صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

put Mr. Barker into the witness-box, examined him as a witness against the Bible and showed his evidence to be insufficient to substantiate his charges.

Mr. BARKER said that in scarcely one single instance Mr. Grant represented him truthfully. He stated that he (Mr. B.) said he could produce a thousand pagans who believed in one God, whereas his assertion was that he could quote a thousand passages from pagan authority, teaching the doctrine of the unity of God. He used to think his character had been formed to a great extent by the Bible, but whilst he believed that some portions of the Bible had a good effect upon him, still others had a bad effect. While using the Bible he did not know what it would be to live without considering that book as of divine origin. Now, however, he could say that he had lived for some years as an unbeliever, and he could confidently assert that during that time he had been happier than ever he was before. The Bible laws as to slavery, gave one people possession of another for ever, and could that be tolerated, whatever might be said in its justification ? He did not consider the Bible as a book totally bad : it could hardly be expected that amongst so much none would be good ; and as in California gold was found among the rocks, so were found gems amongst the continent of mud of the old Testament. All was not truth; much was error He then quoted laws from the Old Testament, and contended that those laws were binding upon Christians of the present day, as they were ordered to do what those who sat in the seat of Moses bade them. It was blasphemous for Christians to attribute such laws to God; for could it be supposed that a perfect being would order such unjust punishments as those of putting men to death for comparatively trivial offences ?" Mr. Grant had boasted much of the ten commandments but there was not one word said against slavery, and they left men, as to their duty, in doubt on a thousand points of vast importance. Then, the directions about the tabernacle, the animals to be used for food and those not to be so used, were equally bad and indicative of human origin. He concluded by remarking that amongst the Jewish laws, some were not very faulty but none were so good as to give us reasons to think they had come from God.

Mr. GRANT said it seemed to him very weak on the part of his opponent to go into the medical, sanitary, and other regulations of the Israelites, instead of examining their laws to see what was the condition of the people, and whether those laws were or were not suited to that condition, Mr. Barker still blundered on the ignorant assumption that those laws were binding upon Christians, arguing that we ought to eat this thing and not that, as those laws commanded, though he was told that the kingdom of God came not by eating or drinking, and that Peter was instructed to call nothing common or unclean. Mr. Grant then proceeded with his general argument in reference to the Bible. Mr, Barker had' found fault with him for stating that he could produce one thousand instances of pagans who believed iu the unity of God. At all events he said he could give a thousand quotations, and if he quoted a thousand authors he suppposed he would quote a thousand cases. He then noticed Mr. Barker's falsifications of the meaning of the passages of the New Testament writings wuoted by him as prophecies that had been falsified. The Jews said Mr. Grant, had been punished for their wickedness by God, as it was predicted that they would be punished, and as a man would punisń his wife should she prove unfaithful to him. He then pointed out some of the beauties of the Bible, and argued that there was no book that gave loftier ideas of the Divine Being

Mr. BARKER said it was unnecessary for him to repeat the passages from the gospels given last night. Mr. Grant's explanation, however, had not removed the difficulty, for all those things were done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, &c. He was fully aware that Christians did not believe them to be prophecies, but they did until infidels had exposed the fraud so fully that they could not do it longer. He then observed that Professor Norton, Mr. Grant's favourite author, was a man that did not believe in the divine authority of the gospels or of the Old Testament, and quoted from “Stewart's canon of the Old Testament,” Norton's opinion that the Pentateuch could never have been written by Moses, because it contained accounts of events which did not happen till after his time, and that the books of Joshua and Judges contained extravagant fables and false prodigies. This was Mr. Grant's reliable authority. If Mr. Grant believed Norton to be such, he was of his (Mr. B's) opinion; and if he did not he cheated them.

Mr. GRANT concluded the debate. He said he took Norton as a critic upon the safe and certain transmissions of the gospels to us, because he gave historical proofs and reasons, and because in what he wrote he showed he had given reasons, and because in what he wrote he showed he had given careful research to the subject. Mr. Barker quoted Norton's opinion of the books Moses, not of the gospels, and those opinions were not of the origin of those books, but of their contents, and were perhaps the same as his opinions of the contents of the gospels. Mr. Grant commented at some length on the unfairness which his opponent had shown, in censuring the acts of Bible characters. He concluded by another allusion to the case of Solomon, showing that his wisdom in governing was given him by God in answer to his prayer, and arguing that he was represented as the wisest man only in his kingly capacity, and without any reference to his moral character,

DIFFERENT DISPENSATIONS- UNCHANGEABLENESS OF GOD.

It is often objected by infidels ;—“If God was the author both of the Jewish religion and the Christian religion, and if the Christian religion be different from the Jewish,-if God commanded something to the Jews, which he forbids to Christians, God must be changeable."

Ans. The religion of Christ differs very considerably from the religion of the Jews, and yet God might be the author of both without being changeable. God is the author both of the sun and moon, and the sun and moon differ widely from one another, and yet it does not follow that God is changeable. He made the sun and moon for different purposes : the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, and they are both well adapted to their purposes. So with the religion of the Jews, and the religion of Christ. The religion of the Jews was like the moon, or like the morning star, adapted exactly to its place and time; but not adapted for the whole world, or for all times. The religion of Christ is the sun, intended to bring in the full light of day, and adapted to all ages, and to all climes.

2. Again,--the different dispensations of religion which God, at different ages of the world, has given to mankind, appear to me a proof of his unchangeableness. A Being that is unchangeable, must vary his conduct according as times and circumstances vary. If a doctor be unchangeably skilful, and un. changeably desirous to cure his patient, he will vary his prescriptions as the disease of his patient varies. The same skill and the same desire to cure his patient, which made him at first give purging medicines, will cause him, when the fever or inflammation is past, to prescribe strengthening and refreshing medicipes. The very same unchanging skill, and the same unchanging care for his

patient, which led him, at first, to direct him to lie quiet in bed, will cause him, when his patient is recovering, to order him to go out, and exercise himself a little in the fresh air. So with a father: if he hath an unchanging affection for his son, he will vary his conduct towards him according to his years. At first, he will suffer him to hang upon his mother's breast, and feed upon that milk which God has provided for him; but when the boy grows stronger, he must have other food. At first, the father carries him in his arms, but afterwards he holds him by the hand and lets him walk, and in course of time allows him to run at large, supported and guided only by himself. As he grows stronger, his father em. ploys him, first in easy labours, then in harder ; one while he sends him to school, and then again he puts him apprentice; and last of all, he sets him free from his youthful servitude, and allows him to take his place with men. So it is with the schoolmaster : if he be a skilful and faithful teacher, and unchanging in his skill and fidelity, he will change his course of proceeding towards his children continually. He will first drill the scholar in the alphabet, then he may give him a Reading made Easy," then a spelling-book, and as the scholar advances in years and learning, he will continue to change his lessons and his books. A very ignorant person might exclaim, as he looks on these things, "What changeable people these are; they do not keep to the same thing a single day.” But a person of understanding would perceive that what the foolish man regarded as a proof of changeableness was, in truth, a proof that the parties remained the same. Just so with respect to God. God is a physician, mankind are his patients. God loves mankind, and desires their spiritual health; he knows exactly what is needful for our cure, from first to last, and in his love and knowledge he is unchangeable. What sort of conduct, then, are we to look for from him? Are we to expect that he will give his patients the same unvarying medicine from first to last, without any respect to the health of his patients? If he should do that, it would be a proof either that he had lost his skill, or that he no longer wished to cure his patients. In a word, it would be a proof that he had changed, and that either his views or his affections were very different from what they had been before. If we have understanding, we shall expect to see God altering his prescriptions, as the changing state of man's health requires ; and this perpetual change in his treatment of afflicted humanity, we shall regard as a proof that in his wisdom and in his love of the human family, the Great Physician is unchangeable. God is a parent, we are his children, and God is unchangeably attached to his children, and invariably seeks their highest happiness. What course shall we expect his unchanging wisdom and goodness to pursue ? Will he treat mankind in one unvarying way from first to last ? By no means.

While the human race is in its infancy, he will exercise their feeble powers with childlike labours, giving them little tasks and easy ones, such as their childish state requires. Thus did God deal with the the first generations of men ; he laid few burdens upon them, and those but light ones. The laws he gave to the Patriarchs were very few and far from strict, but they were as many and as strict as in those rude and infant ages could be of service to mankind. It was necessary that some laws should be given thus early, and it was necessary that those laws should not be many or severe, and the kindness and wisdom of our Father appointed it so.

But after a number of generations had passed away, men became intellectually, and morally stronger; tliey were capable of greater exercises, and they needed them; and God, always the same affectionate Father, gave them more work. He gave the law by Moses, and accompanied the law with fuller revelations of his character and providence. Under th new dispensation the human family rose still higher, and gathered more inward strength, and became prepared for greater and better things ; and it was then that God, in the same unchanged and unchangeable wisdom and benevolence, abolished former systems, and gave a full and perfect system of truth and duty by Jesus Christ. But in all these changes we see the same unchanging Father, pursuing the same grand end, the greatest happiness of the human race.

Once more; God is a teacher, we are his scholars ; and the object of the Teacher is to make us wise. What shall he do? Shall he give us just one book, and keep us to that book without change? If he should do so, what should we learn ? But this he does not do. Our Teacher is wise and kind; he wishes to make us wise also; and in this his gracious wish he is unchangeable. Then he will, of course, give us lessons and books and instructions according to our wants and capacities, and he will vary them as our wants and capacities

, may vary. A wise and gracious God could do no other, without appearing changeable. This is the course that God has pursued. At the beginning he taught men the alphabet of truth and duty, the first rudiments of heavenly learning, and he exercised their thoughts and feelings with things visible, and carnal, and worldly. But when the fulness of time was come, when men were fit for higher lessons, Christ came, took us from the lower school and from the imperfect elements of truth, and instructed us in the perfection of wisdom and holiness. Thus it is ; the very facts on which unbelievers rest their objection against the unchangeableness of God, prove God to be unchangeable. There is change in the universe, but it is the creature that changeth, and not the Creator. There have been changes in the dispensations of heaven towards the children of men, but those changes have been the necessary offspring of unchanging wisdom and love.-Barker's " Christianity Triumphant."

HOW OUR READERS CAN HELP US.

cause.

There are not a few of our readers who have helped us. We beg to tender to them our best thanks. If they desire our existence, and deem our advocacy of any value to the cause of truth, they will, doubtless, continue their assistance. Our own labours and responsibilities will be gladly borne if they are of service to our brethren who are inquiring after truth, or who have been misled by the false lights of scepticism. We have abundant testimony that in the past they have been of service to not a few, and this should lead our friends not to relax, but if possible to redouble their exertions, to give us a stronger and more vigorous existence. A feeble and doubtful one would be a very uncertain advantage to the

There are others of our readers who have not thought that we require any assistance. They may have looked upon our work as a mere business speculation; and while it has afforded them pleasure to see us in the field, they have not felt that there is anything for them to do. They need to be informed that the entire responsibility is our own, and that we have not the slightest idea of reaping any advantage whatever from our labour. Nothing but a strong sense of duty, and a confident expectation of support could have led us to undertake the work; and nothing but a deep conviction of its importance would lead us to encounter its cares, anxieties, and difficulties. The want of a weekly penny periodical, devoted to the exposition and advocacy of Christianity, and to the refutation and exposure of modern infidelity had long been felt. Seeing no probability of its being met, we resolved upon attempting to supply it. How we have hitherto succeeded, and how we might succeed if there was accorded to us a franker and more generous support, we leave it for our readers to judge.

In entering upon a new quarter, we have determined to put forth renewed efforts to render our work more worthy of the attention of the people, and more widely useful in the instruetion which it conveys, and in the moral stimulus which it impacts. We intend opening in our pages a miniature portrait gallery where our youthful readers may study the cħaracters of the great, the good, and the wise of other days,—where they may mark the toils, the sorrows, the aspirations, the struggles, and the triumphs of genius and virtue; and where on the other side they may see the pernicious influence of scepticism in bedimning the light of the soul, in quenching the fires of sympathy, in robbing life of its highest aim, and unfitting man for his present sphere and his futuré destiny. We

purpose also indicating the signs of the times, both political and ecclesiasti cal; and, if the change in the law in reference to newspapers, allows us, we may give a weekly narrative of current events, for moral uses. While we endeavour to repel the objections of infidelity, we shall not overlook the importance of showing the practical bearing of Christianity. The report which we have given of the Bible discussion at Halifax, has prevented us from inserting a series of dialogues with so-called free-thinkers, which will throw some light upon their character and position, and may afford amnsement as well as instruction to our readers.

Secularists must no longer boast of their freedom of thought and speech. In no infidel periodical whatever has there been inserted in a year as much against their views, as we have allowed to appear in the Defender against ours, in three months. Neither Mr. Holyoake, nor Mr. Barker have found it convenient to reply to any of our articles. The working classes are beginning to see for what purposes they sought discussion, and why they seem now studiously to avoid it, unless it is likely" to bring grist to their mill.” Our pages bave been, and are, open to them ; we have challenged them to dispute the facts we have stated, and yet they are ominously silent. Not a few who once regarded their objec tions as unanswerable, now perceive that they are only shallow sophisms; and some whose minds were beclouded by scepticism now walk in the light and liberty of heavenly truth. Such results, to however limited an extent they may have been achieved, must furnish reasons strong enough why our friends should inquire how they can help us, and we think it only our duty to answer the question.

It can scarcely be necessary to inform our readers that it is impossible to launch a weekly periodical without a great amount of expense. At the commencement there is always a great deal of expense which never again occurs. We have been credibly informed that nearly one thousand pounds were spent in ushering into existence a weekly periodical of the same size. At the commencement of the Reasoner there was a GUARANTEE FUND, formed principally of the shillings of the working classes, while several of the richer friends of antiChristianism contributed their five-pound notes. All through its seventeen volumes there has been a Propagandist Fund, generally realizing upwards of £50 per annum. Without this it must have ceased to exist long ere now. And are there not Christians enough, who feel the importance of a periodical like the Defender, to give it increased efficiency-by contributing a small sum quarterly to such an object. A very small amount of self-denial-the relinguishing of some trifle or some luxury, would go far towards enabling us to reach many in the workshops and manufactories of our large towns, whom the voice from the pulpit never reaches. Have we not ascertained that many do not go to church, or chapel, because from prejudice, it may be, they suppose that nothing new can be heard there ? And will not many of them read a periodical where they will find both sides. May we not ask those who value truth, who seek the welfare of the working classes, and who wish to see those of them who have been alienated from Christianity restored, to come forward and help us.

There is another way in which our friends can render assistance. They can recommend the work and secure subscribers. In some instances a working man has secured from 15 to 20 subscribers to the Defender amongst his fellowworkmen. Much can be done in this way; and if such persons will have the kindness to correspond with us we shall do everything in our power to help them. Let

« السابقةمتابعة »