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Has not Christianity well-nigh extinguished slavery and polygamy in all nations among which it has come? Has it not stigmatised infanticide and prostitution, which were legalized by some of the most advanced nations of antiquity ? Has it not slowly and steadily softened the cruel usages of warfare, and is it not gradually creating a current of public opinion which looks upon all war as barbarous and unchristian ? There cannot be a doubt that, just as the religion of Christ has penetrated the life of a nation, it has in that degree purified its laws, and produced a higher civilization; and we maintain that those nations at the present day, in which the Bible is most revered, are exactly those in which the happiness and welfare of mankind have attained their maximum.
We hold that those dark crimes which disfigured the middle ages were the result, not of Christianity, but of the suppression of its divine utterance. It was when a usurping priesthood proscribed the use of God's word, and substituted a system of man's device for the sacred oracles, that corruption overspread Europe like a flood, and only when the
Holy Volume was unlocked, and its teaching directly brought to bear on the common people, did a moral and spiritual reformation set in. We think modern European history conclusively testifies that Bible teaching, in its strength and integrity, is the only safeguard against widespread corruption and great national misfortunes—and yet, not completely effective—for so impetuous is the current of evil that it cannot be stemmed entirely, and even the most Christian nations invite the rod of correction; and when they will not use the surgeon's knife themselves, a higher hand must cut out the cancer. Thus it was that slavery was wrenched from America by a bloody war, and thus, it is to be feared, some judgment will overtake us if we do not Christianise and elevate the degraded masses of our great towns. We conclude this side of our subject by the remark, that Christian civilisation, unlike that of antiquity, is essentially progressive. Wherever the good seed of Divine truth is allowed to fulfil its proper function of leavening society, there is a steady progress from age to age, and none of those deplorable relapses the heathen world exhibited.
No doubt there are ebbs and flows of a nation's life; there are periods of political growth and decline, but its real welfare keeps advancing, and each century marks a higher coast line in the tide of moral progress. There is no fear of any Christian nation, where the Bible holds its proper place, vanishing from the page of history like ancient Babylon and Tyre, or sinking into that slough of corruption, where Imperial Rome foundered.
A WRITTEN AND AUTHORITATIVE REVELATION
NECESSARY.—THE BIBLE SHOWN TO BE SUCH.
W E now pass from the ground of history
to examine this question in the light of man's nature and necessities, and to inquire, first, whether a written and permanent record of God's Revelation, such as we have in the Sacred Scriptures, is not the best, and indeed the only effectual, plan for preserving a true religion from age to age.
The great quarrel that modern scepticism has is with the Bible; it is not so much with Christianity as being a collection of lofty truths, as with the Inspired Volume that is the repository of these truths. The favourite view of many philosophers now-a-days is that the religion taught by Christ was the best ever made known to man; but it was a mixture of truth and error, which the rational and moral sense must examine for itself
without allowing its deductions to be overruled by any written authority, whether of St. Paul or of what the Evangelists relate of Christ. They hold that the Bible is a book full of errorshistorical, scientific, and metaphysical, and that by rejecting its authority a purer digest of Christianity can be obtained by the enlightened mind of man. These people, represented now-a-days by Strauss and Renan on the Continent, and among English writers by Matthew Arnold, evoke an ideal Christ from their inner consciousness, and put him forward as far superior to the historical one. They strip His character of its miraculous claims, excise from His reported sayings whatever transcends their human reason, and thus 'construct a nebulous theory of Christianity, which they are weak enough to suppose will supplant the New Testament in the reverence of mankind.
We join issue with this school on the very threshold, and assert that there never could have been a Christian religion at all without an authoritative record. Let us suppose for a moment that the sayings of Christ had been loosely scattered to the winds; that they had been preserved in