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النشر الإلكتروني

E ÅRNEST ENQUIRY.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER. My dear Sir,

- It has long been my settled impression, that if áll anxious inquirers after truth—including free thinkers, lovers of reason, advocates of free thought, free discussion, &c., would have the prudence and good sense to investigate the Bible and its evidences with calmness and intelligence—to examine them with care, and to study them with humility, there would not be halt só mány iņtidels in society as there are. If I am to speak freely what I sincerely think, I must say without hesitation, that many of our friends of the deistical persuasion are determined not to believe in the Divine authority of the Bible upon any evidence of truth whatever, that either ever has been or can be produced. I do not wish to speak either rashly or unfriendly concerning our op: ponents, but certainly my conviction is, and I feel inclined to think that it is an enlightened and well grounded one, that many infidels never read and search the inspired volume with any other motive, or for any other motive, than to discover, what tliey think, may be considered as contradictions, inconsistencies, and absurdities. They will not take the trouble to consider and examine the statement or conclusion in connexion with the occasion or the circumstance the effect with the cause--the fulfilment with the prediction—the action with the motive—the punishment with the sin—the practice with the precept—the morally governed with the moral governor--the command with the agency and powers of the agent, or the type in connexion with the antitype. And thus, wé have too much reason to think, that, if infidels ever study the Bible at all, it is partially. and unfairly, if ever they reason at all concerning it, it is illogically and foolishlý, and if ever they arrive at any conclusions, they are false and erroneous. And as such is the method which they almost uniformly adopt in their Biblical investigations, it is not at all surprising that they seldom or never come to any right knowledge or conclusion, concerning any one important fact, doctrine, principle; or precept. Even Thomas Paine had impudence and presymption enough to tell the world, that when he wrote the first part of his · Age of Reason,' he had neither Bible nor Testament with him, but that he afterwards procured one of each. Studies and investigations of any kind conducted in such a manner, are not only unphilosophical, but extremely ridiculous. I do not, I cannot think it is for want of evidence, either internal or external, that

infidels reject the Bible as a book of Divine authority, but I believe it is for · want of stricter scrutiny-of just and more enlightened criticism--of deeper reflection-of more sober and serions enquiry-of better judgment and better. logic and of candid, thorough, and intelligent investigation. Very many of the greatest ñen whose names and writings now adorn the page of historymen of the finest and nicest taste, and of the greatest learning and accomplishments, have devoted álmost a life-time to the study of the Bible, and the investigation of its evidences, and these men have been its greatest admirers, and its most intense lovers. Of course the authority of great námes, or the mere assertions of great men do not prove the Bible to be Divine; but then, we have reason to believe that a far larger amount of intellect, of talent, and learning, have appeared on the side of the Bible than has ever been displayed against it, by any of its enemies, in any age of the world ; and we have also reason to þelieve, that such worthy, learned, truth-loying, noble, and clever-ininded men as we could mention; would not on any account have believed and received the Bible is a divinelý inspired book-ás a book of Divine origin and authorityhad they not had sufficient évidence to warrant and justify such a reception and belief. Had there been no evidence for the Divine authority of the Bible,

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we think that such a man as Dr. Adam Clarke, would not have studied and criticised it with the most intense application for forty or fifty years, without discovering such a fact.

However, we wish it to be distinctly understood, by.our infidel friends, that we do not expect they should take for granted, as truth, all that we affirm, or all that any other man may say, however wise, or learned, or great. We simply wish them to read-to think--to study—and to investigate for themselves, especially the Bible and the various evidences by which its truth and Divine authority are authenticated and confirmed. But we sincerely desire, and affectionately advise them for their own sakes, to regulate and conduct their thinking, their studies, and their investigations, in accordance with common sense ---sound reason-enlightened criticism-good logic—and true philosophy. We regard it as a matter of vast and solemn importance, that every man should employ his rational and intellectual powers in the most proper and noble manner, in order that he may come to right conclusions, and acquire just notions, and impressions, in regard to what he should believe and what he should reject, what he should love and what he should hate, what concerns him the most and what concerns him the least, in relation both to time and eternity. We would not have any man to take any important step before it has been made the subject of sedate and deep reflection. Nor would we have any one either to embrace or oppose any system before it has undergone a careful and thorough examination. We therefore say to every man, endeavour by all means to obtain correct and rational views concerning duty, conduct, and happiness, concerning what is true and what is false, what is good and what is bad, what is beneficial and what is injurious, what is important and what is frivolous, what is valuable and what is worthless. And before you adopt any principle, consider the consequences which are likely to result from it. Take great care by what motives your actions are regulated, what influences you yield to, what object you set your affections on, what course of faith and life you pursue, what habits you form, what dispositions you adopt, what aspirations you cherish, and what connexions you

choose. See to it that your present studies and employments, are so conducted, after their proper arrangement, as to be rendered subservient to your future interests and happiness. In every transaction, let the voice of wisdom and of conscience be heard and attended to. Let those things be attended to with the greatest earnestness, consistency, and uniformity, which reason, matter of fact, and intelligent investigation, declare to be of the greatest importance and concernment. We want every man carefully and logically to read and think, to examine and compare, to judge and reason for himself

, especially in regard to the Bible and Christianity. Such, we think, would be the most proper and likely means to adopt in order to arrive at the conclusion, that it is the extreme of presumption and of folly to reject at a venture, such a grand and glorious system as Christianity, especially before it and its various evidences have been calmly, fairly, and fully examined. By conducting their investigations in this manner, (by really thinking for themselves) many of the greatest masters of reason and learning of which the world can boast, have ascertained the fact, that there is sufficient evidence that the Bible has been given to man by the authority and inspiration, and under the direction of Him who is the immutable and eternal source of all moral purity, truth, and goodness.

Such are some of the advices and considerations which we respectfully beg leave to offer to the notice of our infidel friends. They are in exact accordance with the language of the Bible where it says—Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. If this maxim were adopted and heeded by all, there would be more peace and unity, and fewer contentions and schisms among professing Christians; and multitudes of our fellow men would discover, not only the weakness, the gloominess, and the worthlessness of infidelity, but the sublimity, the

importance, and the excellency of Christianity. It is false and absurd to think, as many infidels have thought, that in order to believe the Bible, they must lay aside their reason; and that in order that they may swallow the doctrines of Christianity, they must disregard the teachings and discoveries of nature and science. We admire nature, science, and the Bible too. We take and believe them all three; because they harmonize together, and enable us the better to explain the various phenomena and facts of the physical and moral universe. We admire and love the Bible because it is the book which man's moral condition and wants require ; and because of the important history, the rich and valuable information, the sublime philosophy, the supremely interesting facts and doctrines, and the grand and glorious discoveries which it contains. Setting aside the Divine authority of the Bible, 'it is justly entitled to our serious regard and veneration, inasmuch as it abounds with the most worthy, glorious, and transcendent descriptions of the Deity we are able to conceive of. We can mention no class of men who have been ignorant of the Bible, who have ever formed such lofty and worthy notions, and have been able to give such noble and grand descriptions of the Supreme Being, as they who have been enlightened by.it. But though we speak thus highly of the volume of Revelation, we do not and will not on any account exclude nature from our thoughts, our investigations, or our admiration.

We love nature most intensely. We delight to contemplate its arrangements, its beauties, and its harmonies ; its sublimities, its wonders, and its mysteries ; its order, its uniformity, and its variety. We love to read in her instructive and glorious book, and to study, wonder, and worship in her splendid temple. It is here we learn very much concerning the infinite wisdom, the glorious majesty, the inconceivable greatness, the omnipotent power, and the boundless goodness of the Divine Being, who is, “from everlasting to everlasting. We regard both nature and the Bible, as the work of one and the same Divine, infinitely intelligent, and omnipotent author. • I will now conclude my remarks, by merely adding, that notwithstanding all that has been written and said in favour of the Bible, if infidels can demonstrate that it has no claims to Divine authority, they may of course set it aside as unworthy of their regard, but if they cannot do this, it is perilous for them to reject it at a venture as a human production.

“ Thou sacred treasure, dearer to me far
Than earth's delusive, fading glories are;
I'd give them all, could I possess them now,
For one blest moment at thy truths to bow ;
To taste the heavenly sweets thy word unfolds,
And view those scenes which faith's bright eye beholds ;
Beyond the veil of perishable things,
Where joy for ever in the bosom springs;
Where waves of bliss in rich profusion roll,
To pour immortal raptures o'er the soul;
From that great deep-unfathomable sea
Ot God's pure essence-vast eternity.
This book, how full, how bright its pages shine,
Its high behest is stamped on every line;
By God's eternal son the truths are sealed,
And through the word to fallen man revealed;
Design'd to cheer his dark benighted mind,
Weary and anxious some retreat to find
Of calm repose, free from perplexing care,
Some higher good, some holier joys to share;
Where hopes bright vision calms the troubled breast,
Where faith points upward to a world of resta

'Thou art my friend, companion of my youth;
The star which led me in the search of truth,
To break the spell which kept my wand'ring mind
Long in delusive snares of earth confined;
Thou art iny solace in this vale of tears,
My counsellor, and trust in riper years ;
Imparting gladness when my aching heart,
Feels anguish deep, as earthly hopes depart.
Thou art my wealth, with the content I'll live,
And ask no more than thy rich pages give
Of promised blessings briefly written there,
Obtained by faith in holy ardent prayer.
Thou art my pole-star through life's trackless way,
My fragile bark to guide me to eternal day
When the white surges dash the sounding shore,
And howling winds, and gath'ring tempests roar,
With thee I'll fear no ill, but watch tliy light,
For ever beaming with effulgence bright;
My pharos to direct me to that shore,
The port of bliss where life’s dull scenes are o'er.”

Yours respectfully,
Gee Cross.

PETER SYKES.

DEFENCE OF INFIDEL ADVOCATES.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.

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Sir,

I will be obliged, if I may avail myself of your ' Open Page? to reply, to the remarks of your correspondent Observer " in relation to the return of Mr. Joseph Barker, to England, and his general remarks on Infidels and their doings

He insinuates, that Mr. Barker has taken away lots of money,' and, that it is the magnetic attraction, which induces the advocates of infidelity, to maintain their principles and oppose Christianity,

I will thank him to inforın me, how many Public Christian Advocates, never receive money, and if he goes to their Church? If the Rev. J. H. Rutherford is a Tent-maker, and how many Preachers of the Word’ their are in Liverpool, who receive no salaries ? I ask him, what seems to be the one thing needful' to the Bishops of the Country, who think it absolutely needful to have the

snug livings' which are dotted over this Christian land? How it is that among all denominations of Christians, some preachers are better paid than others? Is it necessary for Peter to have more than Paul? If they despised the one thing needful, would the preaching of God's word, be more valuable in price in one place, and by one man than another ? Do not the GREAT GUNS' go to the various chapels, at certain times and seasons, especially 'to draw full houses, and obtain plenty of the one thing needful?

I would ask if it has been proved, Infidels have no stomacks to be fed, or bodies to be clothed, or rent to pay for their hàbitations, or printing presses to be bought, and printers to hire , if they have é free passes on all the railways, &c., &c.; and if not, after these things have been paid for, they live at home at ease,' with the surplus of their receipts arising from their lectures.

If Christian ministers were as energetic as Mr. Joseph Barker or Mr. Holyoake, and endeavoured to get the talent of those men, the better to advocate their cause, would it not be a proof, that the love of the truth was

vas more the cause of their labours, than the possession of Wealth ?

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Jie speaks of the failure of certain Infidels to maintain å foundation in Liverpool. In answer to this, I call his attention to a similar fact, Christ told his disciples, that, it in the course of their travels, any city refused to receive them, they should shake the dust from their feet, and that it would be more tolerable for Sodom, than for that city,

I suppose a Christian would not reject Christianity because his party could not make converts in a certain place. Neither will an Intidel think the worse of his opinions, because his party were unable to make a permanent stand in Liverpool.

Not wishing to occupy too much of your paper, I conclude, with a few remarks on. Observers' exhortation to all those who profess to call themselves Christians, to do battle for the Cross. I would not like to join the ranks if my right hand man were like many I know, who “profess to call themselves Christians,' among whom there are liars, evil speakers, adulterers, drunkards, despoilers of widow's houses, instance the bankers of London, who have lately failed. I sometimes work on Sundays for people who profess to call themselves Christians.'

However, I will willingly be exiled with ‘Infidelity and Sceptisin,' if all wlio profess to call themselves Christians, and are not such, will go with r..é. There would be a splendid echo in England.

Plain SPEAKER.

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APPROPRIATION AND REFUTATION.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.

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Sir,

Under the title of • Appropriation not Refutation,' J. M. sends a cominunication, to my last, in reply to which he labours hard to make the worst appear the better reason.

In answer to J, M's former note, I said, 'If a man is not necessitated to be what he is, he can be different from what he is, without being necessitated, but man cannot be different from what he is without some cause for his difference, and the fact of requiring a cause, proves he is necessitated to be what he is,' this is a fact clear and convincing. But how does J. M. attempt to

answer it Admitting that man would not change from a present state to a different one without some cause, it would not by any means follow that man was neces sitated inasmuch as his will might and according to us would be the cause of that difference.' is well J. M., tells us, “the will might be the cause, but

might be,' will not do in debates of this kind, we want more proof and less * might be's,' more logical demonstration, and less assumption.

Of course,' says J. M.,' the fact of requiring some external cause, to enable man to change would prove, that he was not an agent, but it is absolutely impossible to establish that fact.' That is a very easy way of answering Think you not, readers, that the above extract savours very much of dogmatism, and but little of argument, it needs only to be re-penned to be refuted.

'If the human will does not act independent of external causes it is not the efficient cause of its own volition,',this is evident enough, says J. M.,' and is just our definition of freedom, put into a negitive form,' to which I added,' and to act independent of any other cause,' here J. M. seems to say, by inuendo, that évidence is no cause.

What will your readers think of that, after being told in the preface, to Vol. 1, of the Defender, that many who were infidels but a few months ago, are now

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