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Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures. I am satisfied that no attempts to answer the objections of infidels against the Bible will prove satisfactory, so long as men's views on this subject go beyond the teachings of the Scriptures themselves. To the fanciful theories of a large number of Theologians the sacred writings do not answer, and you must therefore, either set aside those theories, and put a more moderate one in their place, or give up the defence of the Bible in despair. I therefore leave the extravagant theories to their fate, and content myself with what the Scriptures themselves say; and I feel at rest and secure. The views I have given on the subject in this work, and in my pamphlet on the Bible, are not new. You may find them in the works of quite a number of Evangelical Authors. The only credit to which I am entitled is, that I state them with great plainness, and without reserve, and that I do not, after having given them on one page, take them back again on the next.
How far my friends will be able to receive or tolerate my views on these points, I do not know. I hope they will ponder them with all the candor and charity they can. I have kept as near to orthodox standards as I could, without doing violence to my conscience, and injustice to the truth. I would never be singular, if I could honestly help it. It is nothing but a regard to God, and duty, and the interests of humanity, that prevents me going with the multitude. It would be gratifying in the extreme to see truth and the majority on one side, and to be permitted to take my place with them: but if the majority take sides with error, I must take my place with the minority, and look for my comfort in a good conscience, and in the sweet assurance of God's love and favor.
In looking over some manuscripts some time ago, belonging to a relation of my wife's father-in-law, I found the following story of a dream. Some have no regard for dreams, but I have. I have both read of dreams, and had dreams myself, that answered marvellously to great realities; and this may be one of that kind. In any case,
as the Preface does not take up all the space set apart for it, I am disposed to give it a few of the vacant pages.
The dreamer's account of his dream is as follows.
'After tiring my brain one day with reading a long debate between a Catholic and a Protestant about the Infallibility of the Church and the Bible, I took a walk along a quiet field-path near the river, full of thought on the subject on which I had been reading. The fresh air, the pleasant scene, and the ripple of the stream, had such a soothing effect on me, that I lost myself, and passed unconsciously from the World of realities, into the Land of dreams. I found myself in a large Hall, filled with an eager crowd, listening to a number of men who had assembled, as I was told, to discuss the affairs of the Universe, and put an end to controversy. The subject under discussion just then was the Sun. I found that after the world had lived in its light for thousands of years, and been happy in the abundance of the fruit, and grain, and numberless blessings produced by his wondrous influences, some one, who had looked at the Great Light through a powerful telescope, had discovered that there were several dark spots on his disk or face, and that some of them were of a very considerable size. He named the matter to a number of his friends who, looking through the telescope for themselves, saw that such was really the case.
'Now there happened to be an order of persons in the Land of dreams whose business it was to praise the Sun, and extol its Light. And they had a theory to the effect, that the Light of the Sun was unmixed, and that the Sun itself was one uniform mass of brightness and brilliancy, without speck, or spot, or any such thing. They held that the Head of their order was the Maker of the Sun,-that He Himself was Light, and that in Him was no darkness at all; and that the Sun was exactly like Him, intense, unmingled, and unvarying Light. When these people heard of the alleged discovery of the spots, they raised a tremendous cry, and some howled, and some shrieked, and all united in pronouncing the statement a fiction, and in denouncing in severe terms, both its author, and all who took his part, as deceivers; as the enemies of the Sun, as blasphemers of its Author, and as the enemies of the human race.
'This was one of the great controversies which this worldwide convention had met to bring to an end.
'As I took my place in the Hall, one of the Professors of the Solar University was speaking. He said the story about the spots was a wicked calumny; and he went into a lengthy and labored argument to show, that the thing was absurd and impossible. The Sun,' said he, 'was made by an All-perfect Artificer,-made on purpose to be a Light, the Great Light of the world, and a Light it must be, and nothing else but a Light; a pure unsullied Light all round, without either spot, or speck of any kind, or any varying shade of brilliancy in any part.' He added, "To say the contrary, is to do the Sun injustice, to dishonor its All-glorious Author, to alienate the minds of men from the Heavenly Luminary, to destroy their faith in his Light and warmth, to plunge the world into darkness, and reduce it to a state of utter desolation. If the Sun is not all light, he is no Light at all. If there be dark spots on one part of his face, there may be dark spots on every part. All 6 may be dark, and what seems Light may be an illusion; a false Light, 'that leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind.' He is not to be trusted. Every thing is uncertain.' And he called the man who said he had seen the spots, an impostor, a blasphemer, a scavenger, an ass, a foreigner, and a number of other strange names.
'The man he was abusing so unmercifully, stepped forward, and in a meek and quiet spirit said, 'I saw the spots with my own eyes. I have seen them scores of times. I can show them to you, if you will look through this glass.' 'Your glass is a cheat, a lie,' said the Professor. But others have seen them,' said the man, as well as I, and seen them through a number of other glasses.'
'It is impossible,' answered the Professor. A Sun made by an All-perfect God, and made on purpose to be a Light, cannot possibly be defaced with dark spots; and whoever says any thing to the contrary is a
'Here the Professor rested his case;- A Sun without spots, or no Sun. Light without variation of shade, or no Light. Prove that the Sun has spots, and you reduce him to a level with an old extinguished lamp, that is fit for nothing but to be cast away as an unclean and worthless
thing. The honor of God, and the welfare of the universe all hang on this one question,-Spots, or no spots!'
'His fellow professors took his part, and many spoke in the same strain. But the belief in the spots made its way, and spread further every day, and the consequence was, the obstinate Professors were confounded and put to shame. Facts were too strong for them, and their credit and influence were damaged beyond remedy.
'After the Professors of the Sun were silenced, the Man in the Moon arose and spoke. He contended that both Sun and Moon were free from spots, but said, that no one. could see the Sun as it really was, unless he lived in the Moon, and looked at it from his standpoint. "The Moon,' said he, like the Sun, is the work of the All-perfect Creator; and it's face is one unchanging blaze of absolute and unvaried brightness.'
'Now all who had ever looked at the Moon, had noticed, that no part of her face was as bright as the Sun, and that some portions were of a shade considerably darker than the rest. And I noticed that even the Professors who had spoken extravagantly about the Sun, looked at each other and smiled, when they heard the statements of the Man in the Moon. Indeed there was such a tittering and a giggling through the Hall, that the meeting was broken up.
'I hastened out, and found there were a hundred discussions going on in the street. Many of the disputants seemed greatly excited. I felt melancholy. A quiet-looking man, with a very gentle expression of countenance, came up to me, and in tones of remarkable sweetness, said, You seem moved.' 'I feel troubled,' said I. 'I don't know what to think; and I don't know what to do.' He smiled, and said, 'None of these things move me.' Then lifting up his eyes towards Heaven he said,- The Sun still shines; and I feel his blessed warmth as sensibly as ever. And the millions of our race still live and rejoice in his beams.' 'Thank God,' said I: 'Yes, I see, he still shines; and I will rest contented with his light and warmth.' 'The spots are there,' said he, 'past doubt; but experience, the strongest evidence of all, proves that they do not interfere with the beneficent influences of the Great and Glorious Orb, or lessen his claims to our respect and veneration, or dimi
nish one jot our obligations to his great Author. They have their use, no doubt. The Sun might be too brilliant without them, and destroy our eyes, instead of giving us light. Too much light might prove as bad as too little. All is well. I accept plain facts. To deny them is to fight against God. To admit them and trust in God is the true faith, and the germ of all true virtue and piety.
'I have no faith in the kind of absolute perfection those professors contend for, either in Sun or Moon, Bible or Church; but I believe in the SUFFICIENCY, or practical perfection of all, and am as happy, and only wish I were as good and useful, as
Just as he spoke those words, I awoke. He seemed as if he had much to say, and I would fain have heard him talk his sweet talk till now; but perhaps I had heard enough, and ought now to set myself heartily to work, to get through with the business of my life.'
So ends the Dream-story.
Some writers seem to think that their readers should understand and receive their views, however new and strange they may be, the moment they place them before their minds. They cannot understand how that which is clear to them, should not be plain to everybody else. And there are some readers who seem to think, that every thing they meet with in the books they read, however much it may be out of the way of their ordinary thought, or however contrary to their long-cherished belief, should, if it be really intelligible and true, appear so to them at first glance. How can anything seem mysterious or untrue to them, that is not mysterious or untrue in its very nature?
It so happened, that along with the dream-story, I found the following fragment. It is not an interpretation of the dream, but it seems as if it might teach a useful lesson, both to writers and readers.
'Something more than light, and eyes, and surrounding objects, is necessary to seeing. A new-born child may have light, and eyes, and surrounding objects, and yet not see anything distinctly. And a man born blind may have the film removed from his eyes, and be placed, at noontide, in the midst of a world of interesting objects, and yet, instead of seeing things, as we see them, have nothing but a