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DOCTORS' COMMONS, (BACK OF APOFHECARIES' HALL,)
AND SOLD BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.
TRUTH AND NECESSITY OF REVELATION.
BY THE REV. DR. CHALMERS.
Extracted from Notes of Lectures delivered in the University of Edinburgh.
Dr. Hill says, if we prove revelation to be true, that proves it to be necessary, since God does nothing in vain. To investigate its necessity before its truth, is an inversion of the proper order; and imparts to the subsequent steps of the argument any uncertainty that attaches to itself. He looks upon the faith of the common people, as grounded more on habit than on reason ; but that cannot be real faith, which is not grounded on evidence. The opinion he expresses arises from his meagre notions ;
not adverting to a kind of evidenee which has the same power on the mind of a peasant, as on that of a philosopher,--the internal evidence. There may be real substantial grounds for belief, though the subject of it may not be able to state those grounds. The evidence might be legitimately felt, and the process undergone, though he might not be able to describe the process. One of the most valuable remarks in Whateley’s “ Logie” is, that good reasoning was current in the world, before the origin of logic; the object of the latter being not to p escibe the rules of good reasoning, but to classify the species of good reasoning. This applies, in all its force, to the process by which the common people arrive at sound faith. It is not the less real, although they (or any one else) may not be able to describe the process. Christian evidence produced its effects, long before Christian logicians arose. Christianity may be at work, converting its thousands and tens of thousands, before the process of conversion is analyzed. Dr. Hill does not seem to lay sufficient stress on the internal evidences of Christianity. He begins with the historical evidence. The institutions of Christianity, such as baptism and the Lord's Supper, form a very striking species of evidence.
Grotius is exceedingly well worth reading; and I very much approve a lengthened note, at the beginning of his work, giving an analysis of the extra-scriptural testimonies to Christianity. MacKnight is very ponderous, and has been superseded by later works.
There is a kind of internal evidence, for which I have no value ; though I have been much abused for discarding it. There is another kind, for which I have the highest value. The second is Baconian, the first is anti-Baconian. It is the latter when that with which we compare Christianity, is something of which we have no direct and personal knowledge. The evidence arising from what is called “ the reason of the doctrine," supposes a prior knowledge of the details of the Divine administration ; such as “ the exceeding propriety of sending a forerunner to Christ." But that is very different from the coincidence between the subject-matter of Christianity, and feelings within the homestead of our own consciousness. I object to the former mode of reasoning, on the same ground on which I discard the majority of deistical objections. Rousseau says, the external evidence of Christianity is so strong, that the inventor would be a more marvellous personage than the hero; but that all this is overbalanced by the internal absurdities of revelation, since it is quite impossible that God would have sent men into the world, under the taint of a great moral disease. But if we set aside this ohjection, we must also set aside much of that internal evidence on the ride of revelations, which is drawn from the same terra incognita.