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of such a religion. And insufficient we must allow it to have been, or a revelation would not have been sent to supersede it. Yet there were minds before Christ which did exhibit the genuine fruits of natural religion, partially, indeed, darkened and qualified by human blindness and corruption : but the same may also be predicated of many Christians. To take natural religion for our rule after a revelation is come into the world, would be as absurd as it would be to walk by lamp-light after sun-rise ; but to deny that it ever existed or does exist, because its uses are superseded to us, would be no less absurd. It would be, in fact, to deny the existence of the lamp, because the light of day has rendered it unnecessary.
Hume's famous argument is not originally, but very clearly and energetically, demolished by Mr. Wilson as follows:
The wonderful deeds then of the New Testament really occurred. To resist such accumulated evidence, borne by such witnesses, attested by all their contemporaries, admitted by their bitterest foes, corroborated by existing monuments and public usages, and strengthened by all the marks of truth in the accounts themselves--I say, to resist such evidence, not to speculative opinions, but to distinct matters of fact, is to overthrow the very foundations of truth, and to involve men in one bewildering maze of scepticism and absurdity.
And yet this is coolly attempted by modern infidels, not by going into an examination of our arguments, or by producing counter-evidence; but by general insinuations against the fallibility of human testimony, by asserting that miracles are contradictory to experience, and by alleging that the proof of remote history is weakened and extinguished by the lapse of time.
But what has the general fallibility of human testimony to do with the strong, unshaken evidence of upright men to specific events which fell under their own notice? For we are now only considering miracles as to the facts on which they rest. What the cause of them might be, that is, whether they are properly miraculous or not, we do not now inquire; we adduce testimony to the naked facts. Were the water-pots filled with water? Did it become wine? Here are two facts. Was Lazarus dead? Did Lazarus live again after four days? Was Bartimeus blind? Did he receive his sight? Was our Lord crucified? Did he live again on the third day? These are the questions.
Now what can general insinuations against human testimony avail in a case like that before us, when every caution has been taken against this very fallibility, and the evidence of twelve unimpeached beholders, with the suffrages of a whole nation, excludes all possibility of mistake? As well might we enter a court of justice, and, when a jury of twelve men upon their oath, under the direction of a learned and impartial judge, have brought in a verdict, upon the testimony of numerous credible witnesses to a specific fact-whisper the fallibility of human testimony.
It is further objected, that these wonderful works are contrary to experience. To what experience? To that of the objector merely? Then he will shut out all facts of which he is not himself the eye-witness; and the Indian who should refuse to believe on any testimony the fact of water being frozen, would be in the right. But does the objector mean the experience of others? Then he must come to testimony. Thus his objection does not apply. Opposite experience is not necessarily contradictory. In order to oppose experience to miraculous facts, the objector should contrast the testimony of those who professed to have seen miracles, and considered them divine; to the testimony of those who, under similar circumstances, saw the same actions, and considered them not divine, but mere impostures.-Pp. 227-230. VOL. XI. NO. XI.
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Mr. Wilson does not appear equally felicitous in his statements of the argument from prophecy; he alleges passages which, probably, are no prophecies at all; and passages, too, which, most assuredly, whatever be their real character, bear no positive INDEPENDENT evidence of prophetic significance. He states that the name Emmanuel was, “as the angel expressed it,” Jesus. (p. 302.) This a little consideration of the passage (Matt. i. 21-23) will shew to be a misconception. Emmanuel could never be “expounded” Jesus, because the two names have very different significations. Every tyro in Hebrew and biblical literature knows, that to say a person's name is called, is only a periphrastic way of saying that person is. One instance will be more than sufficient, and that relates to this very subject. (Isa. ix. 6.) “ His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace :" where it is evident that not the names but the nature of the Object are intended to be conveyed. So Emmanuel is only a name declaratory of a nature, “ God with us," God present in the flesh. He was to be God with us; but his name, also indicative of his office, but not of similar signification with his prophetical designation, was to be Jesus, a Saviour. Next Mr. Wilson tells us that the flight into Egypt was prophesied of by Hosea. (ch. xi. 1.) The words there are, “ When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” Even if there be a mystical sense in this passage, it can scarcely be used as evidence. No unbeliever, certainly, would admit it; Julian argued against Christianity from the ill-judged allegation of it: the substitution of Jesus for Israel is apparently violent, and both text and context direct us to well-known historical particulars. It may be said that the passage is alleged as prophecy by Matthew. (ch. ii. 15.) We more than doubt it. The verb Anpów has no such necessarily restrained meaning. The Evangelists, as Jews, had a thorough and habitual recollection of their national scriptures; and the literal language of Hosea had an application so much more emphatic in the call of our Lord than in the call of Israel, that a Jew could scarcely have failed to notice it. Most commentators are of opinion that there was no prophecy. Heinsius, perhaps, has best illustrated the subject, in his Exercitationes Sacræ, by a quotation from Epiphanius. That father is combating the opposite errors of the Antidicomarianites and the Collyridians; the former of whom disparaged, while the latter worshipped the Virgin. He thus speaks of both: wç kgkeivo tò mapá TIOL των ΕΞΩΘΕΝ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΩΝ αδόμενον και εν αυτοίς ΠΛΗΡΩΣΑΣΘΑΙ, év. Tý Xéyelv, ai árpórnmeg (górntes or, as it might be translated, “so that the current sayings of some of the HeathỆN PHILOSOPHERS, 'extremes meet,' was FULFILLED in them.” Now, as Epiphanius certainly never meant to say that the Heathen Philosophers prophesied
of two christian sects, there is no reason why the same verb almpów should not have the same sense in St. Matthew, which it undoubtedly possesses in the above-cited passage. It is an elegant allusion and adaptation, as if the Evangelist had said, “so that the figurative declaration of God in Hosea, 'out of Egypt I have called my son,' became, in this instance, a literal fact." "Iva, no scholar need be told, is not always causal, and has, with the subjunctive, frequently the same force as work with the infinitive. The education of Christ at Nazareth is also stated by Mr. Wilson to have been matter of prophecy: and he cites, in proof, Judges xiii. 5. 1 Sam. i. 11. Such citations, if possible, would weaken the cause of which Mr. Wilson is so able a champion. For what do they amount to ? Samson and Samuel might be types of Christ, (though this is not universally acknowledged); but the passages referred to certainly belong to them and none other; and no infidel would listen for a moment to such declarations as prophecies. Beside this, granting them to be such, they foretell, if they foretell any thing, not Christ's “education at Nazareth,” but his being a Nazarite, a thing most essentially different, and which Christ never was. The citation by St. Matthew of “that which was spoken by the prophets, ότι Ναζωραίος κληθήσεται,” is one of the obscurest texts in the whole Bible, and not to be so soon disposed of. To us the most satisfactory interpretation appears to be this: Nazareth was proverbially a despised place, as is evident from Nathanael's question, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ? “A Nazarene,” therefore, would be, among the Jews, a proverbial term for a “despised and rejected ” character. It is not said that any particular prophet had declared that Christ should be called a Nazarene, but that the prophets had so predicted, -that this was the tenor of prophecy. Now, certainly, the Holy Spirit “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ,” and, in this sense, the prophets had declared that he should be called a Nazarene, that is, that he should be despised and dishonoured. But on a point of such difficulty we would rather suggest than determine : much less would we say that the declarations concerning the sacred separations of Samson and Samuel are prophetic evidence of Christ's education at Nazareth. Again, Mr. Wilson adduces as evidence our Lord's “superhuman prescience in his comments on the ancient oracles.” (p. 314.) “His exposition of the mission of John Baptist and of the types; the brazen serpent, the manna, and the Passover ; his appeal to Moses ; his assertion of the joy of Abraham at the prospect of his advent ; his declaration concerning Jonah ; his explanation of "the stone which the builders rejected," are brought forward by Mr. Wilson as “proofs of our Lord's prophetical inspiration." This is a mistatement which we grieve to find disfiguring so respectable a work, and so important a
subject. They are, indeed, remarkable expositions ; expositions of the most satisfactory kind; but a retrospective “prescience," a "prophetical" view of the past, is a style of parlance which we cannot bring ourselves to comprehenä.
We cannot conclude this article without adverting to another subject occasionally glanced at in Mr. Wilson's pages. We desire no better language on this head than his own :
In the sixteenth century, when from a gradual corruption of the Christian faith, revelation was nearly lost, what was it that marked the decay? was it not morals depraved-superstitions multiplied-heathenism revived under the garb of Christianity-spiritual tyranny established-the pure worship of God forgotten--moral duties exchanged for vows and pilgrimages and austerities—secularity, selfishness, moral apathy, vice triumphant? And what was it that recalled men to the truth of essential religion? Was it unaided reason? Was it not the Book of Revelation re-opened, re-published, re-appealed to by the magnanimous zeal of the Reformers and Martyrs ?—P. 83.
I dwell not on the features of the eastern antichrist, as painted in the book of Daniel, and the kindred language of St. John, because I hasten to notice what more immediately presents itself before our eyes, the great western apostacy. Let us first see how it is delineated by the prophetic pencil of Daniel. We there find it set forth as a seducing power, that was to arise after the conversion, downfall, and division into ten sovereignties of the fourth, or Roman empire little, in comparison of these others as to secular authority, but claiming and obtaining an universal spiritual authority over the body of the western kingdom, acquiring and maintaining this through policy and craft, procuring a voluntary surrender of power from really superior sovereigns, and using it to become a leader to others in apostacy, persecution, and various kinds of opposition to the truth.
With these criteria, I compare St. Paul's description in the New Testament of the apostacy, or falling away, when “the man of sin should be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God; whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish-God sending them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.— The mystery of iniquity,” adds the apostle, “doth already work; only, he who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way." In this delineation, I find the same distinctive features as in the description of the prophet, with the additional marks of blasphemous usurpation of the place and authority of Goda mystery of iniquity, which was already insinuating itself when the apostle wrote, but which was let or hindered, by the jealous authority of the Roman empire, united then under one potent government; but which would be revealed when the downfall and dismemberment of that empire should remove the obstacle to its developement.
The same great apostle resumes the subject in his first epistle to Timothy, and foretells that in "the latter times, some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats"--particulars all falling under the same heads as those before enumerated.
We next come to the closing visions of prophecy in the Revelation, and, lo. the same corruption as in the prophet, the same times assigned to it, the same geographical and chronological position in the map of prophecy, lead to the confirmation of all our previous notions, and add many other decisive indications. The apostacy is here described as a power having a mouth speaking great things, and even blasphemies; it makes war with the saints; it has horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon; it doth great wonders, and deceiveth those that dwell on
the earth. It is called “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth." It is further depicted as a sorceress,“ decked in purple, and scarlet, and gold, and precious stones, and pearls : drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus"-working by other governments, who “ agree to give unto her their strength and power"-and thus becoming the fountain head of corruption; and inducing the kings of the earth to commit fornication with her.” Moreover, the place is now absolutely fixed; "the city of the seven mountains; the great city, that reigneth over the kings of the earth”--the head of the fourth empire. The time also is more expressly limited to the period when the dismembered kingdoms of the Roman empire agree to give their power into her hands. The duration also, is defined to be twelve hundred and sixty prophetical days, or years--a period already assigned in the book of Daniel, and confirmed in the Revelation, by six or seven repeated declarations.
What spiritual power it was, that arose in the city of Rome after the fall of the empire, uniting in itself all these marks and indications, I need not tell you. Let the corruptions of doctrine and precept, the usurpation of the rights of conscience, the prohibition of the free use of the scriptures, the spiritual establishment of idolatry, the principle of working by craft, meretricious splendour, and religious delusion-the energy of error-together with the persecutions which have characterized for so many centuries the church and bishop of Rome, expound the divine prophecies.
Such a combination of tokens, verified before our eyes in a spiritual apostacy, which has existed unchanged in all its characters, for nearly twelve centuries, is a proof of prophetic inspiration of the most illustrious kind; at the same time that it explains and developes the mystery of the divine providence, which the actual state of Christendom exhibits nay, it turns the most painful and oppressive view which the sincere Christian can take of the declension of the church, into the strongest confirmation of his faith.-Pp. 354–358.
On all this we have only one question to ask Mr. Wilson. After this eloquent and argumentative writing, how does he satisfy his conscience in his late political tergiversation? Behold, drawn by his own vivid pencil, dipped in the colours of divine prophecy, the system, the principles, which he now deems it “expedient ” to admit to a full participation in the legislature of this Christian country! “ HEATHENISM IN THE GARB OF CHRISTIANITY-SPIRITUAL TYRANNYSECULARITY, SELFISHNESS, MORAL APATHY, VICE TRIUMPHANT,- A SEDUCING POWER, ACQUIRING AND MAINTAINING AUTHORITY THROUGH POLICY AND CRAFT – PROCURING A VOLUNTARY SURRENDER OP POWER FROM REALLY SUPERIOR SOVEREIGNS, AND USING IT TO BECOME A LEADER TO OTHERS IN APOSTACY, PERSECUTION, AND VARIOUS KINDS OF OPPOSITION TO THE TRUTH-WORKING BY OTHER GOVERNMENTS, WHO AGREE TO GIVE UNTO HER THEIR STRENGTH AND THEIR POWER, AND THUS BECOMING THE FOUNTAIN HEAD OF CORRUPTION,-CORRUPTION OF DOCTRINE AND PRECEPT, USURPATION OF THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE, PROHIBITION OF THE FREE USE OF THE SCRIPTURES, A SPIRITUAL ESTABLISHMENT OF IDOLATRY-A PRINCIPLE OP WORKING BY CRAFT-A MERETRICIOUS SPLENDOUR AND RELIGIOUS DELUSION-THE ENERGY OF ERROR, which HAS EXISTED UNCHANGED IN ALL ITS CHARACTERS FOR NEARLY TWELVE CENTURIES ;"—this is the system which Mr. Daniel Wilson now believes it expedient to infuse into the