« PreviousContinue »
claimed to be in possession of miracutous knowledge, we know from their own; but how they knew that this knowledge was communicated to them in a sispernatural way. Gal. i. 11-12. How they knew that the Being who revealed this knowledge to them, was the Creator of the world. John i. 3. Col. i. 16. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Heb. i. 2. How they knew that this Being was to be credited, and how they knew that they had power to work miracles, we are not informed. Nevertheless, however certain they themselves were of these matters,-matters that we have no reason to think were, or indeed could be objects of sense to any other persons; yet the truth of these various particulars can only be ascerttined to us, by their exercise of miraculous powers; and we can be assured of this exercise, i. e. of the reality of it, by no other means than by the testimony of competent witnesses. If then we are assured by undeniable evidence, that effects mania festly and greatly exceeding all human power, were wrought by Christ and his Apostles; if hearing were restored to the deaf, sight to the blind, soundness to the lame, health to the sick, and life to the dead ; such effects lay not only the immediate witnesses of them, but all other persons to whom an unquestionable knowledge of such facts is brought, under the strongest obligations to attend to, and consider them,--to attend to, and consider what the workers of these miracles say respecting the design and intention of them. Acts iii. 12. But these obligations go no further, because miracles can only prove that the workers of them are possessed of powers superior to those of men. But since 'such effects MAY proceed from that Being who created all things, and whom we know from his works to be possessed of inconceivable power, our next inquiry must be, whether these miraculous effects do really proceed from him? because, though we neither are, nor can be, under any MORAL obligation to obey any other beings, whatever powers they may be possessed of, yet we are under the strongest obligations to attend to and obey Him, from whom we have received life and breath, and ALL things. Now, as we can only judge of the dispositions of our Creator towards us, by the general tendency of his works, if the same tendency appears in such matters as are revealed to us, we may safely conclude that this revelation proceeds from him, or is approved by him; and if this tendency should appear in a still greater degree, we shall have still stronger grounds for this conclusion. But reither is this degree of knowledge á sufficient foundation for fi fect assurances as to the truth of such revela. tion, unless weier also skew that our Creator is a being of perfećt veracity; fm, in this case, mere declarations can be of no weight, since bu h reason and revelation assure us, that whoeter leaveth record of himself, his record is not true; that is,
mercy, Were his jtering in the were, there so
his own witness is not to be received implicitly in his own ben half: Nor can you prove the veracity of God from the assumed truth of his own declarations, and then back again the truth of his declarations from his assumed veracity. This were to argue in a circle. As little can you prove it by the curious argument of Archbishop Tillotson. In sermon cxli. vol. viii. 12mo. p. 163. he says, “ Natural light tells us, that truth and faithfulness are perfečtions, and CONSEQUENTLY belong to God ;'' i.e, because they are perfections, therefore they belong to the Divine nature. The good Archbishop could not see, that, by assuming this assertion, « that all perfections belong to God,” he was taking for granted the very point it was his business to prove; for his business was to shew what powers and dispositions, i. e. what attributes bem long to God. "His power and wisdom are unbounded will you say, are they therefore perfect? His goodness and mercy are not unbounded; for if they were, there could be no evil in this world, no suffering in the next. Are they therefore imperfect? Were his justice perfect, there could be no such thing as mercy, for mercy is an interruption of justice. And what are we to understand by natural light ? If such assertions are to pass for proofs, because they are assertions of pious men, the professors of every religion in the world will have unanswerable arguments for the truth of every one of them, how much soever they may contradi&t each other; and thus we shall open, a wide and effectual door to error, which no man can shut; for unless we are given to understand, with precision, what this natural light is, will not every man call his own fancies the dictate of natural light ? and so ascribe to God whatever he is pleased to call a perfection. One man will say, that benevolence is a perfection, and, the more extensive, the more worthy of God. Yet does neither universal or indiscriminating benevolence belong to the Creator of this world, since his own works produce much evil, Isa. xlv. 7. ; and he permits the actions of men to produce much more, Amos iii, 6.; and consequently all perfection in this sense does not belong to God. You make a wrong estimate, says a good and pious Calvinist, if you will not allow that all mankind sinned in Adam, as many very good and pious person's hold, because then they would have been sinners before they were born; yet surely you cannot deny that they have been sinners ever since, and so may expect evil as a punishment for their offences. How, replies the other, expect evil from a God of perfection ! Natural light tells us, that mercy to the guilty is a perfection, and the more unbounded this mercy, the more ex- . cellent the perfection; and consequently, as God possesses all perfections in a supreme degree, lie will freely and universally forgive his poor, weak, and frail creatures,
“ If God be a merciful and benign Being,” says that famous infidel Tyndal, (and infidels, and their opponents often agree not a little in their modes of reasoning) he will accept the payment we are able to make, and will not insist upon impossible de, mands with his bankrupt creatures. It cannot be wisdom or jus, tice in God to afflict his creatures unnecessarily; and unnecessary it is in the next world, for they cannot make payment, unless they might live their life over again. He will undoubtedly pass an act of grace, as they can make no satisfaction for debts unhappily contracted.
If such kind of argument is to pass for proof, the Deist will find good arguments against the eternity of hell torments, the Papist for his doctrine of purgatory, and the Calvinist for unconditional election and absolute reprobation. But real reason cannot be made thus to point ALL ways. If by the light of nature we understand the deductions of reason, drawn from the testimony of our senses, respecting the works of creation, neither the testimony of our own senses, nor legitimate deductions of reason from them, can be pressed into an opposition to the truths they clearly and strongly support, nor thus be made to act with equal force in opposite directions, because the full and fair testimony of men's senses admits of no variety; and all unprejudiced persons can tell when a deduction is fairly drawn; and unless you admit of the truth of these two assertions, the at: tainment of certainty in such subjects must become impossible, Now, the works of creation plainly and strongly prove, that the Creator is a being, I do not say of infinite, (because that word does not convey any precise idea,) but I do say of such power as we cannot conceive; in the same way, the wonderful sagacity with which means are adapted to produce their respective ends, shews as plainly and as strongly, that the Creator possesses inconceivable wisdom; and the attention paid to the comfort, happiness, and enjoyment of every living creature, shews that he also possesses extensive goodness. But each of these attributes are established upon, and must be proved from, the respective effects of each. You cannot, by the rules of sound reasoning, infer from any one of them, the existence of any other. Thus you cannot from his power infer his wisdom, nor from his wisdom his goodness; nor what, perhaps, may appear more likely, you cannot from his goodness infer his veracity; because we see much evil in the world, arising both from his own works, and those of his creatures; and therefore lie may be, for aught that appears to the contrary, a capricious Being. But each of these attributes may be singly proved most clearly by deductions of reason, drawn from the testimony of our senses, that is, from our own EXPERJENCE : and thus we may collect with certainty the MORAL CHĄRACTER of God, by considering the dispositions which he has
given to his intelligent creatures; and we can collect it with certainty in no OTHER way; for we cannot suppose that he would give qualifications to his creatures which were offensive to himself, that is, dispositions contrary to his own; for this would be to suppose him to will contradictory effects at the same time.Now, veracity is unquestionably the character of human nature in its simple state, that is, when it has no selfish purposes to answer. Children and fools, says the proverb, SPEAK TRUTH. But proverbs are founded upon general views of real and simple nature, not upon nature when distorted and disfigured to serve a party purpose, and to prop up a system. When our Lord requires in his hearers the simplicity, the attention, the docility of little children, is it their natural or acquired dispositions that he means to prove ?
Î'he veracity of God once proved, the inspiration of the Scripturės gives them all possible authority. Thus then it appears, that such knowiedge of God as can alone be collected from his works, by deductions of reason drawn from the information of our several senses, (whether you chuse to call this knowledge the light of reason, the light, the law, the religion of nature,) is absolutely necessary to establish the truth of Christianity. See the third and fourth sermons in the first Volume of Bishop Hurd's sermons. If the above reasoning is clear and conclusive, what are we to think of those divines who represent men as being no better than devils ?
By the Rev. T. LUDLAM.
not that I coely from the Hebe for the Museus
GLEANINGS. IN Buxtorf's Lexicon Talmudicum, under the word 7 2, I I think I have discovered the original of one of the Contes de la Fontaine: not that I conceive, however, La Fontaine to have derived his tale immediately from the Hebrew. As I cannot find a copy of Jalkut either in Sion College or the Museum Libraries, I must content myself with the extract which Buxtorf has given. La Fontaine's Tale is in substance as follows:
A vassal having offended the lord of the manor, the latter gave him his choice of these three punishments: whether he would eat 30 cloves of garlic without any drink, or would receive 30 sound blows with a cudgel, or pay 30 crowns ? The peasant chose the garlic; but when he had eaten half the num. ber of cloves, he was unable to bear any longer the thirst it ex. cited, and desired to be bastinadoed instead. Accordingly, he received ten or a dozen strokes, but the pain soon made him cry out, and beg the servants who inflicted them to desist. He then paid the 30 crowns. Contes de la Fontaine, Vol. i. 6. 5. .
stinkimheld up so fish! undergo the
A certain king said to his servant, “Go, and bring me a fish from the market.” The servant went, and brought a fish that stunk. Then said the king, “ As sure as you are alive, you shall not escape one of these three things : Either you shall eat this stinking fish, or shall receive a hundred blows with a cudgel, or shall yield up your substance.” The servant answered, “I will eat the stinking fish.” But when his soul was nauseated therewith, he said, “ I will undergo the beating.” But when he could no longer endure that, he said, “ I will yield up my goods," &c. Thus it happened to Pharaoh and the Egyptians with the ten plagues. Jalkut on Exod. xiii.
M. Tronchin, Voltaire's physician, told some friends of his, that on his last attendance upon this notorious writer, a few hours before his death, he heard him cry out, in great agitation, “ I die abandoned by God and man!” “ I wished from my heart," added M. Tronchin, “ that all those persons who had been se duced by reading Voltaire's writings, had been witnesses of his death.”
Corrections for the November Magazine. P. 281. line 18. from top, for in St. Paul's words to no law, read ir
St. Paul's words to wrath is no law, P. 284. line 27. from top, for places, read place. P. 284. line 16. from bottom, omitted, c. viii. 8.9. The Apostle ex
presses precisely what law he means. P. 285. line 3. for conviction of faith in obedience due, read convi&tion
of faith in, and of obedience due. P. 285. line 28. for v. 4. read v. 14. P.285. line 30. for v. 33. read v. 23. P. 288. line 15. from top, and as was by Christ, read, and as it was
by Christ. P. 288. line 12. from bottom, for rendering, read rendered. P. 298. line 21. from bottom, for used in a most obvious sense, read
used in its most obvious sense.
Erratum in our last Number. P. 875. in the Note, for cannot recommend, read cannot but recommend.