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because they were not suited to the nature of the Christian dispensation, nor to the state of the human mind which was introduced with, or produced by, that dispensation? It is certain that, with the introduction of Christianity, the human mind received a capacity of being enlightened by the substance of those things of which the Jewish law, with the miracles wrought to confirm it, and those also wrought among the Jews by the Founder of Christianity, were types: and this new state of the mind required evidences more congenial to its own nature.
Now this view of the subject does more for the support of Christianity, by nullifying the demand of the Deist for present miracles, than would be effected in its behalf by miracles themselves, could they still be produced. For certain it is that miracles would not have that convincing effect which both parties ascribe to them. Accordingly, when they were wrought by the first teachers of Christianity, the conversion of opposers does not appear to have been their chief intention: on the contrary, where opposition prevailed, it is said of the Saviour himself, that he could not do many mighty works, because of their unbelief*; and never did he perform one when defied to it. Still, because no one, in those days, doubted the possibility of such perforBut we mances, the fame of them spread abroad. well know what excuses the Jews readily framed, for refusing to believe the Revelation thus authenticated to them and are we sure that even all of those, who now are loudest in condemning the folly, in this respect, of the Jews, and who take most pains to prove the infallibility of miracles as evidences to a Divine Revelation, would accept any doctrine which they now reject as contrary to their reason, could its advocates
* Mark vi. 5; Matt. xiii, 58.
work a miracle for their satisfaction? Would they not presently evince as much ingenuity as the Jews, in evading the force of the miraculous proof, and justifying their adherence to their former opinion? We may infer the result from the example of a celebrated controversialist, and a strenuous advocate for the efficacy of miraculous proof; who yet scrupled not to affirm in one of his publications, that were an angel from heaven to announce to him a certain doctrine, which many think they plainly read in the Scriptures, he would tell him in reply, that he was a lying spirit: If then a celestial visitor would have been so rudely treated by this mighty polemic, who also was an eminent philosopher, what would be the fate of a human teacher of any obnoxious doctrine who should pretend to confirm it by miracles? Would he not be reviled as a juggler and a cheat? would not the philosophic science of his antagonists be put in requisition to devise for the phænomena some plausible solution from natural causes? and would not some secret method of putting these causes into action be the utmost that would be allowed to the operator? The only difference between the philosophic and the Jewish opponent would be this; that while the one allowed a positive miracle to have been wrought, but assigned the cause of it to Satanic energy, the other would deny any miracle at all, and would ascribe the whole to the energies of Nature.
Let us suppose, however, the Deist to be somewhat more candid, and to be capable of being satisfied, at the time, that a miracle had been performed: Imagine him then to appeal to a modern inheritor of the Apostolic gifts, (if any such existed,) enumerating the difficulties with which, to him, the documents of Revelation seem to be attended, affirming that certain statements in the Sacred Records appear to him repugnant to reason and
replete with contradictions, and begging to be informed how the difficulties may be reconciled, and the record containing them viewed as altogether worthy of a divine origin: And suppose the Christian teacher to answer, "I will presently convince you that the Record is from God; but as for the difficulties in it, you must reconcile thei yourself in the best manner you can ;" and were immediately to perform some notable miracle: How would the Deist be affected by it? Would the wonder displayed before his eyes remove all darkness from his mind? When thus certified that the Revelation came from God, would he understand it any better? If he before thought it unworthy of God, would he now see the ground of his error? If it before appeared to him to include contradictions, would these immediately vanish? In short, though silenced, would he be satisfied?
Now this appears nearly to resemble the situation,' in which the inquirer, whose attention has been directed to the difficulties which have been raised by Infidel Objectors, is placed by the defences of Christianity most in esteem, when they insist so much upon the miracles wrought at its origin. A compulsory conviction (, compulsory as far as it goes,) is produced, that the religion thus evidenced must be true: but the question as to how it can be true, is left just where it was before: and yet till this also be seen; till the question of reason be as satisfactorily answered as the question of fact; no conviction can penetrate very deep. The miracles wrought by the first promulgators of Christianity, are certainly brought again, by the labours of modern advocates, almost before our senses; but, happily, not quite for if they were, the effect would be, to deprive the mind of that superior freedom which Christianity, among its other benefits, was introduced to restore, and not to open the
understanding, but to close it. A sceptic thus convinced that the Scriptures have the sanction of divine authority, would be placed in the situation of an Englishman and a Protestant in such a country as Spain: in his heart he might think the government a tyranny and the religion priestcraft; but being quite satisfied of their power, the fear of the Inquisition might compel him to hold his tongue. It is not congenial to the nature of the human mind to acquiesce in implicit faith contrary to the dictates of its own understanding: and if this is not congenial to the nature of the human mind in general, assuredly it is peculiarly repugnant to it at the present day, when so astonishing a spirit of inquiry has so universally gone abroad. The sceptic will now ask, "While the phænomena of nature are in every direction becoming intelligible, and we are admitted to see the rationale-the philosophy, of every other science, is Theology for ever to present nothing but dogmas, for which faith is demanded while understanding is denied? Will she, alone, never answer the request for her reasons, but by alleging her miracles? "
Let not, however, these remarks be misunderstood. Nothing is further from the intention of the writer, than to depreciate the merit, or undervalue the utility, of the vindications of Revelation here alluded to: all that is meant to be insinuated is, that they require something in addition to render them fully efficient to their object. If, while the Deist is convinced by them that miracles were actually wrought at the commencement of Christianity, and that Revealed Religion had a divine origin, he is induced, in consequence, to suspect that the circumstances in its documents which he regards as revolting to reason only appear so because they are not understood: the conviction wrought in him may be lasting, and may finally be exalted into an enlightened faith. But to secure this
result, it surely is necessary to lead him, as well as to drive him;-to resolve his doubts and remove his difficulties, as well as to assure him, that the religion is true in spite of them all.
It has long, then, been the conviction of the writer of these pages, that such a view of the Volume of Revelation might be presented, as should be adequate to this object : but he little thought that ever he should venture to attempt it himself. The present work is entirely the product of circumstances, and its publication is what they who do not acknowledge a Providence in every thing, would call purely accidental.
The public mind having for some time past had the question respecting the divinity of the Christian Oracles thrust before it in every possible shape, it occurred to the Author, during the last winter, that some benefit might be communicated, at least to a few, by the delivery of some Lectures, in a public Lecture-room, upon the subject. The thought and its execution were equally sudden; so much so, that the chief part of each Lecture was composed, amid other engagements, and, at first, without the most remote view to any other mode of publication, in the week which preceded its delivery. The approbation with which the effort was received, by a numerous and respectable auditory, far exceeded the Author's most sanguine expectations. From the commencement, urgent solicitations were made to him to allow the Lectures to be printed; and when, towards the conclusion, he announced his determination to comply with the request, it was received with the strongest expressions of satisfaction. This statement is made simply from a sentiment of gratitude, and to account for the appearance and form of the work; but without any idea on the part of the Author, that the decision of his auditory will in the slightest de