« PreviousContinue »
To expound Scripture to the satisfaction of every person's judgment, when the plainest truths are every day distorted by argument, arising from · habits, which, imperceptibly taking hold of men, influence that noblest of their faculties, to the entire perversion sometimes of right reason, ever has been, and is likely still to be, impossible for any mortal to achieve. That men, however, as wise in every branch of science as the Greeks themselves were said to be, do believe all that is “ in the scripture of truth,” not solely from the divine assistance which I am assured is
given to good men to the influence of their belief, but because, by close attention, the disputed parts of prophecy are found in so many instances to be borne out by the admitted ones, and that as human ingenuity in the person of one or many could not have contrived the authentic ramifications of the text, nor would sinful man of himself against his fellow, have denounced the awful and awaiting punishments for incorrigibleness, which the scriptures : contain. This alone should silence cavilling, and render the disbeliever cautious, and the believer bold."
Locke was a learned man and a profound reasoner, and he believed in all scriptural prophecy, and pointed out parts that were to have an ulterior accomplishment. Bacon was a prodigy of faith as well as learning, and seems to have comprehended the scriptures beyond any that were before him since
the Christian era:-" I believe," says he,
that there is an universal and Catholic church of God, dispersed over the face of the earth, which is Christ's spouse and Christ's body; being gathered of the fathers of the old world, of the church of the Jews, of the spirits of the faithful dissolved, and the spirits of the faithful militant, and of the names yet to be born, which are already written in the Book of Life. I believe that the souls of such as die in the Lord are blessed, and rest from their labours, and enjoy the sight of God, yet so as they wait for a further revelation of their glory in the last day. At what time all flesh of man shall arise and be changed; and shall appear and receive from Jesus Christ his eternal judgment; and the glory of the saints shall then be full, and the kingdom shall be given up to God the Father: from which time all things shall continue for ever in that being and state which they then shall receive."
Thus is expressed the faith of that most highly gifted and luminous of men, who searched the scriptures for himself, and abjured the selfish and superstitious doctrines of the Romish church, who, for the darkness that prevailed around her, set up a barrier to the word of God, and would have held us in the trammels of ignorance and the bonds of tyranny; but for minds like that of Bacon, which, athirst, have drank deeply of the wells of wisdom, and promulgating the influenced result, have burst the bars asunder, thrown down the flood-gates, and let forth the streams of life; for that “ the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
Newton was a Christian and believed in
Scripture, but gave private interpretations to parts, as where it is said, " the sun shall be turned into darkness.” This, he says, is put for the overthrow or fall of a kingdom: as if the miracle were greater of the sun being turned into darkness, than the formation of it. As for the saying, that “it stood still,” a fact in accordance with the glorious dispensation of the gospel of Christ, the most exalted for our contemplation, for we behold the power of the Everlasting swayed by man; for as Jacob overcame the angel, so in the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven, shall all things hereafter be put in subjection to man. Oh, but it did not mean that it stood still! for this great mathematician, confirming the opinions of the heathen school, showed that the earth with all its clouds and vapours traversed the firmament with eccentric motions around the sun, besides revolving on its axis. All this he demonstrated, whilst, at the same time, the stars, which are at different distances, alter not their positions, neither do they come together as in eclipses,