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favorable to him who takes advantage of them. The poisonous reptile may be killed, but it is no time to attack him when you see him coiled around the neck of your sleeping child. In all our works,
In all our works, wisdom is profitable to direct.
The writers of the Bible take precisely the same method for overcoming evil that the wisest of men take in overcoming natural difficulties. They endeavor to do the work at the best time and in the best manner, so as to accomplish the least amount of harm possible. They do not seek unnecessarily to exasperate an enemy. They never aim to tell men all that may in truth be said against them where it will evidently do no good, but when they censure, it is done with all the kindness of which the case will admit, and its ultimate object is to reform. In this, the writers of the Bible act rationally.
5. Finally, nature counts much upon its past gains.
The growth of the trees of the forest is but an addition to the growth of past years, and such is the improvement of human society. Present improvements, whether physical, intellectual or moral, take place on a principle which does not injure, but is only an addition to the improvements
of the past.
Such, as has been already intimated, in these lectures, is the system with which the Bible presents us. It demolishes nothing but the bad, and preserves all that is worth preservation. The Bible, thus answering, to a 'most rational demand of nature evinces its own truthfulness.
The text intimates that the word of God is as well adapted to the mind of man as bread is to his body. Now, if the Bible is as well calculated to satisfy the necessities of the soul, as temporal food is adapted to satisfy the physical system, then the Bible must be the word of God.
We may show such adaptation of the Bible to man's spiritual need: first-From the condition and confessions of men destitute of the Bible ; and secondly–From the condition and confessions of men who possess the Bible.
1. Without the Bible, man, in every age, has felt the need of a positive religion. He requires facts and declarations, which shall serve as direction, reproof, warning and encouragement, to induce him to seek his highest interest in another world. We are so constituted and so situated that belief must run greatly in advance of reason. We must believe much, before we can comprehend its reasonableness. The little child, who unhesitatingly relies upon the instructions of his parents, errors and all, is a striking illustration of this doctrine. It is well that he should, for
the time being, credit all that his parents say, for, with new developements of reason, times of sifting will repeatedly come, when the arbitrary instructions he has received, must be severely scrutinized. Then the good of his past instructions may be retained, and the bad cast away.
This is the order of God in training human souls. It is not by giving every one a degree of intelligence which enables him, from the onset, to discriminate between all subjects before receiving them, but it is by endowing man with a capacity to believe almost all that is said, especially by friends, and then at a later period in life he gives him the power of bringing all the subjects of his store-house under critical review, that man may decide what shall remain permanently, and what shall be discarded as errors of youth.
Man, being possessed of such a nature, requires a religion of authority. As soon as he is capable of thinking on the subject of religion, he requires certain great principles of belief as the stand-point of all his thoughts. What if some of these principles should give way, and not stand the test of the future developements of reason ? Even in that case, it is better for one to believe much that is false, than to credit nothing that is true. When every principle is shattered that cannot stand the severest test, enough of truth will be left, far preferable for a foundation than nothing at all.
Now, if, in accordance with the proverb, it be better to be sometimes imposed upon than never to trust,” this order of Divine Providence which renders it so easy for the child to believe, is a good arrangement. But how desirable an untarnished system of religion! Such a system,
true, pure, unmixed with the least error, is found in the Bible. By this system, the young man may cleanse his way. It will rid him of all the false impressions received in childhood and youth. The need of such a clear, perfect and positive system of religion the ancients deeply felt and frankly acknowledged.
2. The world needed the revelation of Christianity, in order that the good of all past systems might be preserved. Without this consummation of the Bible's revelations, all preceding systems would have been unavailing and inefficient, but with it the past is invested with a most significant vitality. Says Neander: “As it had been intrusted to the Hebrews to preserve and transmit the heaven derived element of the Theistic religion, so it was ordained that among the Greeks, all seeds of human culture should unfold themselves in beautiful harmony, to a complete and perfect whole; and then Christianity, taking up the opposition between the Divine and the human, was to unite both in one, and show how it was necessary that both should cooperate to prepare for the appearance of itself and for the unfolding of what it contains. Origen had no hesitation in admitting, what Celsus, the great antagonist of Christianity maintained, when he ascribed to the Greeks a peculiar adaptation of talents and fitness of position, which qualified them for applying human culture to the developement and elaboration of those elements of Divine knowledge they had received from other quarters, namely, from the East."'*
* Neander's History of the Christian Religion and the Church. volume 1 : page 4.
Admitting all this to be true, we may still hold Christianity to be that system which draws out of all other systems their real value, and preserves it for the good of humanity.
3. The world needed a religion adapted to both classes of mind—the philosophic and the superstitious. This necessity was felt and acknowledged by the wise men of antiquity. Strabo, who wrote in the days of Augustus Cæsar, says, “The multitude of women, and the entire mass of the common people, cannot be led to piety by the doctrines of philosophy; for this purpose superstition also is necessary, which must call in the aid of myths and tales of wonder."* But the utter inefficiency of superstition to strengthen the unlearned heathen to perform the weary pilgrimage of life, and to console them in the hour of death is most graphically and almost fearfully set forth by Plutarch. This author, as quoted by Neander, says :—“Every little evil is magnified to the superstitious man, by the scaring spectres of his anxiety. He looks upon himself as a man whom the gods hate and pursue with their anger. A far worse lot is before him; he dares employ no means for averting or curing the evil, lest he be found fighting against the gods. The consoling friends, are driven away. Leave me,-says the wretched man,-me, the impious, the accursed, hated of the gods, to suffer my punishment. He sits out of doors, wrapped in sackcloth or in filthy rags; ever and anon he rolls himself, naked, in the dirt, confessing aloud this and that sin. He has eaten or drank something wrong, he has
* Neander, volume 1, page 7.