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la connexion with these, we notice that Wells & Lilly are reprinting the series of Tracts, originally published by the English Christian Tract Society. These tracts have been extensively circulated, and been highly approved. For a particular account of their practical design and character, we refer our readers with pleasure to the review on the subject, contained in the present number.

The following are already printed, and may be had at the annexed prices, sewed :

No. 1. William's Return, or Good News for Cottagers : by Mary Hughes. Price 'single, 17 cents, per dozen $1 62, per hundred $10.

No. 2.' Village Dialogues Parts 1 and 2. 12 cents single.-$1 125 per dozen.-$8 per 100.

No. 3. Village Dialogues. Part 3. 12 cents do. do. do. No. 4. Village Dialogues. Part 4. 12 cents do. do. do. No. 5. Village Dialogues. Part 5. 12 cents do. do. do. No. 6. Village Dialogues. Part 6. 12 cents do, do. do. *No. 7. A Week in a Cottage. 12! cents do. do. do.

No. 3. The History of Edward Allen, the patient man. Price 17 cents single.-$1 62 per dozen.-$10 per 100.

17" Applications from vacant parishes for candidates educated at the Theological School at Cambridge, may be made to the Rev. Professor Ware, or to S. Higginson, Jr. Esq.

List of New Publications. Character Essential to Success in Life. By Isaac Taylor, Ongar. Wells and Lilly, 1820.

Family Mansion. By Mrs. Taylor, 1820.

Sermon delivered in Eastport on the Dedication of the First CongregaLional Meeting House, Jan. 13, 1820. By Andrew Bigelow, A M.

Sermon delivered at the Ordination of E, J. Sewall, by Ezra Ripley, D.D.

Letters on the Eastern States. New York, 1820.
Poetical Works of Joho Trumbull, L.L.D. 8vo. 1820.

TO CORRESPONDENTS. Our friends will perceive by the aspect of our Miscellany, that their claims are not neglected.

We fear, tbat W.'s poetry would be thought not sufficiently simple and intelligible.

Eusebia was mislaid, or should have appeared. We will find a place for it bereafter.

We thank MIKPOE for his communication. We perceive that there is much, that is interesting in the discussion he has commenced, but fear it is too extended for the limits of the Disciple. If he will furnish us with a condensed view of all he proposes, we shall be better able to judge as to the expediency of inserting it. At present, we are disposed to think, that some other medium of publication would be preferable. “A Layman” is just received.

END OF xo. 2.-VOL. II.

THE

CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.

NEW SERIES-No. 9.

For May and June, 1820.

ON THE AUTHORITY OF GREAT NAMES.

FOR THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE.

It is thought by some, that our opinions on important subjects should in no case be influenced by the authority of distinguished names; for on what question, they ask, may not the greatest geniuses be found in opposition to each other? If it be urged, as an argument in favour of Christianity, that certain eminent men have been believers; it will be objected on the other hand, that men not less eminent have been infidels. Since, therefore, as we are told, these opposite authorities mutually destroy each other, this mode of defending Christianity cannot be admitted. Let not those persons, then, who thus argue, avail themselves of the authority of great names to promote infidelity.

But however plausible such reasoning appears, it may be worth while to inquire, whether it is in this case solid; and whether the fact, that the christian religion has been pronounced true, by persons of the highest endowments and attainments, does not furnish an argument for its truth.

The accounts contained in the sacred writings, or those, on which their divine origin rests, are in their nature difficult to be believed. They are such as the mind at first and previously to examination, is apt to reject as fabulous. It shocks us to be told of events happening in opposition to those laws which regulate and sustain the universe; we do not, we cannot fully admit the truth of them, until we have evidence which appears to us irresistible. When, therefore, we recollect by whom, by what illustrious geniuses and scholars, the christian faith has been embraced, in what manner shall we account for this phenomenon ? Are we to suppose that a Locke, a Grotius, a Newton, those

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great masters of reasoning, those distinguished lovers and propayators of truth, yielded a blind belief to stories which, from their very nature, are liable to be regarded as the fabrications of impostors ? Can we imagine, that they credited accounts of miracles, of prodigies and wonders, without proof? This were a miracle indeed! No! such men believe such accounts only because they are constrained to believe them; because they see, that, if the facts related are extraordinary, the testimony which supports them, is likewise extraordinary; and that, if they reject Christianity, they must no longer submit to the government of

Let us now take a view of the other side, and consider how Christianity is affected by the infidelity of great men. Have they, let me ask, made a careful, impartial inquiry into the evidences of our religion? If we suppose they have not made this inquiry (a supposition which, as it respects many leading deists, is certainly correct) we want no further reason for their infideli. ty. It, indeed, follows as a natural consequence. Strong evidence alone will produce a conviction of the truth of marvellous events; and strong evidence concerning those recorded in the scriptures is to be obtained only by patient examination.

But it may be asked on the other hand, is it conceivable that great writers would have employed their pens against the cbristian revelation, without having investigated its pretensions to authenticity? This, it must be confessed, appears at first view almost incredible. But when we consider the nature of the facts contained in the Bible; the aspect, under which they at first present themselves to the understanding; the reluctance we feel in yielding our assent to things so wonderful and so different from any within our own observation ; the study requisite to collect the proofs of their authenticity; and the several ways, by which the mind 'is liable to be misled, such as, by strong prejudice, peculiarly active in countries where the established religion is an enormous mass of abuses-by an accidental habit of looking at Christianity through the medium of those objections and difficulties, which are, perhaps, inseparable from every system of revelation-by a sordid wish that a religion, so pure, so holy, so opposed to an unbridled license of the passions, may not be true --by a silly contempt of vulgar notions, and a perverse ambition, which some men display, and which seems, like a demon, to possess their minds, of astonishing the world by the originality of their ideas, at the expense of truth, religion, virtue, and common sense ;--when, in short, we consider, how much there is, or may be, within and without us, to oppose inquiry upon this subject, we can readily conceive, that even the most distinguished ene

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On the Authority of Great Names.

163

mies of Christianity may have been prevented from acquiring that perception of the evidences of our holy faith, which could alone be expected to produce conviction.

There is another point of view, under which this subject may be considered, perhaps to some advantage. One of the principal weapons, employed by infidels in their attacks upon Christianity, is ridicule; and no one has, probably, done more execution. When we find men, whose talents command our admiration,' laughing in the face of the world at a religion, for which even the most distant probability of its divine origin ought to inspire reverence, our faith almost staggers; we ask, whether Christianity assailed by such men and in such a way, can possibly be true ? Whether minds, which appear to have been sent from heaven to enlighten mankind, can have been thus blind or thus presumptuous? Whether those Titans of geniųs could have dared to assault the skies? Whether indeed they could have treated, with so much irreverence, the slightest appearance, the very spectres and shadows of divine truth?

But, if we view this mode of attacking Christianity in its just light, we shall be very differently affected by it; we shall consider it as a complete annihilation, in religious matters, of the authority of the writers by whom it is used. It is impossible that a religion, to the truth of which so many great and enlightened minds have given a decided verdict, can be founded on arguments, which, in the opinion of any persons who attend to them, are so feeble, that they should not even shield it from contempt and ridicule. He, therefore, who scoffs and speers at Christianity, gives a convincing proof, that he never can have made it a serious study ; but that he has suffered himself to be borne along by those sportive, contemptuous emotions, which, in a mind void of consideration, are apt to be excited by accounts of supernatural transactions. A view of the real strength of our religion must, otherwise, have taught him more respect for it; its claims to attentive consideration, and its strong marks of truth would have been acknowledged, even though infidelity had continued unsubdued.

On the whole, the belief of great geniuses and scholars of the divine origin of a religion which they have studied, shows, that it must be supported by strong arguments. The disbeliéf even of equal geniuses cannot prove the contrary ; the utmost, it can prove, is, that arguments, which convinced others, did not convince them. And when we consider the various causes of infidelity which exist, and which operate with the greatest force on the loftiest intellects, we shall not be the less disposed to yield our assent to the truth of Christianity, because some men of brilliant

parts have refused theirs, and have not distinguished this religiou from the multitude of fabrications, which fraud, enthusiasm and force have imposed upon mankind.

Whatever weight, then, the authority of great names has in this matter, it is altogether on the side of our religion; and to learn how considerable it is, we have only to call to mind a few of the illustrious men that have declared themselves Christians, to be fully satisfied. Though not sufficient to supercede inquiry into the proper evidences of Christianity, it is yet sufficient to procure for it respect and reverence prior to such inquiry; and to produce, at least a suspension of our disbelief, till we have seen it overthrown by substantial and irrefragable arguments.

A LAYMAN.

A SHORT ANSIVER TO THE INQUIRY, WHY ARE YOU A

COMMUNICANT P'

Of the peculiarities of christian worship, the ordinance of the Lord's supper would, I think, most powerfully arrest the notice, and excite the curiosity, of a stranger to our religion. It is formally announced on the sabbath preceding that of its administration; and in most of our churches there is an extraordinary service, for the purpose of disposing those who are to receive it, to a more suitable observance of this rite of the gospel. The day arrives. The elements appointed by Christ are prepared, and believers assemble in the churches. The stranger waits to see the service performed. But no sooner is the christian benediction pronounced, than his astonishment is awakened by the departure of more than half of these worshippers, every one of whom, he supposed, was a disciple of Jesus. The doors are now closed. And what a spectacle is presented before him! Here are parents without their children, and children without their parents ; wives without their husbands, and husbands without their wives. The nearest and most endeared relations are separated by this service, the author of which, he had been informed, was the Son of God; by whom each of his disciples believes that he shall be judged, and through whom each one hopes for redemption, and for life eternal in heaven. Could this be the design of the founder of christianity ? Or are the conditions of admission to his church so rigorous, that a small number only can submit to them? Or is the ordinance indeed obligatory on all ? Or was it intended only for one class of christians? These inquiries would naturally arise in the mind of the stranger; and he avails himself of an opportu

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