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ral treatise for popular use, in which this argument is presented as a distinct, yet necessary part of the systematic exhibition of the Evidences of Christianity: we refer to the work of Bishop Wilson, of Calcutta. In the second volume of his work, besides a comprehensive statement of the internal evidences, there is also a brief, but as far as it goes, a very satisfactory view of the nature, philosophical validity, and superior conclusiveness of the practical argument. This work, though somewhat too diffuse in style, and wanting in due proportion in some of its parts, is, we think, on the whole, the best popular treatise that we have, presenting in a clear and animated style, all the most material considerations which make up the Christian argument in all its branches. Written with the tone and fervor of a believer and an advocate, and addressed to those who were fairly presumed to be already speculatively believers, Bishop Wilson's lectures are in some respects less adapted to convince the doubtful than to instruct the convinced, and to furnish them with a completer view of the grounds of their faith. In regard to the relative order and mutual connexion of the different branches of the argument, we should differ from him, as from every systematic writer who regards the external evidence, as introducing and sustaining all the others.

We do not think that there is as yet any such complete systematic work on this subject as there ought to be. We certainly cannot point to one, in which all the conditions of a perfect treatise, in a scientific point of view, are in any good degree combined. Such a work ought not only to be a complete and logical development of all the matter of the evidences; it ought also to proceed from such a thoroughly philosophical and critical appreciation of the nature of the argument, and of the just co-ordination of the several branches of it, as should secure a proportionable treatment of each, with all the other results of perfect method, and thus make the treatise an organic whole.

No philosopher ever had a clearer or juster view of the proper co-ordination of the different organic branches of the Christian evidence, than Coleridge. The brief sketch he has given near the conclusion of his Biographia Literaria, is often in our thoughts; and often have we wished that the outline might be worthily filled up. We are sure most of our readers will be gratified by our placing before their view the passage to which we refer:

"I shall merely state what my belief is concerning the true evidences of Christianity:

"I. Its consistency with right Reason, I consider as the Outer Court of the Temple-the common area within which it stands. "II. The miracles, with and through which the Religion was first revealed and attested, I regard as the steps, the vestibule, and the portal of the Temple.

"III. The sense, the inward feeling, in the soul of each believer, of its exceeding desirableness- the experience that he needs something-joined with the strong foretokening, that the Redemption and the Graces propounded to us in Christ, are what he needs: this I hold to be the true FOUNDATION of the spiritual edifice. With the strong a priori probability which flows in from I and III on the correspondent historical evidence of II, no man can refuse or neglect to make the experiment without guilt. But,

"IV. It is the experience derived from a practical conformity to the conditions of the gospel- it is the opening Eye; the dawning Light; the terrors and the promises of spiritual Growth; the blessedness of loving God, as God; the nascent sense of Sin, hated as Sin, and of the incapability of attaining to either, without Christ; it is the sorrow that still rises up from beneath, and the consolation that meets it from above; the bosom treacheries of the Principal in the warfare, and the exceeding faithfulness and long suffering of the disinterested Ally; - in a word, it is the actual Trial of the Faith in Christ, with its accompaniments and results, that must form the arched Roor, and the Faith itself is the completing KEYSTONE. In order to an efficient belief in Christianity, a man must have been a Christian; and this is the seeming argumentum in circulo, incident to all spiritual Truths, to every subject not presentable under the forms of time and space, as long as we attempt to master by the reflex acts of the Understanding, what we can only know by the act of becoming. 'Do the will of my Father, and ye

shall KNOW whether I am of God.'

"These four evidences I believe to have been, and still to be, for the world, for the whole church, all necessary, all equally necessary; but that at present, and for the majority of Christians born in Christian countries, I believe the third and fourth evidences to be the most operative, not as superseding, but as involving a glad undoubting faith in the two former. Credidi ideoque intellexi, appears to me equally the dictate of philosophy and religion, even as I believe redemption to be the antecedent of sanctification, and not its consequent. All spiritual predicates may be construed indifferently as modes of Action, or as states of Being. Thus Holiness and Blessedness are the same idea, now seen in relation to act, and now to existence."

Whether Coleridge, if he had undertaken it, could ever have

Biographia Literaria, New York: 1817. Vol. 2. p. 193. et seq.

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executed a work, such as none was more competent than himself to frame the ideal of a work containing a well proportioned development of the whole argument, logically compacted and coherent, with nothing wanting and nothing superfluous; thoroughly philosophical, and yet clear to the apprehension of all intelligent and thoughtful readers of the average degree of cultivation may well be doubted. We are inclined to believe he could not. There seems ever to have been, in the working of his mind, such an embarras des richesses; the results that have been given us are so fragmentary-often opening, indeed, single profound truths with wonderful felicity, yet justly liable to the censure of containing both too much, and too little, on account of the amount and variety of knowledge and intellectual power presumed in his readers, that we are ready to think the structure and habits of his mind unfitted him to be a teacher for the mass even of educated readers. He is a thinker for a select number of thinkers; and his writings, those that we already possess, (and we presume the same, of those that may yet be given us by his friends,) contain many noble germs-seminal truths, which we hope kindred minds, with more of tact and constructive talent, will yet unfold to rich and beautiful fruits, for the delight and strengthening of many a ready heart.

We certainly do not pretend, in these discursive remarks, to offer any thing important, even by way of contribution to the service we would gladly see performed for Christianity. We can only hope that our suggestions may have some effect in directing the attention of competent laborers in this department of thought to the special view we have presented. There are, however, a few reflections connected with the subject, which we feel disposed to offer.

We have adverted to the perception of the intrinsic excellence of Christianity its reasonableness and its adaptation to human wants, as a pre-requisite to the admission of the force of the ar gument from miracles. We may add, also, that such is actually the attitude of many minds, that this view of the intrinsic nature of the Christian religion is almost equally necessary to be established, in order to secure a fair appreciation of the evidence by which the Christian miracles are historically proved. It is, indeed, perfectly clear, that the impossibility of miracles — considered as phenomena in nature so wonderful, so contrary to its ordinary course, as not to be explicable by its general laws, but only by the supposition of immediate divine intervention - can never be demonstrated. Nor can the denial of their possibility

have the least show of reason, except upon some such conception of the universe as would make it a vast assemblage of forces, combined and adjusted by its maker, and left to work according to invariable laws, from interfering with which he had absolutely precluded himself. But this is a purely gratuitous assumption; for experience is our only source of judgment on this subject; and experience can only give us the actual, it can never set limits to the possible; it can give us the ordinary, but not the universal; it can never convert the general rule (however extensive and uniform the experience may have been,) into the absolutely invariable law. It is a necessary conception of the human mind in regard to bodies, that it is not within the power of the Deity himself to make the same substantial body actually to occupy two different places at the same time; but it is by no means necessarily involved in the conception of what we call a Law of Nature, that it is not within the power of the Deity to alter or change it; and as little is it a necessary conviction that he never has and never will interfere to change it.

Notwithstanding all this, however, it should be conceded that there is a natural and strong prima facie presumption against the probability of any actually occurring miracle, if considered without relation to its object. This is a presumption which may indeed be countervailed, by the consideration of the object to be attained, and even converted into a presumption in favor of the probability of the miracle. At least we contend in respect to the alleged miracles recorded in the Christian scriptures, that such is the nature of the Christian religion, as to dó away all antecedent improbability of their occurrence, so as to make it unreasonable to demand a different kind, or a higher degree of evidence, than in regard to other historical facts. And it is precisely, because the full force of the internal evidence is not perfectly appreciated in its bearing upon the external, that on the one hand so many come to the examination of the historical testimony, with a skeptical and cavilling spirit, demanding a kind or an amount of evidence of which the nature of the case does not admit; and that on the other hand so many advocates for Christianity treat these demands as reasonable. Strict demonstration is in the nature of the case impossible, and of course not to be demanded; neither is it any more reasonable to consider the historical facts of Christianity as untrue or not proved, because every possible question is not answered, or every possible objection not positively proved to be fallacious. The defender of Christianity is able indeed triumphantly to sustain the position that the credibility of the mi

raculous facts recorded in scripture, is supported by an amount and strength of historical evidence, such as can be adduced in support of no other historical facts; yet at the same time we contend that the Christian religion being such as it announces itself to be, in its own nature and adaptation to humanity, the question concerning miracles is fairly entitled to be treated as any other historical question, and the evidence cannot reasonably be subjected to a process, which, in regard to other historical questions, would be felt to be unfair and subversive of all the principles of historical faith. The advocate of Christianity has a right to say to the impugner of its truth: Here is the disclosure of a religion, bearing in itself indubitable characters of divine excellence and wisdom; in all its provisions admirably adapted to the condition and moral wants of mankind; a religion worthy to come from God; this religion, moreover, claims to be authenticated by wonders which, taken in connexion with the nature and objects of the religion, can be regarded no otherwise than as special direct attestations of God to its truth; and the justice of this claim the actual occurrence of these miracles-is supported by a vast amount and variety of concurrent positive historical testimony. Now, you have no right, as a rational man, to presume this testimony to be false; you have no right to consider a possible ground of special doubt or exception, as destroying the validity of the testimony; it is your business to prove the testimony to be false by positive evidence, or at least to show by positive considerations, that the balance of evidence is fairly against its truth. This is the true issue to be made.

In establishing the several positions upon the ground of which this issue is joined, it is, we conceive, of immense importance to vindicate the matter of the Christian doctrines against every rational objection to show not only in a positive view how noble, how congruous to the reason and conscience, and how admirably fitted to the everlasting wants of human nature, is the general scheme of Christianity; but also to demonstrate negatively that there is no doctrine or truth set forth in Christianity, which is at variance with the dictates of reason, with any of the necessary principles of our intellectual or moral nature. In nothing, perhaps, has the cause of Christianity suffered more at the hands of its defenders, than in the manner in which the alleged contradictions of scriptural doctrine to reason, have been met. Take, as an instance among a thousand, the following curious declaration of Lord Bacon: "The prerogative of God," says he, “em

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