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We have been comparing Christianity with that system which is called Natural Religion; and we have seen that Christianity is both in entire accordance with Natural Religion, and, at the same time, an important advance upon it. We come now to compare Christianity with other systems of religion that profess to be Revelations from God.

Much of what was said in the two last letters might be again introduced here. Some repetition may be una


1. Christianity is distinguished from other professed Christianity Revelations by its tendency to honour and honours God. exalt God, His greatness-His holinessHis goodness-are clearly and majestically set forth. So are His government and providence-and His claim to the devoted obedience of His creatures. No taint of imperfection cleaves to Him. He is infinitely excellent and glorious. It is a fearful sin to oppose His blessed will.

bles man.

2. Christianity is distinguished from other systems by She hum- its tendency to humble the pride of man. It tells him that he is a fallen being-ignorant, depraved, miserable, opposed to God,—and justly obnoxious to Divine displeasure.

3. Yet Christianity does not, like some erring sects of

Yet she seeks philosophers, vilify human nature. She to exalt him. speaks of its degradation always with sorrow, never with scorn.

Nor does she represent it as hopelessly degraded. She represents it as a structure once glorious, now ruined— but capable of restoration to a condition far surpassing its original glory. And she herself promises to effect this restoration in all who accept her offers.*

4. Christianity is distinguished by the deep views she Her views of presents of the evil of sin, and the sothe evil of Sin. lemn warnings which she utters against it. 5. Christianity is distinguished by the importance she Her views attaches to the necessity of expiation for of Expiation. sin, and of a great expiation.

6. Christianity is distinguished by the importance she Her views of attaches to the purification of the heart of Sanctification. man.

Christianity moral rather

than ritual.

7. Christianity is distinguished for being so little of a ritual system, and so much of a moral one. By a ritual system we mean one which enjoins many rites and outward ceremonies as essential to religion, and as either being in themselves meritorious, or at least indispensable conditions of obtaining the Divine favour. For example, Hinduism abounds with particular prayers, washings, fastings, and so forth, which are enjoined as entirely necessary to salvation. Christianity has extremely little of all this. She tells us and she often and solemnly repeats the lesson-that true religion is spiritual-that "God looketh on the heart.”+

* "It is dangerous to make a man see too clearly how like he is to the brutes, without shewing him his grandeur. It is also dangerous to let him see too clearly his grandeur without his vileness. It is still more dangerous to let him remain ignorant of both these things. But it is very useful to shew him both." Pascal's Thoughts, Vol. ii. p. 85. (Faugere's Edit.)

It is not contended that every religion which abounds in outward

8. Christianity is distinguished as being far more reserved than other religions, on certain quesReserve of Christianity. tions.

You may perhaps be surprised at the mention of this as an evidence of its truth, since you justly regard the clear announcements that it makes on many important points of which other religions either say nothing, or speak incorrectly, as forming one of the strongest arguments in its support. Nevertheless, it is a very weighty argument. While, on some questions, Christianity speaks so plainly that no man can misunderstand her announcements, there are others on which she says nothing at all.

It is exceedingly interesting to observe what Christianity does not reveal.

She never professes to make us philosophers. She What she does never undertakes to teach us science. She

not teach. pronounces no judgment as to the various theories that have at different times been formed on such physical studies as geography, geology, anatomy, medicine, astronomy, &c. She is equally silent as to the mental sciences. The Bible is simply a book on Religion. Again, there are many questions connected even with Religion, that man would like to see answered, but on which the Bible maintains a profound silence. Whatever is connected with man's necessities and man's duties-whatever is of practical utility in religion, is inscribed, in characters oflight, on the pages of the Bible; whatever is purely speculative and fitted only to gratify curiosity, is carefully withheld. This cannot have been by chance. There are hundreds of questions on which men, in all ages, have been anxious to acquire knowceremonies is false. Judaism did so. But the case of Judaism is not similar to that of Hinduism. Judaism was a preparatory system. Its rites were typical or predictive-showing both the nature and magnitude of coming Christianity. Moreover, it subordinated the ritual to the moral part of religion, by such declarations as this: "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." (See Davison on Prophecy. Disc. iv.)

ledge, and equally anxious to communicate that knowledge when acquired. These are such as the following: The nature of the Divine existence-the mode in which the creation of the world could be effected the connexion of the soul and body-the place of departed spirits, and their mode of existence-angels, their number, orders, residences, employments-the nature of the punishments of hell-the character and destination of other worlds. It is very natural for men to ask, and try to answer, such questions as these. The philosophy of Bacon, indeed, which now rules supreme in the universities of Europe, has taught many to dismiss such inquiries as too high and difficult-as beyond the reach of the human faculties, and at the same time not practically useful; but, unless in the case of thoroughly educated men, the disposition to recur to them is singularly strong.

We know that, at the time when the New Testament was written, the ancients were exceedingly prone to speculate on such questions as these. In religious books, particularly, they continually occur. How astonishing their absence from the Bible! how utterly inexplicable-unless the minds of the writers of the New Testament were either as philosophically disciplined as those of the thinkers of the nineteenth century, or else illuminated and directed by God Himself. But philosophers the writers of the New Testament were not, nor can their silence on such questions be explained on any other principle than that of believing them to have been inspired.

There are also various problems of a purely metaphysical kind, which men have been most anxious to have resolved. One of these relates to the mode of reconciling the foreknowledge of all events by God, with the freedom of man to do or not do. Christianity never attempts to make us understand this mystery.

It would be easy to shew that on such points as those now specified, the various systems that profess to be

revelations, have run into minute and erroneous statements. For example, if you read the descriptions of Heaven and Hell which are contained in the Hindu, Pársì, and Muhammadan books, you find that they all contradict each other, and in many points are revolting in the extreme.-In like manner, they often pronounce positively on deep metaphysical problems. For example, the Muhammadan creed

erroneously inculcates fatalism.

I scarcely expect, my young friend, that this will at present appear to you to be very convincing as an argument for the truth of the Bible. Possibly, you may still think it would have been better, if the Bible had taught us science, as some of the Hindu Shastras professedly do. But I am convinced that, as your own philosophical studies advance, you will become more and more persuaded of the force of the present argument. Even at present you will admit the truth of the two following propositions. First; the revelation by God of scientific truth which man has faculties sufficient to discover for himself, is unnecessary, and therefore improbable :-Secondly; had the Bible been the production of uninspired men, it certainly would have embodied many of the opinions on physical and metaphysical questions which prevailed in their age and country; and these opinions would certainly, in many points, have been erroneous.

The absence of mere philosophic theory from the Bible is, for these reasons, an argument in favour of its being a revelation from God.*

Immediately connected with these considerations is the following, viz.

* Some have tried to evade this conclusion by saying that the Jews were not a scientific or philosophic people, and that scientific points could hardly be introduced into their writings. But all nations, however rude, have their physical theories-their explanations of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. Metaphysical questions, also, too deep for man to settle, are often discussed by the rudest communities.

It is a very remarkable fact that errors in science appear in the earliest Christian authors who come after the New Testament writers. Clement stumbles where Paul walks erect.

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