Samuel Moshaim Schmucker.

The errors of modern infidelity : illustrated and refuted online

. (page 1 of 36)
Online LibrarySamuel Moshaim SchmuckerThe errors of modern infidelity : illustrated and refuted → online text (page 1 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


i^V^^^^uvV*



'■' ■'■''■h



:!/K



■^AmMd^.



M



mmi-




'm^



'rO'i



OF THE






No.



/



-tr



A^:7.A



"^



V



Division



I



R.



mge.



(.f



Shelf.^



I




Received ..^:^/^(^ 187 IJ^



/^Zf.



MODERN INFIDELITY



THE



E E R E S^



MODERN INFIDELITY



ILLUSTRATED AND REFUTED.



BY



S. M. ^CHMUCKEK, A.M.,

PASTOR OF TIIE FIKST LUTHERAN CHURCH, GERMANTOWN, PA.



>^y\ys./%/



PHILADELPHIA:

GRIGG, ELLIOT AND CO.,

1848.






Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by

S. M. SCHMUCKER,

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of

Pennsylvania.



Philadelphia:

T. K. AND P. G. COLLINS, PRINTERS.



PREFACE.



The subject of Modern Infidelity may be discussed in
one of two ways ; either by taking a survey of the differ-
ent schools according to their national distinctions, such
as the German and the French Infidelity ; or by choosing
out from all these various systems the most important
points which they may have defended, and endeavor thus
singly to refute them. The objection to the first method,
when taken separately, would be, that, in examining the
different schools in their order, inasmuch as some of their
dogmas are similar, there would be danger of repeating the
same discussions. The objection to the second method,
when separately taken, would be the danger of overlook-
ing some interesting historical developments which have
occurred during the progress of these respective schools.

An attempt has therefore been made in these pages, to
combine these two methods. The reader will find, in one
of the chapters, a survey of the peculiar doctrines of each
of the separate schools of Modern Infidelity, sufficient, it
is hoped, to give some idea of the nature, as well as the
error, of each system. On the other hand, the most im-
portant doctrines which have been defended by Modern In-
fidels of any school, are selected and discussed throughout
the book. Thus, the main position of German Infidels
has been, that no divine revelation should contain anything

1*



vi PREFACE.

above the grasp of reason; and when giving a Critique of
all Revelations, they have usually maintained that ground.
This point has, therefore, been discussed in one of the chap-
ters. So the main objections of French Infidels against
the Scriptures, from Voltaire downwards, have been based
upon the peculiar character of the men and the means first
employed to propagate Christianity. An attempt is there-
fore made to investigate that point in another chapter.
Thus, all the most important individual objections which
have been urged by the abettors of Modern Infidelity, of
any grade or school, against the Bible, have here been
made the subject of discussion ; so that we hope no one
point has been passed by, which has any very serious
bearing on the truthfulness and the divinity of a Religion
which can so powerfully promote both the present and
the future welfare of mankind.

NOVEMBEH, 1847.



h '-.J



: .;-a i



•■* i



CONTENTS.



INTRODUCTION.

Object of the present work— Historic doubts respecting Christ equally
applicable to Shakspeare-— PecuHar nature and tendency of modern
infidelity; illustrated by the renowned work of Strauss on the Life
of Jesus—His imitators in this country— Their inferiority and im-
perfections—Order of points discussed — Reasons for selecting these
points «.«-••- 13

CHAPTER I.

IKFIDEL OBJECTIONS AGAINST CHKIST ILITTSTllATED BT DOUBTS
KE8PECT1NO SHAK8PEAHE.

Mankind naturally prone to the marvelous—* Hence the legend of Her-
cules; the siege of Troy; the golden fleece; superstitious miracles
•— Shakspeare a miracle of genius — Necessary proofs of such a
miracle — ^Want of suoh proofs — Doubts about his parentage — His
birth— His early history— His occupations — His professional career
—Strange contradictions- — His supposed writings — Disputes as to
which are false, which genuine — Sketch of other literary impostors
—Ossian •— Thomas Chatterton's impostures — False decretals — -
Motives for imposture in Shakspeare's case — Great variety of these
—Other suspicious circumstances in Shakspeare's history — His in-
difference to fame— Amount of his writings — Their contradictions
— How to account for these writings — How to account for his
existing histories — Liability to deception — The force of circum-
stances — Probable testimony — Bishop Butler — Mathematical evi-
dence — Popular delusions — Important inferences - 21



VlU CONTENTS.

CHAPTER II.

PEnSOKAL CHAHACTERS of the sacked WniTEHS DEFENDED.

Importance of this question — General fitness of these men for their
work as penmen of the Bible— Worthy of all confidence and
credit— -Moses — His history and character — Isaiah — Jeremiah — ■
David — Writers of the New Testament — Their chief — Paul —
Peter — John — Their general practical sense- — Their disinterested-
ness — They employ only honorable means — No secret societies as
some have supposed — Acquaintance with the truths they were to
teach — Extraordinary faith and energy — Their spirituality — Their
fearlessness — Harmony of sentiment and action — Dependence on
God — Their devotion even till death— Great ideas represented by
particular men among them — Their exalted merits - 99

CHAPTER III.

THE admihable design^ of the sached volume.

The merits of the Bible an inexhaustible theme — Should therefore
be studied — Main design to reveal the will of God to man— De-
signed to proclaim his character and claims — To answer the natu-
ral expectations of men — To resist the power and influence of
error — To proclaim the great plan of redemption — To teach cer-
tain great principles and events in human history — The immor-
tality of the soul — The only true object of worship — Supply the
deficiencies of the Book of Nature — To give a general revelation
adapted to each individual case — To preserve the instructions of
Christ — A standard of authority in religious inquiries — Danger of
forsaking such a guide — Modern Infidelity has ventured to do so.

133

CHAPTER IV.

The PEENAllT INSPIRATION OF THE DiBLE.

Not only is the design of the Bible good, but its actual character ex-
cellent — The nature and degree of inspiration — Internal evidences
' — Sublime truths of the Bible^ — Their extraordinary power on the
heart — ' Their extraordinary harmony — The analogy between
these truths and the constitution and course of nature — The extra-
ordinary insight into the human heart which they display —



CONTENTS. iX

External evidences — Its miracles never yet iii«proved — The pro-
phecies — Nature of prophecy — Their fullness and distinctness —
Progressive evidences — Extraordinary preservation of the pure
Scriptures — Greater credulity demanded from those who disbe-
lieve — Wonderful preservation of the religion of the Bible — The
concessions of the enemies of the Bible — Pliny — Julian — Porphyry
— Rousseau — Byron - - - - - 157

CHAPTER V.

THE LOGTCAI. NECESSITY OF FAITH IN A DIVINE HETELATION.

Objections of Modern Infidels on this score — This necessity proved
by the analogy between the works of Nature and Revelation —
Proved by the inherent nature of God — By the weakness and
finiteness of the human mind — By the very idea implied in a
Divine Revelation — Proved by the nature of the subjects dis-
cussed — Proved by the progressive nature of human knowledge
and power — The works of Nature prove God to be reasonable —
Benevolent — Just — True — Hence deserve our faith when He
speaks in Revelation — 'Absurdities of the contrary opinion 191

CHAPTER VI.

CONTRAST BETWEEN THE REXieiON OF THE BIBXE AND INFIDELITY.

Practical considerations — Bold assumptions of the friends of unbelief
— Various kinds of Modern Infidelity — Doctrinal differences be-
tween Infidelity and the religion of the Bible — The existence of a
God — Of Providence — The immortality of the soul — The authority
and inspiration of the Bible — The Divine mission and atonement
of Christ — Future rewards and punishments — Results produced
by the two systems — On morality — On culture and holiness — On
social security and comfort — Stability of governments — Selfishness
and ferocity — Support of the soul in death — Its destiny throughout
futurity - - - - - - - 221

CHAPTER VII.

ENDLESS CONTHADICTI'ONS AND TAHIATIONS OF MODEKN INFIDELITY.

Unity and consistency a test of truth — Progress in religious knowledge
does not imply contradictions — Infidelity of Hobbes — Of Spinoza —



X CONTENTS.

Shaftesbury, Wollaston, Morgan, Tindal, Hume, Gibbon, Paine —
French infidelity — Voltaire — Diderot— D'Alembert — Robespierre
— Volney — Conflicting dogmas of German infidelity — Nicholai —
"Wolf — Bahrdt — Eichhorn — Paulus — Kant — Fichte — Schelling —
Hegel — Modern French infidelity — Cousin — Jouffroy — Damiron —
Unitarian infidelity — Dr. Priestley — R. W. Emerson — Popular infi-
delity — ^Universalism — Endless contradictions of these systems^
Latest infidelity — Vestiges of Creation — Socialism — Owenism —
Fourierism — Important inferences - - - 259^

CHAPTER Vni.

THE EXCELLEXCE AKD HARMOKX OF THE DOCTRIIirAL SYSTEM OF THE

BIBEE.

Though the doctrines of the Bible are not arranged in a compact body,
there is a system — It possesses unity — The Bible first proclaims
its own character and pretensions — Reveals harmoniously the
Divine existence — Harmonious respecting the Divine Nature —
The works of God — The doctrine of the Trinity — Doctrines con-
cerning man — His primitive state — His fall — Its teachings respect-
ing Christ — His divinity — His humanity — His threefold functions
— Christ's labors, sufierings, and atonement — The Holy Spirit — The
order of salvation — Repentance — Justification — Sanctification —
The means of grace — The Christian church — 'Attributes of the
church — ^Design of the church — The Sacraments of the church —
Baptism — Lord's Supper — The necessity and import of death —
The resurrection — The judgment — The punishment of the wicked
— The felicity of the righteous — The unbroken unity and harmony
of the Bible on all these fundamental points - - 304

CHAPTER IX.

THE ADAPTATIOIf OF THE RELIGIOJf OF THE BIBLE TO UNIVERSAL

DIFFUSIGIT.

Objection of Modern Infidelity against the slow development of
Christianity — The religion of the Bible is adapted to every grade
of society — Adapted to any climate — To every order of intellect
— To every degree of moral culture — Its doctrinal system is
adapted to universal reception — The same of its moral system —



CONTENTS. Xi

Its i-itual observances everywhere practicable — The operation of
the Gospel ministry — The active co-operation of private Christians
— The attractions of the cross — The support of the Omnipotent is
its — No union of church and state — Carried forward even by its
disasters — The aid of science and the arts — Commerce — War —
Magnificence of the plans of the Bible — The co-operation of Pro-
vidence — The aid of the Holy Spirit - - - 351

CHAPTER X. ~

GEITERAL CONSISTENCr OP THE BIBLE VINIUCATED.

Infidel charges against the consistency of the Bible — Causes of the
various conflicting- interpretations drawn from it — The Bible re-
sponsible for none of the effects of these causes — The case of the
Bible illustrated by a painting as exhibited for inspection — Direct
arguments for the consistency of the Bible — It is consistent in all

' its historical relations — Particular instances — Consistence in its doc-
trinal discussions — Prophecies — Moral system and duties — Con-
sistency between Old and New Testament — Nature and degree
of Christian union — Truth clearly understood only in Heaven 384

CHAPTER XI.

SCRIPTtJBAIi ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN OF EVIL.

A vexed and difficult subject — What is evil? — Infidel objections
against the Biblical account — Exposition of Thomas Aquinas — Is
the existing universe the best possible ? — Free agents in that uni-
verse — Finite agents — Nature of good as opposed to evil — The
relation which God does bear to the origin of evil — The d priori
argument — The <^ posteriori argument — Force of this argument-
Various advantages of the fall — A new creation — Divine benevo-
lence — The power of prayer — Folly and futility of objections
against the Scriptural account - - - - 411

CHAPTER XII.

THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST VINDICATED.

The labored and learned objections of Strauss — The extraordinary
light — The bodies of Moses and Elias — The supernatural voice—



XU CONTENTS.

Interpretations of Eichhorn — Paulus — Forced and false nature of
their expositions — Other modes of interpretation — Important pur-
poses accomplished by the literal occurrence of the Transfiguration
— The place of the Transfiguration — Why were Peter, James and
John chosen as witnesses? — Peter's proposition to make three
tabernacles — Sublimity and appropriateness of the whole event

426

CHAPTER Xin.

THE GUILT AND PUJflSHMEITT OF JTJDA8 EXAMINEB.

Infidel objections on this subject — Prophecies respecting Christ's
death — Mode of his death foretold — Perfect freedom of Judas —
. His extraordinary guilt — The relation of the prophecies and pur-
poses of God to his crime — Do the plans of God depend on the
free acts of men? — Statement in Acts i. 25 — Mode of the death of
Judas — His hanging — The bursting of his bowels — Both statements
reconciled — The repentance of Judas — Its incompleteness — Solemn
instructions and warnings presented by the history of Judas 443

CHAPTER XIV.

INTEBPBETATIOir OF CHRISt's DESCEKT TO HADES.

Infidel objections — Romanist interpretation — Ultra-Protestant opinions
— Passage in 1st Peter iii. 18, 21 — Interpretations of the fathers
— Irenaeus — Clemens Alexandrinus — Athanasius — Basil — Chry-
sostom — Augustine — Opinions of the Reformers — Two distinct
inquiries on this subject — " Quickened by the Spirit" — Preaching
to the spirits in prison — Who were these persons ? — Where \yas
their prison ? — What was the substance of his preaching ? — What
was the result of his preaching? — No just grounds for infidel
censures or objections to this interpretation — Symbolical truths
taught by it — The conclusion - - - - 463



MODEM INFIDELITY.



INTRODUCTION.

In the following pages, the author has endeavored
to render a small contribution to the Evidences of
Christianity. In the first part, he has labored to show
that the former existence of a distinguished man in the
literary world, may be as easily disproved, as infidels
have labored to disprove the existence of an eminent
person in the religious world. The principal argu-
ments which have been employed to overturn the
former actual existence of Christ, as a great teacher
and historical actor, have been interwoven into this
discussion and applied to Shakspeare. It will be seen,
we think, that if those arguments and sophisms have
any weight when applied to Christ, they possess equal
conclusiveness mutatis mutandis, when applied to
Shakspeare; hence, if any one is willing to doubt on
their authority, the history and existence of Christ, he
must, in order to be consistent, be willing to doubt on
the same grounds, the history and existence of Shaks-
peare. The reasoning which is conclusive in one
case, is so in both, and applies indeed to any similar
instance, which might be selected as the basis of the
discussion.
2



14 INTRODUCTION.

Whoever has observed the progress of Religion and
Theology during the last few years, will easily see,
that no one method of opposing Christianity, has proved
more successful, and been more injurious to the inte-
rests of truth, than that of denying the former existence
of Christ in the world, as the real teacher and savior
of men, as revealed in the New Testament. Most
other forms of doubt and infidelity have passed away,
having crumbled into dust from their own inherent
shallowness and emptiness^ But philosophical doubt
has of late years assumed another form, and assaulted
the citadel of truth, from another point of attack. It
had been discovered, that as long as the unbeliever
granted some general principles and fundamental posi-
tions to his opponent, so long a foothold had been
given, which could never afterward be overcome ; that,
planting himself firmly on these primitive and immov-
able supports, the advocate of the Gospel inevitably
gained upon his foe, and^ eventually overpowered and
exploded him. It became apparent, that it was neces-
sary to dispute the first positions, to begin at the very
borders of the contested territory, and make a thorough
and complete conquest from the beginning. This ex-
ploit has been attempted by different champions of In-
fidelity; but by none with greater labor, learning and
ingenuity than Dr. D. F. Strauss, in his " Life of
Jesus." He labors to prove, that the writings and
narratives of the Evangelists are myths ; not recording
truly what actually occurred, but what the fancy of
later dreamers would have desired and approved. He
disputes those different narratives, and endeavors to
show how inconsistent, improbable and incredible they
are at every point. In a word, while he admits that



lNTRODUC*riON. 15

such a man as Jesus may have lived, he contends, that
his recorded history, teachings, doings and sufferings,
are false, and therefore wholly unworthy of credit.

Aware of the great importance of this point in a sys-
tem of Apologetics, every resource which could possibly
aid in rendering their position impregnable, has been
employed by those who have engaged in this contest.
The work of Strauss has been translated in England,
and is now also for sale in this country. The spirit which
animates him has been imbibed to some extent, by some
in our own midst. For instance, the translation of De
Wette's Introduction to the Old Testament, which has
been made at Boston, is a bold advance accomplished
in the same direction. Though not as irreverent an
infidel as Strauss, though not as daring in his assaults,
nor as successful in his attempts, as he ; the effect pro-
duced by De Wette's work, will be highly injurious.
Thus the spirit of learned doubt gains among us, and
one after another of the venerable strongholds of the
truth will be deserted, as unreasonable, antiquated,
superstitious, and behind the requirements of the culti-
vated age in which we live. We expect soon to hear
of the establishment of an association of Illuminati^
similar to those of Germany in a former day, who will
resist and deride the simple Christianity which has
prevailed here, ever since the Pilgrim fathers hallowed
these Western climes with their presence and theii
principles. We expect soon to hear of the organiza
tion of a ^^ Young America^^ among us, in imitation
of similar youthful and sapient associations in the old
world; who will oppose the truth, not with the coolness,
the experience and the power of age, but with the im-
petuosity, the arrogance and the absurdity of youth.



16 INTRODUCTION.

That such associations may here arise and run their
course, can scarcely be doubted.* But it is comfortable
to remember, that all such maturer associations will
here, as elsewhere, soon become enfeebled with ap-
proaching age and decay, and all such "young" asso-
ciations will gradually become old. They will thus
learn the wisdom and repentance which increasing
years bestow, or else suffer the contempt which an un-
improved and childish old age deserves. But it is the
duty of every lover of the truth to lend his aid in re-
sisting such errors, and contributing to their overthrow.
That the great questions connected with the evi-
dences of Christianity will be abundantly discussed in
the progress of future years, in our own land, cannot
be denied. The native activity of the national mind,
and the countless classes, systems and schools, which
are thrown together here, give us the surest evidence,
that such commotions will hereafter occur. But in
these as in all other cases, we fear not the issue of
the struggle ; for the truth of God, inured to triumph,
will assert as of old, its divine and unapproachable
supremacy.

Even though the simulated argument in the first
chapter respecting Shakspeare, might not approve itself
to discerning readers, as conclusive, when viewed as
an argument, it will still accomplish the purpose of the
author by showing how much may be said, and with
what imposing pretence to plausibility, against any
person whose history may be assaulted. And the in-

* We have indeed seen the advertisement of a periodical pub-
lished at Boston, entitled "The Young America's Magazine;" but
what its peculiar sentiments may be, we have no means of
knowing.



INTRODUCTION, 17

ference is plain, that if so much may be contrived and
urged, to mystify the existing records concerning a
person who is dead but several centuries, how much
more may be contrived by a perverse ingenuity against
the existing records respecting an individual who lived
and acted in the world nearly two thousand years ago.
So that when all the late ingenious sophisms which
have been propounded by infidels of a learned sort,
are duly considered, we may still with great justice
charge them with stupidity, that they have not been
able to adduce more acute suggestions than they have
done. And this stigma may indeed be stamped upon
them, that their acuteness and ability have always fallen
far short of their presumption and malignity. Hence
every new mode of attack which they adopt, has ever
been repulsed by a superior and overwhelming amount
of argument and evidence.

The author of these pages does not vainly suppose
that they can accomplish much in the work of estab-
lishing Christianity, in the convictions of men. A
subject so vast and varied as that of the Christian evi-
dences cannot be condensed into so small a compass.
But as every individual point connected with this sub-
ject, has its own importance as related to the whole ;
as every objection which is answered, every doubt
which is removed, and every single position which is
gained, adds to the power and completeness of the final
triumph ; a discussion like the present one will not be
without its value. He has not endeavored to say all
which might have been said, or to expand his work as
much as possible ; but, on the contrary, has condensed
his remarks as much as the subject would permit, that
the main points under discussion may be presented in

2*



18 INTRODUCTION.

clearer light, unimpeded by unnecessary digressions,
and unobscured by useless words.

The order and connection of the subjects discussed
are as follows : — The narratives of the Evangelists con-
cerning Christ, the principal personage in the history
of Christianity, are illustrated by the argument respect-
ing Shakspeare. The merits of his immediate succes-
sors and apostles are discussed in the chapter on the
personal characters of the Sacred Writers. The high
purposes which actuated them are set forth in the
chapter on the Design of the Bible. The value of
their productions when written, is exhibited in the
chapter on the Inspiration of the Bible. The pro-
priety of receiving revealed truth, in a theoretical point
of view, is maintained in the chapter on the Logical
Necessity of Faith in any Divine Revelation. The
practical claims of revelation to the acceptance of men
are urged in the contrast between the religion of the
Bible and Infidelity, as developed in the progress of
ages. The endless contradictions and changes of In-
fidelity are then exhibited, to show that it does not
possess that unity which is a mark of truth. In op-
position to these contradictions, a condensed view of
the Supreme Excellence and Harmony of the doctrines
taught by the Bible is then presented. This is fol-
lowed by an argument, to show that the religion of the
Bible is adapted to secure and retain a universal diffu-
sion, and a vindication of the general consistency of
the Bible in opposition to the conflicting interpreta-



Online LibrarySamuel Moshaim SchmuckerThe errors of modern infidelity : illustrated and refuted → online text (page 1 of 36)