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true dignity of our nature, of its oriT'othe Editorofthe Christian Observer.

ginally high destination, and of the THOUGH I conclude it is ra

mode by which we may aspire to its ther the plan of your work to recovery, if God in his infinite goodbuild upon the foundation of Chris- ness had not vouchsafed to us the tianity, considered as already firm- revelation of his will. ly laid and cemented together in From the period of the Fall we its irrefragable evidences, than to observe, that such revelations were afford much space to the preliminary made on this subject as suited the office of laying that foundation, nature and necessity of the times yet as the proofs of Divine revela- when they were given. But although tion are often adduced or alluded these revelations proceeded from a to in your pages, and the peculiar Being with whom no imperfection circumstances of the times demand can dwell, still there was something that they should be familiar to every in their nature which shewed they Christian reader, I send for insertion were intended merely to precede the following succinct view of the that better state of things attendant argument in favour of the Gospels, on the manifestation of the Messiah. which I hope, by the blessing of In fact, they had severally contriGod, may be found interesting and buted, by their gradual developuseful both to the confirmed Chris- ment of the character and plans of tian and to those who are “ doubt- Jehovah, to put mankind in a conful" or ill-informed upon the subject. dition for receiving the last comI have confined myself to one single munication he intended to make; branch of this large inquiry; yet, if and accordingly we find every cireven this one argument can be just- ' cumstance in the moral and political ly maintained, as without doubt it world in full cooperation for the can, the Divine origin of the whole period of this intended announceBible is placed beyond the reach of ment. On the arrival of the time hesitation or controversy.

most favourable for this display of G. W.

sovereign love, the Son of God as,

sumed our nature. Of the actions SKETCH OF THE EVIDENCE IN FA

which he performed, and the docVOUR OF THE GOSPELS.

trines and precepts he delivered in By the fall of our first parents we

the course of his personal ministry, have not only lost the original purity we have short but faithful accounts of our nature, but also much even of left us by four of his followers; and that power by which we could have on the truth or falsehood of these traced the attributes of Deity in the accounts must stand or fall the objects of creation. With the pravity fabric of Christianity. It is thereof our hearts, the means of finding fore a matter of supreme importance out Jehovah to perfection by the that we investigate with diligence light of reason have been decreased, the evidences by which they are and we must have continued to proved to be a record from God. wander in hopeless ignorance of the Of the two principal kinds of huCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 294.

2T

man evidence, the one, namely, di- pletely supplies the various mental rect demonstration, is applicable to exigences of the world, we may then, subjects which have little or no im- it is presumed, conclude them to be mediate relation to the purposes of not only genuine but Divine ; not common life; while the other, name- only the productions of the writers ly, moral evidence, embraces almost whose names they bear, but also the every species of information, on inspired oracles of the living God. which our profit or happiness can The Gospels then must depend depend. Although, in some of its on the external and internal evistages, the latter is nearly destitute dence which can be adduced in their of authorily in an argument, still it favour. In the evidence which we admits of so wide a range as fre- have of their genuineness from anquently to approximate to, if not tiquity, of course we shall not be to equal, the most rigid species of guided solely by the friends of demonstration. One of its chief Christianity; although their testibranches is human testimony; and mony is by no means inconsiderable, when we reflect on the variety and when we consider that it was never importance of the information aris- invalidated by their contemporaries. ing from this source, we shall not The Gospels have even the admiswonder at the authority attributed sions of heretics and heathen philoto it, or the excessive care taken to sophers in their favour; and notascertain the precise limits of its withstanding they attempt to disprobability To regard human prove their Divine origin by such testimony as carrying in itself the objections as arise from the nature weight of presumptive evidence of their contents, one branch of our would be absurd. There are many argument is established, that they circumstances which must unite with were unquestionably the producit ere we are required to admit it tions of their reputed authors. In as conclusive. If the relator had the Christian writers of the first, no advantage from the propagation second, and third centuries, there of his story; if corroborative testi- are not only direct and palpable mony is borne by others who were quotations from the Gospels, but in in no way connected with him, or the later writers of that period they by whom the circumstances of the are severally referred to under their story were regarded with hostility; distinctive appellations. Not only and if it fully accords with the therefore is it proved, that the temper of the times to which it re- canon of the New Testament was lates, there can be no good reason settled at an early age; but, what for withholding from it our assent. is more to our present purpose, that Of this kind of evidence the Gospels the Evangelical histories were beare possessed, and therefore their lieved to be individually written by genaineness is indisputable. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

But more than their genuineness Again, the heretics who sprang is required to be proved. They up immediately after the apostolic come to us with claims peculiar to times, in general received all the no other book, purporting to furnish Gospels as genuine, while they rethe most infallible rules for the at- jected other parts of the New Testatainment of happiness, and to give ment. Some of their followers even us clearer discoveries of the nature wrote commentaries on them; and and plans of the Supreme Being. while, by a perversion of particular We must therefore examine their passages, they endeavoured to fortify internal evidence also ; and if, on their own opinions, they yet consubsequent inquiry, it be found that curred with the orthodox part of the the system they reveal harmonizes community, in bearing testimony with these plans, supports the dig- to their genuineness. Heathen nity and character of God, and com- philosophers also, aware that the Gospels were possessed of such trary, have equal claims on our atauthority among Christians, and tention and reverence. But alsatisfied that on the conviction of though our natural apprehensions their falsehood depended the over- are vitiated, we have still remaining throw of Christianity, never at- within us so much sense of good and tempted to call in question their evil, as to be able to perceive with genuineness, but simply represented tolerable distinctness the broader several of their statements as dero- lines which separate them; and it gatory to the nature of God, as is only, or chiefly, in consequence contrary to historical truth, or as of the distortion of our feelings and violating every known principle on desires, that our reason is too frewhich the moral and political uni. quently made subservient to the verse is supposed to act. And not gratification of our corrupt propenonly do they refer to them gene- sities. And possessed of this power rally but specifically. The Emperor to appreciate the excellence of any Julian, for instance, gives each its mor: instruction, we shall not only distinct name, and never for a mo- be able from comparison to deduce ment questions the validity of their the superiority of the Gospels in claims to genuineness.

point of purity, but also to estimate To such a body of evidence no- the degree of evidence it affords in thing more needs be added. The confirmation of that faith, of which genuineness of the Gospels is found it is a component part. to be supported by evidence of an Requiring purity of conduct, and unquestionable nature. It there- supplying adequate motives and asfore remains, that we examine whe- sistance for the perpetual maintenther their contents are such as to ance of that purity, seem to constiexhibit the impress of Divinity. tute all that is most important in a Let the external evidence in their system of morals. It is unnecessary favour be completely incontroverti- to adduce passages from the Goble, unless their veracity is also de- spels, in which the strict observance monstrable, their spirit the most of morality is inculcated, and the pure and heavenly, their discoveries assistance of God's Holy Spirit is capable of supplying the deficien- promised to all who seek it; but cies of our information relative to I may mention one circumstance, ourselves and a future state, they which completely establishes their are a melancholy instance among superiority, and tends by its direct many others of the ineffectual at- influence to produce a material imtempt to remedy the evils which provement in the species. I allude pervade the moral world.

to the perfect purity required in our In considering the internal evi- thoughts, as well as actions. А dence in favour of the Gospels, we slight attention to our own feelings are naturally led, in the first place, will shew that all our performances to regard their morality. Our pre- bear'a resemblance, more or less conceived notions of the nature of remote, to the habit of our minds. God, and the fitness of things, en. It is possible for a man of depraved able us to form some estimate of principles to pursue a virtuous course the degree of purity they ought to of conduct for a given time, in orexhibit. In fact, unless there is der that he may subserve a partiin us this previous power of de- cular purpose of advantage ; but ciding on their claims to morality, for the same man, with the same and of ascertaining the extent to feelings, and with no other end than which, on a view of society as it is the bare pleasure arising from the at present constituted, these claims pursuit, to spend a life in the pracare allowable, any system that pre- tice of every Christian virtue, is as tends to instruct us in virtue may; easily conceivable as the inversion for any thing we know to the con- of the natural order of cause and

effect. Systems of philosophy were which defile a man.” Even a partial invariably deficient in this respect. acquaintance with ourselves will conIf men acted the part of good citi- firm this assertion; and the wisdom zens, their end was sufficiently an- of the Gospel is therefore evinced swered ; but the virtues which adorn in placing an immediate check on the private walks of life were con- the first impulse to sin. sidered of secondary importance,

But it would be to little purpose and unnecessary, although expe- to require purity of conduct, if our dient, to constitute the character of Divine Master did not also supply a truly great man. While, therefore, us with proper motives for its conthe principles of action were dis. tinuance. We may boast of the regarded, and the vices which are native worth of the human characnaturally engendered by them were ter, our innate preference of good allowed in the retirements of society to evil; but these considerations the most safe and uncontrolled ex- would be of little avail to the maercise, we can now easily imagine jority of mankind. Accordingly we what would be their probable effects find, that the Saviour enforces the on the circles where their operation practice of holiness and the avoidwas unnoticed. But Christianity, ance of sin, by considerations from with a view to the highest elevation which even the unreflecting feel no of our nature, imperatively enjoins inclination to appeal. The terrific purity of thought, as the only means detail of the proceedings of the last of maintaining purity of conduct. day—the half disclosed realities of In the Gospels we are commanded, two separate states in another world; with a view to the suppression of the one replete with every gratificathe malignant passions, "to humble tion which can complete the happiourselves in order to be exalted.” ness of an immortal and perfect Envy is a natural passion of the creature, the other with such terrors mind, and the view of superior as no imagination can reach; are greatness almost invariably calls it all calculated to excite the most into exercise. We are, therefore, intense interest, and add their most commanded to feel no solicitude re- tremendous sanction to the comspecting the honours of the world. mands of our Creator. The fitness Nay, so completely hostile is this of things and the inherent loveliness spirit to that of our Master, that of virtue, are considerations which we are directly informed, “Who- might possibly influence a few phi

exalteth himself shall be losophers; but the mass of mankind abased." And in order to habituate are too much swayed by their pasus to the cultivation of a principle, sions to be guided by any such on which the superstructure of ex- motives, or on account of them to perimental religion must be reared reason dispassionately on a subject to ensure its permanency, we are where their interest or advantage is required to minister to the wants, concerned. It is no unjust picture to promote the comfort, and even of human nature to say, that it canto put ourselves beneath the condi- not thus be actuated by purely distion, of what are considered our interested principles, and much less inferiors : “ He that is greatest when the ultimate end of action among you, shall be your servant.” has respect solely to the agent. Again, with respect to the licentious The pursuits of sin are sometimes passions, where shall we find a more found, or at least supposed, to be direct preventative to their exercise attended with alluring advantages than in the declarations of our Lord in the present life; and, what in bis Sermon on the Mount? And greatly conduces to its steady again: “Out of the heart proceed and unabated ardour, it is usually adulteries, murders," and all other followed by the approbation of the vices; and, " these are the things multitude; whereas obedience to the commands of God is too frequently we possess the feelings of human regarded as a pusillanimous quality; nature, so long as the temptations or, if a less harsh judgment is en- to sin continue unabated, we are tertained, as the characteristic of a completely incapacitated for passwell-meaning but contracted intel- ing an impartial sentence on aclect. Let any one declare then, tions, in which we ourselves are whether man left to himself, with particularly interested.

soever

We are out any motives excepting such as therefore far from being competent a bare consideration of the nature judges of the blemishes or merits of these opposite qualities presents, of our own deeds, and to act as will prefer the latter to the former, others consider kata Toyov, would with all his superadded weight of evidently in many cases be utterly passions and imparfections. I think impracticable But the Gospels it may be safely answered in the teach us to refer to a much higher negative. We must have the pros: standard in estimating our perforpect of some ultimate advantage, mances. By setting before us a independent of the gratification a Being clothed with all the majesty certain line of conduct yields, be- of purity, rewarding the just, and fore we can be induced to forsake punishing the evil-doers, ---by exhabits and principles, entailed on hibiting to us a portraiture of the us from the Fall

, and strengthened most perfect character that ever by repeated acts of subsequent existed, displayed in a vast variety transgression. This, as

This, as we have of situations, and by laying down seen, is supplied in the Gospels. the most plain and practical rules Our hopes are excited by descrip- for the direction of our conduct in tions of the surpassing glories of every conceivable emergency, we heaven; and our affections are en- are supplied with a standard every gaged by its being declared, that in way adequate to guide us with that happy place they will find their safety in the formation of our moral legitimate and noblest exercise, in judgments.

And above all, as the knowledge and love of God. before remarked, we have the On the contrary, if we persist in promised influences of the Holy the practice of sin, we are warned Spirit, not only to assist our underof its awful consequences by de standings, but to sanctify our hearts. scriptions, which must create feel. With respect to morality, then, ings of unmingled terror in every the Gospels are unrivalled. In fact, mind awake to the momentous sub- the moral systems of the heathens ject.

were grossly deficient in the qualiThere is another point of view in ties we have hitherto ascribed to which the Gospels are preeminent the Gospels, and their defects were above every other system. It is still farther augmented by the pernot merely necessary that we have mission of some immorality. Their proper motives for the performance different authors had all some viof virtue; it is also requisite that we cious propensity; and to excuse have a proper standard, by which their conduct, it became necessary to judge of their validity. Actions to palliate its enormity, or to place κατα λογον, and actions ως ο ορθος it in the light of a negative virtue. doyos apootačn, are considered by The unaccommodating spirit of the Aristotle, as constituting the per- Gospel is strongly contrasted with fection of morality; and he there- this. By its unequivocal denunciafore

proposes them as fit standards, tion of eternal death to the workers by which to form our moral appro- of every kind of ungodliness, it at bation or disapprobation.

The once shuts up every avenue to sin; standard might be good, if our rea- while its enactments are rendered son could remain a calm and dis- still more binding by the force of passionate judge. But so long as an example, in which malice and

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