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utter rúin; others may contribute something to the general cause, by rendering Christians less open to the specious reasonings of those false philosophers; who have proved, to the conviction of every thinking mind, that in “professing themselves wise, they are, in the emphatic and appropriate language of the Apostle, become very fools.”
For, as all heresy is a stage of advancement towards open infidelity; every successful attempt to establish the truth, as it is in Christ Jesus, must tend to stop, in a degree, the progress of those baneful principles; which, in exchange for our best enjoyments and best expectations, offer nothing to the contemplative mind, but a disorganized society, and an hopeless futurity.
With these ideas before me, my object will now be, not to prove the establishment of Christianity, by tracing its fortunes, with the concurring light of history and prophecy, through the different stages of its progress in the world; a work which must have addressed itself chiefly to the learned; but to write down to the understanding of the more common Christian; by illustrat
ing and confirming the essential doctrine of the Christian religion, by that internal evidence, which the Bible, as a book at unity with itself, cannot fail, when properly understood, to furnish for that purpose.
Aware, it should seem, of the decided conclusion to be drawn from that concentrated evidence resulting from the united testimony of Divine Revelation, unbelievers are in the habit of adopting a ready way of disposing of all those parts of Scripture, which are irreconcileable with their systems; by denying their inspiration. With such underminers of the foundation, on which stands all our knowledge of spiritual things, we profess not to reason; because our admission of the current assers tion, that truth can never be injured by debate, must be received in this qualified sense ; that the method of debate and the subject debated on, are properly suited to each other.
If what the Apostle says, has not lost its authority, “ that the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;" 1 Cor. ii. 11. the only way of acquiring a knowledge of spiritual things, must be by an
attention to what the Spirit of God has revealed. Those who admit the inspiration of the Sacred Writings, to act consistently with that admission, must, in reasoning on spiritual subjects, be governed by this principle. Whilst those who reject it, are not to be reasoned with at all; because they quit the ground, on which alone sound reasoning, in matters of this nature, can possibly be built.
To the Scripture then we must go for information in spiritual things: and the more that Scripture is made the Interpreter of itself, the better reason shall we have to be satisfied, that the information derived from it is correct.
When it is considered, that the prosecution of one divine plan appears to direct the ways of Providence, from the beginning to the end of time; and that the great scheme of Redemption constitutes the chief burden of Revelation, from its first opening in Paradise, to the final testimony vouchsafed to the favourite Apostle;. We shall conclude with our Article, that “ the Old Testament cannot be contrary to the New;" life having from the beginning been
revealed to man through that promised seed, which has been manifested to the world in “ Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
In this boasted Age of Reason, but declining Age of Faith, it may be expedient therefore to trace from time to time, that wide foundation, on which Christianity has been placed by the different dispensations of Divine Wisdom ; that Christian Professors may be convinced, that in preaching the doctrine of the Cross, we bring no strange thing to their ears; but that doctrine which was designed to characterize the Church, through every stage of her militant state on earth ; as preparatory to its becoming the endless theme of her triumph in a future state of glory.
This mode of establishing the Faith proceeds on a supposition not to be controverted; namely, that what has been once stamped by the authority of Divine Revelation, must ever be true. Consequently, from the analogy to be traced between the different dispensations of Religion, which at different times have received the sanction of Divine Appoint
ment; a conviction must be derived to every mind capable of appreciating the force of rational evidence, with respect to the uniform tenor of the doctrine meant to be established. Thus, for instance, the marked correspondence between the distinguishing service of the Jewish Temple, and that of the Christian Church, the latter considered as the instituted commemoration of that sacrifice, of which the former was the appointed shadow, furnishes a proof, the most direct and conclusive, in support of Christianity.
For it is obvious to remark, that whatever evidence we have for the Divine Institution of the Levitical service in tire Temple, the same, and at least an equal degree of evidence, is to be produced for the establishment of the correspondent service in the Christian Church. it is not to be supposed that the Spirit of God would, on a former occasion, set the Divine Seal of Miracles to an Institution which was not his own; so neither is it to be supposed, that in these latter days He would bear the like, and still more circumstantial testimony to such Expounders of it,