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would have been enlisted in its favour ;
and all who are acquainted with the con(Continued from col. 130.)
stitution of the human mind, must be No. XXVIII.- Evidences of Christia aware of the powerful influence which the
nity,-- Evidence arising from its Early passions or propensities of man exert on and Extensive Progress in the World. the judgment. When under the guidance
or government of the passions, men of the " It is amazing that even truth itself, under so most vigorous understandings are readily many disadvantages as Christianity had to contend with, should have obtained so illustrious a tri
led into the adoption of the most absurd umph ; and its wonderful success does evidently and erroneous sentiments. Christianity, argne such an extraordinary interposition of God in its favour, as might justly be called a miracu
however, so far from administering to the lous attestation to it.” Dr. Doddridge. depraved desires and propensities of man
kind, is a system of doctrine entirely the The extensive progress which the Christian reverse, and, consequently, the human religion made in the days of the apostles, bosom was not a congenial soil in which to constitutes an unanswerable proof of its sow its principles. divine origin. Regarding this important The religion of Jesus directed at once a fact, there exists no diversity of opinion deadly blow at the very existence of every betwixt the advocates and opponents of the unhallowed passion, and prohibited, in the religion of Jesus. We might here intro most uncompromising terms, indulgence in duce copious and numerous quotations from any of those vicious practices so congenial the writings of the earlier enemies of Chris to the degeneracy of our common nature. tianity, in which it is unequivocally admit- The very first condition required on the ted, that the new religion, as it was then | part of those, who, in the days of the denominated, had extended itself through apostles, enlisted themselves under the out Asia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, standard of Jesus of Nazareth, was, that France, Britain, &c. And that in each of they should deny themselves, take up their these places it made numerous converts of cross, and follow him. Under this comall ranks and classes of men, so that the prehensive expression was included a great apostle Paul was fully justified in employ- variety of worldly pleasures which they ing the language of the Psalmist, « that must forego, and an equally extensive their line had gone forth into all the earth, variety of positive pungent pains to which and their words into the world's end.” they must voluntarily subject themselves.
We wish it, however, to be distinctly It was indispensably necessary to their conunderstood, that it is not our intention to sistent profession of Christianity, that they argue the divine origin of Christianity repented with their whole souls of the sins from the circumstance of the extensive pro which characterized their previous conduct, gress it so rapidly made in the world, that they loved their enemies, and that they abstractedly considered. The mere success should pray for, and do good to, those of a cause, we are ready to concede, con who reviled and persecuted them. They stitutes no proof whatever of the goodness must voluntarily submit to part with moor truth of that cause. The proposition, ther, sister, and brother, friends and relawhose truth we are to endeavour in the |tions, houses and lands, with all the enpresent instance to establish, is, that the dearing delights of country; and, in a word, early success of the Christian religion, with every earthly object, for the sake of taken in conjunction with all its concomi- Jesus and his religion. tant circumstances, constitutes such con. Independently, too, of the worldly pleaclusive evidence of the truth of that religion, sures which the first disciples of Jesus as cannot possibly be invalidated by any were necessitated to forego, and the humiefforts on the part of our opponents. liating and mortifying duties which they
Let it, in the first place, be recollected were required to perform, they were also how repugnant the doctrines of Christianity subjected to positive sufferings of the are to the depraved nature of man. Had severest kind. These sufferings arose from the religion of Jesus sanctioned the indul a variety of sources. gence of those who embraced it, in the / The Christian religion, on its first provarious kinds of sensual pleasures to be mulgation, was one of the most unpopular met with in the world,--and had it incul- systems ever submitted to the suffrages of cated the performance of no duties of a mankind. Indeed, it was regarded with humiliating or mortifying nature,-then there all but absolute detestation; and the man was a high degree of probability that it who avowed himself a proselyte to it, was would soon be extensively propagated in instantly pronounced a fool or a madman, the world. The passions, in this case, I and had" poured upon him all the con
219 Solitary Hours : On the Evidences of Christianity. 220
.......................... ............icom...sus........ tumely and reproach which the malignity of Jesus, himself, and his apostles, were the the human heart could emit. Nor was the subjects of universal derision and detestapersecution of the first Christians confined tion in the country of Judea. Instead of to mere words of malignant derision; they this, they had been invariably taught to were subjected to corporeal sufferings of expect, in the person of Messiah, a temthe most poignant nature, and oftentimes to poral deliverer, whose advent and resimartyrdom itself in its most painful and dence in the world should have been horrible forms. Those who are acquainted characterized by a degree of earthly pomp with the history of the primitive Christians, and splendour, perfectly unparalleled by either as recorded in the New Testament, any thing which had ever been witnessed or in the works of profane contemporary or before in our portion of the universe. subsequent writers, will conceive it unne Their mortification, therefore, must have cessary to adduce any evidence in support been indescribably extreme,' at being comof the truth of the above observations. pelled, by the force of conviction, to
Now, that such a religious system should renounce opinions and expectations so have made such extensive progress in the flattering to human vanity, and to embrace world within a few years subsequent to the the despised and hated religion of Christ; death of its Founder, is a fact which infidels a religion which neither afforded them a have at all times felt it most difficult to chance of present honour or riches, nor account for on their own principles; hence, held out to them the most distant prospect the supremely absurd causes which Gibbon, of possessing them in future,- at least, in and others of the same school, have as so far as this world was concerned. To signed as producing the effect in question. accomplish, then, a change so radical in its There are many reasons, besides a convic nature, and under such circumstances as tion of the truth of Christianity, which may those we have adverted to, was beyond the induce men, in the present day, to pro- confines of human energy: it must have fess their faith in its doctrines; but no | been accomplished by a supernatural earthly consideration could by any possibi agency-even by Omnipotence itself. lity have influenced those in the days of The progress of Christianity will appear the apostles, to embrace a system so very still more remarkable, if we further consider unpalatable to the human mind as the doc the instruments engaged in the promulgatrines it inculcated, and the consequences tion of it. The apostles were men of the to which it exposed its disciples.
most illiterate character. The power of Nor was it merely the corrupt passions eloquence, in the hands of a skilful and and propensities of our common nature, accomplished orator, is so prodigious, as to that Christianity had to contend with on its appear almost incredible to those who have first promulgation; but it had also to over- not enjoyed an opportunity of witnessing conie the deep-rooted prejudices of those to its surprising influence. The effects prowhom it was first addressed. It is of con- duced on myriads in ancient Greece and siderable importance to our present argu- Rome, by the impassioned eloquence of ment, that it be strictly recollected, that Demosthenes, Cicero, and other eminent thousands were converted to the Christian orators of antiquity, must be perfectly religion in that very place which had been familiar to most of our readers. It was the theatre of the principal scenes of the not, however, by the power or the enchantignominy and sufferings of Jesus; and this, ment of oratory, that the apostles of Jesus too, immediately after his death.
accomplished their conquests over the Even now it requires at all times, and human heart, and made their myriads of under all circumstances, a very extensive converts to the new religion. To the prinresolution in the mind of a Jew, to renounce ciples of philosophy or human learning, Judaism and embrace Christianity; but they were perfect strangers, and were utterly we can form no adequate conception of incapable of going through a course of that violent conflict of feeling, that resolute ratiocinative argumentation, in order to struggle of mind, which must necessarily force conviction home on the minds of those have been experienced by a primitive con- | to whom their messages were addressed. vert from Judaism to Christianity. The | Selected by their Master, with the excepearlier converts to the religion of Jesus tion of Paul, from the lowliest circumstances were eye-witnesses of the poverty which in life, they were entirely unacquainted with characterized his life, and the lives of his even the rudiments of human literature. apostles,---of the ignominy, the scorn, the The obscurity and poverty, as well as the contempt, the sufferings, which they en- | ignorance, of the apostles, were also cirdured ; and at the very moment these con- | cumstances which contributed to render the verts embraced Christianity, the religion of success of their mission in the highest degree
improbable. When the advocates of any | out to them no prospect of becoming rich new system of opinions are men of opu- in this world's goods, or of bettering their lence and respectability in the estimation present condition, by embracing its docof the world, the doctrines they inculcate, trines. Now, we believe, there is scarcely whatever may be their nature, stand a much an individual in existence, however destitute greater chance of being embraced, than of the good things of this life, but feels a when advocated by poor, obscure, despised persuasion, or rather cherishes the hope, individuals. On the other hand, it is mat- that at some future period he will become ter of equally unquestionable fact, that | bettered in his worldly circumstances. A when any new system of opinions is pro | religion, therefore, which at one fell stroke posed to the world by those situated in the levelled to the ground all fondly anticilower ranks of society, there is invariably pated prosperity in the world, could not by a general prejudice existing against such a 1 any possibility escape meeting with the system, in consequence of the mean and most inveterate hatred, and decided oppoobscure circumstances of its first advocates. The progress of Christianity was rendered 1 The Jewish priest opposed the progress on this, as on every other account, impro- of Christianity, for it levelled a death-blow bable in the highest degree.
at that system of Judaism, on the conIts first advocates were a few poor tinuance of which depended his livelihood despised individuals, so much unknown to and respectability. The philosopher was fame, that comparatively few perhaps of decidedly opposed to the spread of the those in whose neighbourhood they had religion of Jesus, for it denounced human resided, had ever even heard of their names learning, unless associated with the belief previous to their appearing as the votaries of of its own doctrines, and the practice of the the new religion; and so far from regarding duties it inculcated: it pronounced the wissuch individuals as likely to improve on dom of this world to be foolishness with the religion of the country, or as qualified to God. Nay, even the moralist was opposed advocate a new religion, the world would to the progress of Christianity in the days naturally regard them and their opinions of the apostles, as well as in our own, for it with thorough contempt. That Chris asserted, in the most explicit terms, that tianity, therefore, should have made such morality, abstractedly considered, was not of progress within a few years subsequent the smallest possible benefit to man. It to the death of its Founder, as is univer proclaimed, in the most unequivocal sally admitted it did, when the instruments language, that faith and repentance must go engaged in its propagation were, according hand in hand with morality, before a single to all human calculation, so very inadequate individual could be saved. In short, Christo the task, is, we repeat, a fact perfectly tianity was violently opposed by all ranks, inexplicable on any other principle than classes, and descriptions of men in Judea; that of its being of divine origin.
for it was a system entirely new, and radiIndependently of that inveterate opposi cally repugnant not only to the very essence tion with which Christianity had to contend of depraved human nature, but also to those from the very elements of corrupt human individual habits and prejudices which were nature, there were other grounds equally prevalent at the time, and subsequent to the formidable to it, arising from adventitious death of Jesus. circumstances.
If we turn our attention for a moment to The rich and powerful naturally regarded the Gentile nations, we shall find that ChrisChristianity with the utmost abhorrence, tianity was equally unpalatable to them. because universally it represented their They had been strongly wedded to the riches as constituting a snare; as being, practices inculcated and recognized by their in fact, in the great majority of cases, a system of idolatry. They had invested the barrier to exclude them from the kingdom | inanimate idols, which their own hands of heaven. Besides this, it inculcated the had made, with those attributes which extremely unpalatable doctrine, that it was belong exclusively to the Supreme Being; the indispensable duty of those rich in this and, believing that incalculable merit atworld's possessions, to appropriate a con- | tached to those absurd practices to which siderable proportion of their property for they were addicted, it must have required the purpose of feeding the hungry, clothing the strongest possible conviction of the truth the naked, and, in a word, administering of Christianity, to have operated on their to the exigencies of the destitute of every minds previous to their renunciation of description.
idolatry, and their embracing the new reliThe poor were opposed to the Christian gion. Hence, the apostles were violently religion on its first propagation ; for it held opposed and persecuted in every country 223
Solitary Hours : On the Evidences of Christianity.
they visited ; and that Christianity should pensity, existing in the human bosom; a have made such rapid and extensive pro- religion alike opposed to all the prejudices gress as it did, either in Judea or in Gen- peculiar to Jews and Gentiles; a religion tile lands, amid such violent opposition and advocated only by twelve individuals, and persecution, is a fact which we again pro these utterly destitute of even the rudiments nounce to be perfectly unaccountable on of human learning, and chosen from the merely human principles.
very lowest circumstances in life; a religion But the severe persecution which the violently opposed by all ranks and classes apostles and first disciples of Christianity of men, its Founder and apostles persehad to endure, remains to be slightly cuted, imprisoned, and even subjected glanced at, as constituting of itself an unsur to excruciating and ignominious modes of mountable barrier to the progress of Chris death, and yet, under all these peculiarly tianity, if viewed merely as a human sys. unfavourable circumstances, it makes mytem, or a system of imposture.
riads of converts from all ranks and That the apostles and first disciples of descriptions of men, and is propagated the religion of Jesus were subjected to per- throughout almost every nation of the world, secution of the severest kind, is a fact which within a few years after the death of its our opponents themselves, so far from wish- Author. Now we again most anxiously ing or attempting to deny, are fond of appeal to the candour and the consciences admitting; and they endeavour to construe of our opponents, and ask, Whether, after the fact into one of the principal causes to a mature and impartial examination of these which we are to attribute the success of arguments for the truth of Christianity, Christianity in the days of the apostles. | derived from its early and extensive proThey agree in sentiment so far with our gress in the world, they can lay their hands modern deists as to admit, that the number on their hearts, and say, they perceive no of proselytes to a new system, whether force in them? political or religious, is frequently aug We are aware that modern deists have mented by persecution. We wish it, how frequently endeavoured to neutralize the ever, to be distinctly understood, that we argument for the truth of Christianity, make this admission only on the supposi derived from the success which attended its tion that the cause or system in question first promulgation in the world, by referring be considered to be a good one by its us to the extent to which the system of votaries. Few individuals will ever vo. Mahomet was rapidly spread among his luntarily endure violent persecution on countrymen. Before, however, the votaries account of a cause, in the truth or goodness of deism can obtain the least triumph over of which they do not actually believe. It the advocates of Christianity on the ground is a fact established by the universal history | in question, it becomes matter of indispenof mankind, as well as asserted by the sable necessity that they, in the first inFounder of Christianity, that the hypocrite, stance, demonstrate that the two cases are or mere professor of religion, will immedi- parallel ; that the two systems of religion ately renounce his professed creed, when not only possess in their very natures the the storm of persecution arises on its account. same chances of succeeding in the world,
Now, the question betwixt us and our but that there was likewise a precise simile opponents at present is, whether or not the in the instruments employed in the propaapostles and primitive Christians were im gation of each, in the measures resorted to postors? They affirm they were ; we deny for the purpose, and in the opposition, both the truth of the affirmation, and maintain, passive and active, which they had to that had we no other evidence of the since encounter. This is a task which our oppority of their belief in the truth of Chris- nents never have attempted—which they tianity, than the sufferings they voluntarily never will attempt-because they are duly endured on its account, that simple circum aware they never can succeed in establishing stance of itself would be quite sufficient to the points in question. establish the point in dispute. Had the Christianity and Mahometanism, so far apostles and primitive Christians, therefore, from having any points of resemblance to been impostors, as they are represented by each other, are quite dissimilar. Chrisour opponents, the religion of Jesus, instead tianity is a system of religion at irreconof flourishing under persecution, would cileable variance with the depravity of speedily have been exterminated from the human nature; Mahometanism is particuworld.
larly congenial to it; for it holds out to its Here, then, we have a new religion; a votaries unrestrained and permanent indulreligion at considerable warfare with every gence in those sensual pleasures in which unhallowed passion, every depraved pro- | they had formerly placed their chief happi
ness. The Founder of Christianity never our present argument for the truth of Chrisretired from the world in order to invent tianity. Nay, in order to afford them still and arrange his system of religion : Mahomet greater inducement to make the experiment secluded himself for years from all society, in question, we will almost pledge ourin order to concert his scheme of imposture. selves, that if a fiftieth part of the success Christ and his apostles were at once the which attended the ministrations of the poorest and most illiterate among mankind; apostles of Jesus, should attend the exertions Mahomet, and his principal coadjutors, of the supposed individuals, in an equal were men of opulence and of learning. The space of time, we shall not only abandon Founder and first advocates of Christianity our present argumentas untenable, but were plain and open in all their endeavours shall also renounce Christianity itself. to propagate its doctrines : Mahomet and Elgin.
J. G. his assistants had recourse to all the trickery and cunning of which they were possessed. Christ and his apostles never courted the
MEPAITIC GASES.—NO. III. aid of the state, or any secular power :
( Continued from col. 134.) Mahometanism was principally promul. I HAVE observed in mines situate upon the gated by the point of the sword. Chris- deep strata of minerals, especially in coal tianity met with every earthly active oppo- mines, that hydrogen, combined with more sition, and its Founder and advocates were or less carbon, is in general the most prepersecated and martyred: Mahometanism valent gas. These mines being at great had no opposition of this nature to obstruct depths beneath the surface of the earth, it its progress, nor was Mahomet or his dis- becomes exceedingly expensive to sink the ciples subjected to persecution of any de. shafts by which they are worked, and therescription. In short, the conduct of Jesus fore as few shafts as possible are sunk, and his apostles is utterly unaccountable which causes the galleries of these mines to on the principle of their being deceivers; be long, intricate, and often complicated; while the conduct of Mahomet, in all his by which the currents of atmospheric air endeavours to establish his religion, proves are frequently interrupted, and gases of to a demonstration that he was nothing but every description, which issue from the workan impostor.
ings of these mines, are detained therein, There is one experiment which we would and intermixed and combined in almost suggest to our opponents the propriety of every proportion. making, before they can succeed in neutra- The specific gravity of hydrogen is less lizing the force of the argument for the than that of atmospheric air; it therefore truth of the Christian religion, derived from floats therein; and as it seldom, or perhaps its rapid and extensive success in the world, never, takes up a sufficient quantity of carwhich is simply this—that they should bon to cause it to be heavier than air, this choose twelve poor, illiterate men, and gas is generally found immediately beneath instruct them in any system of religion they the roof of the mine; and it is only when it please, with this indispensable proviso, that exists in immense quantities in a mine, that its leading doctrines and duties be in as it descends, and approaches the floor. On diametrical opposition to the depraved account of its great subtility and energy, nature of man, as the religion of Jesus it disperses itself through every compart. was. Let these men be appointed to pro- ment of a mine, filling every aperture, and pagate this new religion in the world, and while it is dangerous to approach, it is let them begin their work of instruction, extremely difficult to disperse it. This gas enlightening, and reformation, in their own is called by miners the fire-damp, because, native place; let them itinerate through- being a combustible gas, when flame out the wbole of Great Britain, fear comes in contact with it, the flame of a lessly attacking, as they proceed, the re candle or lamp for instance, it explodes ligion of the country; and afterwards with tremendous violence, and burns with visit France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the great vehemence, hurling every thing at whole of the continent of Europe, and por- hand into instant destruction. tions of Asia and Africa. If, against the Hydrogen abounds in water, exists in termination of the existence of these twelve coal and divers minerals, and the atmoobscure and illiterate individuals, they shall sphere which surrounds our earth is partly have made as many proselytes to their new formed of this gas. Oxygen and hydrogen religion, as were made by the apostles of chemically united constitute water, and Jesus in the same space of time, we shall water exists almost every where, beneath as most readily admit that they have com. well as upon the earth's surface, and espepletely succeeded in exposing the futility of cially amidst the strata which contain the