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fare of his church, spoke of course about those nations which favoured, or which oppressed his children.
The prophets, or those historians who wrote many centuries before the events transpired, comprised more facts in few words, and used expressions more striking to the lively fancy, and more vividly, distinctly and historically correct, than any others who ever held a pen. I need not go on through the chapter before Like many
others it contains a history of those who hated, or those who favoured the church, down to our day, and a little beyond us. Those who wish, can read the holy book, and read profane history, and hold them side by side, or they can look at the labours of commentators, who have done this for us, and thereby saved us much toil. I shall copy only one more verse, inviting the reader to become familiar with all the rest of the prophecy, for his own good.
Antiochus strove to get possession of Egypt. He mustered all his strength, and put forth all his energies. He exerted all his ingenuity to get advantage of Ptolemy by treaty. He hoped to have some assistance by giving his daughter in marriage. Ptolemy took her, and she (the famous Cleopatra) became queen of Egypt; yet she did not help her designing father, but preferred the interests of her husband, and aided him with all her influence. The Jews (called upright ones) helped Antiochus in his attempts against Egypt. Daniel (verse 17th,) informed the Israelites of all these events, in the following words.
“ He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him, thus shall he do, and he shall give him the daughter of wo.
men, corrupting her, but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him."
I cannot transcribe every singular and beautiful prophecy in the Bible, for then the size of this volume would deter many from reading it. I commenced at the seventh verse, because the history thereafter foretold was that which followed the days of the king who had the Old Testament translated into Greek. The prophecy of Daniel had been written between two and three hundred years before it found its way to the Alexandrian library. But inasmuch as infidels, as well as Christians, speak of this Greek copy (called the Sep. tuagint,) I concluded to quote only those predictions which came to pass after the translation was made. Not finding it expedient to remark on all the chapter, I have noticed a portion of the part, for which we have the authority of scoffers, respecting the priority of its date.
THE LAST RESORT.
Whilst reading I found evidence against my system of infidelity, wherever I turned, such as meets every one who ventures to read closely. There was one process of investigation, and only one which was left for me to pursue, unless I yielded. That process was to cast away all records and traditions, to sit down and endeavour to decide the question, by the aid of reason
alone. This seemed inviting. It seemed to make man his own judge. I had always heard my companions, the deists, calling reason the celestial lamp, the only light, the polar star, and other names of triumphant admiration. I felt a disposition, as it seemed to me, to walk along the path of reason, quietly and alone, and to notice objects on either hand fairly and deliberately. I made the attempt, and the following is something of the result of my last resort,
The goodness of God. This seemed to be a starting point, and one of the first facts to fix on. My associa. tes were willing to speak of the goodness of God, and I thought I saw it manifested, whilst I looked over crea. tion. I saw fruit drop from the over-loaded tree. I saw the full crop wave in the field and barns crowded at home. The breeze that passed me in summer was fresh and fragrant. The cold spring was delightful to the parched palate. The flower was fashioned to please the eye which rested on it. The hum of the
and the gush of the waterfall, were calculated to communi. cate happiness through the ear. In short, the indica. tions of a Creator's kindness were in every direction, and in number, really countless. I thought that nothing was more rational than to fix upon it as a certain truth, that the Maker of all things is good. To settle down upon this doctrine was pleasing enough, except that certain contingent facts intruded themselves. They were calculated to produce some degree of uneasiness, especially if followed out in all their bearings. The first fact, and the inquiries it excited were as follows. The Christians speak as loudly of the kindness, the daily kindness, and the benevolence of God as we do. Have
they learned it of us, or have we learned of them, or how is it that we agree?
Second Fact-Although we think that our reason has discovered the goodness and the purity of God so plain. ly, yet Pagans who had no guide but reason, have always worshipped him as revengeful and polluted. The ancient enlightened nations, the Greeks, and then the Romans, with so much learning, sung about the intrigues and adulteries, the frauds and the cruelties of their deities, although they had no Bible to interrupt their reason.
Out of all the nations that do exist, or ever did exist without our scriptures, might not reason have taught some one of them the goodness and the purity of God? Might not their sages be able to give a character of God, something nearly as correct as we can hear from the most unlearned with us? In the following unadorned fact, there was something fitted to excite fear, lest the army of deists had received their knowledge, either directly or circuitously, from the book which they disowned. It is a fact that were I to go to ten hundred thousand of the most learned Asia. tics, or other pagans, now alive, one after another, and hear them speak of God, I should not receive a character half as correct, according to the creed of deists, as that which I might obtain from the first ten ploughmen I met, provided there was a Bible, and a meetinghouse in the land where they lived. I knew that reason could see through the mysteries of gun-powder, in the course of a minute after it is explained, but it was long before the discovery was made. I knew that reason assents to the first principles of astronomy, as soon as they are presented. Nothing appears plainer. But reason was long in finding out these truths. Thus I
could not tell, but that although as soon as the Bible informs those who hate it in Christian lands, certain truths about God, nothing appears plainer to them, they may think they have always known it, whilst the most energetic minds, where the Bible is not, do not learn 80 fast. They certainly never have been known to find out the excellence and purity of Omnipotence, un. assisted. Although somewhat suspicious that this doc. trine of the unbounded goodness, and wisdom, and power, and purity of God, had first been taught by one book alone, knowing it to be true, I concluded to rest upon it as so, and to look around for other facts, or for rational and plain inferences.
Doctrines inquired after.-The following questions and facts commingled would pass in succession through
1 We agree that God is good, and wise, and kind, like a tender parent. Having cast away the Scriptures, we agree that God has not told us certainly whether we live again after death or not. He has not told us, if we do live, how long it is to be, seventy years again,or longer ? (I knew that reason could not decide these inquiries, because no three of my associates, the advocates of reason, out of all I could meet with, ever agreed on these particulars.) According to our be. lief, he has not told us, if we live hereafter, whether it is to be in connection with a body or not. (I should like to know.) We are not told whether we are to be judged or not for what we do to-day. (It would be well to know this.) Shall we live always? Will our judgment be severe ? Will there be sickness in the next state, or is it all health? Those who admire reason most, do not know, for two of them do not believe alike.