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the necessities of their situation, the constant warfare in which they were engaged with the beasts of the forest, and the want of communication with the countries they had left, soon lost all traces of civilization, and sunk, in the course of generations, into the savage state. This is not a fanciful picture, but results naturally and necessarily from the circumstances of the race, and is confirmed by all that we know of their past
THE REMEDY FOR EXISTING EVILS.
Having thus deduced, both from reason and revelation, the doctrine that man was made perfect, and having abundant evidence of his declension from that state, we now come to the only remaining question, What is the remedy for this declension, and how is the race to be raised again to its original perfection?
In reference to this, Mr Combe has stated the practical views to which the two opposite systems already alluded to naturally lead, and stated them quite correctly. “ If," he observes, " the former view be sound," namely, that the world is progressive, and contains within itself the elements of improvement, which time will evolve and bring to maturity, “the first object of man, as an intelligent being in quest of happiness, must be to study the elements of external nature and their capabilities, the elementary qualities of his own nature and their applications, and the relationship between them. His second
object will be to discover and carry into effect the conditions, physical, moral, and intellectual, which, in virtue of this constitution, require to be realized before the fullest enjoyment of which he is capable can be obtained."
These are precisely the objects and mode of investigation proposed to themselves by the heathen philosophers in their inquiries respecting the supreme good, and these are the proper objects for those who have not been favoured with a revelation.
“ According to the second view of creation,”- the original perfection and subsequent fall of man, and his own want of power to regain his original state, - no good,” he says, “can be expected from the evolution of nature's elements, these being all essentially disordered, and human improvement must be derived chiefly from spiritual influences. In short, according to it, science, philosophy, and all arrangements of the physical, moral, and intellectual elements of nature, are subordinate in their effects on human happiness on earth, to religious faith."
Mr Combe has here stated correctly the doctrine of divines on this subject, drawn from the express declarations of Scripture.*
* I have been accused of admitting too easily the account here given by Mr Combe of the doctrine of divines in regard to the comparative value of philosophical and religious knowledge; and it has been alleged that he has given an exaggerated and incorrect statement of that doctrine. I am not aware that he has done so, keeping
in view that it is the comparative importance of these two kinds of knowledge that is here. spoken of. No one will be so foolish as to suppose, that it is ever maintained by divines, or intended to be intimated in Scripture, that the cultivation of natural science is of no use. All that I understand them to maintain, and all that I conceive to be conveyed in the texts here quoted, is this, that the speculations of philosophy, and all arrangements of the physical, moral, and intellectual elements of man's nature which can be effected by means of science, are comparatively worthless as means of promoting the improvement and happiness of the human race, either in reference to the present or a
The relative value of natural science and religious faith is aptly set forth in the following precepts :
“ Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what
you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not the life more than meat, or the body than raiment ?”
“ Behold the fowls of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them."
“ Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature ?"
“« Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed; (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”
“ But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The effect of human science, as tending, in many cases, to render the heart dead to spiritual influences, is indicated in the following passage, -"I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things (the doctrines of the Gospel) from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.”
The comparative futility and emptiness of all human pursuits, which are followed after with so much care and trouble, when contrasted with the value of spiritual influences, is expressively pointed out in the following
future life ; in other words, that they are, and ever must be, subordinate in their effects upon man's improvement and happiness, to an enlightened religious faith. I wish this to be distinctly kept in view by the reader, in perusing what follows, and then no one will be in danger of misapprehending my meaning.
FIRST PROPAGATION OF CHRISTIANITY,
admonition,-“Thou art careful and troubled about many things ; but one thing is needful.”
Of a surety Mr Combe would have us to be careful and troubled about many things. But to return.
Mr Combe having thus stated the practical results of his system, and that of the heathen philosophers on the one hand, and the doctrine of the Christian divines on the other, and having put the matter upon a fair footing, by stating them as severally dependant on their respective premises, the question may be considered as decided, for we think we have sufficiently proved, in the former part of this section, that the system proposed by Mr Combe, as to the origin and progress of the human race, is utterly false and untenable, and that the doctrines of the divines on the same subject, are not only conformable to Scripture, but are supported by every species of evidence which it is possible to bring to bear on such a subject.
Will Mr Combe, then, abide by the terms he has proposed ? His theory of a progressive system being proved to be false, will he abandon his conclusions as to what is the 6 chief end of man ?” And the doctrines of the original perfection, and fall of man being proved, will he embrace the doctrine of divines as to the efficacy of spiritual influences ? Or are these things, indeed, hidden from the wise and prudent, and only revealed to babes ?
So standing the question, I think I may safely pass over all that Mr Combe has said, as to the neglect, by our divines, of the aids of human speculation, and human philosophy; their “ignorance of the elementary qualities of human nature, and of the influence of organization on the mental powers." I may safely pass over all that he has said as to “ the first great error, the theological doctrine of the corruption and disorder of
human nature,” the actual and literal truth of which is demonstrated as clearly as any proposition in Euclid. And leaving all these points, I shall return again to the old almanac, and shew, by reference to undoubted facts, what Christianity has done during the short, the very short period that its doctrines have been extensively taught in any tolerable purity.
There can be no doubt, that at its first promulgation by the Apostles, the doctrines of the Gospel spread with a rapidity that is without any example, such as is not to be accounted for but by its adaptation to the spiritual wants of the human mind, and the miraculous gifts bestowed upon its first teachers, as evidences of the truth of their mission. Its effects, also, on those who embraced it, were at this period undoubtedly great.. Indeed, it can hardly be conceived by us, to whom its doctrines are familiar from our youth, what was likely to be the effect of them when advanced as something new-- when the events connected with them had just recently taken place, and when those were proclaimed by men endowed with miraculous powers, who were eye-witnesses of the facts to which they bore their testimony. Long before the conclusion of the first century, we are informed, that notwithstanding of the contempt of the philosophers, and the persecution of the priests and emperors, Christianity had extended its roots far and wide throughout the mighty bounds of the Roman empire.
Not only were churches erected in Asia and in Greece, and the doctrine preached elsewhere, through the provinces, from Ethiopia and India to distant Britain, but we are told there were Christians to be found among every class of society in Rome itself; and at the time when persecution was raging against Christians with the utmost. fury, there were