Изображения страниц

Deity."* His belief he has left us in a well-written confession of his faith, embracing the usual articles of the Christian religion. His prayers, which are preserved, breathe a spirit of true devotion, in a style and form which are not surpassed by any compositions of that period, in our language. It would be easy to transcribe page after page of his recorded sentiments; and we might trace, at every step of his life, his profound deference for the theology of the Bible.

We do not believe that the Christian religion depends for its evidences on the suffrage of any one philosopher; or on the bright constellation of names which have expressed their profound regard for the truths of revelation. Still a Christian cannot but look with deep interest on the fact that such men as Bacon, and Boyle, and Newton, bowed their mighty intellects to the authority of revelation; came and brought all the rich and varied treasures of their profound investigations, and laid them at the foot of the Cross; and spent their lives increasingly impressed with the belief that the God of Nature is also the God of the Bible. While we do not claim that on their authority the Scriptures should be accredited as the word of God, we do claim that they should be allowed to rebuke the flippancy of youthful and unfledged infidelity; that they should be permitted to summon men to inquire, before they pronounce; we claim that their authority is sufficient to call on the youthful skeptic to pause, and to suspect that possibly he may be wrong. When mighty minds like these have left their recorded assent to the truths of the Christian scheme, it is not too much to ask of minds of far less power to sit down and inquire, at least, whether Christianity may not have come from God. When Newton, after having surveyed world on world, and measured the heavens, and placed himself for profound inquiry at the head of mankind, sat down

* Essays, Civil and Moral.

in the full maturity of his days, and passed the vigor of his life, and the serene evening of his honoured age in the contemplation of the New Testament; when Bacon, after having rescued science from the accumulated darkness and rubbish of two thousand years, after having given lessons to all mankind about the just mode of investigating nature, and after having traversed the circle of the sciences, and gained all that past generations had to teach, and having carried forward the inquiry far into nature, bowed at every step to the authority of the Bible; when Hale, learned in the law, not only believed Christianity to be true, but adorned the Christian profession by a most humble life; when Boerhave, profoundly acquainted with the human frame, and skilled in the healing art, sat with the simplicity of a child at the feet of Jesus Christ; when Locke gave the testimony of his powerful mind to the truth of the Christian religion; when Davy, first of chemists, came on this subject to the same results as the analyzer of light, the inventor of fluxions, and the demonstrator of the theory of gravitation as the author of the Novum Organum-and the writer of the treatise on the Human Understanding; when each science has thus contributed its founder, its ornament, and its head, as a witness to the truth of the Christian religion, it is not too much to conclude that it may be something different from priestcraft and imposture. When we turn from these lights of men-these broad stars that spread their beams over all the firmament of science, and seek after the wandering and dim luminaries of infidelity; when we make a sober estimate of what the high-priests of unbelief have done for the advancement of science, and the welfare of man, we are struck with the prodigious advance we have made into chilly and tenebrated regions. We have passed amid spirits of another order. We wander in climes as remote almost from science, as from Christianity. We should know where we are as readily by their superficial, but pompous pretensions; by dark,

but most confident scientific claims; by erroneous, wandering, but most flippant demands in science, as we do by their infuriated and bitter raging against the claims of the Christian religion. Who are these men? Volney, Diderot, D'Alembert, Voltaire, Paine; Herbert-the best and greatest of them -Shaftesbury, Tindal, Morgan, Bolingbroke, Gibbon, Hume. What have they ever done for science? What advances have they ever made? So far as we know, not one of them has any pretensions to what gives immortality to the names of Boyle, Locke, Newton, Bacon, Hale. What valuable fact have they ever presented in science? What new principle have they originated or illustrated? What department of science have they adorned? Not a man of them has ever trod the regions that constituted the glory of England and of the world-the regions of profound science; of deep and penetrating investigation of the works of nature. In spite of such men, science would still have slumbered in the regions of eternal night; and infidelity, but for Christian men, might have swayed a sceptre, as she desired, over regions of profound and boundless shades of ignorance and crime. We care little for names and authorities in religion. We believe that religion, natural and revealed, accords with the constitution and course of nature. We believe that it is sustained by a force and compass of argument that can be adduced for the truth of no science. On the ground of the independent and impregnable proof of revealed religion, we are Christians. But there are men who pride themselves on names. There are those whose only reason for an opinion is, that it was held by some illustrious man. None are really so much under the influence of this feeling as the infidel. That Hume was a skeptic; that Gibbon was capable of a sneer; that Paine was a scoffer; that Volney was an atheist, is to them strong as proof of holy writ. Hence they feel that to doubt is the most exalted state of man; that there is argument enough for mortals in a sneer

and a jibe; that scoffing becomes a human being; and that to come to the conclusion that man has no Father and no God, that he dies like kindred worms, is the supremacy of felicity, and the perfection of reason. When such have been the apostles and high-priests of unbelief-such the hosts which they have mustered-we feel that apart from all argument in the case, we would rather accord with the sentiments of the great luminaries of mankind in science; and that it is not unworthy of reason and elevated thought to suppose, that true religion may be found where we have found every other valuable blessing for mankind; and that the system, attended everywhere with science, refinement, and art, and that has shed light on the intellect, and honour on the names of Locke, and Boyle, and Bacon, is the system with which GOD intended to bless men.



How can the Sinner be made to feel his Guilt. A Discourse prepared at the request of the "Revival Association," Andover.

THE question, "How can the sinner be made to feel his guilt?" is one of the most momentous, in many respects, that can be presented to the human mind. On a correct answer depends the success of the gospel in every nation and in every age. Unless men are made to feel that they are guilty, in vain do we offer them pardon, and in vain is the standard of the cross lifted up in their view. At the present day, especially, this question is invested with a deeper interest, by the revivals of religion with which the church is favoured; and which we have reason to believe will extend from land to land as the great means of ushering in the millennial glory. The reign of Christ on earth must obviously be introduced by great excitement; by profound and anxious inquiry; by a movement throughout all Christendom, and reaching into heathen lands; by the application of some power that shall unclench the grasp of men from the world, alarm their fears, awaken their hopes, and lift their thoughts to GOD. But in any great religious movement, the depth, genuineness, and lasting efficacy of the change produced, must depend on men's views of their guilt, and their need of pardon. As a mere question, then, in the advance of Christianity, the subject before us has an interest commensurate with the value of Christian truth. No preacher can be successful who is not able, with the divine blessing, to lay open the sources and the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »