Imágenes de páginas

authority in his religion, may co-exist with doubt, or even disbelief, in the miracles recorded in the Scriptures. Such scepticism may arise in an enquirer's mind without altering in any way his religious classification. Nothing more is implied in it than simply a new estimate of certain historical testimony, a new conception of the manner in which the early Christian literature assumed its present form, without the slightest change of reverential posture towards the great Object which this medium presents. This species of doubt constitutes, therefore, no disqualification for discipleship; and those who are possessed by it may be as truly Christian as the stoutest believer in the plagues of Egypt and the demons in the swine.

There is a broad distinction to be drawn between philosophical anti-supernaturalism, which regards a niracle as per se incredible, and disowns whatever is irreducible to necessary causation, and historical anti-supernaturalism, which, from a critical estimate of testimony, questions certain particular miracles, without any abatement of the preternatural claims of the religion in whose records they appear. The former wholly excludes the idea of revelation, and gets rid of every thing that presents itself as an object of wonder and worship; it is, therefore, in the author's opinion, essentially irreligious, and is prevented, only by the want of logical strength and clearness in those who hold it, from lapsing into materialistic Atheism. The latter in no way interferes with the persuasion of an inspiration from the living God; it rather shifts the ground than lessens the amount of supernatural belief, and transfers to the soul of Christ whatever wonder has been lost

from his outward life. Hence it is perfectly compatible with the acknowledgment of his divine authority to any required extent, and leaves the Christian characteristics wholly undisturbed.

The matter which is bere adverted lo has its roots too deep within the very substance of religious philosophy, to admit of its being further pursued in this place. The foregoing hints will suffice to show how far the author's assent is given and how far denied, to the reasonings of a very remarkable letter from the late Blanco White, which he presents in the Appendix to this edition. It was that letter to which he considered himself as replying in the preface of the second edition. It will now be seen by his readers, as well as by himself, how imperfect and unsatisfactory was that reply; and though he is still far from concurring in all the statements of the letter, he laments that his friend and correspondent is beyond the

ach this partial confession. The wisdom of that accomplished man, however, was of an order to win posthumous converts, in tardy compensation for contemporaneous obloquy.

Liverpool, Jan. 27, 1845.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »