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* taste,' ' fancy :'-because if such distinctions possess a necessary and universal character, they must come into play' (according to his expression) when the credibility of Revelation is under discussion. If these moral distinctions are illusory,-if they exist only relatively to human intellect and con. dition,--then we are not entitled from our perception of them to predicate of the Deity any moral attributes : nor to hesitate about receiving an offered revelation, on account of any qualities which it may ascribe to Him. If on the other hand, the moral distinctions perceptible by us, exist in the nature of things,--if they are eternal, universal, and immutable ;-it follows irresistibly that no external evidence whatever can give credibility to a revelation which ascribes immoral qualities or acts to the Supreme Being.-But the former supposition carries in its train a very formidable difficulty. If these moral perceptions of ours are fallacious--if they do not inform us of an eternal and immutable distinction between right and wrong-where is it possible to find a foundation, on which any divine revelation may build a claim to conviction or obedience? -Not certainly upon the moral qualities of the Being from whom
it proceeds : because by supposition the mos ral distinctions we are previously acquainted with, are either wholly illusory, or such as respect only the sentiments and actions of man. Is it replied, that the revelation itself informs us of the existence of moral perfections in the character of the Being from whom it proceeds? The reply is not only subversive of Dr C.'s system, which excludes the information afforded by revelation from forming any part of the evidence, but is a palpable petitio principii. For why do we give credit to this information ? Because it is communicated to us by a Being of all moral perfection. The reply therefore assigns as the foundation of our belief in the moral perfections of God, our belief in his moral perfections.—Is it alleged that this belief is founded on the external evidence? - This is also reasoning in a circle : for the external evidence, as has already been shewn, is inconclusive unless founded on the same principle. Nay, it is farther obvious, that to those who question the immutability and uni. versality of moral distinctions perceptible by man,—it is in vain that revelation proffers information respecting the veracity, justice, goodness, or other moral attributes of God.
For, if these qualities as they exist in other beings, may be essentially different from what they are as they exist in man-if they'are in their nature resolvable into their opposites, into each other, or into any other qualities whatsoever it follows that when attributes are predicated of the Supreme Being, under the ternis veracity, justice, &c. no information whatever is conveyed to man; revelation has no basis of truth whereon to rest; and the terms in which she describes the moral character of the Deity are unintelligible. *
As it seems impossible, then, to conduct an argument, which has for its object the establishment of the authority of revelation, without admitting the immutability of moral distinctions perceived by the human faculties; it may be readily supposed that such admissions, however fatal to Dr C's scheme of evidence, will be virtually made
* The immutability of moral distinctions has been called in • question, not only by sceptical writers, but by some pbiloso• phers who have adopted their doctrine with the pious design of • magnifying the perfections of the Deity. Such authors cer
tainly do not recollect, that what they add to his power and
majesty, they take away from his moral attributes for if moral • distinctions be not immutable and eternal, it is absurd to speak • of the goodness or of the justice of God.'-STEWART'S Outlines of Moral Philosophy.
in the course of his work. Accordingly we have the following passage.- A message • has come to us bearing on its forehead every ! character of authenticity; and is it right now . that every question of our faith or of our duty should be committed to the capricious (variations of this man's taste or of that man's
fancy?'* Although the terms 'taste' and . fancy' are here used, the scope of our author's reasoning evidently is, to disqualify the intellectual and moral faculties of man, from forming any judgment of matters of faith or duty proposed to him by Revelation : and the argument consists of an appeal to reason and conscience in proof of its conclusiveness ! Passing over the singular structure of this are gument-let us attend to the nature of the sentiment appealed to. • Is it right, to submit matters of faith and duty composing a divine revelation, to the judgment of man? Why is such a proceeding right or wrong No other reason can be given, than that we perceive it to be so: and if it be denied that we perceive an immutable distinction between right and wrong, we can give no judgment on the appeal, and the question remains unsolved. For, 1st, in regard to matters of faith.A revelation resting its sole claim to reception
* $ 186.
on the authority of a Superior Being, cannot possibly command the assent of rational creatures, although accompanied with the mostample demonstrations of power, unless it has been previously ascertained that knowledge and veracity also are his attributes. Power may enforce obedience and various considerations may determine rational beings to yield that obedience which is required. But the production of conviction is not the object of power.As the veracįty, therefore, of the Superior Being never can be proved without acknowledging the immutability of the moral distinctions perceived by us; so information, the truth of which rests solely on this authority, never can cousistently become the object of faith, in the mind of one who denies the immutability of those distinctions.--2d, In regard to matters of duty or obedience :-had the question been, Is it prudent to hesitate about obeying injunctions issued by a Superior Being of great power, until we are made acquainted with his character and claims, &c. ?-such a question might have been resolved in the negative, without any reference to the immutability of moral distinctions. But the question, Is it
right ?' is capable of no such solution :(or if the term 'right' is understood in that