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influences of the holy fpirit, can convert the foul from fin to God; though even to fuch converfion, arguments are by the agency of the spirit rendered fubfervient. Again, if we were to understand by this aphorifm, that the principles of our religion could never have been discovered by the natural and unaffifted faculties of man; this pofition, I prefume, would be as little difputed as the former. But if, on the contrary, under the cover of an ambiguous expreffion, it is intended to infinuate that thofe principles from their very nature, can admit no rational evidence of their truth (and this, by the way, is the only meaning which can avail our antagonists) the gospel, as well as common fenfe, loudly reclaims against it.
The Lord JESUS CHRIST, the author of our religion, often argued, both with his difciples and with his adverfaries, as with reasonable men, on the principles of reason. Without this faculty, he well knew they could not be susceptible either of religion or of law. He argued from prophecy, and the conformity of the event to the prediction. He argued from the teftimony of John the Baptift, who was generally acknowledged to be a prophet. He argued from the miracles which he himself performed, as uncontroverted evidences that God Almighty operated by him, and had fent him. He expoftulated with his enemies, that they did not ufe their rea
fon on this fubject-Why, fays he, even of yourfelves judge ye not what is right? In like manner we are called upon by the apostles of our Lord, to act the part of wife men, and judge impartially of what they fay. Those who do so are highly commended for the candour and prudence they difcover in an affair of fo great confequence. We are even commanded to, be always ready to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of our hope; in meekness to inftruct them that oppofe themselves; and earnestly to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the faints. God has neither in natural or revealed religion, left himself without a witnefs; but has in both, given moral and external evidence fufficient to convince the impartial, to filence the gainsayer, and to render inexcufable the atheist and the unbeliever. This evidence it is our duty to attend to and candidly to examine. We must prove all things, as we are exprefsly enjoined in holy writ, if we would ever hope to hold fast that which is good.
So far, therefore, am I from being afraid of expofing Christianity by fubmitting it to the test of reafon; so far am I from judging this a trial which it is by no means fitted to endure, that I think, on the contrary, the most violent attacks that have been made upon the faith of Jefus have been of fervice to it. Yes: I do not hefitate to affirm, that our religion hath been in
debted to the attempts, though not to the inten tions of its bittereft enemies. They have tried its ftrength indeed, and by trying they have difplayed its ftrength, and that in fo clear a light as we could never have hoped, without fuch a trial, to have viewed it in. Let them therefor write, let them argue, and when arguments fail, let them even cavil against religion as much as they please. I should be heartily forry that ever in this ifland, the afylum of liberty, where the spirit of Chriftianity is better understood (however defective the inhabitants of it are in the obfervance of its precepts) than in any other part of the Chriftian world; I fhould, I fay, be forry, that in this ifland fo great a differvice were done to religion, as to check its adverfaries in any other way than by returning a candid answer to their objections. I must at the fame time acknowledge, that I am both ashamed and grieved when I obferve any friends of religion betray fo great a diffidence in the goodness of their cause (for to this diffidence it can only be imputed) as to show an inclination for recurring to more forcible methods. The affaults of infidels, I may venture to prophefy, will never overturn our religion. They will prove not more hurtful to the Chriftian system, if it is allowed to compare small things with greatest, than the boisterous winds are faid to prove to the sturdy oak. They shake it im
petuously for a time, and loudly threaten its fubverfion, whilft, in effect-they only ferve to make it ftrike its roots the deeper and stand the firmer for ever.
Differtation on Miracles.
HENRY SCOUGAL, A. M.
AUTHOR OF THE LIFE OF GOD IN THE SOUL OF MAN *.
ANY Chriftians are ready to apply all the prophecies and imprecations of the Old Teftament, in their very prayers, against those that differ from them; and ordinarily the animofities are greatest where the differences are least; and one party of a reformed church fhall be more incensed against another, than either against the fuperftition and tyranny of Rome, or the
Mr. Scougal flourished towards the end of the last century. The other Scotch authors, whofe teftimonies are here introduced, died within these last twenty years. With Dr. Gerard, my old theological tutor, and with Dr. Shaw, whofe miniftry I attended, I had the pleasure of being acquainted, and am happy in paying this tribute of respect to their me mory. Just as the above teftimony of Scougal was going to the prefs, an idea arofe in my mind that he belonged to the Scotch epifcopal church. The teftimony, however, remains precifely the fame, and the serious good fenfe of the author renders it deferving of very particular attention.
carnality of the Mahometan faith; yea, perhaps you may find fome who agree in opinion and only differ in feveral ways of expreffing the fame thing, and yet can fcarce look upon one another without displeasure and averfion. But, alas! how much do these men difparage that religion for which they appear fo zealous! How much do they mistake the fpirit of Chriftianity? Are the perfons whom they hate, greater enemies to religion than thofe who perfecuted the apoftles and martyrs for profeffing it? And yet these were the perfons whom our Saviour commanded his disciples to love, and himself did pray for those that crucified him, and feverely checked the difciples, when, by a precedent brought from the Old Teftament, they would have called for fire from heaven on those who would not receive them; telling them, they knew not what spirit they were of; i. e. they did not confider by what spirit they were prompted to fuch cruel inclinations; or, as others explain it, they did not yet fufficiently understand the temper and genius of Christianity, which is pure and peaceable, gentle and meek-full of fweetness and full of love.
If men would impartially examine their hatred and animofities against the enemies of their religion, I fear they would find them proceed from. a principle which themselves would not willingly own. Pride and felf-conceit will make a man difdain those of a different persuasion, and think