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INFLUENCE OF THE JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN
REVELATIONS ON PAGAN WRITERS,
authoritative instructors of mankind on a class of subjects not within the reach of unaided human reason. And it is a question of importance and deep interest, in what degree it can be shewn, that they have imparted the light of religious truth to those nations of mankind who have been in possession of it.
Although the proof of the divine authority of the Sacred Writings rests mainly on that of their historic truth, apologists have always felt the importance to this argument of being able to shew, that they had actually been to mankind the instructors which they claim to be; and from the time of Josephus till the eighteenth century of the Christian era it had been confidently asserted, and maintained, by what were regarded as the clearest proofs, that heathen philosophy derived all its religious light from the Holy Scriptures.
T. H. E.
The Reformation in Germany, though doubtless attended with many inestimable blessings, contained some elements of serious evil. It was too much regarded as the achievement of the human intellect; and from its commencement till now an increasing disposition has been manifested to arrogate everything to the powers of the human mind. By
. what was reckoned the triumphant overthrow of ancient errors which had become connected with sacred historic traditions, a want of reverence for those traditions themselves was fostered, and men began to lose the obedience of faith. This spirit, connected as it was with the daring abuses of revived learning, began to throw doubts upon everything whether in literature or religion which had for ages been relied upon as settled and secure.
In profane literature not only were ancient impostures detected and blunders rectified, but, as though it were necessarily a great achievement and an advance of truth to root up what was ancient, scholars began to derive their fame from erasing events and names from history and from the catalogue of ancient writers.
It is also manifest that the followers both of Luther and of Calvin have increasingly shewn a disposition to degrade the character of the Hebrew Revelation. Even those who
would not be classed among the enemies of Christianity, have often confounded the Old Testament revelation with Judaism, have spoken of it in degrading terms, or ignored it as a source of genuine religious truth. The circumstance that the Old Testament makes a hierarchy a divine institution, could not be forgiven.
This is one reason why in later times the belief that the Hebrew Scriptures had contributed to the instruction of the ancient heathen, has been treated rather as a superstition of the Christian Fathers than as a well attested truth.
If these opinions, and the philosophy out of which they spring, had been those only of a few individuals whose influence over the literature and religious sentiments of the age had been inconsiderable, they might have been passed by without much notice in the enquiry now before us. But they may be said to have obtained almost absolute dominion in that country into whose hands our ancient literature has for many years almost exclusively fallen; and some of our own most distinguished writers, instead of examining the pretensions, or bearing up against the destructive tendencies of this philosophy, seem more inclined to bow to its decisions and adopt its courses.