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of argument, it is further stated, chapters, of which we shall state is in the highest degree unphilosu. the subjects in their proper order. phical. The evidence arising from testimony can have no affinity, can
« On the Principles of Historical Evi. admit po juxta-position, with that dence and their Application to the arising from the contents of the Question of the Truth of Christianity
On the Authenticity of the different record : so that even were those
Books of the New Testament. On the contents in the highest degree im- Internal Marks of Truth and Honesty probable, the evidence from testi- to be found in the New Testament.mony would remain the same; and On the Testimony of the original Wit. the question of trnth or falsehood, nesses to the Truth of the Gospel Nar. after all, 'resolve itself into this — rative.-On the Testimony of SubséIs it easier to receive the pheno
quent Witnesses.-Remarks on the As. menon of an obscure &nd mysteri- gument from Prophecy.-Remarks on ous revelation upon such testimony,
the Scepticism of Geologists. On the or to receive the opposite pheno- of Deistical lufidels.-On the Way of
Internal Evidence, and the Objections menon that such testimony is false? Proposing the Argnment to Atheistical Is it the most practicable to ac- Infidels. On the Supreme Authority count for the difficulties of the 'of Revelation." frecord, if true, or for its existence and general reception if false ? In the first chapter, Mr. Chal. And the answer plainly meant to be mers opens bis system with trie implied by the author is this :- following able introduction:I can much more readily admit the truth of the record on ound
“ Were a verbal communication to .
come to us from a person at a distance, historical evidence, than I can
there are two ways in which we might admit its falshood from any sup- tay to satisfy ourselves, that this was a posed incongruity in its contents. trive communication, and that there was The testimony I judge of by ra- no imposition in the affair. We might tional and incontestable rules; the either sit in examination upon the subdoctrines are at best but the sub- stance of the message; and then, from ject of conjecture. Prove to me
what we knew of the person from whom only that the revelation has taken it profcused to come, judge whether it place in the manner and with the bent by him; or we may sit in 'ex
was probable that such a message would authority stated, and I then sit anjar tion upon the credibility of the down, with my granmar and lexi- messengers. con, to examine its contents and “It is evident, that in carrying on the receive it in its proper character, first examination, we might be subject as it is written, and because it is to very great uncertainty. The prowritten,
fessed author of the communication in The intelligent reader will here question 'may live at such a distance perceive the weapons of the grand
from us, that we inay vever have it in master of philosophical scepticism
our power to verify his message by any in the northern school turned, by may be so far ignorant of his character
personal conversation with him. W his countryman, with considerable and designs, as to be unqualified to dexterity against bimself. But be judge of the kind of communication fore we proceed to offer the very that should proceed from him. To esfew humble observations which timate aright the probabte authenticity have occurred to us in examining of the message from what we know of this work, we shall present a few its author, would require an acquaintextracts from the work itself, either ance with his plans, and views, and to prove that we have not misre- in possession. We may bring the great
circumstances, of which we may not be presented this truly Christian phi- est degree of sagacity to this investigalosopher, or to afford the means
tion; but then the highest sagacity is of our refutation, if we have. of no avail, when there is an insutficiency
The work is divided into ten of data. Our ingenuity may be you
bounded; but then we may want the tiap argument, we should, if possible, materials. The principle which we divest ourselves of all reference to re. assume may be untrue in itself, and ligion, and view the truth of the gospel therefore might be fallacious in its ap- history, purely as a question of erudition. plication.
If at the outset of the investigation we “ Thus, we may derive very little light have a prejudice against the Christian from our first argument. But there is religion, the effect is obvious; and Still a second in reserve,-the credi- without any refinement of explanation, bility of the messengers. We may be we see at once how such a prejudice no judges of the kind of communication must dispose us to annex suspicion and which is natural, or likely to proceed distrast to the testimony of the Chrisfrom a person with whom we are but tian writers. But even when the pre. Imperfectly acquainted; but we may be judice is on the side of Christianity, very competent judges of the degree of the effect is unfavourable on a mind faith that is to be reposed in the bearers that is at all scrupulous about the rece of that communication. We may know titude of its opinions. In these circum. and appreciate the natural signs of stances, the mind gets suspicious of veracity. There is a tone and a manner itself. It feels a predilection, and be. characteristic of honesty, which may comes apprehensive lest this predilec. be both intelligible and convincing. tion may have disposed it to cherish a There may be a concurrence of several particular conclusion, independently of messengers. There may be their sub- the evidences by which it is supported. stantial agreement. There may be the Were it a mere speculative question, in total want of any thing like concert or which the interests of man, and the collusion among them. There may be attachments of his heart, had no share, their determined and unanimous per-' he would feel greater confidence in the severance, in spite of all the incredulity result of his investigation. But it is and all the opposition which they meet difficult to separate the moral impres. with. The subject of the communica- siops of piety, and it is no less difficult tion may be most unpalatable to us; to calculate their precise influence on and we be so unreasonable, as to wreak the exercises of the understanding. In our unpleasant feelings upon the bearers the complex sentiment of attachment of it. In this way, they may not only and conviction, which he annexes to have no earthly interest to deceive us, the Christian religion, he finds it diffibut have the strongest inducement posé cult to say, how much is due to the sible to abstain from insisting upon that tendencies of the heart, and how much message which they were charged to is due to the pure and unmingled indeliver. Last of all, as the conclusive flyence of argument. His very anxiety seal of their authenticity, they may all for the truth, disposes him to overrate agree in giving us a watchword, which the circumstances which give a bias to we previously knew could be given by his understanding, and through the none but their master; and whịch none whole process of the inquiry, he feels a but his messengers could ever obtain the suspicion and an embarrassment, which possession of. In this way, unfruitful as he would not have felt, had it been all our efforts may have been upon the a question of ordinary erudition.” pp. first subject of examination, we may 14, 15. derive from the second the most de. cisive evidence, that the message in
The authority of the Christian question is a real message, and was records having been in this manner actually transmitted to us by its pro- placed on the same ground with fessed author.” pp. 1-4,
that of other records of ancient days,
Mr. Chalmers has no difficulty in Having assumed the credibility triumphantly arguing its abundant of the messenger to be the fact superiority over every other. Why which lies immediately and solely is the progress of Christianity, open to reason, in the case of the with its different circumstances, to Christian message, the author thus stand on the attestation of the proceeds to the developement of Roman historian Tacitus? It is his plan.
also attested, in a far more direct “ To form a fair estimate of the and circumstantial manner, in the strength and decisiveness of the Chris, annals of another author in a book
entitled, “The History of the Acts historical questions, should not be looked of the Apostles, by the Evangelist upon as nugatory when applied to the Luke.' Both of these perform-' investigation of those facts which are ances carry on the very face of connected with the truth and establish
ment of the Christian religion, that them the appearance of unsuspi.- every prepossession should be swept cious and well-authenticated do
away, and room left for the understand cuments. But there are several ing to expatiate without fear, and with! circumstances, in which the testi- out incumbrance." pp. 33, 34. mony of Luke possesses a decided advantage over the testimony of
The four succeeding chapters Tacitus. These circumstances are
descend more particularly into well stated by Mr. Chalmers, p. 21." those historical evidences on wbich
The author then 'makes some the truth of the New-Testament important observations, as to the history depends; and they cousivalue which would have been at- der respectively the four capital tached to the testimony of Tacitus, positions :--1. That the different on the supposition that he had pieces which make up the New been still more circumstantial in Testament, were written by the his details of Christianity.
authors whose names they bear, '« Whence this nnaccountable pre: is commonly assigned to them:
and at the particular time which ference of Tacitus ? Upon every re. 2. That the New Testament itself ceived principle of criticism, we are, bound to annex greater confidence to contains divers internal marks of the testimony of the Apostles. It is truth and honesty: 3. That there vain to recur to the imputation of its
was nothing in the situation of the being an interested testimony. This New-Testament writers, which the apologists for Christianity under- leads us to perceive that they take to disprove, and actually have had any possible inducemenť for disproved it, and that by a much publishing a falsehood: 4. That greater quantity of evidence than would the leading facts in the history of be held perfectly decisive in a question the Gospel, are corroborated by of common history. If after this there
These should remain any lurking sentiment of
the testimony of others. diffidence or suspicion, it is entirely several positions are, we think, resolvable into some such principle as both admirably argued, and brought I have already alluded to. It is to be powerfully to bear upon the gene-, treated as a mere feeling,-a delusion ral object of the work. But as which should not be admitted to have they must of course in substance any influence on the convictions of the be found in the immortal pages understanding." p. . 25.
of Leslie, Paley, Skelton, Lardner, Many pertinent observations of Leland, &c., we shall not detain a similar nature occur in this chap- the reader by repeating them. ter: particularly those in which The sixth chapter, on the arguthe author blames Lardner for not ment from prophecy, though treatenumerating amongst the witnesses ing it as “another species of evito Christianity such of the original dence for Christianity, distinct froin writers themselves in the New the testimony of its supporters," Testament as have given a decisive yet views the subject of prophecy testimony to others, as Peter to in the same historical or circumPaul, Luke to his own “ former stantial light in which other species treatise." Why should their in- of evidence had been examined. spiration alone, render them uni Were we called upon to estimate worthy, or dubious witnesses to the comparative worth of the dithistorical truth? --The chapter thus ferent chapters of the work, we concludes:
should perhaps say, that we are as " All we wish for, is, that the arga: little pleased with this, as with mentsʻwliich are held decisive in other any in the volume. The concep
CHRIST, OBSERV, No. 160. 2 I
tions of the author appear to us to consciousness. When an amateur of have been obscure, both as to the botany, upon some vague analogies, degree and as to the nature of offers his confident affirmations as to the evidence arising to Christianity the structure and parts of the human from prophecy. The question of body, tlicre would be an instantaneous
appeal to the knife and demonstrations interpretation is here so intimately of the anatomist. Should a mineralo. blended with the existence of pro- gist, upon the exhibition of an ingephecy, as such, asscarcely to admit nious or well-supported theory, proof complete reduction into his
nounce upon the history of our Saviour “ exoteric” plan. The most va- and his miracles, we would call it anoluable part of the chapter is that, ther example of an arbitrary and unphi. we, think, in which he treats of losophical extension of principles be the testimony afforded by the yond tire field of their legitimate applipresent state of the Jews, to the cation. We would appeal to the kind
and the quantity of testimony upon truth of their own and of the evan
which that history is supported. We gelical writings.
would suffer ourselves to be delighted The seventh chapter, however, by the brillianey, or even convinced by abundantly compensates for any the evidence of his speculations ; but supposed deficiency in the sixth. we would feel that the history of those Tlie late discoveries of geologists facts, whicli form the ground-work of render the science of geology an
our faith, is as little affceted by them,
as the history of any storm, or battle, important department in the theory of the evidenees for revealed re
or warrior, which has come down to us
in the most genuine and approved rea ligion. So many persons have cords of past ages.'" pp. 175-177.' DOW-a-days learnt to
To the same effect, in “ drill and bore The solid earth, and from the strata
“ Even admitting, then, tiis single there
objection in the subject of our Saviour's Extract a register, by which we learn testimony, the whole length to which That He who made it, and reveald its we can legitimately carry the objection date
is scepticism, or that dilemma of the To Moses, was mistaken in its age,”
mind' into which it is thrown by two as to render the subject highly im- contradictory appearances. This is this portant. The just and appropri- terms in the alleged contradiction.
unavoidable result of admitting both ate reply given by the author to Upon the strengtři of all the reasoning all these deep speculations, is this: which has hitherto occupied us, we Admit a higher antiquity in the challenge the infidel to dispose of the world, than any ordinary reader one term, which lies in the strength of of the Bible may have imagined, the historical evidence. But in die
ferent ways we may dispose of the “ in what possible way does it touch upon other, which lies in the alleged falses the historical evidence for the New Tes. hood of our Saviour's testimony. We tament? The credibility of the Gospel may deny the truth of the geological iniracles stands upon its own appropriate speculation ; nor is it necessary to be foundation, the recorded testimony of numerous and unexceptionable wit- be warranted to deny it. We appeal
an accomplished geologist, that we may nesses. The only way in which we can overthrow that credibility is by attack themselves. They neutralize one ano•
to the speculations of the geologista ing the testimony, or disproving the
ther." p. 183. authenticity of the record. Every other science is tried upon its own peculiar The plain fact is, that neither evidences; and all we contend for is, has our Saviour declared the age that the same justice be done to the of the world, por bas Moses bimology.' When a mathematician offers to apply his reasoning to the pheno self, as expressly as the objectors mena of mind, the votaries of moral would imply. The method chosen science resent it as an invasion, and by Mr. Chalmers to silence their make their appeal to the evidence of objeciions, stands, think
amongst the first-rate instances of ceases to observe, and begins to pre. clear, and solid, and manly-argu- sume or to excogitate; of the actual mentation.
history of science ; its miserable proBut it is in the eigbtb chapter in gress, so long as categories and princiwhich our author treats the internal, schools ; and the splendour and rapidity
ples retained their ascendency in the or rather the doctrinal, evidence, of its triumphs, so soon as man underand the objections of deistical in- stood, that he was nothing more than fidels, that he most fully developes the disciple of Nature, and must take his system, and revels, if we may so his lesson as Nature offers it to him." speak, in all the luxury of his new and truly philosophical positions.
In the application of these rigid We should but feebly repeat, what principles to the investigation and perhaps we have feebly stated at comparison of evidences for the the beginning of this article, as the truth of the Christian Revelation, substauce of our author's powerful Mr. Chalmers proceeds with a demonstrations, were we to give confidence which shews the fullest the contents of this chapter in any reliance on the strength of his words but his owrl. It contains, in fact, a virtual surrender of the doc
“Give us facts. Give us appearIrinal evidences of the Christian
Show us how, from the experi. revelation, at the shrine of the
ence of a life or a century, you can historical:--a surrender of them, draw a legitimate conclusion so boundbe it observed, not as indefensible, less in its extent, and by which you probut as inconclusive, and as mainly pose to fix down both the processes of a inapplicable to the purpose of pro- remote antiquity, and the endless producing conviction in the mind of gressions either of nature or providence the Deist.
All the fine-spun theo- in future ages. Are there any historical sies, all the beautiful anticipations tion of the Supreme Being is coeval
.. The administraof truth a priori, with the exqui- with the first purposes of his uncreated site delusions wrought by them in mind, and it points to eternity. The
the brains, both of master and dis- life of man is but a point in that pro: ciple, whether Deist or Christian, gress ... We are not able to col
are swept away by the powerful lect the law, or the character of this hand of the Baconian philosophy, administration from an inference so to make room for the calm and momentary. We therefore cast our eye steady light of actual " experience
on the history of past ages. We exam
mine and the evidence of facts.”
every document which comes before us.
We coinpare all the moral " It is the glory of Lord Bacon's phi- phenomena which can be collected from losophy, to have achieved a victory over the narratives of antiquity, &c." all these delusions--to have disciplined
The chapter .concludes with a the minds of its votaries into an entire poble testimony to the unrivalled submission to evidence-to have trained them up in a kind of steady coldness to labours of Bishop Builer, in the all the splendour and magnificence of department of internal or doctrinal theory, and taught them to follow, with evideuce, in which, though little an uufaultering step, wherever the sure stress is laid on it by our author himthongh humbler path of experiment may self, yet he copfesses much may prolead them.
perly be said, and much bas been “To justify the cautious procedure of said, to the silencing if not utter the inductive philosophy, nothing more confusion of infidel speculatists, is necessary than to take a view of the actual powers and circumstances of
even on their own ground. humanity; of the entire ignorance of
The ninth chapter proposes the man when he comes into the world, and argument to atheistical infidels, of the steps by which that ignorance is and contains the somewhat-stag, Eulightened; of the numerous errors into gering position, that, “yiewed purewhich he is misled, the moment he lay as an intellectual subject, the