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accomplished men of affluence, or of profound and learned theologians. The greatest of all national blessings, certainly the greatest national reform, were to bring within reach of all, the means of this best and highest education. Herein lie the true dignity of man, the proudest rights and investitures of humanity. This is the genuine majesty of the people—unknown to mock patriotism, that seeks for the hosannahs of the multitude in another way and by other promises, which, never realized, only serve to flatter and deceive them.
17. They who incredulously regard the people as beyond the reach of this achievement, must be ignorant of that evidence in our religion which is addressed to the consciences of men—which evidence indeed is the great, if not the only instrument of christianization, both in and out of Christendom. To this evidence in fact we owe the great bulk of our home Christianity. We on this subject make our confident appeal to the ministers of the Gospel, and bid then tell what that is which originates and which fashions the Christianity of their own people. Was it a series of lectures on the Deistical controversy ?
Was it the argument of Paley or of Leslie or of Butler that germinated their faith ? Whether was it the doctrine in the book or the history of the book that was the instrument of their conversion ? That the people might see the truth of the Gospel had they to plant an historic ladder, ascending from the present age to that of the Apostles—or, by the lights of criticism and erudition, had they to guide them by a series of indices along the historic pathway, till they could
lay their hands on the authenticity of the books of the New Testament; or the certainty of the narrative contained in it? If they have faith at all they have a reason for their faith. They do see the truth of the Gospel-and the question is whether they see it immediately, in the light of scripture doctrine ; or mediately, in the light of historical demonstration.
enter the house of one of our cottage patriarchs, and examine the library which lies in little room upon his shelves—we may there find what that is which has begun, and what that is which aliments his Christianity. They are not books on the external history of the Bible. They are the Bible itself, and books on the internal substance and contents of the Bible. They are the Flavels and the Guthries and the Richard Baxters of the puritanic age who are his favourites—men who say little or nothing on the argumentative evidence of scripture; but who unfold the subject matter, and who urge and urge most impressively on the consciences of their readers the lessons of scripture. In a word, it is by a perpetual interchange between the conscience and the Bible that their Christianity is upholden,-—by a light struck out between the sayings of the one and the findings of the other. It is not a light which is out of the book, but a light which is in the book, that commences and sustains the Christianity of our land—the Christianity of our ploughmen, our artizans, our men of handicraft and of hard labour. Yet not the Christianity theirs of deceitful imagination, or of implicit adherence to authority ; but the Christianity of deep, we will add, of rational belief, firmly and profoundly seated in the principles of our moral nature, and nobly accredited by the virtues of our well-conditioned peasantry. In the olden time of presbytery—that time of scriptural Christianity in our pulpits and of psalmody in all our cottages, these men grew and multiplied in the land—and, though derided in the heartless literature, and discountenanced or disowned in the heartless politics of other days, it is their remnant which acts as a preserving salt among our people, and which constitutes the real strength and glory of the Scottish nation.
18. Yet, however sufficient for the practical object of conversion that evidence may be as addressed to the consciences of the people, let none on that account detract from the importance of the external, or rather what may be termed the literary and argumentative evidence for the truth of Christianity. Without this last, Christianity would soon forfeit the respect and confidence of the enlightened and upper classes of society; and their influence, the infection of their example, would speedily descend among the people, among whom at length the ordinances of the Gospel, and more especially the hearing of it, would fall into general neglect and desuetude. Even were it possible that our religion could have had its present experimental and popular, without its historical and scientific evidence; yet, wanting the latter, the former would cease to be operative, simply by its ceasing to be attended to. Whatever evidence may lie enveloped, like some pearl of great price
in an unopened casket, in the subject matter of Christianity—it must be altogether fruitless, without an earnest and persevering regard on the part of conscience-stricken inquirers, and, who in general too, are only so stricken in the act of reading their Bibles or of listening to the friends and the ministers of religion. But if in any country, Christianity should become the object of general contempt to the higher and more intellectual orders of the community, both ministers and Bibles would in process of time become the objects of general abandonment by the multitude at large. It is therefore well that Christianity possesses that which, on justice being done to its credentials and its claims, must command for it the homage of the most exalted whether in rank or in scholarship; and accordingly in Britain, where perhaps the aristocracy both of wealth and of talent is more virtuous than in most other nations, the erudite or academic demonstration of the truth of Christianity has been most studied ; and it is well, we repeat, that Christianity is so firmly based on this species of argument, as to have kept its ground among the reasoners. It is not the power or the triumph of this argument which works among the multitude a general faith in the christian religion ; but it has helped, it has greatly though it may be indirectly helped, to maintain their 'general respect for it; and whatever the influence may be, whether it is hereditary attachment or the mechanical operation of habit or the testimony of their superiors in favour of the established religion, which keeps up their adherence to Bibles and to the
Um of sie lanetin society leares e Fisturbed the respect and attention of the unlearned to the laume of the Gospel; and it is by the power of tisan leams upon their consciences that the uslearned aung the people are converted. But what is more, it is not the learned argument that converts even the learned of the community. It may conciliate them so far as to command their arquiescence or their intellectual homage for the truth of revelation. It may satisfy their understandings as to the critical and historical credentialı of the book ; but to experience the truth in its power or in its saving efficacy, they must become experimentally acquainted with the contents of the book. Their satisfaction with the credentials will, on the one hand, but aggravate their indifference to the contents of the Bible; and, on the other hand, it is only when they pass from the study of the one to the earnest and prayerful and conscientious study of the other—it is only after they have opened their Bibles and are devoutly and diligently employed in exploring its pages, that they are in likely circumstances for obtaining that faith, which enters alike into the mind of the philo