Grounds of Christianity

Grounds of Christianity
Catalog # SKU1867
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name George English
 
$19.95
Quantity

Description

The
Grounds of Christianity


Examined by Comparing
The New Testament with the Old

By
George Bethune English

"First understand,
then judge."
"Bring forth the people blind,
although they have eyes;
And deaf,
although they have ears.
Let them produce their witnesses,
that they may be justified;
Or let them hear their turn, and say,
THIS IS TRUE."
ISAIAH.

From the Preface

"It is a common opinion, that there are some doctrines so sacred, and others of so bad a tendency, that no public discussion of them ought to be allowed. Were this a right opinion, all the persecution that has ever been practised would be justified; for if it is a part of the duty of civil magistrates to prevent the discussion of such doctrines, they must, in doing this, act on their own judgments of the nature and tendency of doctrines; and, consequently, they must have a right to prevent the discussion of all doctrines which they think to be too sacred for discussion, or too dangerous in their tendency; and this right they must exercise in the only way in which civil power is capable of exercising it--'by inflicting penalties upon all who oppose sacred doctrines, or who maintain pernicious opinions.'

In Mahometan, countries, therefore, magistrates would have a right to silence and punish all who oppose the divine mission of Mahomet, a doctrine there reckoned of the most sacred nature. The like is true of the doctrines of transubstantiation, worship of the Virgin Mary, &c. &c., in Popish countries; and of the doctrines of the Trinity, satisfaction, &c., in Protestant countries. All such laws are right, if the opinion I have mentioned is right. But, in reality, civil power has nothing to do in such matters, and civil governors go miserably out of their proper province, whenever they take upon them the care of truth, or the support of any doctrinal points. They are not judges of truth, and if they pretend to decide about it, they will decide wrong.

This all the countries under heaven think of the application of civil power to doctrinal points in every country, but their own. It is indeed superstition, idolatry, and nonsense, that civil power at present supports almost every where under the idea of supporting sacred truth, and opposing dangerous error. Would not, therefore, its perfect neutrality be the greatest blessing? Would not the interest of truth gain unspeakably, were all the rulers of states to aim at nothing but keeping the peace; or did they consider themselves bound to take care, not of the future, but the present, interest of man; not of their souls and of their faith, but of their person and property; not of any ecclesiastical, but secular, matters only?" "All the experience of past time proves, that the consequence of allowing civil power to judge of the nature and tendency of doctrines, must be making it a hindrance to the progress of truth, and an enemy to the improvement of the world."

"I would extend these observations to all points of faith, however sacred they may: be deemed. Nothing reasonable--can suffer by discussion. All doctrines, really sacred, must be clear, and incapable of being opposed with success."

"That immoral tendency of doctrines, which has been urged as a reason against allowing the public discussion of them, may be either avowed and direct? or only a consequence with which they are charged. If it is avowed and direct, such doctrines certainly will not spread; the principles rooted, in human nature will resist them, and the advocates of them will be soon disgraced. If, on the contrary, it is only a consequence with which a doctrine is charged, it should be considered how apt all parties are to charge the doctrines they oppose with bad tendencies. It is well known that Calvinists and Arminians, Trinitarians and Socinians, Fatalists and Free-Willers, are continually exclaiming against one another's opinions, as dangerous and licentious.

Even Christianity itself could not, at its first introduction, escape this accusation. The professors of it were considered as atheists, because they opposed pagan idolatry; and their religion was, on this account, reckoned a destructive and pernicious enthusiasm. If, therefore, the rulers of a state are to prohibit the propagation of all doctrines, in which they apprehend immoral tendencies, an opening will be made, as I have before observed, for every species of persecution. There will be no doctrine, however true or important, the avowal of which will not, in, some country or other, be subjected to civil penalties."

These observations bear the stamp of good sense, and their truth has been abundantly confirmed by experience; and it is the peculiar honour of the United States, that in conformity with the principles of these observations, perfect freedom, of opinion and of speech, are here established by law, and are the birthright of every citizen thereof.

Excerpt

How Christianity depends on the Old Testament, or what proofs are to be met with therein in behalf of Christianity, are the subjects of almost all the numerous books written by divines, and other apologists for Christianity, but the chief and principal of these proofs may be justly supposed to be urged in the New Testament itself, by the authors thereof; who relate the history of the first preaching of the Gospel, and profess themselves to be apostles of Jesus, or companions of the Apostles. Some of these proofs, as a specimen, have been already adduced. And if they are valid proofs, then is Christianity strongly and invincibly established: on its true foundations.

It is established upon its true foundations, because Jesus and his Apostles did, as we have seen, ground Christianity on those proofs; and it is strongly and invincibly established on those foundations, because a proof drawn from an inspired book is perfectly conclusive. And prophecies delivered in an inspired book are, when fulfilled, such as may be justly deemed sure, and demonstrative proof; and which Peter (2 Peter 1: 19) prefers as an argument for the truth of Christianity, to that miraculous attestation (whereof he, and two other Apostles are said to have been witnesses,) given by God himself to the mission of Jesus of Nazareth. His argument appears to be as follows. "Laying this foundation, that Prophecy proceeds from the Holy Spirit, it is a stronger argument than a miracle, which depends upon eternal evidence, and testimony." And this opinion of Peter's is corroborated by the words of Jesus himself, who, in Mat. xxiv: 23, 24, Mark xiii: 21, 22, affirms, that miracles wrought in confirmation of a pretender's being the Messiah, are not to be considered as proof of his being so--"though they show great signs and wonders, believe it not," is his command to his disciples.

Besides, prophecies fulfilled, seem the most proper of all arguments to evince the truth of a new revelation which is designed to be universally promulgated to men. For a man who has the Old Testament put into his hands, which contain prophecies, and the New Testament afterward, which is said to contain their completions, and is once satisfied, as he may be with the greatest ease, that the Old Testament existed before the New, may have a complete, internal, divine, demonstration of the truth of Christianity, without long, and laborious enquiries. Whereas, arguments of another nature, such, for instance, as relate to the authority and genuineness of the books, and the persons, and characters of authors, and witnesses, require more application, and understanding, than falls to the share of the bulk of mankind; or else are very precarious in themselves, since we know that in the first centuries there were numberless forged Gospels, and Apocryphal writings imposed upon the credulous as apostolic and authentic; and there were in the Apostles times, as many, and as great heresies and schisms as perhaps have been since in any age of the Church. So that, setting aside the before mentioned internal proofs from prophecy, (which were the Apostle's proofs and in their nature sufficient of themselves) we should have no certain proof at all for the Religion of the New Testament.

On the other hand, if the proofs for Christianity from the Old Testament, are not valid, if the arguments founded on that Book be not conclusive, and the Prophecies cited from thence be not fulfilled, then has Christianity no just foundation; for the foundation on which Jesus and his Apostles built it is then invalid, and false. Nor can miracles, said to have been wrought by Jesus, and his Apostles in behalf of Christianity, avail anything in the case. For miracles can never render a foundation valid, which is in itself invalid; can never make a false inference true; can never make a prophecy fulfilled, which is not fulfilled; and can never designate a Messiah, or Jesus for the Messiah, if both are not marked out in the Old Testament; no more than they could prove the earth to be the sun, or a mouse a lion.

Besides, miracles said to have been wrought, may be often justly decided false reports, when attributed to persons who claim an authority from the Old Testament, which they impertinently alledge to support their pretentions. God can never be supposed often to permit miracles to be done for the confirmation of a false, or pretended mission. And if at any time he does permit miracles to be done in confirmation of a pretended mission, we have express directions from the Old Testament (acknowledged by Christians to be of divine authority) Deut. xiii. 1, 2, not to regard such miracles; but to continue firm to the antecedent revelation given by Himself, and contained in the Old Testament, notwithstanding any "signs or wonders;" which, under the circumstance of attesting something contrary to an antecedent revelation, we are forewarned of as being no test of truth. No new revelation, however supported by miracles, ought ever to be received as coming from God, unless it confirms, or at least does not contradict, the preceding standing revelation, acknowledged to be from God.


Softcover, 8¼" x 5¼, 230+ pages
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