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He cannot but know, that the doctrine of the Trinity has been held, and is still held, by great numbers of able, learned, and sincerely pious persons, to whom it is impossible, that the crime of blasphemy can be justly imputed. Blasphemy arises from a fault,' not of the head, but of the heart, and implies, a wrong state of the dispositions, rather than an error of the understanding. It is, indeed, the duty of every one, in the investigation of religious truth, to make the best use of the opportunities afforded him; but, since the particular judgment, which is the result of his investigation; is not a matter of choice, it is not the proper subject either of praise or blame. He must believe according to the apparent preponderance of the argú. ments to which his attention has been directed. Though we should think Mr. E. blameable for being an Anti-trinitarian, if he had neg lected any means in his power of attaining to the truth, we will. not say, that he is blameable merely for being an Anti-trinitarian ; much less will we say, that he is guilty of soi heinous a crime las blasphemy on this account. Wherever the crime of blasphemy is mentioned in Scripture, it is mentioned in such a manner, as to indicate something extremely wrong in the moral character of the person, who is charged with it. " Blasphemies," says our Saviour himself, “ proceed out of the heart." St. Paul also (Col. iii. 8.), reckons blasphemies among offences, which are the evident effects of a bad disposition. Let not writers, then, who chiefly, if not entirely, differ from each other in matters of judgment only, indulge themselves in attributing to their opponents a crime, with which the mere fact of differing in judgment has so little to do. At a period so enlightened and liberal as the present, we might reasonably hope to have less occasion, than we actually meet with; to give such an admonition as this. We are the rather induced to give it on the present occasion, because the class of Christians to which Mr. E. belongs, seems to lay claim, whether justly or not, to more than ordinary degrees of light and liberality. Mr. Evanson, we doubt not, greatly disapproves of the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian creed; yet it is too evident, from many parts of this work, that other creeds, beside the Athanasian, contain clauses of the same kind. Though the importance of a right belief ought to make us zealous in promoting the cause of truth, it will not justify us in taking any indirect measures to promote it; nor is it excusaable in us, under that pretence, either to defend or to oppose any religious opinions with uncharitable sentiments or acrimonious language. It is high time, surely, that all men of enlightened and liberal minds, (and such, notwithstanding his occasional deviations from that character, we esteem Mr. E.) should at least agree in this, that no man will be finally condemned for an involuntary error of opinion. : ': Among other preliminary observations, Mr. Evanson, speaking of: the Christian revelation, takes notice, that's the numerous arguments of its ablest advocates are allowed to be only an accumulation of probabilities in its favour." This, it niust be acknowledged, is true; but has Mr. E. yet to learn, that this is the only kind of proof, of which a reve. lation, made many ages ago, is capable? At the same time, this kind of proof, supposing the degree of it to be what it ought, is sufficient to give the mind a full conviction of its truth. He, who duly attends
to the proofs of Christianity, can have no more doubt about its truth, than about the truth of any proposition in Euclid, though of the former he has only probable proof, and of the latter demonstration. This we may venture to assert, notwithstanding the fact, that there are many intelligent unbelievers; because, supposing the Christian religion to be true, there can be no doubt of God's having afforded every rea. sonable proof of its truth. How far those are blameable, upon whom the proofs have not had the intended effect, or (what is the same thing) how far their want of giving due attention to them is voluntury, we do not pretend to determine
Mr. E. begins with proving, in opposition to the Atheist, the existence of a God. This he does by two very forcible arguments, one of which appears to us to have so much novelty as well as ingenuity in it, that we shall give it entire.-- .
.“ We find ourselves here together with a great variety of other ani. mals, all endowed with intelligence, though of different degrees, inhabia tants of a globe, which makes part of a system of globes, revolving uniformly, at different distances, round the same common centre. We are assured by daily experience, and the testimony of all past ages, that the only way in which any individual of our own, or any other species of ani. mals, is ever produced, is by what we therefore call the natural means of procreation between the two sexes. But our constant experience assures us also, that until the sexes attain, each of them, a certain state of maturity, they are incapable of propagating their species, and that the attainment of such a maturity in every specics requires a considerable length of time,' and in man several years. We see also, that almost every animal, at its first production into life, is absolutely helpless, and depends so entirely upon its dam for immediate nourishment and preservation, that had the first of each species of animals been originally produced in that helpless state, they must all have perished almost as soon as produced, and never could have arrived at that state of puberty, in which alone the several species can be propagated. Whether, therefore, we suppose the world 6,000 or 6,000,000 of years old, the first progenitors of mankind, and of every species of animals existing on the earth, must have been originally produced, by some efficient cause, in such a degree of maturity, as en.' abled them immediately to nourish and preserve themselves, and to pro. pagate the first generation, from which all others have ever since regu. larly descended. Did such an efficient cause ever exist within the i limits of this terrestrial globe, it must still continue to exist. For the energy of nature, as some philosophers denominate the productive cause of every thing, in every part of which our globe is composed, continuing always the same constant successionof causes and effects in the decay and re production of every thing around us that has either animal or vegetable llfe, it is evident, has undergone no change, nor suffered any loss of power. In.' deed, if the natural powers of the visible material world are self-exist. ent, it is equally impossible, that any power once inherent in matter should be lost, and that any new one should be acquired. If the energy of material nature, therefore, was ever capable of producing animals in a state of mature puberty, it must still be and have always been capable of the same production; and, at certain intervals at least, more animals of every species must have been brought into existence in the same original way. But the experience of all ages assures us, that no such production of man or any other animal hath ever oc. curred since our species hath existed upon earth; and therefore we' are certain, that the first great efficient cause of the existence of our
selves, and of all that astonishing variety of animals and vegetables, with which the earth is so abundantly stored, must be something distinct from and independent of the globe which we inhabit. And, besides that the several parts of the bodies of animals being so wonderfully well adapted to the particular purposes and uses, for which they were manifestly intended, demonstrate clearly the intelli. ģence and wisdoin of the great first cause of their formation, since nothing can communicate to another power and faculties superior or even equal to what itself possesseth, that supreme first cause must far excel, in wisdom and intellectual powers, the wisest and most sagacious animal it has produced.” p. 12.
The other argument, drawn from the necessity of supposing a projectile force, and that force exerted in one particular way, added to the force of gravitation (the only power apparently inherent in matter) in order to solve the phænomena of the planetary, motions, is intended to show, as it incontrovertibly does, that's since matter is absolutely incapable of giving itself such a projectile. force, it must have been actuated and skilfully impelled by some power, superior to and foreign from itself.” p. 13..
The author afterwards proceeds 'to state “such plain and rational arguments in favour of the truth and divine authority of the Mosaic and Christian revelations, as appear deserving to be offered to the consideration of the candid Theist.” What he says, from p. 16, to p. 22, on the subject of that “moral objection to the being of an infinitely wise and powerful God,” which is drawn from combining, with the consi.. deration, of the actual state of mankind, the supposition, that God has, made no express revelation of his will, is well deserving the attention, not only of the Theist, to whom it is more particularly addressed, but of every sincere believer. We are sorry to have occasion to add, that it is not entirely free from unfounded and uncandid insinuations. His observations too on the Jewish nation, and the design of their being separated from the rest of the world, commencing p. 26. are both true and important. He concludes these observations thus :.“ If the Theist, when he has maturely considered these several pro. phecies (the predictions of Moses and the other Jewish prophets) together with their exact completion after intervals of so many centuries, is able to discover or even to imagine any source of human sagacity, by which these prophets of old time could foresee events of so new and uncommon a kind, without recurring to the interposition of that omniscient being, who necessarily always knows and sees all things alike, past, present, and to come, because they must all owe their existence solely to his will, he may then reasonably continue in his infidelity. But, if not, uno, less he draws his conclusions in direct contradiction to the most obvious, principle of reason and philosophy, viz. that no effect can exist without some adequate producing cause, it seems impossible that he should remain unconvinced of the truth and divine origin of revealed religion, of that old covenant at least, which was communicated to the Jewish nam tion by the mediation of Moses, and under which these prophets lived and wrote their predictions," p. 33.
. When he comes to direct the Theist in his judgment respecting the: truth of the christian revelation, he very properly reminds him, that? " the chief and most important criterion, whereby we are directed by
God himself to judge whether he (Jesus of Nazareth) be that promised prophet, who was to be the mediator and promulger of a new covenant and revelation of the divine will, is the actual accomplishment of events predicted by him." p. 36. Agreeably to this, he employs the greatest part of the volume, in examining into the meaning of the apocalypse, as being “ a series of historical predictions of far distant events communie cated in vision to the apostle John;" as also of " several important prea dictions delivered by the miraculously converted apostle Paul, which, in conjunction with the prophetic visions of Jolin, demand the rational inquirer's attentive consideration.”
In order to ascertain the authenticity of the apocalypse, Mr. E. thinks it necessary to depart from the usually received chronology, and to consider it as having been written before St. Paul wrote: “ the best authenticated of his Epistles.” This he endeavours to prove, by observing, that “ St. Paul evidently alludes to it (the apocalypse) in his Epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, and Timothy; and to the Corinthians and Thessalonians explains some passages of it, which, from its highly figurative language, must in those early days have appeared mysterious and inexplicable, and become liable to be perverted by being misunderstood.” p. 39. After finishing his supposed proof of this point, he adds, “ It is plain, therefore, that the prophecies of the apocalypse preceded these Epistles of Paul, which consequently bear a testimony to its antiquity and authenticity, infinitely stronger than can be produced in favour of any other book of the received canon.” p: 42. We must own, however, that we have seldom seen Q. E. D. placed with less reason. Our author has not advanced a single argument, which we can consider as of a convincing nature; and, though we have no doubts about the authenticity of the apocalypse, we probably should have, if there were no other evidences of its authenticity, than what he has produced. All the similarity of figures and expressions, which he notices, may be fully accounted for from supposing what is undoubtedly true, that the prophecies both of St. Paul and St. John were dictated by the same Holy Spirit. - At p. 45. Mr. E. enters upon his explanation of the apocalypse, the introduction to which we shall give in his own words :
"Our investigation will begin where the very learned and sagacious Mr. Mede began his, at the commencement of the 4th chapter And here the first observation that occurs, and which is necessary to be attended to throughout the whole is, that the celesttal scene of these pro. phetic visions corresponds closely to the scenery of the Jewish temple, only described in more elevated terms; scenery the most solemn and sacred, of which the apostle could apprehend any communicable idea. And that with singular propriety, as the consummation of these pro. phecies is denominated (Apoc. xiv. 15, &c.) the barvest and vintage of the earth, the several actions ascribed to the ministering angels of the visions accord with the rites and ceremonies observed peculiarly by the officiating priests under the Mosaic law at the feast of tabernacles, which was ordained to be celebrated in the 7th month, after the Jews had ga. thered in all the product of their land. The four beasts also surround. ing the throne are emblems of the four grand divisions of the Jewish people arranged in booths during that feast on the east, west, south, and north sides of the temple, under the standards appropriated to each
division, on which were depicted those very figures, according to their original arrangement by Moses during their encampments in the wildera ness. See Numb. chap. ii., The visions themselves are divided into two distinct parts. First, those of the crucified Jesus re-opening the book of prophecy respecting many important future events, chiefly rela. tive to the civil power of the fourth monarchy predicted by Daniel, with occasional reference to the future state of the Church, which that prophet had been commanded to seal up. And, secondly, those of the little open book described in chap. x. which chiefly concern the Church, with occasional notice of the civil power. The first commences' at' chap. vi. and extends to chap. xi. 18. The second begins at chap. xi.' 19. and reaches to the end of chap. xix. Of these prophecies, if they are of divine authority, the series of events predicted in the first part must have been already completed as far as to the end of the 6th verse, of chap. xi. as will appear in the sequel of this investigation. And those, of the second part, if we except the vision of chap. xiv. as far as to the. end of chap. xvii. which chapter, indeed, is rather an explication of the preceding prophecies, then a prophecy itself.”
It will be seen by this, that Mr. E. undertakes the interpretation of the seven vials, mentioned in the 16th chapter, which Bp. Newton considers as referring to events not yet come to pass. Dr. Hammond and others had attempted the interpretation of the vials before ; but scarcely any two interpreters, we believe, have agreed in their opinions,
This disagreement, as Bp. Newton justly observes, is a presumption, that the attempt to interpret them is premature ; for we cannot but suppose, that when a prophecy is fulfilled, the correspondence between the prediction and the event predicted must be so plain as to be evident to every attentive comparer. Bp. Newton adds a particular reason for his thinking, that the seven vials are all yet to come, ive. " that these seven last plagues synchronize with the seventh and last trumpet'; whereas the sixth trumpet is not yet past, nor the woe of the Turkish or Othman empire yet ended.” Our limits will not permit us to enter minutely into Mr. E.'s interpretation of the apocalypse, or to show in what particulars he differs from his predecessors in the same: arduous undertaking. We cannot, however, omit observing, that he considers the two witnesses, spoken of in the 11th chap. as “ that very small number of rational, internal worshippers of the Deity, according to the principles of genuine Christianity," who, as we have said, are denominated Unitarians or Socinians, but whom we wish to denominate Anti-Trinitarians. What will Mr. E. say, when we inform him, that a learned and respectable author now before us, speaking of the same two witnesses, says, " As France is so strongly pointed out by all these circumstances (the circumstances mentioned Rev.xi. 8.) as the place where the contest between the beast and the witnesses was to happen about this period, so, who are most likely to be the witnesses, but the French revolutionists!" With such a rival as the French revolutionists, Mr. Evanson, we presume, will not be ambitious of contending for any honour: If he should, we shall not be in the number of those who will envy him his victory. With more probability than either of these authors, and with more candour than one of them, Bp. Newton, as our readers muy recollect, understands the two witnesses to represent all those, who,