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indeed exist, you must decide: it belongs to me, however, to say, that the proposition is true-absolutely, infallibly true; and that whatever is inconsistent with it, is, just so far, inconsistent with the truth. If, then, you are sure that the passage of Scripture is really contradictory to this proposition, and cannot be understood differently, I see no way but to reject it as un worthy of credit.” Would it be possible to come to any other conclusion than this? Is it possible for one who understands and appreciates the demonstration of that proposition, to doubt its truth? And can it be, that our Creator requires us to reject a belief, forced upon us by the nature of the mind He has given us, and by the laws of intellectual action, which He has Himself prescribed for us?
This, we admit, is a strong case. But the truth of a fact in physical science may be as satisfactorily established, as the truth of a demonstrated proposition. Now shall we be called upon to surrender this truth, for fear of its contradicting some other doctrine ? Lest it should conflict with what we suppose to be the meaning of some passage of Scripture? No man can properly be called upon to disbelieve a fact, or a principle, which is once fairly and fully proved. Whatever relations it may bear, or seem to bear, to other opinions, true or false, its own essential truth cannot be affected. If it is indeed true, it will be true forever, and will compel belief, whenever its evidence is fairly weighed. How, then, can one, who knows the nature of such evidence, and its power over the mind, require us to withhold our belief?
Ignorance of the principles of scientific evidence, some of the impugners of science will probably consider an honor, rather than disgrace, while they glory in having raised themselves above (some would rather suppose, they had sunk themselves below,) the teachings of profane science. Wonderful elevation, to be raised above the contemplation of the works of God, and the exercise of the faculties which he has given them! They will, perhaps, be less gratified with the charge of want of confidence in the declarations of Scripture. Yet we cannot think the charge unfounded. How, if there be no such want of contidence, shall we account for their continual anxiety, lest some truth should be discovered inconsistent with the truth of rerelation? Had they perfect confidence in the instructions of the Bible-did they regard the truth of revelation as an impregnable, and, with any hope of success, unassailable position, would they object to the extension of the bounds of knowledge ?' Would they not rejoice in the acquisition of whatever additional truth it might be vouchsafed to man to know?
As before suggested, belief in divine revelation, as a part of our religion, if it exist, should be absolute and unwavering. We
should take it for granted, that whatever is there asserted, is true, beyond all possibility of question. As no scientific proposition, once fully proved, is rendered false by the establishment or admission of any other proposition, so if divine revelation be proved to exist, its existence or non-existence, and, of course, its truth or falsehood, is, in no way, affected by the truth or falsehood, by the belief or disbelief, of any other system whatever. If that other system be true, it must be believed, also, any inconsistency, in our view, with any other truth, to the contrary, notwithstanding
And how, moreover, do these two systems, by some persons believed to be so incongruous, actually stand related to each other? The God of revelation is the God of nature. Now shall we suppose, that the Author, the Contriver, and Disposer of the material universe, has made such statements, in respect to his own works, as will not stand the test of observation and investigation? Shall we fear to compare the actual state of the world, with any account of it which its Creator may have given us? Shall we suppose that any facts, which we may discover, are new to the Infinite Intelligence, because they are new to us ? Let us beware of entertaining unworthy views of Omniscience. Every fact respecting the constitution of things, whether known or unknown to us, is as old as the creation, and was known to, and determined by, its Author, long before he had made any revelation to man, or had made man to receive a revelation. And we must remember again, that, if a certain state of things exist, we do not change or modisy that state of things, by forbidding or refusing to investigate.
If this earth has existed, has revolved about the sun, and turned on its axis, for millions on millions of antediluvian ages ; if it was once a part of the sun, and, if the sun and all the planets once formed but one body, which, existing in a nebulous state, extended far beyond the orbit of Neptune; if all this and much more be true, what then? We shall gain nothing by ignorance of the fact, we shall suffer nothing by the knowledge of it. Let us know it; and we may rejoice in the knowledge, being assured that He, who, at that far-distant epoch, organized that nebulous mass, and subjected it to laws which have evolved the present phase of the system, has told us nothing inconsistent with his own persect knowledge of the fact.
If, instead of a single pair of human beings, there were hundreds, thousands, or even millions, placed upon the earth, in a moment, by creative energy, let us not regret that it was so, nor fear to have it known. We might rejoice in the knowledge of this fact, with as sincere satisfaction, as we now feel, in gathering confirmation from science, of the doctrine of the descent of our race from a single pair; being still fully assured, that He, who fearfully and wonderfully made man, has given us no false information in regard to the manner or circumstances. We need not suppose, that He has told us all the circumstances, but all that He has told us are true.
And, if the whole work of creation proceeds according to some fixed order of development, so that the creation of the various tribes and species of animals is as much the result of, or more properly, perhaps, in accordance with a universal law, as their preservation and propagation, or as the regular operations of nature in the purely material world, still we need feel no uneasiness, nor fear that such knowledge will weaken our impressions of the greatness of the Creator. If such be the true view, it will greatly exalt our conceptions of the Omniscient and Omnipotent purposes and energies of the Divine Mind. We may be sure that the works and plans of the Creator are more glorious, and better fitted to excite admiration and awe, than any imagining of ours respecting them; and that the more nearly our conceptions come to the truth, the greater will be our admiration, and the more profound our reverential awe.* And suppose
these views do seem to us inconsistent with what we have been aecustomed to believe, or with what we know to be true. What then ? Are they certainly inconsistent, because they seem so to us? Are we so acquainted with all possible relations of truth, as to be perfectly sure that there is no way of reconciling apparent inconsistencies? Do we not know, that phenomena, which seem to result from conflicting laws, may be the exponents of a higher and more general law?
When the eastern monarch was told of water existing in a solid state, he thought, doubtless, that the statement was inconsistent with what he knew of the nature of water. And, if he had possessed a revelation from God, he would probably have found in it no allusion to such a property of water, and would doubtless have pronounced the newly asserted fact, not only "false in philosophy, but heretical in theology’’ —the offspring of impiety and atheism. We can smile at the narrow-mindedness of the monarch, who would not believe what was told him, merely because it was new to him, and because it seemed to him inconsistent with what he knew before. But let us beware, lest it be said to us, "nomine mutato, de te fabula narratur." Are we so thoroughly acquainted with the phenomena and laws of the universe, that nothing that is strange or new to us, can be true? Do we understand so perfectly the meaning and purpose of the sacred writers, that we can pronounce with confidence upon their views of scientific subjects, which, too, was, by no means, their object to discuss ? Nay, many will not believe even what is not supposed to conflict with the Biblewhat bears no relation to anything affirmed or denied in Scripture—simply because it is not mentioned there. We sometimes feel disposed to ask such persons, whether they believe in steamboats and magnetic telegraphs, seeing that no such things are spoken of in the Bible. Those people, certainly, were consistent in carrying out this principle, who refused to eat the potato, because no such root is mentioned in the Bible.
* We have no disposition to endorse the reasonings, or to admit the views, above alluded to, of the author of "Vestiges of Creation." Neither have we any sympathy with the zeal of those who charged him with atheism, and who saw, in that work, only a covert attack upon Christianity and the Bible. Let his theories be fairly proved, and we have no fears for the Bible, but will accept the newly discovered truth, as an addiional exhibition of the glorious mysteries of creation and Providence.
It will be observed, that we have not, in this discussion, taken the ground, that the Bible was not intended to teach us physical science, and that, therefore, no regard should be had to its representations on such subjects. It is doubtless true, that revelation was not given for the purpose of teaching physical science; but, on the other hand, it is, we believe, no less true, that revelation has taught nothing falsely, but that, wherever it has spoken, however incidentally, it has spoken truly. And accordingly, in a vast majority of instances, the teachings of Scripture are illustrated and verified by the discoveries of science, the most extended as well as the most minute.
And yet, it cannot be denied, that there are declarations in the Bible, which have seemed to contradict certain doctrines of science; and those, not mere hypotheses, but well established truths. These are the truths which have been deemed dangerous; and those who have believed and maintained them, have been charged with hostility to the religion of the Bible. The examples which have been adduced, show, that as a matter of fact, in almost every instance, and after no very long time, all apprehensions of this kind has been proved to be utterly ground
We have offered some considerations, to show, that in the nature of things, there is, and can be no reasonable ground of alarm on this account.
But, as cases have arisen, and may arise again, in which it is difficult to reconcile the teachings of science and of revelation, it is proper to inquire how such cases should be regarded-how they should be met, and how much weight should be attached to them.
In the first place, it is obvious that the firm believer in revelation will not be in haste to find inconsistency between truth of any kind, or between any proposition which he cannot prove to be false, and the revelation which he believes—knows to be true. If then, there be a conflict between a doctrine of revelation and of any other system, the attack must come from without. How shall the attack be met ?
Most evidently, in the first place, the credibility of the Scrip
tnre can suffer nothing from its inconsistency with any false proposition. No man would be foolish enough to make such an inconsistency an argument against the Bible.
Again, the believer in divine revelation need pay no regard to the alleged opposition of any doctrine not known to be true. He may most properly say, "When you have established the truth of your proposition, we will consider what relation it bears to the teachings of the Bible ; till then, you cannot expect us to attach serious importance to what you yourself do not know to be true. And if, in the end, your doctrine should prove to be false, its opposition would surely weigh nothing against the truth of the Bible.” But, if he fears that the infidel may, by his impudent assertions of the truth of the proposition, which he alleges to be inconsistent with the Bible, prejudice some minds, and cause some to reject the truth, let him go himself to the work of investigation, and, if the proposition be false, its falsehood can be made manifest. And then, as before remarked, its inconsistency with the Bible will afford, to say the least, no argument against the truth of divine revelation.
But it, after thorough investigation, the proposition should be found to be unquestionably, or even very probably, true, then, and not till then, it will be proper to maintain, that it is in no way inconsistent with the true sense of the Scriptures.
When the infidel brings forward any proposition, or alleged fact, as opposed to the Bible, we equally destroy the force of his attack, either by showing the falsehood of his proposition, or pretended fact, or by showing that, if true, they are not inconsistent with the declarations of the Bible. But, if we undertake to show the falsehood of the proposition, it will avail us nothing to insist on its inconsistency with the truth of divine revelation. For that is the very position maintained by the infidel. He rejects revelation, because it is inconsistent with his proposition; if we, on the other hand, deny the truth of his proposition, because it is inconsistent with the Bible, an impartial listener might say, “You both agree in asserting the utter repugnance of the two doctrines; but you offer no arguments, whereby it may be determined to which of them credit should rather be given, or whether both may not equally false. You can also settle your dispute by examining each subject separately, and determining whether either, and if either, which, is sustained by sufficient and independent testimony." This is obviously the only course left. The falsehood of the infidel's proposition must be shown, if shown at all, by reasonings and investigations appropriate to the subject itself. The infidel must be met on his own ground, and the battle must be fought with his own weapons. His opinion must be combatted, not because it is opposed to the Bible, but because it is not supported by sufficient evidence, or satisfactory