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upon such fallacious premises. Deceiving or deceived, he insinuates, without asserting, the untenable principles upon which his opinions are grounded, and thus gradually and perhaps unconsciously, but not the less certainly, are his own and his followers' faith in the truth and divine origin of Christianity either weakened or destroyed. Had he made an open declaration of his untenable or inapplicable propositions, they would, if clearly and altogether false, have at once startled the understanding and awakened the judgement both of the reasoner and the reader: and even if the propriety of the propositions or their application had been only doubtful, their doubtfulness would still have been sufficient to break the slumbers of reflection; to call forth the reasoning faculties into activity, and, by leading to the examination have led also to a renunciation of what was wrong, an hesitation upon what was ambiguous, and an acceptance only of what was really and universally right and useful. But as it is, the only thing which a writer against the difficulties of revelation perceives is this; that his conclusions follow regularly from his premises, and that his premises are generally true. How irrelevant they are to the present subject of his investigation, and how immaterial is their general truth if they be not strictly applicable to the Scriptures in particular, he never

stops to consider. Borne on by the spirit of delusion be forgets the cautious treadings of his forefathers, and elevated by the visionary and incongruous images which too deep a draught of the intoxicating streams of mere human learning have raised, he resolves, against warning, against reason, and against God, to push his adventurous steps into intellectual regions too high and too barren to stimulate the exertions or the hopes of more sober minds. He tries his strength against the Scriptures of truth, and wielding his unsanctified weapons in a manner as unskilful as unholy, but wastes his vigour and displays his weakness. Would to God that the contemplation of his errors would teach us, who attempt to justify the 'words of revelation to man, to avoid the evils to which such presumption leads, and instruct us in the wisdom of a learned modesty in all holy things! Would to God that it might impress upon our consciences this most important conviction, that there are principles of religion to be settled in the head as well as of morality to be established in the heart—that the understanding as well as the affections are to be regulated and reformed, and that we have not only to practise righteousness towards our brethren, but humility towards our Maker! It is for this, as well as to be a guard to us in our interpretation of Scripture, that I have been so anxious in pointing out these grievous errors in the management of our enquiries into “ things hard to be understood;" and most earnestly and most repeatedly would I impress upon your thoughts, as one of the best and most important lessons the mind can learn from its lucubrations, that we are not more imperatively required to do justice and love mercy with man, than to reason humbly when we reason with our God.

LECTURE VII.

RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN EXPLAINING

SCRIPTURE DIFFICULTIES.

1 Cor. II. 13.

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

There is a two-fold benefit to be derived from the consideration of those errors which have been committed by such as have preceded us in the same or a similar pursuit. The first and more immediate advantage is that of instructing us in the dangers to which we are exposed, and inspiring us with a cautious diligence to avoid the injudicious course of our predecessors. A second and more indirect, but not less beneficial result, is that of teaching us to deduce the proper laws of reasoning from the consideration of our adversaries, or our forerunners' faults. The former of these lessons it was my endeavour to impress and improve in the conclusion of my last Discourse. The rules which the errors, then specified and

condemned, suggest as the positive rules to be followed in the elucidation of Scripture Difficulties, remain yet to be enumerated. It is an enumeration, however, which will require neither much labour to frame, nor many pages to detail.

1. If it be an error to regard the Bible as professing to be nothing different from any common philosophical or historical work, it is of course our primary duty to consider, and to consider carefully and constantly, that difference which it states to subsist between itself and every other philosophical or historical work. In every case, therefore, where the internal credibility of the contents of the Jewish and Christian revelations is to be maintained, our first law of reasoning must be that of arguing upon their difficulties, as the difficulties of a work professing to have been composed by men acting under the influence of divine inspiration, and commissioned from heaven to record their deeds and their doctrines for the instruction of mankind. In other words, , the first rule to be observed in the elucidation of Scripture Difficulties is to examine them as if they were the difficulties of a divine revelation.

2. If again it be an error of a most perilous import to look upon the different portions of the Bible as the unconnected productions of a set of

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