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rent from those of any other nation with which they may be compared. The Chinese have been shut up, as it were, within the boundary of primitive laws and institutions, undisturbed, in this respect, by any foreign interference. They have drawn an imaginary line around their country, more difficult to pass than their fár-famed wall. They have decreed the sacredness and inviolability of their empire; and their own peculiar situation, together with the circumstances of the world, have favoured the decree. Their dynasties have changed, but the people and their institutions remain unaltered. If we consider the peculiar situation of the Hindus, their adherence to their ancient laws and customs will be explained. Their institutions, which have suffered no change, seem framed expressly to fetter the mind, and to paralyze every faculty of man. The superstition of the Hindu extends its influence even over the most minute aetion of his life, and rules him with à rod of iron, in all his domestic, civil, and social relations. He is the victim of a system which is the very perfection of despotism, and which re. duces man to a mere machine. Over these barriers it has been impossible for him to pass, and it must remain an impossibility, until the providence of God shall see fit to break the chains by which he is held. If we turn, on the other hand, to the lawless descendants of Ishmael, we find that they are seated in the midst of almost impassable degerts, into which the customs of civilized life have never yet been able to penetrate. They live without any regular government, or certain law. • Ishmael shall be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; yet shall he dwell in the presence of his brethren,'—is a prophecy, to the truth of which, nearly four thousand years have borne their testimony.
This nation, like the others which we have mentioned, has been preserved entire, by the peculiarities of its situation and the force of circumstances.
But, with respect to the Jews, the case is widely different, Not only have their power been broken, and their political existence extinguished, but their tribes have been scattered throughout the world; and they themselves have endured the persecutions, and oppressions, and wrongs, of every tyrant and bigot, in every nation, for the space of eighteen hundred years: and, that they remain a people, distinct from all others, must, I think, be attributed to that extraordinary dispensation of Providence, which originally separated them from all people and tongues, that they might be a witness, in all subsequent ages, to the existence and attributes of One living and true God.
I would observe, moreover, that whether the unbeliever arrive at this conclusion or not, he cannot, surely, deny, that the Jewish nation has, throughout the whole course of its history, presented to the world a most extraordinary spectacle. It behoves him seriously to reflect, whether the past and present circumstances of this people, could have been the result of any imaginable combination of natural causes and occurrences uncontrolled by the especial providence and ap
pointment of God; whether, in fact, a people living, for ages past, amongst all the families of the earth, and yet separated from them by a seemingly impassable boundary, could have maintained this separate existence, unless it had been decreed in the government of God for the most important purposes. I do, indeed, see no advantage derived to infidelity from denying the more ancient and acknowledging, as the unbeliever must necessarily do, much of the latter part of the Jewish scriptures, together with the whole of the extraordinary history of the Jewish nation for the last eighteen centuries. The unbeliever refuses to acknowledge the divine mission of the Jewish lawgiver, the wanderings in the desert, the splendour of the reign of Solomon, the subsequent captivity of the people, and their restoration to their beloved country; but what is there more remarkable in these events, than that, after the Romans seized upon their country, and destroyed their city, and scattered their nation, they should still remain, in all countries wherein they sojourn, a separate people; that they should still adhere, as closely as the difference of situation and circumstances render it possible, to their ancient rites and customs, notwithstanding the persecution, and contumely, and loss, and misery, to which such adherence so frequently exposes them? The unbeliever talks of the impossibility of a miraculous interposition: he ridicules, as absurd, the belief of miraculous interferences; but herein is a standing miracle from age to age, of which, he seems to: be, either an unwilling, or'a heedless, observer.!
Thus have I endeavoured, as far as the narrow limits of a discourse will allow, to present an outline of some of the leading evidences of the authenticity and divine authority of the ancient scriptures.
Interspersed throughout our review, are notices of several objections usually brought against them by the unbeliever. But lest it should appear to some, that too few of these are remarked upon, and that they are not fully enough replied to; I would observe, that it was impossible in the wide field we had to traverse, to notice, in a single discourse, fully, or even generally, objections, which have been extended to considerable treatises. From these causes, and others which arise out of the plan pursued, a fuller examination of, and reply to, the charges of the unbeliever, have not been attempted. Instead of a more particular view of these charges, I have preferred adducing some branches of evidence for the divine authority of the scriptures, against which, if the inferences therefrom be correctly drawn, no objection of the unbeliever can be of any avail, how plausible soever it may appear.
I would, moreover, observe, with respect to the charges brought against particular parts of the bible history, or against the conduct of individuals mentioned therein, that these things do not affect the general character of the scriptures,—they do not tarnish the bright lustre of the revealed truths therein contained,—they do not cause the general tenor of the scriptures to be less in favour of unaffected piety and vital godliness, nor eclipse the glories of their innumerable excellencies. Whether these objectionable passages be suffered to pass as matters of history, setting forth the follies and vices inseparable from man's estate; or whether they be cast aside as injurious; still, the morality of the bible remains the same,-the purest that has obtained in the world; which, together with its sublime doctrines and encouraging promises, contributes to form the basis of man's improvement, happiness and honour. It should be considered too, that the ancient scriptures embrace a period of time, when the human mind, was, generally speaking, at a very low point in the scale of intellectual attainment; that morals were very imperfectly understood; that modes of life were totally different from those of the present day, and that many things were practised, with impunity, then, which would be condemned, as highly reprehensible, now. In fact, it would be well to consider, that the bible is, with respect to much of its contents, the work of man recording the deeds of men, and therefore must necessarily be interspersed with the history of much folly, imperfection and crime; that both the virtues, and the vices, of the respective characters, are left upon record for our instruction,—the one for imitation, the other for caution: and that though the revelation, contained in the ancient scriptures, came to man, always through fallible, and sometimes through erring channels, yet, that, these things neither affect its value nor its truth. It should be remembered, too, that we act unfairly, when we try, and condemn, by detached parts.