[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)
ARGUMENTS FOR CHRISTIANITY.
At New York City, in December, 1833, Mr. Campbell delivered three sermons on Evidences. 1834, page 39.
The first was from Tit. ii. 12-15. After showing that genuine, uncorrupted religion was greater than any sectarian presentation of it; and giving some reasons why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel even at Rome, the then mistress of the world, he took a view of the state of morals and philosophy in the Grecian and Roman cities before the gospel was announced; and expatiated on the literature, science, and political attainments of the age and countries in which Christianity was first introduced. Mr. Campbell says:
I then showed that the abuses of Christianity was no argument against its truth and excellency, any more than the abuse of any bounty or institution, human or divine, argues its falsity or inutility; drew an argument from the abuses of Christianity from the predictions of Paul concerning the man of sin, written thirty years after the crucifixion of the Messiah, showing the consummation of the apostacy to be one of the most unlikely events in the developments of time; and ascribed the scepticism of my audience to the profligacy, enthusiasm, and blind superstition of THE APOSTACY, rather than to the lack of evidence of the divine mission of Jesus of Nazareth.
Next descanted upon the felicity of the choice of a name which the sons of infidelity assumed as their designation. Their philosophy leading them neither to affirm nor deny the existence of God or the truth of revealed religion, but simply to doubt, they prudently called themselves Sceptics. We showed that, as philosophers, they could but doubt. No living man could say that he knew Christianity to be a fraud or to be false, because he was not in Jerusalem to see whether Jesus rose from the dead. He had no evidence from any of his senses that Christianity was false; therefore, never could say that he knew the gospel to be a lie. Again, no living man could say that he believes the gospel to be false, because without testimony there can be no faith; and there is not in the annals of the world one vestige of contemporaneous and contradictory testimony. No apostate, no Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile, who lived in those times, has given any testimony contrary to the Apostles. Now, inasmuch as no man who knows the meaning of words, can say he knows the gospel to be false, or believes it to be false; what can philosophers or philologists say of themselves, but that they doubt, or are simply sceptics? 
Spoke of the honesty of Sceptics--admitted them to be honest men and good citizens in numerous instances; but in the enlarged sense of the word honest, comprehending our dues to God, to man, and to ourselves, doubted whether there was an honest Sceptic in the human race--because it would be admitted that the sanctions of eternal life or eternal death under which the gospel was believed or rejected, claimed the whole, undivided, and concentrated powers of man upon the evidence; and that we never yet found a sceptic who had examined fairly and fully both sides of the question; and, therefore, we must regard them as not honest to themselves.
Christianity, a religion of facts, and not of opinions, was to be tried in the proper court, as other questions of fact are to be tried--not arbitrary in choosing her judges, laws, or witnesses--she submits to the common judges, laws, and witnesses which are approved in those courts of inquiry in which questions of historic certainty are examined.
These preliminaries being submitted, we went into the examination of the doubts and difficulties of Sceptics:--
1st. The incomprehensibility of some of its principles is a frequent objection to its divine authenticity. We admitted this incomprehensibility; but demonstrated that if the incomprehensibility of some of its principles constituted a lawful objection against its truth, then every science in Christendom must be rejected: for, from the Newtonian science of the universe down to the science of medicine, there is nothing called science which has not for its basis, or an essential part, certain recondite and abstract principles, which no man ever did, or ever will, comprehend.
Newton's centripetal and centrifugal powers are assumptions which are proved to be true and incomprehensible. The vital principle itself--the infinite divisibility of matter, electricity, magnetism, animalization, space, time, etc., etc., incomprehensible. A man can not comprehend himself, much less anything above himself, or anything out of himself. Nature and religion alike comprehensible and incomprehensible.
2d. Christianity founded on miracles. No objection; for so is every system of scepticism. Every sceptic, upon his own definition of miracle, is constrained to adopt miracles. The difference between the Sceptic and Christian, in this one respect, is, that the former admits miracles without any testimony; the latter, on the best testimony in the world. We ask, Did nature exist before man? Then she must have suspended, changed, or new-modified her operations when she produced one. She ceased to operate in that way, for she never made a second. The first man was an adult--never an infant; but now nature gives infants. Matter has the same power now it ever had. It can not now produce an oak without an acorn--a man without an  infant. But this is not all: She made vegetables before she made man or animals. She either prepared them by degrees, as she now does; or she consummated them at once--for without them, man or animal could not have lived. All this is miracle. No Sceptic can commence any system without assuming a miracle. Christians believe them, and all nature, and philosophy, and ancient history prove them, etc.
3d. Christianity addresses itself to faith rather than to reason. Faith shown to be a better guide than reason. But as this was more fully developed in our second discourse to the Sceptics, we shall pause for the present."
Mr. Campbell reports, 1834, page 76:
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, according to appointment, we addressed a large assembly of gentlemen (though it rained) at Concert fall, on the evidences of the gospel.
After a brief recapitulation of the preceding discourse in Tammany Hall, we reasoned with them for about an hour and a half on reason and faith.
1st. We attempted to demonstrate that reason without faith is wholly inadequate to guide man, in reference either to the present or the future.
2d. Justified the wisdom and philanthropy of the Author of Revelation in addressing it to faith, or to the capacity by which we receive almost all our useful knowledge.
The design of this discourse, like the preceding, was to disabuse the audience of their prejudices against the testimony of God, occasioned by the abuses of their own reason, and the abuses of the Bible by many teachers and professors of Christianity; and to prepare them for the candid examination of the direct evidences and arguments to be offered that evening in Tammany Hall in proof of the resurrection of Jesus.
Among the various arguments adduced under the first item of our discourse, was, the impotency and perfect inadequacy of reason to originate or decide anything regarding religion confessed by the Sceptics themselves. Before me, I observed, was a number of gentlemen, who had the greatest advantages which the improved state of the science of this world afforded; whose minds were fully matured by many years' reflection, and by all that philosophy could bestow; who confessed that to the present moment they could not theoretically or practically decide whether or not there was a God--an intelligent Creator, or whether nature was or was not eternal and unoriginated. Their own experience--indeed, their own consciousness, than which there is no higher evidence to them, might be most successfully appealed to in proof that reason, however enlightened and cultivated by  natural science, was altogether incompetent to guide man to any certain knowledge of his origin or destiny.
Faith, on the contrary, was that capacity or power in man, to which this knowledge was addressed, and by which alone it could be acquired. Indeed, all our knowledge of the past, and of the present, except only the narrow horizon which comes under the cognizance of our senses, is derived through this channel.
Faith was then shown to be the most natural, universal, and powerful principle of action implanted in the human breast. To it the docility and tractability of our species was to be ascribed. It was shown to be as necessarily a condition of temporal life as of eternal life. The infant that believes not its parents, must be destroyed; for fire, or flood, or poison, or the wild beast must destroy every child that believes not its nurse or guardian. Why, then, object to the gospel because it makes faith and obedience a condition of eternal life, which in the constitution of nature and society is an essential condition of our animal life!
Testimony it was alleged is submitted to reason, and over it reason exercises the same jurisdiction which it exercises over the objects of sense. The attributes of testimony, like the attributes of any object of reason, may be ascertained with as much precision as the properties of things. We can discriminate the true from the false, in some matters, with difficulty; but, in other matters, with perfect certainty. Reason deciding that the testimony is true, is believing; reason deciding that the testimony is false, is disbelieving; reason unable to decide, is scepticism.
Testimony is only another name for the experience of others. Their experience, reported and believed, is our faith. Mr. Hume said he could not admit the testimony of a few in proof of a miracle, because it was contrary to universal experience. But how did he know what universal experience testified? By believing the testimony of a few!! The philosopher seems not to have been aware that universal experience was to be ascertained only by the belief of the experience of a few. Silence is not contradictory testimony. The testimony of two men can prove in a court of law an affirmative proposition--the testimony of ten thousand can not prove a negative; still less can their silence prove anything. Some sceptics, amongst whom Frances Wright was one, exclaim "that Christians can not offer as much evidence in favor of their faith as would be necessary to gain a plea in court of the value of ten dollars;" meaning that they had no witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus that could be admitted in a court of law--no living witnesses, the only witnesses that can be heard by a jury. Then is the property of the owners of the soil of this state and of much of this city not worth ten dollars, because the letters of most of the  original purchasers, and indeed the original charter itself, can not be proved by living witnesses, but as we prove the records of Christianity! Perhaps, after all the boasts of scepticism to the contrary, it is more dogmatical than even bigotry itself.
The impossibility of originating the idea of spiritual existence, and the notion of propitiation, altars, temples, priests, etc., without other aids than sensation, reflection, and imagination--without the Bible, finished this address.
At Tammany Hall, at 7 o'clock, the same evening, we delivered a discourse of more than two hours, to the largest assembly (according to common report) that ever convened there.
To prove that Jesus rose from the dead, was the burthen of this discourse. After reading some portions of the prophets as introductory, our exordium consisted of a refutation of the allegation that we Christians were chiefly indebted to our friends for our faith--that our testimony was ex parte. This was attacked by showing that the contrary was the fact--that the documents on which we chiefly relied were in the possession of our worst and most deadly enemies. The Jews, who crucified the Messiah and persecuted the first promulgers of our faith, had been the keepers of those records which ascertained the pretensions of Jesus for 1,500 years before he was born, and still possess them. The writings of Moses, of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and indeed all the Prophets, were in their keeping, and translated into the Greek language; therefore, in the keeping of Jews and Pagans centuries before the Christ appeared.
Prophecy in its accomplishment was shown to be a standing miracle. Prophecy, when uttered, no evidence; but when accomplished, is as strong as demonstration itself.
Two specimens were given, in which it was impossible to prevaricate--in which there was no refuge from figure, vision, or symbol--because all was as literal and obvious as narrative itself.
One from Jeremiah, concerning the present state of the Jews, chap. xxix. 18; xxx. 11; xxxi. 35-37, pronounced 600 years before the Messiah; translated into Greek 280 years before the Christian era. Every one can now see the event in the present fortunes of the Jews.
The second was, the fate of all the nations which abused the Jews before the Christian era, from Dan. ii. and Jer. xxx. 11.
From these we proceeded to the capital fact on which Christianity rests--the resurrection of Jesus. Jew, Gentile, and Christian alike admit his death and burial; but Christians only believe in his resurrection.
The fact that the body was missing on the third day, admitted. His friends had it not in keeping: for they did not expect his rising,  as the four testimonies declare; and if they had, they could not have got it, for their enemies guarded the sepulchre. His enemies had it not, because they would have satisfied the populace of the fraud of his disciples in asserting his resurrection, and have confronted them with the dead body.
The body was, then, not to be found amongst friends or foes; and at this time there were no neutrals in Jerusalem. What came of it? It was reanimated--
1st. Because his disciples saw him repeatedly; heard him speak, and for forty days had such infallible proofs of his identity, as to sacrifice their lives in asserting his resurrection. All history affords no example of one or more individuals sacrificing their lives for asserting a fact, an event which promised them no earthly honor or reward.
2d. The descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in presence of the nation assembled in Jerusalem, in attestation of his reception in heaven, and the consequent progress of the gospel over the world.
3d. The commemorative institution of a figurative burial and resurrection into the name of the Messiah, and the consecration of one day in every week to commemorate his resurrection, furnishes an argument of the highest moral certainty, for no commemorative or monumental institution set up at the time of any alleged fact and afterwards perpetuated, has in the history of all time proved fallacious. Indeed, it can not be done. We could not do it now is an irrefragable argument that they could not do it then.
4th. The myriads of opponents, Jews, Samaritans, Pagans, who were overcome and vanquished into the belief of the resurrection, are equivalent to the testimony of myriads of adversaries; for it was a question of fact which was to be decided by evidence. Hence every vanquished opponent in that day, when everything was fresh, is justly to be regarded as the testimony of an enemy.
5th. Apostates, and the first writers against Christianity, and Pagan historians, (such as Julian, Celsus, Trypho, Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus,) as far as they allude to the subject, admit the facts and variously explain them.
These five arguments, together with the spirit and temper which true religion infused, would remain forever unanswered.
In 1835, page 197, Mr. Campbell writes:
The Christian believes that God made himself known to all the human race at two of the most memorable periods of human history. The first revelation of himself was made to the family of Adam; the second, to that of Noah. At the commencement of the antediluvian and postdiluvian worlds, all the children of men, the fathers and  founders of all nations, were favored with a clear development of the existence and perfections of the Creator and Governor of the World, and of the cardinal relations which his rational offspring sustain to him and to one another. This knowledge of God was, in the first ages of the world, transmitted from father to son by oral tradition. It had not, however, passed through many hands, till corrupted by human invention, and metamorphosed by the phantasies of a licentious imagination, it lost its influence on the human heart; and in a few generations it finally degenerated into the nameless mythological idolatries of the Pagan world. So general was this perversion of divine revelation, that, in the year of the world 2000, polytheism almost universally prevailed. This occasioned the call of Abraham from Ur of Chaldea, and gave rise to a new series of divine communications, which were finally embodied and consummated in the Jews' religion. To this revelation the Jewish descendants of Abraham have, for a period of nearly four thousand years, pertinaciously adhered.
This, together with the Christian religion, for fifteen centuries concealed in the types and prophecies of the Mosaic institution, but fully developed by the Messiah and his Apostles, the Deist wholly disbelieves and rejects, alleging that such a revelation is wholly unnecessary and unreasonable, inasmuch as the universe itself and alone, addressed, as it is, to the reason and understanding of man, is all sufficient to teach him the being and perfections of God as creator and preserver of the world--his own origin and responsibilities--his duties--his immortality and ultimate destiny.
The atheistic philosopher of nature, confident in his own speculations, with the assurance of demonstration, affirms that the Christian is a credulous dupe, following a cunningly devised fable, while he compliments the Deist with the title of a fool.
Accosting the Theist, he asks--"How is it, sir, that, by your five senses, and the exercise of your reason on all the varied contents of the volume of nature, you have not learned to spell the name of your God? In what land, and in what language, are the name and perfections of your creator inscribed upon the fowls of the air, the beast of the field, or the fishes of the sea? If his name is written on the title page of the volume of Nature, possessed by all, why is it not seen and read by all, who have the same five senses and the same intellectual powers? Why is it that all nations create gods for themselves, of every lust and passion, after the model of their own imaginations and propensities, and stupidly adore the stars of heaven, the beasts of the field, or the reptiles of the dust?
"Do you direct my inquiries into Egypt, and refer me to the land of the Pharaohs and the Ptolemies for illumination on the excellencies of your Lord of Nature? Their philosophers direct me to the temple  of the red heifer, to the marshes of the Nile, or to the gardens of Thebes. They offer me a crocodile, a calf, or an onion.
"Dissatisfied with all the science and learning of the Egyptians, do you invite me to the subtle and accomplished Greeks and Romans? I would accompany you to the groves and mountains of their poets--to the retreats of their philosophers--to the forum of their orators; but in Athens I find more gods than men! In Rome, imperial Rome, replete with all the science of the world--in her magnificent Pantheon, consecrated to Olympic Jove and all the inferior gods--could we brush the cobwebs from their faces, and expel the mice and flies that have defiled their persons, we could not in a year learn their names, their amours, intrigues, broils, and battles. It is all imagination--delusion all."
"In the absence of any proof that man ever did arrive at the conviction of one supreme spiritual intelligence from the book of Nature," continues the Atheist, "'tis vain for you to attempt to demonstrate than man can, by the use of his reason, or by all the suggestions of the book of Nature, possess himself of any one of the ideas which are essential to your creed. That he has never done it, is the best proof that he never can do it. Were the universe, indeed, offered as a gift to the Deist, on condition that he would produce only one example of the truth of his theory--a single individual, who had by his reason alone, aided by his five senses, and the book of Nature, acquired the idea, or image, or notions of a one Supreme Spirit, he would never possess it; and this is only equivalent to saying that Deism is a fond conceit--baseless superstructure--an air-built castle, discovered only in the regions of imagination."
The Christian philosopher, listening to this triumphant Atheist, at this crisis most serenely interposes his dilemma--"You affirm, Mr. Atheist," says the Christian, "that the idea or the name of a supreme spiritual intelligence, called GOD, did not enter the human mind by supernatural revelation, and that it could not enter the human mind by reason: but the idea and the name are now in the human mind, entertained by millions of the wisest and the best men in the world. Will you, then, please explain to us how this name God and the idea which it represents, first took possession of the human understanding?"
"By imagination," promptly responds the Atheist. "Who," replies the Christian philosopher, "is this god IMAGINATION?--in what heaven does he dwell? He can create out of nothing the idea of one supreme spirit! In what city have you dedicated a temple to this divinity? And is this the perfection of Atheism? Is it compelled to deify the imagination of man, and assign to it the most splendid creations in the universe. Imagination, the god of Atheists, creates the God of  Christians! I believe not in this divinity, and will not believe in him, unless he can work one miracle at least. Let him create one new idea, or the model of one new idea, and I will believe in him. But it must be a new idea. I cheerfully assign to imagination the honor of being the chief artificer in the magazines of all the fine arts. It combines, compounds, new-modifies, and arranges all the materials found in the chambers of our perceptions, reflections, and memories. But as soon will the architect create the materials for the house which he builds, as imagination furnish the materials for its own manufacture. It borrows from the sight, the sound, the taste, the smell, the feel, all the materials from which it fabricates its offerings. In all its patchwork we see how much it is indebted to the five senses--that it is only imitative. If it could create a God, it certainly could furnish man with at least one new sense. But it has been asked in vain to suggest one original idea, and to try its strength in giving a name to a sixth sense. As soon will the voice of the Atheist rend the mountains, as his imagination invent a sixth sense for man, unlike the five with which he is endued."
The Christian has two sources of original ideas: the unbeliever has but one. The Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation furnish the Christian with all his original simple conceptions. For the Book of Nature he is furnished with five senses:--The sense of seeing, His reflections on the objects of sense, and the impressions these objects make on him, furnish him with ideas compound and multiform; but every idea properly original and purely simple, is a discovery. Its model, or that which excites or originates it, is found in the volume of Nature, or in the volume of Revelation. Sense fits him for the one, and faith for the other. Every supernatural idea found in the world, as well as the proper term which represents it, is directly or indirectly derived from the Bible.
In drawing this conclusion we use the premises, and work by the rules, of all the mental philosophers of acknowledged orthodoxy in the science of mind and of language. The unbelieving Hume and the believing Locke, alike assent that all our simple and original ideas are derived from sensation and reflection; and that the imagination is absolutely dependent upon the discoveries of the five senses for all its inventions and creations. But the Apostle Paul sanctions these conclusions by affirming that it is "by faith we understand that the universe was made by God"--and that "he that comes to God must believe that he exists:" for the world by wisdom did not know God.
Some, indeed, have been confounded by such sayings as these:--"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handy works"--"His invisible attributes are clearly seen by the things  that are made, even his eternal power and divinity; so that the Gentiles are without excuse." These, and such like sayings, constitute no real objection to the views offered: for when the proposition that "God exists," or that "there is a God," is offered to the mind--the heavens and the earth, with all their riches and glory, fully and satisfactorily prove it. But we affirm that the universe furnishes us not with both the proposition and the proof; or, in other words, the heavens and the earth are not the proposition and the proof. God himself spoke to Adam, and left him not to guess his origin, though he was more capable of making the discovery than any of his sons. He has, in various manners and times, addressed our race in the language which he taught us, and has never left man without the means of knowing his origin and end; though for his obduracy and ingratitude, he has frequently been given over to an undiscerning mind. When, indeed, the idea is once suggested, the whole universe, in all its dominions, bears witness to the being and attributes of God. God himself suggests the idea and the whole universe proves it true.
The proposition that "there is a God," being once suggested, the universe, with its ten thousand tongues, addressed to the ear of reason, and its ten thousand times ten thousand designs submitted to the eye of reflection, is demonstration clear, full, and overwhelming.
To the unperverted vision of a sound mind, material nature is but one vast assemblage of systems of adaptations, working out innumerable series of results, in harmonious subordination to one grand end, exhibiting nothing so clearly as the wonderful contrivance and intelligent designs of one vast and unsearchable mind.
It must, indeed, be confessed that as the natural eye may be so dimmed and jaundiced by a disturbed digestion, as not to see objects in their true color and proper position; so may the mental sight be so vitiated by a diseased heart, as not to see even design itself in the wisest and most palpable arrangements of means to ends, with which the whole kingdom of nature abounds. Hence, in a land of Bibles, and in accordance with the true doctrine of causation, the moral atheist necessarily precedes the speculative atheist: for with David we must say, "It is in his heart" the fool first says, "There is no God." Atheism must, therefore, be always regarded as a disease of the heart.
The fogs and mists that hide the sun from our vision, the darkest clouds that overspread the heavens, rise from the earth. Above these exhalations the sun shines in uniform and undiminished brightness. Now if nature's immortal and eternal Sun illumines not our mental eyes, analogy confirms as well as illustrates the fact, that the cause is from beneath. He who, with right affections, sets about the contemplation of the universe, will not be long held in suspense whether  it is the work of blind chance or of intelligent design. Such a person will soon discover that atheism is the greatest of human follies, and the most mischievous of all delusions.
It is the greatest of human follies, for two reasons: First, because it is impossible to prove that there is no God; and in the second place, it is impossible for the atheist to prove from his premises that there is any mind in man. He that says there is no God, must say there is no mind; and he that doubts the being of God, must also doubt the being of mind.
We have said it is impossible to prove that there is no God. The reason is obvious: for could a person with the lamp of universal science traverse the solar system, and prosecute his inquiries for ten thousand years, it must be conceded that even then there would remain mysteries uncomprehended, arcana unexplored, latent and remote causes undiscovered. If, however, but one unknown cause remained, he could not conclude that there is no God, inasmuch as that very cause, to him unascertained, might be the great First Cause. To prove that there is no God is, therefore, the greatest of impossibilities. Is he not, then, a fool, who says there is no God?
What, in the next place, let me ask, is the proof--what the demonstration of mind? Its only evidence, and it is an infallible one, is its designs, its contrivance;--the adaptation of means to ends, working and making arrangements with a reference to final causes or results. This is what distinguishes the sane from the insane--the man from the idiot. Now, none of the works of human art exhibit more intelligent designs than the works of nature; nay, indeed, none of them exhibit so much. It is conceded, and very generally, that there are the most striking appearances of purpose and design in all the works of nature. Now, if, as it is universally conceded, intelligent contrivance, purpose, and design are the only evidences of mind in the works of human art, it must follow that the same appearances in nature must prove a mind independent of nature, controlling, managing, and working by nature its own results--whatever proves mind in the one case proves it in the other; and if the appearance of design in the works of God will not prove his existence, neither will the appearances of mind in the works of men prove the existence of mind in man. The atheist, therefore, if he presume to be consistent, must not only affirm that there is no God, but also that there is no mind in man.
It is scarcely necessary to designate instances in the works of nature, in which there is an appearance of purpose; for everything has this appearance. I will, however, mention several cases as samples.
1. The adaptation of the covering of animals to the climates in which they live. Northern animals have thicker and warmer coats of fur or hair, than Southern ones. And here it should be remarked,  that man, the only creature capable of clothing himself, is the only one that is not clothed by nature. Singular discrimination and care, indeed, for non-intelligence!
2. The adaptation of animals to the elements in which they live--the fish to the water, other animals to the air. Would not an unintelligent Energy or Power (for a Power all must acknowledge) be as likely to form the organs of a fish for air as for water!
3. The necessity which man has for sustenance, etc., and the supply of that necessity by nature. Here let it be noted how many things must act in unison, to produce the necessary results. The earth must nourish the seed, the sun must warm it, the rain must moisten it, and man must have the strength to cultivate it,--and the organs to eat it, and the stomach to digest it, and the blood vessels to circulate it, and so on. Is it credible, that all these things should happen without design?
4. The pre-adaptation of the infant to the state of things into which it enters at birth. The eye is exactly suited to the light, the ear to sound, the nose to smell, the palate to taste, the lungs to the air, etc., etc., etc. How is it possible to see no design in this pre-adaptation, so curious, so complicated, and in so many particulars!
5. The milk of animals, suitable for the nourishment of their young; provided just in season; provided without contrivance on the part of the parent;--and sought for without instruction or experience on the part of its offspring!--and all by chance!!!
6. The different sexes. In this case, as in the rest, there is perfect adaptation, which displays evident design. And there is more. What I ask, is there in nature to cause a difference in the sexes? Why are not all, either males or females--or rather a compound? This case, then, I consider not only an evidence of design, but likewise an evidence of the special and continual volition of the Creator. * * * *
7. The destitution of horns on the calf, and of teeth in the suckling. All other parts are perfect at the very first; but were calves and sucklings to have teeth and horns, what sore annoyances would these appendages prove to their dams and dames. How is it, that all the necessary parts of the young are thus perfect at the first, and their annoying parts unformed till circumstances render them no annoyance--unformed at the time they are not needed, and produced when they are, for defense and mastication? Who can fail of discerning intelligence here?
8. The teats of animals. These bear a general proportion to the number of young which they are wont to have at a time. Those that have few young have few of these appurtenances; those that have many, many. Were these animals to make preparations themselves in this respect, how could things be more appropriate!. 
9. The pea and the bean. The pea-vine, unable to stand erect of itself, has tendrils with which to cling to a supporter; but the beanstalk, self-sustained, has nothing of the kind.
10. The pumpkin. This does not grow on the oak, to fall on the tender head of the wiseacre who reposes in its shade, reasoning that it should grow there rather than where it does, because forsooth the oak would be able to sustain it. And were he to undertake to set the other works of Providence to rights which he now considers wrong, 'tis a chance if he would not get many a thump upon his pate, ere he should get the universe arranged to his mind. And if, before completing his undertaking, he should not find it the easier of the two to arrange his mind to the universe, it would be because what little brains he has would get thumped out of his cranium altogether!
11. The great energies of nature. To suppose the existence of powers as the cause of the operations of nature--powers destitute of life, and, at the same time, self-moving, and acting upon matter without the intervention of extrinsic agency; is just as irrational as to suppose such a power in a machine, and is a gross absurdity, and a self-contradiction. But to suppose that these lifeless energies, even if possessed of such qualities, could, void of intelligence, produce such effects as are produced in the universe, requires credulity capable of believing anything.
12. The whole universe, whether considered in its elementary, or its organized state. From the simple grass to the tender plant, and onward to the sturdy oak; from the least insect up to man; there is skill the most consummate, design the most clear. What substance, useless as it may be when uncompounded with other substances, does not manifest design in its affinity to those substances, by a union with which it is rendered useful? What plant, what shrub, what tree, has not organization and arrangement the most perfect imaginable? What insect so minute that contains not, within its almost invisible exterior, adjustment of part to part in the most exact order throughout all its complicated system, infinitely transcending the most ingenious productions of art; and the most appropriate adaptation of all those parts to its peculiar mode of existence? Rising in the scale of sensitive being, let us consider the beast of the forest, in whose case, without microscopic aid, we have the subject more accessible. Is he a beast of prey? Has the God of nature given him an instinctive thirst for blood? Behold, then, his sharp-sighted organs of vision for descrying his victim afar, his agile limbs for pursuit, his curved and pointed claws for seizing and tearing his prey, his sharp-edged teeth for cutting through its flesh, his firm jaws for griping, crushing, and devouring it, and his intestines for digesting raw flesh! But is he a graminivorous animal? Does he subsist on grass and herb? Behold,  then, his clumsy limbs and his clawless hoofs, his blunt teeth and his herb-digesting stomach! So perfect is the correspondence between one part and another; so exactly adapted are all the parts to the same general objects; so wonderful is the harmony, and so definite and invariable the purpose, obtaining throughout the whole, that it is necessary to see but a footstep, or even a bone, to be able to decide the nature and construction of the animal that imprinted that footstep, or that possessed that bone! Ascending still higher in the scale, we come at last to man--man, the highest, noblest workmanship of God on earth, the lord of this sphere terrene, for whose behoof all mundane things exist. In common with all other animals, he has that perfect adaptation of part to part, and of all the parts to general objects, which demonstrate consummate wisdom in the Cause which thus adapted them. His eyes are so placed as to look the same way in which his feet are placed to walk, and his hands to toil. His feet correspond with each other, being both placed to walk in the same direction, and with their corresponding sides towards one another, without which he would hobble, even if he could walk at all. His mouth is placed in the forepart of the head, by which it can receive food and drink from the hands. But the hands themselves--who can but admire their wonderful utility? To what purpose are they not adapted? Man, who has many ends to accomplish, in common with the beast of the field; who has hunger to alleviate, thirst to slake, etc., etc., the same as the former, has likewise other and higher ends for the attainment of which he is peculiarly qualified by means of hands. Adapted by his constitution to inhabit all climes, he has hands to adapt his clothing to the same, whether torrid, temperate, or frigid. Possessed of the knowledge of the utility of the soil, he has hands to cultivate it. Located far distant ofttimes from the running stream, these hands enable him to disembowel the earth, and there find an abundant supply of the all-necessary fluid. Endued with rational ideas, pen in hand he can transmit them to his fellow far away, or to generations unborn. Heir and lord of earth and ocean, his hands enable him to possess and control the same; without which, notwithstanding all his reason, he could do neither, but would have to crouch beneath the superior strength of the brute, and fly for shelter to crags inaccessible to his beastly sovereign. But useful after all as are these appendages, how very like the paws of beasts in this respect would they become, were man devoid of reason. Thus we see, that the only creature that has the reason to manage the world, has the physical organization to do it. No beast with man's reason could do this; and no man with the mere instinct of a brute could do it. How marvelous then this adaptation! Yea, how wondrous the adaptation of everything. And how astonishing that any man,  with all these things in view, can for one moment forbear to admit a God. Let him try a chance experiment. Let him take the letters of the alphabet, and throw them about promiscuously; and then see how long ere they would move of their own accord, and arrange themselves into words and sentences. Yea, he may avail himself of the whole benefit of his scheme; he may have the advantage of an Energy or power as a momentum, to set them in motion. He may put these letters into a box sufficiently large for the purpose, and then shake them as long as they seem to him good; and when, in this way, they shall have become intelligible language, I will admit that he will have some reason for doubting a God. Nay, more. If this should seem too much like artificial mind, he may take some little animal, all constructed at his hands, and dismember its limbs, and dissect its body; and then within some vessel let him throw its various parts at random, and, seizing that vessel, shake it most lustily, till bone shall come to bone, joint to joint, and the little creature be restored to its original form. But if this could not be accomplished by mere power, without wisdom to direct, how could the original adjustment occur by chance? Nay, how could those very parts themselves be formed for adjustment one to another? Mathematicians tell us wondrous things in relation to these haphazard concerns. And they demonstrate their statements by what will not lie--figures.
Take two letters and they are capable of being put in only two positions in relation to each other. A third being added, they are capable of six different positions, and so on in geometrical proportion. By adding four, making four letters, they are capable of twenty-four positions.
Merely adding another letter, e, and so making five instead of four, would increase the number of variations five-fold. They would then amount to one hundred and twenty. A single additional letter, f, making six in all, would increase this last sum of one hundred and twenty, six-fold, and would accordingly raise it to the amount of seven hundred and twenty. Add a seventh letter, g, and the last named sum would be increased seven-fold, and thereby be raised to the number of five thousand and forty. An eighth letter, h, would increase said five thousand and forty, eight-fold, thus raising it to the sum of forty thousand three hundred and twenty. A ninth letter i, would increase the latter sum nine-fold, and so on to the end of the alphabet; when we should have the astonishing result, that, with only the twenty-six letters thereof, the different changes or variations which can be made with them, or the different positions in which they can be placed, amount to the immense number of six hundred and twenty thousand, four hundred and forty-eight trillions; four hundred and one thousand, seven hundred and thirty-three billions; two hundred and thirty-nine  thousand, four hundred and thirty-nine millions; and three hundred and sixty thousand!!! Hence it follows, that, were the letters of the alphabet to be thrown promiscuously into a vessel, to be afterwards shaken into order by mere hap, their chance of being arranged, not to say into words and sentences, but into their alphabetical arrangement, would be only as 1 to 620448401733239439360000. All this, too, in the case of only twenty-six letters! Take now the human frame, with its innumerable bones, tendons, nerves, muscles, veins, arteries, ducts, glands, cartilages, etc., etc., etc., and, having dissected the same, throw those parts into one promiscuous mass; and how long, I ask, would it be, ere Chance would put them all into their appropriate places, and form a perfect man? In this calculation, we are likewise to take into the account the chances of their being placed bottom upwards, or sideways, or wrongside out, notwithstanding they might merely find their appropriate places. This would increase the chances against a well-formed system, to an amount beyond all calculation or conception. In the case of the alphabet, the chances for the letters to fall bottom up, or aslant, are not included. And when we reflect, that the blind goddess would have to contend against such fearful odds in the case of a single individual, how long are we to suppose it would be, ere from old Chaos she could shake this mighty universe, with all its myriads upon myriads of existences, into the glorious order and beauty in which it now exists!
|An atheistic naturalist's a fool.|
He can't believe that two letters can be adjusted to each other without design and yet he can believe all the foregoing incredibilities.
I might swell the list to a vast extent. I might bring into view the verdure of the earth, as being the most agreeable of all colors to the eye; the general diffusion of the indispensables and necessaries of life, such as air, light, water, food, clothing, fuel, etc., while less necessary things, such as wines, spices, gold, silver, etc., are less diffused;--also, the infinite variety in things, in men for instance, by which we can distinguish one from another, etc., etc., etc. But I forbear. If the cases adduced do not prove design, what can prove it? How could design be more apparent than in these instances? And is it reasonable to conclude, that, where there are all possible appearances of design, still no design is there? or even that it is probably there is none?
I have said, that there is as much evidence of purpose in the works of nature, as in those of art. I now say that there is more, infinitely more. Nay, should the wheels of Nature stop their revolutions, and her energies be palsied, and life and motion cease, even then would she exhibit incomparably greater evidence of design, in her mere construction and adaptation, than do the works of art. Shall we then be  told, that when she is in full operation, and daily producing millions upon millions of useful, of intelligent, of marvellous effects, she still manifests no marks of intelligence! In nature, we not only see all the works of art infinitely exceeded, but we see, as it were, those works self-moved, and performing their operations without external agency. To use a faint comparison, we see a factory in motion without water, wind or steam, its cotton placing itself within the reach o the picker, the cards, the spinning-frame and the loom, and turning out in rolls of cloth. Such virtually, nay, far more wonderful, is the universe. Not a thousandth part so unreasonable would it be, to believe a real factory of this description, were one to exist, to be a chance existence, as to believe this same universe so. Sooner could I suppose Nature herself possessed of intelligence, than admit the idea, that there is no intelligence concerned in her organization and operations. There must be a mind within or without her, or else we have no data by which to distinguish mind. There must be a mind, or all the results of mind are produced without any. There must be a mind, or chaos produces order, blind power perfects effects, and non-intelligence the most admirable correspondence and harmony imaginable. Sceptics pride themselves much on their reason. They can't believe, they say, because it is unreasonable. What is unreasonable! to believe in a mind where there is every appearance thereof that can be? Is it more reasonable, then, to believe, that every appearance of mind is produced without any mind at all? Sceptics are the last men in all this wide world to pretend to reason. They doubt against infinite odds; they believe without evidence, against evidence, against demonstration--and then talk of reason!"
The Bridgewater Treatises have placed this matter of design in a most irresistible light. No person of common sense and of a common understanding of the meaning of words can read Bell on the Hand, Whewell on Astronomy and General Physics, Kidd on the Physical Condition of Man, Prout on Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, Chalmers on the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Physical Constitution of Man--and not feel that all the science of the world only developes the contrivances and intelligent designs of Nature. To save the labor of arrangement we have grouped the above items from Origen Bachelor's correspondence with R. D. Owen, a work of very considerable merit.
Having shown that no man in his senses can be an antitheist, or can affirm that there is no God, unless he assume that he comprehends the universe in his mind, with all its abstract essences and principles; which assumption would be to make himself omnipresent and eternal, a god in fact; and having seen that the proposition of the divine existence and perfections is demonstrable from the  universe, as far as it is known in all its general laws and in all its parts, we proceed from these prefatory considerations to other matters still more intimately introductory to our design.
It is essentially preliminary to a clear and forcible display of the reasonableness and certainty of our faith in Jesus Christ as the author of immortality to man, that we ascertain the proper ground on which the modern sceptic, of whatever creed, stands, when he avows his opposition to the gospel. That we may duly estimate the strength of his opposition, we must not only enumerate his objections or arguments, but we must exactly ascertain the exact position which he occupies. Does he stand within a fortified castle, or in the open field? Presents he himself to our view in a strong hold, well garrisoned with the invincible forces of logic, of science, and of fact? or defies he armies and the artillery of light, relying wholly upon himself, his own experience, without a shield, without an ally, without science, without history, and consequently without a single fact to oppose?
That we may, them, truly and certainly ascertain his precise attitude, before we directly address him we shall accurately survey his whole premises.
Does he say, that he knows the gospel to be false? No, he can not; for he was not in Judea in the days of the evangelical drama. He, therefore, could not test the miracles, or sensible demonstrations, by any of his senses; nor prove to himself that Jesus rose not from the dead. Speaking in accordance with the evidence of sense, of consciousness, and of experience, he never can say that he knows the gospel to be a cunningly devised fable. He has not, then, in all his premises, knowledge, in its true and proper meaning, to oppose to the Christian's faith or hope, What remains?
Can he say, in truth, that he believes the gospel to be false? He can not; because belief without testimony is impossible. And testimony that the gospel facts din not occur is not found extant on earth in any language or nation under heaven. No contemporaneous opposing testimony has ever been heard of except in one instance;--the sleeping and incredible testimony of the Roman guards, which has a lie stamped indelibly on its forehead--"His disciples stole his dead body while we were asleep." He that can believe this is not to be reasoned with. We repeat it with emphasis, that no living man can say, according to the English Dictionary, that he believes the gospel to be false.
Alike destitute of knowledge and of faith to oppose to the testimony of Apostles, Prophets, and myriads of contemporaneous witnesses, what has the sceptic to present against the numerous and diversified evidences of the gospel? Nothing in the universe but his  doubts. He can, in strict conformity to language and fact, only say, he doubts whether it be true. He is, then, legitimately no more than an inmate of Doubting Castle. His fortification is built up of doubts and misgivings, cemented by antipathy. Farther than this the powers of nature and of reason can not go.
How far these doubts are rational, scientific, and modest, may yet appear in the sequel; meanwhile, we only survey the premises which the infidel occupies, and the forces he has to bring into the action. These, may we not say, are already logically ascertained to be an army of doubts only.
Some talk of the immodesty, Others of the folly, others of the maliciousness of the unbeliever; but not to deal in harsh or uncourteous epithets, may we not say, that it is most unphilosophic to dogmatize against the gospel on the slender ground of sheer dubiety! No man, deserving the name of a philosopher, can ever appear among the crusading forces of pamphleteers and declaimers against the faith of Christians--for two of the best reasons in the world;--he has nothing better to substitute for the motive;--the restraining fears to the wicked, and the animating hopes to the righteous, which the gospel tenders;--and he has nothing to oppose to its claims but the weakness and uncertainty of his doubts. Franklin was a philosopher, but Paine was a madman. The former doubted, but never dogmatized--never opposed the gospel, but always discountenanced and discouraged the infidel: the latter gave to his doubts the authority of oracles, and madly attempted to silence the Christian's artillery by the licentious scoffings of the most extravagant and unreasonable scepticism.
Modesty is the legitimate daughter of true philosophy; but dogmatism, unless the offspring of infallible authority, is the ill-bred child of ignorance and arrogance. Every man, then, who seeks to make proselytes to his scepticism by converting his doubts into arguments, is any thing but a philosopher, or a philanthropist.
One of the most alarming signs of this age is the ignorance and recklessness of the youthful assailants of the Bible. Our cities, villages, and public places of resort are thronged with swarms of these Lilliputian volunteers in the cause of scepticism. Apprenticed striplings, and sprigs of law and physic, whose whole reading of standard authors on general science, religion, or morality, in ordinary duodecimo, equals not the years of their unfinished, or just completed, minority, imagine they have got far in advance of the vulgar herd, and are both philosophers and gentlemen if they have learned, at second hand, a few scoffs and sneers at the Bible, from Paine, Voltaire, Bolingbroke, or Hume. One would think, could he listen to their impudence, that Bacon, Newton, Locke, and all the great masters of science were very pigmies, and that they themselves were sturdy giants of extraordinary  stature in all that is intellectual, philosophic, and learned. These would-be baby demagogues are a public nuisance to society, whose atheistic breath not unfrequently pollutes the whole atmosphere around them, and issues in a moral pestilence among that class who regard a fine hat and a cigar as the infallible criteria of a gentleman and scholar.
These creatures have not sense enough to doubt, nor to think sedately on any subject; and, therefore, we only notice them while defining the ground occupied by the unbelievers of this generation. They prudently call themselves sceptics, but imprudently carry their opposition to the Bible beyond all the bounds embraced in their own definitions of scepticism. A sceptic can only doubt, never oppugn the gospel. He becomes an atheist or an infidel, bold and dogmatic, soon as he opens his mouth against the Bible.
Were we philosophically to class society as it now exists in this country, in reference to the gospel, we should have believers, unbelievers, and sceptics. We would find some who have voluntarily received the apostolic testimony as true, others who have rejected it as false; and a third class who simply doubt, and neither receive nor reject it as a communication from Heaven. But though unbelievers, while they call themselves sceptics, often wage actual war against the faith and hope of Christians, still their actual rejection of the gospel has no other foundation than pure aversion to its restraints and some doubts as to its authenticity. The quagmire of their own doubts, be it distinctly remembered, is the sole ground occupied by all the opponents of the gospel, whether they style themselves antitheists, atheists, theists, unbelievers, or sceptics.
That these doubts are perfectly irrational, or that they legitimately issue in absolute scepticism in all that is called science and philosophy, we shall attempt to show in our next essay. The plan which we have proposed to ourselves in these occasional essays is first to explode the lying refuges of every species of scepticism--then to show that it is possible--then that it is probable--then that it is morally certain--and then that it is experimentally true that Jesus the Nazarene is the author of an eternal salvation to all that obey him.
Alexander Campbell. Extract from "Notes on a Tour to New York--No. 5."
The Millennial Harbinger 5 |
----------. Extract from "Notes on a Tour to New York--No. 6."
The Millennial Harbinger 5 (February |
----------. Extract from "Evidences of the Gospel.--No. 1."
The Millennial Harbinger 6 (May 1835): |
----------. Extracts from "Evidences of the Gospel.--No. 2."
The Millennial Harbinger 6 (July 1835): |
|5. ----------. "Evidences of the Gospel.--No. 3." The Millennial Harbinger 6 (October 1835): 470-472.|
[Table of Contents]
|Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)