Page images

Opinion of the age and country in which his ministry was exercised. It was no part of the object of bis revelation, tơ tegulate men's opinions concerning the action of spiritual fubftances upon animal bodies. At any tate it is unconnected with testimony. If a dumb person was by a word restored to the use of his speech, it fignifies little to what cause the dumbness was ascribed, and the like of every other cure wrought upon those who are said to have been poffeffed. The malady was real, the cure was real, whether the popular explication of the cause was well founded, or not. The matter of fact, the change, so far as it was an object of sense, ot of testimony, was in either case the fame.

Secondly, that, in reading the apostolic writings, we distinguish between their doctrines and their arguments. Their doctrines came to them by revelation properly so called ; yet in propounding these do&trinies in their writings or discourses, they were wont to illustrate, support and enforce them,

by such analogies, arguments, and considera ations as their own thoughts suggested,

Thus the call of the Gentiles, that is, the admission of the Gentiles to the Christian profession without a previous subjection to the law of Moses, was imparted to the Apoftles by revelation, and was attested by the miracles which attended the Christian ministry amongst them. The Apostle's own assurance of the matter refted upon this foundation. Nevertheless, St. Paul, when treating of the subject, offers a great variety of topics in its proof and vindication. The doctrine itself must be received; but is it necessary, in order to defend Christianity, to defend the propriety of every comparison, or the validity of every argument, which the apostle has brought into the discussion? The same observation applies to some other instances'; and is, in my opinion, very well founded. " When divine writers argue upon any point, we are always bound to believe the conclusions that their reasonings end in, as parts of divine revelation ; but we are not bound to be able to make put, or even to assent to, all the premises made use of by them, in their whole extent, unless it appear plainly, that they affirm the premisès. as expressly as they do the conclusions proved by them *.'

* Burnet's Expof. art. 6.




The Connection of Christianity with the

Jewish History.


OUBTEDLY, our Saviour assumes the divine origin of the Mosaic inftitution : and, independently of his authority, I conceive it to be very difficult to assign any other cause for the commencement or existence of that institution ; especially for the singular circumstance of the Jews adhering to the unity, when every other people slid into

polytheism; for their being men in religion, children in every thing else ; behind other nations in the arts of peace and war, fuperior to the most improved in their sentiments and doctrines relating to the deity*, Un


*“ In the doctrine, for example of the unity, the cternity, the omnipotence, the omniscience, the omnipresence, the wisdom and the goodness of God; in their opinions concerning providence, and the creation, pre


doubtedlý also, our Saviour recognises the prophetic character of many of their ancient writers. So far, therefore, we are bound as Christians to go.

But to make Christianity answerable with its life, for the circumstantial truth of each feparate passage of the Old Testament, the genuineness of every book, the information, fidelity, and judgement of every writer in it, is to bring, I will not say

servation, and government of the world.” Campbell on Mir. p. 207. To which we may add, in the acts of their religion not being accompanied either with cruelties or impurities; in the religion itself being free from a species of superstition which prevailed universally in the popular religions of the ancient world, and which is to be found perhaps in all religions that have their origin in human artifice and credulity, viz. fanciful corte nections between certain appearances, and actions, and the destiny of nations or individuals. Upon these conceits rested the whole train of auguries and auspices, which formed fo much even of the serious part of the religions of Greece and Rome, and of the charms and incantations which were praciifed in those countries by the common people. From every thing of this sort the religion of the Jews, and of the Jews alone, was free. Vid. Priestley's Lectures on the Truth of the Jewish and Christian Revelation, 1794.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »