the intricacy and num- cumulations of history and geography, have greatly multiplied the able laurels. We are happy to. resources upon which the Christian meet our dissenting brethren in the advocate can draw. His fields of same cause. Many of them are proof have been greatly widened, well qualified to meet the fiercest while those before possessed have and most subtle opponents of the been better cultivated. The sources cross. In the great metropolis, whence arguments in favour of that destructive vortex to the Christianity may be drawn, are now young and inexperienced, they become all but infinite. Many of have had ample proof, within the them, however, are yet but inade- last seven years, of the malignity quately explored. Some of the mi- which still works in human nature nor departments have been neglect against the truth and purity of ed for the sake of more enlarged and God. Some splendid leaders of the comprehensive views. Frequently intidel cause have indeed fallen by too much is attempted by indi- the blasting hand of Divine Provi. viduals, and their labours result in dence, but the herd have too little a thin and sketchy outline. We heart to be disheartened by such should be glad to see the principle events. Perhaps there is some of the division of labour more ex- ground for our suspicion that intensively acted upon in reference fidelity is rather upon the increase to this great subject; let it be over the whole kingdom. It comes treated as science is treated, and forward, indeed, with no grave and then, by and bye, we should have serious arguments. It challenges a cyclopædia of the Christian ar- us to no regular and well-ordered gument which might embody the conflict. It deals either in mad whole. Let each, like the indus- and insulting ravings, or in secret trious bee, choose bis own course, and vizored enmity. Its designs and cull his own flower, but let have been more successful since all have one hive, and let indi. they were more cloked, and it vidual labours be aggregated, and has won the citadel of many a the stock would then perpetually heart by laying suspicion itself increase. Mr. Davison's late work asleep, or by first enchanting the on prophecy is an eminent in- unwary keepers with the magic stance of the success with which wand of genius. It is therefore one department of the Christian necessary, that antidotes to the evidences may be treated, with- evil should be largely provided. out separating it from the main Many who have only partially body. · He has given us a more fallen into the snare, have feeling minute and truly philosopbic ana- enough left to encourage the hope lysis of the argument from pro- of their conversion. The recent rephecy, than had ever before been covery of several eminent charac, attempted in our language, and ters from the wiles of the enemy, we are not aware that any other and in particular of one, a veteran language can exhibit a work of in the cause, should inspire Chrisequal ability in the department to tians with double zeal and acwhich it relates. We hope many tivity. Some are yet, we would other divines will follow his ex- hope, willing to treat the subject ample. There is yet great room with that grave and serious conand much need for exertion in the cern which it merits, and for their defence of the Gospel. We do sakes, efficient and timely aid not intend, however, to complain. should not only be provided, but The church of England is rich in offered, and even assiduously champions of the cause of inspira- pressed upon their attention. tion. Men who have won to them. The volume now upon our table selves and their church imperish. is a seasonable and valuable pro