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of the alphabet, and throw them about promiscuously; and then see
how long ere they would move of their own accord, and arrange them-
selves into words and sentences. Yea, he may avail himself of the
whole benefit of his scheme; he may have the advantage of an Energy
or power as a momentum, to set them in motion. He may put these
letters into a box sufficiently large for the purpose, and then shake
them as long as they seem to him good; and when, in this way, tliey
shall have become intelligible language, I will admit that he will
have some reason for doubting a God. Nay, more. If this should seem
too much like artificial mind, he may take some little animal, all con-
structed at his hands, and dismember its limbs, and dissect its body;
and then within some vessel let him throw its various parts at ran-
dom, and, seizing that vessel, shake it most lustily, till bone shall
come to bone, joint to joint, and the little creature be restored to its
original form. But if this could not be accomplished by mere power,
without wisdom to direct, how could the original adjustment occur by
chance? Nay, how could those very parts themselves be formed for
adjustment one to another? Mathematicians tell us wondrous things
in relation to these hap-hazard concerns. And they demonstrate their
statements by what will not lie — figures.

Take two letters and they are capable of being put in only two
positions in relation to each other. A third being added, they are
capable of six different positions, and so on in geometrical proportion.
By adding four, making four letters, they are capable of twenty-four

Merely adding another letter, e, and so making five instead of four,
would increase the number of variations five-io\d. They would then
amount to one hundred and twenty. A single additional letter, f,
making six in all, would increase this last sum of one hundred and
twenty, sij'-fold, and would accordingly raise it to the amount of seven
hundred and twenty. Add a seventh letter, g, and the last named
sum would be increased seven-fold, and thereby be raised to the num-
ber of five thousand and forty. An eighth letter, h. would increase
said five thousand and forty, eight-fold, thus raising it to the sum of
forty thousand three hundred and twenty. A ninth letter i. would
increase the latter sum niiie-fold, and so on to the end of the alphabet;
when we should have the astonishing result, that, with only the twen-
ty-six letters thereof, the different changes or variations which can be
made with them, or the different positions in which they can be placed,
amount to the immense number of six hundred and twenty thousand,
four hundred and forty-eight trillions; four hundred and one thousand,
seven hundred and thirty-three billions; two hundred and thirty-nine


thousand, lour hundred and Lhirty-nine millions; and three hundred
and sixty thousand! !! Hence it follows, that, were the letters of the
alphabet to be thrown promiscuously into a vessel, to be afterwards
shaken into order by mere hap, their chance of being arranged, not to
say into words and sentences, but into their alphabetical arrangement,
would be only as 1 to 0204484017332394393C0000. All this, too, in the
case of only twenty-six letters! Take now the human frame, with its
innumerable bones, tendons, nerves, muscles, veins, arteries, ducts,
glands, cartilages, etc., etc., etc., and, having dissected the same, throw
those parts into one promiscuous mass; and how long, I ask, would
it be, ere Chance would put them all into their appropriate placee,
and form a perfect man? in this calculation, we are likewise to take
into the account the chances of their being placed bottom upwards, or
sideways, or wrongside out, notwithstanding they might merely find
their appropriate places. This would increase the chances against a
well-formed system, to an amount beyond all calculation or conception.
In the case of the alphabet, the chances for the letters to fall bottom
up, or aslant, are not included. And when we reflect, that the blind
goddess would have to contend against such fearful odds in the case
of a single individual, how long are we to suppose it would be, ere
from old Chaos she could shake this mighty universe, with all its
myriads upon myriads of existences, into the glorious order and beauty
in which it now exists!

An alheistie naturalist's a fool.
He can't believe that two letters can be adjusted to each other with-
out design and yet he can believe all the foregoing incredibilities.

I might swell the list to a vast extent. I might bring into view
the verdure of the earth, as being the most agreeable of all colors to
the eye; the general diffusion of the indispensables and necessaries of
life, such as air, light, water, food, clothing, fuel, etc., while less
necessary things, such as wines, spices, gold, silver, etc., are less dif-
fused; — also, the infinite variety in things, in men for instance, by
which we can distinguish one from another, etc., etc., etc. But I
forbear. If the cases adduced do not prove design, what can prove it?
How could design be more apparent than in these instances'' And is
it reasonable to conclude, that, where there are all possible appear-
ances of design, still no design is there? or even that it is probable'
there is none?

I have said, that there is as much evidence of purpose in the works
of nature, as in those of art. I now say that there is more, in fin it cl;/
more. Nay, should the wheels of Nature stop their revolutions, and
her energies be palsied, and life and motion cease, even then would
she exhibit incomparably greater evidenio of design, in her mere con-
struction and adaptation, than do the works of art. Shall we then be


told, that when she is in full operation, and daily producing millions
upon millions of useful, or intelligent, of marvellous effects, she still
manifests no marks of intelligence! In nature, we not only see all
the works of art infinitely exceeded, but we see, as it were, those
works self-moved, and performing their operations without external
agency. To use a faint comparison, we see a factory in motion with-
out water, wind or steam, its cotton placing itself within the reach
oi the picker, the cards, the spinning-frame and the loom, and turn-
ing out in rolls of cloth. Such virtually, nay, far more wonderful,
is the universe. Not a thousandth part so unreasonable would it be,
to believe a real factory of this description, were one to exist, to be
a chance existence, as to believe this same universe so. Sooner could
I suppose Nature herself possessed of intelligence, than admit the
idea, that there is no intelligence concerned in her organization and
operations. There must be a mind within or without her, or else we
have no data by which to distinguish mind. There must be a mind,
or all the results of mind are produced without any. There must be
a mind, or chaos produces order, blind power perfects effects, and non-
intelligence the most admirable correspondence and harmony imagin-
able. Sceptics pride themselves much on their reason. They can't
believe, they say, because it is unreasonable. What is unreasonable!
to believe in a mind where there is every appearance thereof that can
be? Is it more reasonable, then, to believe, that every appearance
of mind is produced without any mind at all? Sceptics are the last
men in all this wide world to pretend to reason. They doubt against
infinite odds; they believe without evidence, against evidence, against
demonstration — and then talk of reason!"

The Bridgewater Treatises have placed this matter of design in
a most irresistible light. No person of common sense and of a common
understanding of the meaning of words ,can read Bell on the Hand,
Wheioell on Astronomy and General Physics, Eidd on the Physical
Condition of Man, Front on Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function
of Digestion, Chalmers on the Adaptation of External Nature to the
Moral and Physical Constitution of Man — and not feel that all the
science of the world only developes the contrivances and intelligent
designs of Nature. To save the labor of arrangement we have grouped
the above items from Origen Bachelor's correspondence with R. D.
Owen, a work of very considerable merit. Editor.

Having shown that no man in his senses can be an antitheist, or
can affirm that there is no God, unless he assume that he compre-
hends the universe in his mind, with all its abstract essences and
principles; which assumption would be to make himself omnipresent
and eternal, a god in fact; and having seen that the proposition of
the divine existence and perfections is demonstrable from the uni-


verse, as far as it is known in all its general laws and in all its
parts, we proceed from these prefatory considerations to other mat-
ters still more intimately introductory to our design.

It is essentially preliminary to a clear aaxd forcible display of
the reasonableness and certainty of our faith in Jesus Christ as the
author of immortality to man, that we ascertain the proper ground
on which the modern sceptic, of whatever creed, stands, when he
avows his opposition to the gospel. That we may duly estimate the
strength of his opposition, we must not only enumerate his objections
or arguments, but we must exactly ascertain the exact position which
he occupies. Does he stand within a fortified castle, or in the open
field? Presents he himself to our view in a strong hold, well gar-
risoned with the invincible forces of logic, of science, and of fact?
or defies he armies and the artillery of light, relying wholly upon
himself, his own experience, without a shield, without an ally, without
science, without history, and consequently without a single fact to
oppose ?

That we may, then, truly and certainly ascertain his precise atti-
tude, before we directly address him we shall accurately survey his
whole premises.

Does he say that he knows the gospel to be false? No, he can not;
for he was not in Judea in the days of the evangelical drama. He,
therefore, could not test the miracles, or sensible demonstrations, by
any of his senses; nor prove to himself that Jesus rose not from
the dead. Speaking in accordance with the evidence of sense, of con-
sciousness, and of expeo-ience, he never can say that he knows the
gospel to be a cunningly devised fable. He has not, then, in all his
premises, knowledge, in its true and proper meaning, to oppose to the
Christian's faith or hope, What remains?

Can he say, in truth, that he helieves the gospel to be false? He
can not; because belief without testimony is impossible. And testi-
mony that the gospel facts did not occur is not found extant on earth
in any language or nation under heaven. No contemporaneous oppos-
ing testimony has ever been heard of except in one instance; — the
sleeping and incredible testimony of the Roman guards, which has
a lie stamped indelibly on its forehead — "His disciples stole his dead
body while we were asleep." He that can believe this is not to be
reasoned with. We repeat it with emphasis, that no living man can
say, according to the English Dictionary, that he believes the gospel
to be false.

Alike destitute of knowledge and of faith to oppose to the testi-
mony of Apostles, Prophets, and myriads of contemporaneous wit-
nesses, what has the sceptic to present against the numerous and
diversified evidences of the gospel? Nothing in the universe but his


doubts. He can, in strict conformity to language and fact, only say,
ho doubts whether it be true. He is, then, legitimately no more than
an inmate of Doubting Castle. His fortification is built up of doubts
and misgivings, cemented by antipathy. Farther than this the powers
of nature and of reason can not go.

How tar these doubts are rational, scientific, and modest, may yet
appear in the sequel; meanwhile, we only survey the premises which
the infidel occupies, and the forces he has to bring into the action.
These, may we not say, are already logically ascertained to be an army
of doubts only.

Some talk of the immodesty, others of the folly, others of the mali-
ciousness of the unbeliever; but not to deal in harsh or uncourteous
epithets, may we not say, that it is most unphilosophic to dogmatize
against the gospel on the slender ground of sheer dubiety! No man,
deserving the name of a philosopher, can ever appear among the
crusading forces of pamphleteers and declaimers against the faith of
Christians — for two of the best reasons in the world; — he has nothing
better to substitute for the motive; — the restraining fears to the
wicked, and the animating hopes to the righteous, which the gospel
tenders; — and he has nothing to oppose to its claims but the weakness
and uncertainty of his doubts. Franklin was a philosopher, but Paine
was a madman. The former doubted, but never dogmatized — never
opposed the gospel, but always discountenanced and discouraged the
infidel: the latter gave to his doubts the authority of oracles, and
madly attempted to silence the Christian's artillery by the licentious
scoffings of the most extravagant and unreasonable scepticism.

Modesty is the legitimate daughter of true philosophy; but dog-
matism, unless the offspring of infallible authority, is the ill-bred child
of ignorance and arrogance. Every man, then, who seeks to make
proselytes to his scepticism by converting his doubts into arguments,
is any thing but a philosopher, or a philanthropist.

One of the most alarming signs of this age is the ignorance and
recklessness of the youthful assailants of the Bible. Our cities, vil-
lages, and public places of resort are thronged with swarms of these
Lilliputian volunteers in the cause of scepticism. Apprenticed strip-
plings, and sprigs of law and physic, whose whole reading of standard
authors on general science, religion, or morality, in ordinary duodec-
imo, equals not the years of their unfinished, or just completed, minor-
ity, imagine they have got far in advance of the vulgar herd, and are
both philosophers and gentlemen if they have learned, at second hand,
■a few scoffs and sneers at the Bible, from Paine, Voltaire, Bolingbroke,
or Hume. One would think, could he listen to their impudence, that
Bacon, Newton, Locke, and all the great masters of science were very
pigmies, and that they themselves were sturdy giants of extraordinary


stature in all that is intellectual, philosophic, and learned. These
would-be baby demagogues are a public nuisance to society, whose
atheistic breath not unfrequently pollutes the whole atmosphere
around them, and issues in a moral pestilence among that class who
regard a fine hat and a cigar as the infallible criteria of a gentleman
and scholar.

Those creatures have not sense enough to doubt, nor to think
sedately on any subject; and, therefore, we only notice them while
defining the ground occupied by the unbelievers of this genei-ation.
They prudently call themselves sceptics, but imprudently carrj' their
opposition to the Bible beyond all the bounds embraced in their own
definitions of scepticism. A sceptic can only doubt, never oppugn tha
gospel. He becomes an atheist or an infidel, bold and dogmatic, soon
as he opens his mouth against the Bible.

Were we philosophically to class society as it now exists in this
country, in reference to the gospel, we should have believers, unbe-
lievers, and sceptics. We would find some who have voluntarily
received the apostolic testimony as true; others who have rejected it
as false; and a third class who simply doubt, and neither receive nor
reject it as a communication from Heaven. But though unbelievers,
while they call themselves sceptics, often wage actual war against
the faith and hope of ChrisUans, still their actual rejection of the
gospel has no other foundation than pure aversion to its restraints
and some doubts as to its authenticity. The quagmire of their own
doubts, be it distinctly remembered, is the sole ground occupied by
all the opponents of the gospel, whether they style themselves anti-
theists, atheists, theists, unbelievers, or sceptics.

That these doubts are perfectly irrational, or that they legitimately
issue in absolute scepticism in all that is called science and philoso-
phy, we shall attempt to show in our next essay. The plan which
we have proposed to ourselves in these occasional essays is first to
explode the lying refuges of every species of scepticism— then to show-
that it is possible— then that it is probable— then Uiat it is monJly
certain— and then that it is cxpcrimcvtalhi trve that Jesus the Naza-

rene is the author of an eternal salvation to all that obey him.


(1S:?G. page 14.-..)
It yet appears to me that there is more of art than of philosophy,
more of method than of necessity in any one attempting to argue
gravely and formally either the absolute necessity or the obvious pos-
sil)ility of revelation. The true and unadorned history of every ancient
and of every modern pagan tribe, nation, or people-— the follies, the
vanities, and crimes— the pusillanimity, the mental inibecilitv of man


without the knowledge of God, are all the demonstration and proof
requisite to the establishment of the necessity of some certain super-
human and supernatural communication on man's relations to the
universe. The simple reading of the first chapter of Paul's epistle to
the Romans, regarding it in no other light than a fair and impar-
tial riew of the nations without the Bible, is enough for those who
have the powers of perception, sound and healthy, on the subject of
the necessity of an authoritative communication from Heaven.

One argument on the simple possiMlity of such a message from
our Creator has to me always appeared enough. It is a very old-
fashioned one, and consists of no more than a single clause affixed to
one of King David's demonstrations that God could see, and hear, and
know man. The divine logician reasons thus: "He that planted the
ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see''
He that teach eth man knowledge, shall he not know?" To which I
only add. He that taught man speech, can he not speak to him?
Revelation is therefore possiMe.

Is it probable? Preparatory to one argument on this subject, I
shall lay before our readers the concessions of some of the brightest
names on the lists of the Sceptics of the French and English schools.*

Ed. M. H.

Blount says, "It is not safe to trust Deism alone without Chris-
tianity adjoined to it." Shaftesbury says, "Christianity ought to be
more highly prized." Rousseau says, "Philosophy can do nothing
good which religion does not do still better; and religion does many
good things which philosophy can not do at all. Modern philosophers
are indebted to Christianity for their best ideas. The solid authority
of modern governments, and the less frequent revolutions, are incon-
testably due to Christianity. It has rendered governments them-
selves less sanguinary; this is proved by facts, on comparing them
with ancient governments. Religion better understood, excluding
fanaticism, has given more mildness to Christian manners. This
change is not the work of letters; for wherever they have flourished,
humanity has not been more respected on their account; of which
the cruelties of the Athenians, of the Egyptians, of the Roman Em-
perors, and of the Chinese, are so many proofs." Byron says, "In-
disputably, the firm believers in the gospel have a great advantage
over all others — for this simple reason, that if true, they will have
their reward hereafter; and if there be no hereafter, they can be but
with the infidel in his eternal sleep, having had the assistance of an

*This extract is from the Religious Magazine, (monthly,) by Origen Bacheler, of
New York. The third number of this quarto, filled with many rare, interesting, and
valuable documents, has been recently received at this office. It contains 64 pages, at
$3.00 per annum.


exalted hope through life, without subsequent disapix)intment, since
(at the worst lor them) out of nothing, nothing can arise, not even
sorrow. "

After the presentation of such a testimony as the foregoing, it is
unnecessary to say another word in proof of the point, that revelation
is necessary. Indeed, when the subject is fairly considered; when
the condition of the heathen in all ages is taken into view; when we
'•onsider what tlie most enlightened heathen nations have been and
still are; what even the heathen sages and philosophers have been:
in short, when we look at the world in every age, and behold ita
spiritual darkness, and its deploi-able moral condition, we can only
wonder why more revelation has not been given than has been. Six
hundred millions of our race still in the darkness of heathenism,
still bowing down, to stocks and stones, still practicing their bloody
and abominable rights, and revelation unnecessai*y! We can not be-
lieve that any man in his sober senses can, on due consideration, be-
lieve this. We will not, therefore, insist upon it further.

Revelation, then, is necessary, and, as a consequence, it would not
be a gratuitous and unnecessary act in the Deity to reveal himself to
mankind. Nay, the probability is altogether in favor of the idea that
he would do this; for a benevolent being, such as we have reason to
suppose the Deity to be, would naturally do that for his creatures
which their cases might need, so far as his wisdom would permit.
And thus we come to the conclusion, a priori, that he has actually
made such a revelation.

But if a revelation has been made, which of the avowed revela-
tions is the genuine one? There have been various religious systems
in different ages of the world, that have claimed a divine origin;
which circumstance is of itself an argument in favor of the idea that
a revelation has been made, just as counterfeit money is evidence of
the true. Which, then, of the various religious systems that have
at different periods been presented to mankind, is entitled to accept-
ance as a divine revelation?

And in tlie outset it may be safely remarked, that none of the re-
ligious systems of the heathen, ancient or modern, can for one mo-
ment compare with Christianity in this respect, either on account of
extrinsic excellence, or weight of evidence. Surely, the gross idol-
atry, the bloody rites, and the filthy abominations even of the most
enlightened heathen — of Greece and Rome, of China and Hindostan
— are not worthy to be named in the same day with the doctrines aul
precepts of Christianity. And if we consider the earth-born sensu*
ality and the groveling theology of Mahometanism, we shall find it
little better in many respects than heathenism itself. Besides, if Ma-
hometanism were a revelation, this very circumstance would establish


tbe claims of Cliristianity to a divine original, inasmuch, as it ac-
knowledges the Messiahship of Christ. If it were worth the while,
a comparison could be very easily instituted between the two relig-
ions, most marvelously to the advantage of that of Christ.

"Mohammed established his religion," says Pascal, "by killing
others; Jesus Christ, by making his followers lay down their own
lives: Mohammed, by forbidding his law to be read; Jesus Christ,
by commanding us to read. In a word, the two were so opposite, that
if Mohammed took the way, in all human probability, to succeed,
Jesus Christ took the way, humanly speaking, to be disappointed.
And hence, instead of concluding that because Mohammed succeeded,
Jesus might in like manner have succeeded, we ought to infer, that
since Mohammed has succeeded, Christianity must have inevitably
perished, if it had not been supported by a power altogether divine. "

"Go," says Bishop Sherlock, "to your natural religion: lay before
her Mahomet and his disciples, arrayed in armor and blood, riding
in triumph over the spoils of thousands who fell by his victorious
sword. Show her the cities which he set in flames, the countries
which he ravaged and destroyed, and the miserable distress of all the
inhabitants of the earth. When she has viewed him in this scene,
carry her into his retirement; show her the Prophet's chamber; his

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 45 of 70)