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The Evidences of Christianity, stated in a popular and prac

tical manner.-By Daniel Wilson, D. D. Vicar, now Bishop of Calcutta. In two volumes, second Edition. Thacker and Co. Booksellers, Calcutta.

We hail, with peculiar pleasure, the arrival in India, of this elegant and portable edition of a most valuable work; and under the blessing of Almighty God, we trust, it will do much toward removing from the minds of many professing Christians that culpable indifference which is manifested toward the evidences of their faith, as well as convince the gainsayer, and lead the wanderer back into the paths of truth, which are paths of pleasantness and peace. It is possible, we conceive, to be a true and sincere Christian, without being conversant with the subjects treated in these volumes : many such, no doubt, there are, whose circumstances and education have precluded them from an acquaintance with the external sources of proof for the truth of those documents on which they ground their belief. But though, to a considerable extent, destitute of this kind of knowledge, they are not entirely without evidence of the truth of Revelation. They have, what on every other subject is considered the highest kind of proof-experimental proof, or the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit, by which they have the “ witness within themselves.” They feel, and know, from experience, the value of the word of God, the support it affords them in sorrow, the light in darkness, and its purifying influence upon their hearts ; and they could as soon doubt the reality of the sun, when he is shining in his strength, as of the truth and divine authority of a volume, from which they derive such consolation and blessings of so inestimable a worth. One singular advantage of this kind of evidence is, that it is level to the capacity of all; to the rich and the poor, the learned and illiterate, the man of slender abilities and to him who has the most acute and comprehensive intellect. But it is a kind of evidence possessed only by believers; and except by the effects which it produces in their temper and conduct, can be of no service to convince others. Though, therefore, it should be admitted, that persons may be true Christians whose faith rests on no other basis than internal conviction, it could scarcely be said, that they can be either intelligent or useful Christians. The experimental evidence which they possess may be sufficient to enable them to endure, unshaken and unmoved, all the persecution which cruelty could inflict, or ingenuity invent. It may render them proof against the shafts of ribaldry, obloquy, and scorn ; it may afford them all the consolation which can arise from the most enlarged and comprehensive view of the external sources of evidence ; still it is valuable chiefly to themselves, and cannot directly carry conviction to a second mind; it is a weapon fitted only for defensive warfare ; and he who possesses it, and it only, is constantly exposed to defeat in argument, not because he has not truth on his side, but merely because he possesses not, and knows not the use, of proper weapons. In the decline of the Roman Empire, her legions, though become effeminate and cowardly, often triumphed over their stronger, and more courageous, and more manly adversaries, merely because their arms were of better temper, keener on the edge, and stronger in the blade. It is in this manner, that the cause of truth is often betrayed, and infidelity gains an apparent triumph, where a knowledge of the subject might have given it a defeat. Besides, even for ourselves, it is highly desirable to have some proofs, independent of our feelings-proofs which, like the Divine Author of Christianity, shall remain the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The frame and feelings of the mind are variable, and capricious, depending often on events over which we have no control.-Physical indisposition, external circumstances, the very aspect of the heavens, or temperament of the atmosphere, will produce, in some minds, a kind of eclipse or obscurationmental cloud will pass over them, and throw its dark shadow on the soul. It cannot therefore but be deeply deplored that so many Christians are willing to remain ignorant of the other sources of evidence for the divine authenticity of Revelation : for even supposing the internal teaching, to which we have alluded, should be sufficient for themselves ; the believer should never forget, that “no man liveth to himself,” at least, so far as he does, he lives beneath the great end of his existence.

The sources of this indifference, to a subject of so vast importance, are various. Until recently there was no single work which contained a concise, and at the same time complete view of the whole argument, internal and external ; much less was there such a work written in an easy and popular style. The Author of these volumes observes in his preface, that being anxious to instruct the young persons of his parish, Islington, he could find no work exactly of the kind he desired, to assist him. He wanted a full and popular view of the whole argument. The excellent

of Bishop Porteus was too brief and too much in the form of an essay for his purpose.” The work which approaches nearest to this are the letters of Dr. O. Gregory on the Evidences, Doctrines, and Duties of the Christian Religion. This is an able production, clear in its arrangement, cogent in argument, ingenious in illustration, and luminous in style ; and probably for the class of readers for whom it was intended is unrivalled in excellence. But as a popular book, it is scarcely level to the ordinary class of readers; and for such persons, had that been the Author's aim, would,

summary

in some parts, have admitted of a little more amplification. On this point, however, it behoves us to speak with diffidence, for there is scarcely a nicer point to decide in composition than where to amplify, and where to be concise. “ The contradictive vices," as Baxter denominates them, “ do call for impossibilities for their cure. Their incapacity” says, “ It must be a full explication, or I cannot apprehend the sense or truth : their averseness and slothfulness” saith, “ It must be short, or I shall be tired with it, or shall not have time to read it.” Both these cannot be answered, and yet it is to be feared, some readers are unreasonable enough to expect them to be combined. In the volumes before us, a happy medium is observed in these respects, and every Christian parent and guardian has it now in his power, to put into the hands of young persons, a book on this momentous subject, treated in a style at once lucid, manly, interesting, and easy to be understood ; and we may add, and we do it with peculiar pleasure, written in a strain of fervid yet enlightened piety. As a condensed view of the whole system of Evidences, suited to popular and general use, we know nothing equal to them. We do not mean by this, that there are not works on distinct branches of the argument, in which almost every topic, included in these volumes, will be found, treated more fully and in many respects more ably; they are more profound, more elaborate, more original, and more ingenious ; some of them have very justly been ranked among the highest and noblest efforts of the human mind; ornaments to the age and country in which they were written, they will probably live as long as the English language lasts. We mention them not for the purpose of instituting any comparison, for between works written with objects so widely dissimilar, comparison would be unfair; but to prevent ourselves from being misunderstood, and likewise that we may not do injustice to this excellent work by leading persons to expect from it what it was not the Author's intention they should find. It was not intended to supersede the more elaborate works already before the public: but to furnish what they do not afford, a condensed, and complete view of the Evidences. In this we conceive the distinguished Author has succeeded: the volumes are copious, without being redundant; condensed, yet not a meagre abstract

. That the reader may form an opinion of the extent of ground occupied, we will insert from the first Lecture a brief outline of the whole course.

" In conducting this great argument upon these admissions of natural religion, the first question to be asked is, What is the temper of mind in which such a subject should be studied, and do unbelievers seem in any mes. sure to possess that temper?

“We may inquire in the next place, What has been the state of mankind in all ages and nations where Christianity has been unknown, and of Chris tian nations, in proportion as it has been inadequately known and obeyed?

“We shall then go on to prove the authenticity and credibility of the books of sacred Scripture—that these books were really written and published at the time they profess to be, and contain a trust-worthy narrative entitled to full credit and belief.

“Our books being found to be genuine and credible, we open them to see what they contain, and finding that our Lord and his apostles lay claim to a Divine Authority, as bringing a Revelation from thegreat and Almighty God, we ask, What credentials they produce of such a claim? This leads us to consider the undeniable and numerous Miracles that were publicly wrought; the astonishing series of Prophecies that has been fulfilled, and is now fulfilling in the world ; the first miraculous Propagation of the Gospel ; and the prodigious effects it has produced, and is producing upon the welfare of mankind.

“Having thus sufficiently established the Divine authority of the Scriptures, we must pause before we proceed to the internal evidence, in order to inquire whether these books are, properly speaking, inspired, so that every part of them was written under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, and is an unerring rule of faith and practice. In other words, we must show the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. This will conclude the first division of the whole work.

“We shall come next to the evidence arising from the internal excellency and efficacy of Christianity; those marks which it presents to every humble inquirer, arising from its own peculiar nature, as distinct from its outward evidences. Here we shall show that to the sincere and devout student, who submits to the Christian doctrine, on the footing of its undoubted credentials, there will arise the strongest confirmation of his faith, from considering the suitableness of Christianity to the obvious state and wants of man as an ignorant and sinful creature—the excellency of all its doctrines—the unspotted purity of its precepts—the inimitable character of its Divine Founder-and its tendency to promote, to the highest degree, the temporal and spiritual happiness of nations and individuals.

“ But it may be asked, in the next place, Whether there is any test to which the serious inquirer may bring the practical effects of Christianity in his own case-can he obtain a share in its blessings and make a trial of its promises ? This is a practical and most important part of the whole subject. And we shall show that this may be done by submitting to its directions, and making the trial for ourselves of its proffered grace and mercy.

“A consideration of the chief objections of infidels, and a comparison of their lives and deaths, with those of sincere Christians, will furnish a forcible subsidiary argument in favour of our religion, and will turn the very wea. pons of our adversaries against themselves.

“ The faith with which the religion is to be received the sound system of interpreting its records which such a faith implies—and the universal obligation which lies upon every human being of obeying this Divine doctrine, will close the whole work.

Another source of the indifference to this great subject is, a prevailing practice, though for the most part good in design, most pernicious in its consequences, of treating with marked disapprobation, not unfrequently with fierceness and intemperance of manner, every expression of doubt on the subject of religion. In some society, and we fear we must add in the estimation of some religious teachers, it would be enough seriously to injure a man's character, to ask a solution of certain difficulties connected with Revelation, or to intimate that his mind was not made up on cerin some parts, have admitted of a little more amplification. On this point, however, it behoves us to speak with diffidence, for there is scarcely a nicer point to decide in composition than where to amplify, and where to be concise. « The contradictive vices," Baxter denominates them, “ do call for impossibilities for their cure. Their incapacity” says, “ It must be a full explication, or I cannot apprehend the sense or truth : their averseness and slothfulness” saith, “ It must be short, or I shall be tired with it, or shall not have time to read it.” Both these cannot be answered, and yet it is to be feared, some readers are unreasonable enough to expect them to be combined. In the volumes before us, a happy medium is observed in these respects, and every Christian parent and guardian has it now in his power, to put into the hands of young persons, a book on this momentous subject, treated in a style at once lucid, manly, interesting, and easy to be understood ; and we may add, and we do it with peculiar pleasure, written in a strain of fervid yet enlightened piety. As a condensed view of the whole system of Evidences, suited to popular and general use, we know nothing equal to them. We do not mean by this, that there are not works on distinct branches of the argument, in which almost every topic, included in these volumes, will be found, treated more fully and in many respects more ably; they are more profound, more elaborate, more original, and more ingenious; some of them have very justly been ranked among the highest and noblest efforts of the human mind; ornaments to the age and country in which they were written, they will probably live as long as the Eng. lish language lasts. We mention them not for the purpose of instituting any comparison, for between works written with objects so widely dissimilar, comparison would be unfair; but to prevent ourselves from being misunderstood, and likewise that we may not do injustice to this excellent work by leading persons to expect from it what it was not the Author's intention they should find. It was not intended to supersede the more elaborate works already before the public: but to furnish what they do not afford, a condensed, and complete view of the Evidences. In this we conceive the distinguished Author has succeeded : the volumes are copious, without being redundant; condensed, yet not a meagre abstract. That the reader may form an opinion of the extent of ground occupied, we will insert from the first Lecture a brief outline of the whole course.

“In conducting this great argument upon these admissions of natural religion, the first question to be asked is, What is the temper of mind in which such a subject should be studied, and do unbelievers seem in any measure to possess that temper?

“We may inquire in the next place, What has been the state of mankind in all ages and nations where Christianity has been unknown, and of Christian nations, in proportion as it has been inadequately known and obeyed?

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