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ent testimony have we from the polished Rousseau of the superiority of religion to the highest state of Philosophy!
Did not the witty, and, whilst an unbeliever, the wicked and proAligate Earl of Rochester find more comfort on his return to, and under the happy influence of religion; than he did during his career of infidelity ? Let his conversion answer. Look at Lord Lyttleton, Bacon, Haller, Lord Herbert,
, the Rev. T. Scott, and the renowned Bunyan.
Happy, Mr. Editor, shall I be if what I have said should meet the any infidel and be the means of causing him to enter into an examination of the evidences of Christianity, and lead him to bestow the necessary labour, which the deep and solemn importance of the subject demands from all. I fear not the result of such examination.
Your humble reader,
THE BLANK BIBLE.
it or upon
I thought I was at home, and that on taking up my Greek Testament one morning (asis my wont) to read a chapter, I found, to my surprise, that what seemed to be the old familiar book, was a total blank ; not a character was inscribed in
it. I supposed that some book like it had, by some accident, got into its place; and without stopping to hunt for it, took down a large quarto volume which contained both the Old and New Testaments. To my surprise, however, this was also a blank from beginning to end. With that facility of accommodation to any absurdities which is proper to dreams, I did not think very much of the coincidence of two blank volumes having been substituted for two copies of the scriptures in two different places, and therefore quietly reached down a copy of the Hebrew Bible, in which I could just manage to make out a chapter. To my increased surprise, and even something like terror, I found that this also was a perfect blank. While I was musing on this unaccountable phenomenon, my servant entered the room, and said that thieves had been in the house during the night, for that her large Bible, which she had left on the kitchen table, had been removed, and another volume left by mistake in its place, of just the same size, but made of nothing but white paper. She added, with a laugh, that it must have been a very queer kind of thief to steal a Bible at all; and that he should have left another book instead, made it the more odd. I asked her if any thing else had been missed, and if there were any signs of people having entered the house. She answered in the negative to both these questions; and I began to be strangely perplexed.
On going out into the street, I met a friend, who, almost before we had exchanged greetings, told me that a most unaccountable robbery had been committed at his house during the night, for that every copy of the Bible had been removed, and a volume of exactly the same size, but of pure white paper, left in its stead. Upon telling him that the same accident had happened to myself, we began to think that there was more in it than we had at first surmised.
On proceeding further we found every one complaining, in similiar perplexity, of the same loss; and before night it became evident that a great and terrible "miracle” had been wrought in the world ; that in one night silently, but effectually, that hand which had written its terrible menace on the walls of Belshazzar's palace, had reversed the miracle ; had spunged out of our Bibles every syllable they contained, and thus reclaimed the most precious gift which heaven had bestowed, and ungrateful man abused.
I was curious to watch the effects of this calamity on the varied characters of mankind. There was universally, however, an interest in the Bible now it was
lost, such as had never attached to it while it was possessed ; and he who had been but happy enough to possess fifty copies might have made his fortune. One keen speculator, as soon as the first whispers of the miracle began to spread, hastened to the depositories of the Bible Society and the great book-stocks in Paternoster Row, and offered to buy up at a high premium any copies of the Bible that might be on hand; but the worthy merchant was informed that there was not a single copy remaining. Some, to whom their Bible had been a “blank” book for twenty years, and who would never have known whether it was full or empty, had not the lamentations of their neighbours impelled them to look into it, were not the least loud in their expressions of sorrow at this calamity. One old gentleman, who had never troubled the book in his life, said it was
“hard to be deprived of his religion in his old age;" and another, who seemed to have lived as though he had always been of Mandeville's opinion, that “private vices were public benefits," was all at once alarmed for the morals of mankind. He feared, he said, that the loss of the Bible would have
a cursed bad effect on the public virtue of the country.”
As the fact was universal and palpable, it was impossible that, like other miracles, it should leave the usual loopholes for scepticism. Miracles in general, in order to be miracles at all, have been singular or very rare violations of a general law, witnessed by a few, on whose testimony they are received, and in the reception of whose testimony consists the exercise of that faith to which they appeal. It was evident that, whatever the reason of this miracle, it was not an exercise of docile and humble faith founded on evidence no more than just sufficient to operate as a moral test. This was a miracle which, it could not be denied, looked marvellously like a "judgment.” However, there were, in some cases, indications enough to show how difficult it is to give such evidence as will satisfy the obstinacy of mankind. One old sceptical fellow, who had been for many years bed-ridden, was long in being convinced (if, indeed, he ever was) that any thing extraordinary had occurred in the world; he at first attributed the reports of what he heard to the “impudence” of his servants and dependents, and wondered that they should dare to venture upon such a joke. On finding these assertions backed by those of his acquaintance, he pished and pshawed, and looked very wise, and ironically congratulated them on this creditable conspiracy with the insolent rascals, his servants. On being shown the old Bible, of which he recognised the binding, though he had never seen the inside, and finding it a very fair book of blank paper, he quietly observed that it was very easy to substitute the one book for the other, he though did not pretend to divine the motives which indnced people to attempt such a clumsy piece of imposition; and on their persisting that they were not deceiving him, swore at them as a set of knaves, who would persuade him out of his senses. On their bringing him a pile of blank Bibles, backed by the asseverations of other neighbours, he was ready to burst with indignation. “As to the volumes," he said, “it was not difficult to procure a score or two of common place books,' and they had doubtless done so to carry on the cheat; for himself, he would sooner believe that the whole world was leagued against him, than credit any such nonsense."
They were angry, in their turn, at his incredulity, and told him that he was very much mistaken if he thought himself of so much importance that they would all perjure themselves to delude him, since they saw plainly enough that he could do that very easily for himself, without any help of theirs. They really did not care one farthing whether he believed them or not : if he did not choose to believe the story, he might leave it alone. “Well, well," said he, “it is all very fine; but unless you show me, not one of these blank books, which could not impose on an owl, but one of the very blank Bibles themselves, I will not believe. At this curious demand, one of his nephews who stood by (a lively young man) was so excessively tickled, that though he had some ex
pectations from the sceptic, he could not help bursting, out into laughter ; but he became grave enough wben his angry uncle told him that he would leave him in his will nothing but the family Bible, which he might make a ledger of if he pleased. Whether this resolute old sceptic ever vanquished his incredulity, I do not remember.--Eclipse of Faith.
(To be continued.)
UNPUBLISHED LETTER OF JOHN LOCKE.
A Letter from Mr. John Locke to Mr. Samuel Bold at Steeple, which is not to be found in
the collection of his works. SIR, --Yours of the 11th April I received not till last week. I suppose Mr. Churchil stay'd it till that discourse wherein you have been pleased to
Essay, was printed that they might come together, though neither of them needs a companion to recommend it to me. Your reasonings are so strong and just, and your friendship to me so visible, that everything must be welcome to me, that comes from your pen, let it be of what kind soever.
I promise myself that to all those who are willing to open their eyes, and enlarge their minds to a true knowledge of things, this little treasure of yours will be greatly acceptable and useful, and for those that will shut their eyes for fear they should see further than others have seen before them, or rather for fear they should use them, and not blindly and lazily follow the sayings of others, what can be done to them? They are to be let alone to join in the cry of the herd they have placed themselves in, and tɔ take that for applause, which is nothing more than the noise that of course they make to one another, which way (so)ever they are going ; so that the greatness of it is no manner of proof that they are in the right. I say not this, because it is a discourse wherein you favour any opinion of mine (for "I take care not to be deceived by the reasonings of my friends, but say it from those, who are strangers to you, and who own themselves to have received light and conviction from the clearess and closeness of your reasoning, and that, in a matter at first sight very abstuse and remote from ordinary conceptions.
There is nothing that would more rejoice me, then to have you for a neighbour. The advantage that you promise yourself from mine, I should derive from your conversation. The iinpartial lovers and seekers of truth are a great deal fewer then one could wish or imagine. It is a rare thing to find any one to whom one may communicate one's thoughts fully, and from whom one may expect a careful examination and impartial judgment of them. To be learned in the lump by other men's thoughts, and to be in the right by saying after others, is the much easier and quieter way: but how a rational man that should inquire and know for himself, can content himself with a faith or religion from trust, or with such a servile submission of his understanding, as to admit all, and nothing else, but what fashion makes passable among men, is to me astonishing. I do not wonder
you shonld have, in many points different apprehensions from what you meet with in authors; with a free mind, that unbiassedly pursues truth, it cannot be otherwise. First, all authors did not write unbiassedly for truth's sake. Secondly, there are scarce any two men, that have perfectly the same view of the same thing, but they come with attention, and perhaps mutual assistance, to examine it,-a consideration that makes conversation with the living a thing much more desirable and useful, than consulting the dead; would the living but be inquisitive after truth, and apply their thoughts with attention to the gaining of it, and be indifferent, where it was found, so they could but find it.
The first requisite to the profiting by books, is not to judge of opinions by the authority of the writers. None have the right of dictating but God himselč,
and that because he is truth itself. All others have a right to be followed as far as I, i. e. as the evidence of what they say convinces; and of that my own understanding alone must be judge for me, and nothing else. If we made our own eyes, our guides, and admitted or rejected opinions only by the evidence of reason, we should neither embrace or refuse any tenet, because we find it published by another, of what name or character soever he was.
You say you lose many things because they slip from you: I have had experience of that myself, but for that my Lord Bacon has provided a sure remedy. For as I remeniber, he advises, somewhere, never to go without pen and ink, or something to write with, and to be sure not to neglect to write down all thoughts, of moment that come into the mind. I must own I have omitted it often, and have often repented it. The thoughts that come unsought, and as it were dropt into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured because they seldom return again. You say also, that you lose many things, because your thoughts are not steady and strong enough to pursue them to a just issue. Give me leave to think, that herein you mistake yourself and your abilities. Write down your thoughts upon any subject as far as you have at any time pursued them, and then go on again some other time when you find
your mind disposed to it, and so till you have carried them as far as you can, and you will be convinced that if you have lost any, it has not been for want of strength of mind to bring them to an issue, but for want of memory to retain a long train of reasoning, which the mind having once beat out, is loth to be at the pains to go over again; and so your connexion and train having slipped the memory, the pursuit stops, and the reasoning is lost before it comes to the last conclusion. If you have not tried it, you cannot imagine the difference there is, in studying with, and without a pen in your hand; your ideas, if the connections of them that you have traced be set down, so that without the recollecting them in your memory you can take an easy view of them again will lead you farther than you expect. Try, and tell me if it not just so. I say not this that I should not be glad to have any conversation upon whatever points you may employ your thoughts about. Propose what you have of this kind freely, and do not suspect that it will interfere with my
affairs. I know that besides the pleasure that it is to converse with a thinking man and a lover of truth, I shall profit by it more than you. This you would see by, the frequency of my visits, if you were within the reach of them.
That which I think of Deut. 12. 15. is this, that the reason why it is said, as the Roebuck and the Hart, is because (Levit. 17.) to prevent idolatry, in offering the blood to other gods, they were commanded to kill all the cattle that they eat, at the door of the tabernacle as a peace-offering, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar; but wild beasts that were clean might be eaten though their blood
was not offered to God (v. 12.) because being killed, before they were taken, their blood could not be sprinkled on the altar; and therefore it sufficed in such cases, to pour out their blood wherever they were killed and cover it with dust. And for the same reason, when the camp was broken up, wherein the whole people were in the neighbourhood of the tabernacle, during their forty years' passage from Egypt to Canaan, and the people were scattered in habittations through all the land of promise, those who were so far from the Teniple were excused (Deut. 12. 21,22.) from killing their tame cattle at Jerusalem, and sprinkling their blood on the altar. No more was required of them than in killing a roebuck or any wild beast; they were only to pour out the blood and cover it with dust, and so they might enjoy the flesh. These are my thoughts concerning this passage.
What you say about critics and critical interpretations of the Scriptures, is not only in my opinion true, but of great use to be observed in reading learned commentators, who not seldom make it their business to show in what sense a word has
been used by other authors; whereas the proper business of a commentator is to show in what sense it was used by the author in that place, which in the Scriptures we have reason to conclude was most commonly in the ordinary sense of the word or phrase known in that time, because the books are written, as you rightly observe, and adapted to the people. If critics had observed this, we should have in their writings less ostentation and more truth, and a great deal of darkness now spread on the Scriptures had been avoided. I have a late proof of this myself, who have lately found in some passages of Scripture a sense quite different from what I understood them in before, or from what I found in commentators; and yet it appears so clear to me, that when I see you next, I shall dare to appeal to you in it. But I read the word of God without prepossession or bias, and come to it with a resolution to take my sense from it, and not with a design to bring it to the sense of any system. How much that has made men wind and twist and pull the text in all the several sects of Christians, I need not tell you. I design to take my religion from the Scripture, and then whether it suits, or suits not, any other denomination, I am not much concerned; for I think at the last day, it will not be inquired, whether I was of the church of England or Geneva, but, whether I sought or embraced truth in the love of it.
The proof I have set down in my book of one infinite, independent, eternal Being, satisfies me; and the gentleman that designed others and pretended that the next proposition to that of the evidence of a self-sufficient being should be this, that he could prove it antecedent to his atributes, viz. infinity, omnipotency, &c., I am since pretty well satisfied, pretended to what he had not. And I trouble not myself any further about the matter. As to what you say on the occasion I agree with you, that I do not think the ideas of the operations of things are antecedent to the ideas of their existence; for they must exist before they can any ways affect us to make us sensible of their operations, and we must suppose them to be before they operate.
The Essay is going to be printed again ; I wish you were near, that I might show you
the several alterations I have made, before they go to press. The warm weather that begins now with us, makes me hope I shall speedily get to town. If any business draws you hither this summer, I hope you will order it so, that I may have a good share of your company; nobody values it more than I, and I have a great many things to talk with you.
I am, Sir,
BARKER'S LECTURE AT GLASGOW ON THE DIVINE ORIGIN
OF THE BIBLE.
Having heard so much talk about the great Infidel Prophet, Joseph Barker, I went to hear what new objections he had to the divine origin of the Bible; but was surprised when I heard him repeat old objections, which have been answered over and over again. He commenced by telling the audience that the Bible is not of divine origin; that it is a mere human production ; and that we could get better laws than are to be found in the Bible in other books. But Joseph never told us which were the better laws, nor where they were to be found. He did not refer us to any country without the Bible, that has better laws and a higher morality than are to be found where the Bible's influence is felt. He did not find it convenient to look at the fact that it is where the Bible