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Counsels to young men, on modern infidelity and the evidences of Christianity online

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COUNSELS



YOUNG MEN,



MODERN INFIDELITY



-

THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.



BY JOHN MORISON, D.D.



The Bible is indeed among books, what the diamond is among precious
stones. ROBERT BOTLB



PUBLISHED BY THE

AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,



150 NASSAU. STREET, NEW YORK.




T/2/0

1



F7/JT



CONTENTS.



PART I.

A PORTRAITURE OF MODERN SCEPTICISM.

PAGE

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS 9

CHAP I. The views of Sceptics respecting the moral character

of God .16

CHAP II. Infidels profess to hold the doctrine of the Divine Ex

istence, but neglect all religious worship . . 19
CHAP. III. Brief survey of the morality which Infidelity inculcates

and displays 23

CHAP. IV. The practical effects of Infidelity . . . . . 27
CHAP. V. A contrasted view of Infidelity and Christianity . . 30
CHAP. VI. An affectionate appeal to those who have been^entan-

gled in the snares of Infidelity ... 30

PART II.

THE TRUTH AND EXCELLENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.

CHAP. I. The comparative credit due to the conclusions of Scep-
tics and Christians .... 42

CHAP. II. The Evidence of Christianity admits of being brought
home individually, with convincing power, to every
man's heart 51

CHAP. III. Brief survey of the branches of evidence which may be
urged upon those who have not yielded up their
minds to the divine authority of the Gospel . . 57



4 CONTENTS.

SECTION FIRST.

PAGE

THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY . . 58

1. The moral character of its great Founder ... 58

2. The sublimity of its diction 64

3. The high standard of its morality .... 69

4. The coincidence of Christianity with the character of

God and the actual condition of man . 80

SECTION SECOND.

THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY . 89

1. Miracles ... 90

2. The Resurrection of Christ 112

3. Prophecy . 122

4. The early success of Christianity .... 137

5. The moral and social benefits conferred on mankind by

Christianity 153

CHAP. IV. On the uncorrupted transmission of the Sacred Books 162
CHAP. V. On the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures . . .174
CHAP. VI. Popular objections to the full Inspiration of the Holy

Scriptures 194

CONCLUSION* 201



IY



&

PREFACE.



As the forms of infidelity are constantly chang-
ing, it becomes the duty of all good men to watch
its versatile movements, and to endeavor, according
to their several abilities, to counteract its subtle and
pernicious influence. Standing, as we do, in the
full blaze of secular knowledge, there is the utmost
danger, through the depravity of our fallen nature,
of our preferring the wisdom of man to the wisdom
of God ; and if the advocates of revealed truth do
not rush into the field of conflict with the enemies
of human happiness, there is reason to fear that
scepticism will obtain a partial and momentary tri-
umph I say partial and momentary, for the truth
of Heaven must ultimately prevail, and every power
that would silence the voice of "THE LIVING ORA-
CLES" must at last be crushed by the omnipotent
1*



PREFACE.

energy of the Son of God. I am not afraid for the
ark of the Lord ; but I regard it as a solemn duty
to contribute my aid, however humble, to the defence
of revealed truth; and particularly to make my ap-
peal to that portion of my fellow-men who, either
from mental tendency or association in life, are pe-
culiarly exposed to the desolating and pernicious
onset of sceptical opinions.

I am aware there is nothing novel or peculiar in
the treatise which I now place on the altar of the
public ; but I am fully satisfied that the position I
have taken is sure, and that the sternest or the most
insidious infidelity has no honest argument to op-
pose to the conclusions I have ventured, with un-
hesitating confidence, to draw. I have written with
the decision which becomes him who feels he has
truth, and the truth of Heaven, on his side ; and I
beseech no man who deigns to examine what I have
said to indulge a sneer, while conscience tells him
that he should offer up a prayer to " the Father of
lights" for wisdom to guide his devious course, and
above all, to rectify his wayward and erring heart.

If there be any thing requiring distinct specifica-



PREFACE. 7

tion in the plan of the following work, it is the order
pursued in laying down the series of evidence in
support of the claims of revelation. Whether right
or wrong, I have wrought my way from the inte-
rior to the outworks ; and have made my first attack
on the citadel of the heart, by endeavoring to point
out the adaptations of Christianity to the known and
admitted condition of human nature. In doing so,
I flatter myself that I have pursued a simpler and
more natural course than those writers upon the
same important subject who have placed an almost
exclusive dependence upon external evidence. At
the same time, I have not dared to overlook any part
of that proof which shows the Bible to be the word
of God.



r *



PART FIRST.



PORTRAITURE OF MODERN INFIDELITY



INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

" THERE is NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR

EYES." Such is the concluding- sentence of a de-
scription which strips fallen humanity of all its boast-
ed excellence ; which shows, by a most convincing
train of reasoning, that Jews and Gentiles are alike
guilty before God ; and which pictures, in vivid co-
lors, the awful depravity into which men sink with-
out the intervention and the vital reception of the
Gospel of peace. As the whole race is involved in
one common apostacy, there is only one remedy that
meets their case, and that remedy is Christianity.
Wherever this divine catholicon is embraced, it ul-
timately effects the cure of man's moral distempers ;
it purifies his conscience from guilt, by an applica-
tion of " the blood of sprinkling ;" it purifies his
heart by the operation of a living faith ; and it puri-
fies his life by the all-subduing influence of motives
which animate him with the love of God, and with
the quenchless desire of being conformed to his moral



10 MODERN INFIDELITY.

|

image. Wherever Christianity is rejected, man re-
mains the victim of apostacy, the child of wrath, the
sport of evil passions, and, in the truest sense, " with-
out God, and without hope in the world." Wheth-
er we survey a state of pure heathenism,* or contem-
plate a condition of society in which Christianity is
rejected as a fable, we behold, in either case, a soil
fertile in every species of wickedness that can insult
the divine Majesty, or that can degrade and brutal-
ize the human race. Could we conceive of a com-
munity wholly made up of men denying revelation,
and wholly imbued with the principles and feelings
of modern deism, we should have presented before
our minds a scene of moral turpitude and guilt too
fearful to admit of minute examination. In such a
community we should see every social tie dissolved,
every virtuous obligation trampled upon, and all the
savage passions of the human heart brought into re-
sistless and destructive play. In the creed of an in-
fidel there is nothing whatever to deter him from
the basest actions, provided he can screen himself
from the eye of public justice, and from the scorn
and derision of his fellow-men. He is a man alto-
gether without principle, who denies the legitimate
distinction between virtue and vice, who resolves all

* It may be fairly questioned, from the practices of all pa-
gan countries, whether there be any people in a state of pure
heathenism. Tradition seems every where to have spread
some faint glimmerings of celestial light.



MODERN INFIDELITY. 11

human motive into a principle of self-love, and who
is an equal foe to the laws of Heaven, and to the
wise and benevolent institutions of men. A powerful
writer, and an acute observer of mankind, (Rev.
Andrew Fuller,) has said that " modern unbeliev-
ers are Deists in theory, Pagans in inclination, and
Atheists in practice." They profess, indeed, to
believe in one supreme and uncreated intelligence,
infinitely benevolent, and infinitely holy ; but they
neither cultivate his benevolence nor imitate his pu-
rity ; and as it respects prayer, and praise, and the
homage of devout worship, they are as scornfully
neglectful of them as if there were no God, and are
practically in that state of total irreligion which
shows that verily " there is no fear of God before
their eyes." Though they talk loudly of one God,
and profess to pay him homage in the temple of na-
ture, it is most clear, that in escaping from the folly
and absurdity of the " gods many and lords many "
of the heathen, they have plunged themselves into a
state of reckless scepticism and doubt, which leaves
every perfection of the Deity undefined, which ut-
terly extinguishes his moral government, and which
renders even the belief of his very existence a pow-
erless and uninfluential admission.

By the aid of revelation, indeed, they have
wrought their way out of the Pantheon ; but standing
in the full blaze of celestial discovery, they have set
themselves to blaspheme "the only living and true



12 MODERN INFIDELITY.

God." Ungrateful return for that light which the
God of mercy has shed upon their path, and which
was never surely intended to heighten their guilt or
to accelerate their condemnation !

What, then, are we to understand by modern infi-
delity ? Not surely that infidelity is a new thing ;
for since man lost the image of his God, he has, in
all the periods of his eventful history, evinced a ten-
dency to discredit his Maker, and even " when he
knew him, not to glorify him as God." To provide
in some degree against this tendency, and to pre-
serve the successive revelations of heaven from be-
ing utterly lost, the Most High selected one family as
the depositaries of his truth, and as the ministers of
his mercy to the rest of mankind.

It would be easy to show, by an induction of facts,
that it was infidelity, in days of old, which paved the
way for the abominations of polytheism. Men first
discredited and opposed the true oracles of Heaven,
and then set themselves to serve God in their own
way, and to prescribe a religion and a worship for
themselves ; and because " they did not like to retain
God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a
reprobate mind, to do those things which are not
convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness,
fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness ;
full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity;
whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful,
proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobe-



MODERN INFIDELITY. 13

dient to parents; without understanding, covenant
breakers, without natural affection, implacable, un-
merciful ; who knowing the judgment of God, that
they which commit such things are worthy of death,
not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that
do them." It was such infidelity as this, my esteem-
ed reader, which prepared the minds of mankind for
all the grossness and all the absurdity of heathenism ;
it was such infidelity as this which obtained in Phi-
listia, and Egypt, and Canaan ; it was such infidel-
ity as this which called forth the stupendous energy
of Omnipotence, in confounding and terrifying those
evil powers who contemned the name of Israel's God
and oppressed the chosen tribes ; yea, it was such
infidelity as this which prompted all the idolatries
of the ancient church, who no sooner forgot the Lord
their God, than they set themselves to worship the
gods of the nations among whom they sojourned.

Infidelity is no new thing. It is a plant indige-
nous to the sinful heart of man ; it has sprung up in
every age ; it has more or less prevailed in every na-
tion under the whole face of heaven ; it is the pal-
pable exhibition of that secret and deep-rooted unbe-
lief which is unwilling to accredit any communica-
tion as divine that does not picture the Most High
as a being altogether answering to the sinful ima-
ginings of a depraved and apostate heart.

By modern infidelity, then, we are simply to un-
derstand those new forms and that new energy which

Counsels to Y. Men. 2



-14 MODERN INFIDELITY.

scepticism has put on in modern times, and more
particularly since the era of the French Revolution ;
by which it has mightily diffused itself among all
ranks of society, and has produced a class of writers
capable of making their appeal to each separate
branch of the community. It is modern, because
those who are yet in middle life can remember the
baneful period when it began to exert its giant
strength, and when, with a fiend-like daring, it aim-
ed a deadly blow at the foundations of civil govern-
ment and at the altars of religion. We can remem-
ber all this, and we can trace in the bloody, and im-
pure, and ruthless steps of infidelity, the odious cha-
racter which belongs to it. It is modern, for it has
decked itself forth in a thousand novel aspects ; at
one time assuming the air of reason and philosophy ;
at another, appealing to the most vulgar prejudices
of the human mind ; now weaving itself into the tex-
ture of history, and then clothing itself in the max-
ims of political wisdom ; in some instances conceal-
ing itself beneath the witchery of a well-imagined
tale ; and, in others, polluting even the very streams of
salvation, by infusing a portion of its deadly viru-
lence into the theology of the age.*

It is modern, for where, at any former period in
the history of the world, did a thing so worthless and

* In proof of this, see Professor Milman's History of the
Jews, and many other productions savoring of the Neolo-
gical school



MODERN INFIDELITY. 15

abominable put on such an imposing air, and give
itself forth as an angel of mercy to the afflicted race ?
Though it has taught men that " adultery must be
practiced if we would obtain the advantages of life ;
that female infidelity, when known, is a small thing ;
and, when unknown, nothing;"* that "there is nc
merit or crime in intention;"! that "the civil law is
the sole foundation of right and wrong, and that re-
ligion has no obligation but as enjoined by the ma-
gistrate ;"J that " all the morality of our actions lies
in the judgment we ourselves form of them ;" " that
lewdness," in certain cases only, " resembles thirst
in a dropsy, and inactivity in a lethargy ;"|| that vir-
tue is "only the love of ourselves :"T though these
are the scandalous lessons which it has unblushing-
ly taught mankind, yet is it loudly proclaimed as
the only system calculated to model and perfect hu-
manity ; as the last and only refuge for the sorrow-
ing, suffering, and unhappy children of men ! This
it is which is to rescue them from all unworthy pre-
judices, which is to dissipate the mists of ages, which
is to bring back the golden period of wisdom and
reason, which is to convert the whole earth into a
paradise, and which is to make men happy as angels
under its mild and benignant sway ! There is no
cant so disgusting as that of infidelity. Though

*Hume. tVolney's Law of Nature. tHobbes.

Rousseau. II Lord Herbert, the father of English Deists.

IT Lord Bolingbroke.



16 MODERN INFIDELITY.

most of its advocates have been libertines, though its
footsteps may be traced in the blood which it has
spilt, though it has trampled on all the laws of per-
sonal property and of individual right, though it pol-
lutes and degrades wherever it touches, yet are its ad-
vocates ever and anon boasting of its sublime virtues
and its blessed achievements. One thing we may
be quite sure of, that no one will listen to their vain
and empty declamations till he has lost a certain por-
tion of self-esteem, and till he wants to find an excuse
for his conduct in the laxness and uncertainty of his
belief. Looking at both the literary and vulgar part
of modern infidels, we are constrained to say of them,
in the words of the great apostle, " There is no fear
of God before their eyes."



CHAPTER I.



The views of Infidels respecting the moral character of God.

GOD cannot be duly feared as the proper object of
religious homage, where his moral attributes and
perfections are lost sight of. If we disconnect his
wisdom and power from his holiness, and goodness,
and justice, it is impossible to conceive of him with



MODERN INFIDELITY* 17

reverence, or to think of him with complacency. In
the Christian Scriptures, God's natural attributes are
invariably represented as the ministers of his bene-
volence, integrity and faithfulness. They declare
him, to be " a God of truth and without iniquity ; just
and right " in all his ways. They proclaim him to
be " the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
long-suffering and abundant in goodness and in
truth ; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving ini-
quity, transgression and sin, and yet by no means
clearing the guilty." They describe him as "of
purer eyes than to behold evil," and tell us that " he
cannot look upon iniquity." They exhibit him as
" righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his
works." They teach us that he is "not a God that
hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell
with him." Such is the God of revelation ; a Being
infinitely wise and powerful indeed, but one, at the
same time, " glorious in holiness, and fearful in
praises," and ever " doing wonders ;" a Being before
whom the highest orders of created intelligences
prostrate themselves and exclaim, " Holy, holy, ho-
ly is the Lord of hosts ; the whole earth is full of
his glory."

How unlike are these descriptions of the eternal
and immutable God, to the vague, contradictory and
even wicked representations of infidelity ! " We can-
not," says Lord Bolingbroke, " ascribe goodness and
justice to God, according to our ideas of them, nor
2*



18 MODERN INFIDELITY.

argue with any certainty about them ;" and again,
"it is absurd to deduce moral obligations from the
moral attributes of God, or to pretend to imitate
him in those attributes." The language held by
Bolingbroke is common to the infidel school. The
entire moral character of God is overlooked by
them, unless when they talk of his mercy, which
they always do in a manner totally inconsistent with
the existence of any such thing as a moral govern-
ment. Mercy displayed at the awful risk of pros-
trating the claims of immutable holiness, can only
be another name for injustice ; and can therefore
have no affinity to that infinitely benevolent Being
who, in all the distributions both of his goodness
and mercy, acts in a manner worthy of himself, the
source and pattern of all the rectitude and purity
which exist throughout the universe.

" The object," says Andrew Fuller, " of the
Christian adoration, is Jehovah, the God of Israel ;
whose character for holiness, justice and goodness,
is displayed in the doctrines and precepts of the Gos-
pel, in a more affecting light than by any of the pre-
ceding dispensations. But who or what is the god
of deists ? It is true they have been shamed out of
the polytheism of the heathens. They have reduced
their thirty thousand deities into one ; but what is his
character ? what attributes do they ascribe to him ?
For any thing that appears in their writings, he is
as far from the holy, the just, and the good, as those



MODERN INFIDELITY. 19

of their heathen predecessors. They enjoy a plea-
sure, it is allowed in contemplating the productions
of wisdom and power ; but as to holiness, it is foreign
from their inquiries : a holy God does not appear
to be suited to their wishes.

After tracing the conflicting views of modern in-
fidels, in reference to the proper standard of mo-
rality, the same powerful writer adds " It is wor-
thy of notice, that, amidst all the discordance of
these writers, they agree in excluding the Divine
Being from the theory of morals. They think af-
ter their manner ; but " God is not in all their
thoughts." In comparing the Christian doctrine of
morality, the sum of which is love, with their athe-
istical jargon, one seems to hear the voice of the Al-
mighty, saying, " Who is this that darkeneth coun-
sel with words without knowledge ? Fear God, and
keep his commandments ; for this is the whole duty
of man."



CHAPTER II.

Th.ough Infidels profess to hold the doctrine of the Divine ex-
istence, yet they refuse or neglect all (religious worship.

In this feature of their character they are more
inconsistent, and more irreligious too, than even pa-



20 MODERN INFIDELITY.

gan idolaters themselves, who evince great zeal and
make many sacrifices in the service of their dumb
idols. One would imagine, that if there be one great
first cause, the Creator and upholder of all things,
the benignant source of all the happiness which
creatures in any part of the universe enjoy one
would imagine, I say, that if such a Being exist, he
is entitled to the devout and spiritual worship of all
his intelligent creatures. Such is the dictate even of
unassisted reason, as has been demonstrated by a
reference even to the rudest and most brutalized
portions of the human race. How astounding then
is the fact, that only in Christian countries can men
be found denying the validity of stated worship to
the Deity ; as if the only use to be made of revela-
tion were to employ it for the horrid purpose of ob-
literating all our natural feelings of reverence for
his awful perfections! In the inspired volume we
learn that " God is a spirit, and that they who wor-
ship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."
This supposes the duty of worship, and prescribes
the qualities by which it is to be distinguished. The
language of those who know the divine character,
and who possess a right spirit, will ever be, " O
come, let us sing unto the Lord ; let us make a joy-
ful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come
before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a
joyful noise nnto him with psalms. For the Lord is
a great God, and a great King above all gods. O



MODERN INFIDELITY. 21

come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel be-
fore the Lord our Maker ; for he is our God, and
we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of
his hand." Men may boast as they please of their
belief in one God, but if they do him no actual hom-
age, if they have no stated seasons and places of de-
votion, they are in a far worse condition than were
those benighted Athenians whom Paul beheld pros-
trate at an altar dedicated to " the unknown God." It
is the temper, the disposition of infidelity, no less
than its preposterous creed, which distances it from
the spirit of true worship. Devotion cannot grow in
a soil on which the inexpressible levity of scepticism
has cast its withering blight. Religious awe cannot
be felt in a mind that has no sensible hold of God's
moral perfections. Love to God, drawing the soul
forth in repeated and habitual acts of grateful adora-
tion, cannot dwell in a heart where worldly lusts
and enmity against the moral government of the
Most High are struggling for the mastery.

The very same thing which led men of old to for-
sake the worship of the only living and true God,
and to betake themselves to the abominations of idol-
atry, is that which banishes from every circle of in-
fidels every thing like the semblance of religious
homage to the Deity. Is it demanded what this said
thing is ? I reply in the language of the apostle, " they
did not like to retain God in their knowledge." They
lost all delight in his holy character, and hence they



22 MODERN INFIDELITY.

sought relief for their guilty feelings in the exercises
of a religion which corresponded with the dictates of
their own impure hearts.

Deists are placed somewhat peculiarly. As they
are found only where revelation has either complete-
ly banished the grossness of idolatry, or where, at
least, it has shed its benignant rays, they cannot for
shame revel in the impurities of heathenism ; but as
they take no delight whatever in the character of
that one God whom they profess to adore, they live
in the habitual and avowed neglect of his worship.
The ancestors of paganism forsook his worship,
" because they did not like to retain him in their
thoughts ;" and for the same reason precisely, infi-
delity has no temple, no altar, no sacrifice, no avow-
ed, habitual, and well defined worship to that glori-


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Online LibraryJohn MorisonCounsels to young men, on modern infidelity and the evidences of Christianity → online text (page 1 of 13)