« PoprzedniaDalej »
'to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation." This is the opinion, not of a priest, or a prophet, but of a learned and highly respectable nobleman, and is established by arguments which it would be far more easy to ridicule than to answer.
THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL.
Mr. P. seems to have very little examined this most important part of scripture ; for he scarcely notices any particular in it, except the apostle's discourse concerning the resurrection, which he strangely mistakes or misrepresents.
If,' says he, 'I have already died in this body, and am raised again in the same body, it is presumptive evidence I shall die again. This objection entirely coincides with the cavil of the ancient Sadducees, and is answered by our Lord himself: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures “ nor the power of God." When, however, the apostle says, in the very passage under consideration, “ We shall all be changed :” “ The dead 6 shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be “ changed:” “ for this corruptible must put on “ incorruption, and this mortal must put on im“ mortality ;"2 he, as if by anticipation, still more directly answers it.—Mr. P. says he should prefer 'a better body, with a more convenient form ;' and he thinks that every animal has in many respects the advantage over man. I apprehend some deists may so far reverence the Creator, as to deem Mr. P.'s language on this subject repre
hensible, and savouring strongly of presumption and ingratitude. Nay, perhaps they may be disposed to maintain that the erect structure of the human body best suits the rational nature ; and that the astonishing advantages which our hands afford us, give us a decided pre-eminence over all other creatures here below. We have however such bodies as it hath pleased God, and we must exist in another world according to his good pleasure, whatever we may choose or prefer.
The apostle says to a presumptuous objector, “ Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quick“ ened except it die;" and illustrates his doctrine by the case of seeds, apparently perishing in the earth, yet springing up, and producing an increase of the same kind. Mr. P. retorts on the apostle his own words, and repeatedly calls him a fool; involving our Lord himself in the same charge.2 But had he duly considered the nature of death, which is not absolutely ceasing to exist, but ceasing to exist in the former manner; he would have seen, that seeds" are not quickened except they “ die,” in a sense amply sufficient for the apostle's purpose of illustration. The seed, before it grows,
' 1 Cor. xv. 35-38.
* John xii. 24. .: It is remarkable that “a prophet of their own" should have furnished, by anticipation, a direct answer to this cavil of modern infidels. Lucretius, in his poem' On the Nature of « Things,' the object of which is to establish the principle that there are no gods which regard the affairs of mortals, lays it down, that
- Quodcunque suis mutatum finibus exit,
Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante : that is, Whatever change transfers a body into a new class of
ceases as much to be a grain of corn, as a man at death ceases to be a living man; and is as absolutely irrecoverable to its former mode of existence by any human power: yet it springs up into a new life, incomprehensibly, by the power of God, as men will rise at the last day. So that the illustration is sufficiently just and clear; even though ingenuity could find out some shades of difference, with which men in general are wholly unacquainted.
The rest of the epistolary writings are passed over by our author, with the same kind of neglect as he shewed to the minor prophets ; except that he insinuates they were forged, and pretends that they are of no consequence in the argument; insinuations which will be considered in another place.--I presume he was either weary himself, or apprehensive of wearying his readers by endless repetition of the same sarcasms, revilings, and blasphemous mockery; and did not readily see how to vary any further the method of exhibiting it with the amusive appearance of novelty.
I suppose, his wit, in saying, “the whore of Babylon has been the common whore of all the priests, and each has accused the other of keep‘ing the strumpet;' is intended as his confutation of the Apocalypse: for this sally, and an assertion that it is 'a book of riddles which requires a revelation to explain it,' is all that he advances con
beings, may be justly called the death of the original substance: for, (as Creech translates the words,)“ what is changed from "what it was, that dies.". J. S.
cerning that part of scripture. Yet the numerous predictions it contains, and the undeniable accomplishment which many of them have already received, amount to a complete moral demonstration that it is the word of God.
* Your abuse of holy men and holy things,' says Bishop Watson, 'will be remembered, 'arguments against them are refuted or forgotten. • You call Moses “ an arrogant coxcomb, a chief assassin ;” Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, “monsters and impostors;" the Jewish kings “ a parcel of rascals ;" Jeremiah, and the rest of the prophets, “ liars ;” and St. Paul “ a fool," for having written one of the sublimest compositions, and on the most important subjects, that ever 'occupied the mind of man.'-Will any man after a few minutes' reflection, think such language as is here brought together, from Mr. P.'s book, to be that of an impartial inquirer after divine truth ?
Having gone through Mr. P.'s objections to the New Testament, I must declare my complete assurance that, after all his most confident declamations about contradictions, lies, and impostures, he has not substantiated one single charge. And it would be easy to retort upon him: for the instances of disingenuousness, misrepresentation, wilful calumny, or astonishing ignorance of the subject, which might be produced, were that necessary, are exceedingly numerous. And thus I leave the matter to the judgment of the candid and impartial reader.
I shall now proceed, in a second part, to call the
reader's attention to several important subjects, which are not peculiar to any part of scripture, but relate in some measure to the whole of the sacred oracles. In doing this, I mean both to exhibit the great outlines of that positive proof, on which I believe the divine inspiration of the scriptures ; and the real nature and tendency of the religion contained in them.