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not a defence merely against the particular infidelity which had provoked them to the combat, but a great positive conquest over it. The alleged disproof has been turned into a weapon against the adversary; and, where we at one time in the battles of the faith were told to look at a breach, an opening or place of exposure—there we now behold the firmest of its bulwarks. Such for example we flatter ourselves to be the effect of Hume's peculiar scepticism on the subject of testimony, when the right treatment is bestowed on it. A great positive gain redounds to the Christian argument, if it have been proved, not only that there is enough of that best and highest testimony which neutralizes the improbability of a miracle—but as much more of it as creates a vast overplus of evidence in favour of the gospel miracles, and brings them down to posterity as far the best authenticated facts which have been transmitted to us in the history of ancient times. The same has been the upshot of the controversy, first provoked by infidels, on the alleged discrepancies between one part of scripture and another. The defenders of the faith have not only adjusted these; but they have made a more strenuous inquisition than was necessary for this service alone; and the result is that, beneath the surface of general observation, they have discovered such a number of before unobserved harmonies—such minute and till then unnoticed coincidences, that no impostor could ever have devised, or, if he had, then, to serve his own purpose, he would have placed them more openly in the view of all men-such an artless and obviously undesigned correspondence, in many
hundreds of particulars, that had escaped the discernment of all ordinary readers, and that has only been evolved into manifestation by a process of thorough sifting, on the part of those who have been at the pains laboriously to track, and to crossexamine, and to confront the various parts and passages of the record with each other--as nothing possibly can account for, but that the whole narrative or composition has a ground work of truth for its subject matter. In the present chapter we shall verify this remark by one or two instances, taken from that marvellous work the Horæ Paulinæ of Dr. Paley. But again exceptions have been made to scripture on the ground of its discrepancies, not with itself alone, but with the informations of other and contemporary writers. These have led to a distinct walk of inquiry from the former; and the defenders of revelation have in general reconciled the alleged contradictions. But they have not stopped there. They have discovered, we mean Lardner and his followers, such a profusion of coincidences, and these too of so incidental a character, between the Bible and other writingssuch an impregnation of historical truth, or what may be termed the truth of the times, as never could have been amalgamated by the skill of any fabricator, with a work either of fictitious design or that was the production of a later age. In like manner, the alleged immoralities of scripture have led to the triumphant exhibition of the moral, which some would place on a level with the miraculous argument for the truth of Christianity. But in no walk of evidence, we think, has the observation
we now make been more remarkably verified, than in that which is termed the experimental. The subject-matter of Christianity has been represented as incongruous with the state of human nature, and as therefore inapplicable to the rectification or the improvement of it. On the contrary, no argument has proved more effective on the side of the gospel of Jesus Christ-none has been so mightily instrumental in gaining disciples to the faith—as the deep insight of this religion into the before unrevealed mysteries of the human spirit, and the adaptation of its doctrines to the felt condition and necessities of the species.
5. In all these instances, there is a distinct transition from the negative to the positive. We first repel the alleged disproof; and then, by a continuous and sustained prosecution of the subject, we may succeed in raising a highly affirmative proof upon its overthrow. We might not only, for example, clear away from Revelation the burden of all its alleged immoralities; but we may evince the perfection and refinement of the moral system of the Gospel to be such--that, when contrasted with the licentious and revengeful system of Paganism on the one hand, or with illiberal Judaism on the other, it may manifest itself not to have originated with the fishermen of Galilee, but to have descended upon them by inspiration from heaven. Or again, not only may the imputed contradictions all be reconciled; but such recondite harmonies may be evolved; such obviously undesigned coincidences, as were beyond the reach or the policy of any impostor, may be fetched from
peneath the surface of common and cursory observation; such minute and before unobserved symphonies between parts lying remote from each other may be brought out to view, as never could have been realized without a common substratum of truth to rest upon—that, out of these materials, a most impressive argument, and altogether of a positive character, on the side of the christian religion, may be constructed—as has been done in most masterly and felicitous style by Dr. Paley in his Horæ Paulinæ. Or again, not only may we manifest, that there is nought of discrepancy between the Bible, and either the history and state of the world, or the state of human nature; but that throughout the narrative and doctrine of the sacred volume, there is a most marvellous accordancy with both; and on these may be grounded, not merely the affirmative proof of that sustained connexion which obtains between scripture and secular history, but that experimental proof which, in one branch of it, we hold to be the most effective of all for gaining proselytes to the faith. We mean the proof that is afforded by the felt agreement between the statements of the Bible and the state of the inquirer's own breast-by the manifold adaptations of Christianity to the moral nature of man -by the adjustment which obtains, like that of a mould to its counterpart die, between the offered remedy of the Gospel and the diseases of humanity, as for example between the propitiation that is set forth to us from heaven and the guilt which trembles
In all this, there is not merely a power to constrain the attention but to convince
and satisfy the judgment; there is a light struck out between the Bible on the one hand, and the conscience on the other, which radiates, not a fanatic gleam, but a clear and rational evidence on the soul--and which, however disowned or perhaps derided in the schools of literature, is a powerful instrument of discovery notwithstanding, and would be enough of itself to guide the path whether of the peasant or of the philosopher to heaven.
6. At present we begin with an evidence which is strictly and wholly internal, founded on the agreements between scripture and scripture-such agreements as no impostor would have devised, and which therefore can only be accounted for by the general truth and authenticity of the whole. The initial step, in the track of this investigation, is, to deliver the Bible from the charge of its seeming contradictions-for even at first sight, and on the most slight and superficial view, appearances of this sort do stand palpably forth on the face of the record—such therefore as a superficial infidelity would be the most ready to seize upon. Now every semblance of this nature, if satisfactorily done away or disposed of on a nearer and stricter examination, forms a distinct argument in favour of the revelation-proving, as it does, such an absence of care and contrivance as could only proceed from the consciousness of truth on the part of the narrator-else he would not have exposed himself to a discredit, which every author, who tries to palm a fabrication upon the world, would labour most studiously to avoid. When the alleged discrepaney obtains between different writers in