LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Conversations on Religion, with Lord Byron
Kennedy on Scripture

First Conversation
‣ Kennedy on Scripture
Second Conversation
Third Conversation
Fourth Conversation
Fifth Conversation
Memoir of Byron
Byron’s Character
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This conversation excited an intense interest in Argostoli, and called forth many criticisms and remarks. By some I was blamed, both on account of the plan I had adopted, and on account of my presumption in undertaking a task to which I was unequal. Lord Byron was the theme of general admiration on account of his acuteness, extensive reading, and great knowledge of the Scriptures. A gentleman, who was present at the meeting, said to me one day, “Did you not see that his lordship had not only read all the books on the subject which you had, but many more, which you confessed you had not read?” It was in vain for me to state the simple truth, that when I enumerated the various books which I had read or examined, his lordship said nothing of his having read or not having read these books, but merely asked me if I had read
Barrow and Stillingfleet’s works, and that, during the conversation when he asked me about Warburton and Sir William Hamilton’s opinions, he did not assert that he had ever read their writings. “His lordship,” I said, “may have read all these books, and many more, but that I would certainly not believe it until I heard him say so. Every scholar” I added, “knew the names and peculiar theories and opinions of celebrated writers, and could easily obtain this information from various sources, without having read the works of those authors.” Another gentleman, who was present at the meeting, told me that his lordship appeared to him, not only to have read more books on the subject, but that he also had the better of the argument. Though I differed from my friend in opinion, I could not but commend his frankness. The report spread generally that Lord Byron was profoundly acquainted with the Scriptures, and at length it was added, that I myself was astonished at the extent of his knowledge; and this, with many other things, equally unfounded, has been stated in various publications. What my opinion of his lordship’s acquaintance with the Scriptures was, could be testified, if it were a point of any consequence, by Major B., who asked
me what I thought of Lord Byron’s knowledge of the Scriptures, and by
M., S., and M. One Sunday, when I was reproving them for allowing their judgment to be so influenced by the glare of his rank and fame, as to believe every thing he said original and profound, and attach an importance to it, as if it were inspired, I gave my opinion of his knowledge, which, owing to some peculiar circumstances, will not easily escape their memory.

After this, there were seven or eight meetings held on the Sunday forenoons, at which S., M., M., and M. attended. His lordship, about this time, went to reside at the village of Metaxata, and was not present on these occasions. I did not take the liberty of asking him to come, conceiving that he was well aware that he had only to express his wishes, to have them gratified; and he, on the other hand, either declined, without an invitation, or had no desire to come. That he at one time expected to be present, was evident, from his saying to H., an officer with whom he was intimate, that he must now begin to study and prepare himself for our religious discussions. I rather wished to converse with his lordship alone, than in mixed society, as from what I had
observed, his presence would have had no good effect upon my military friends, nor would he himself have been benefited, as he would have been incited to speak for the sake of impression and effect, and what he said would, by some at least, have been listened to with equal avidity and credulity.

At these meetings*, I went over very fully the whole of the topics comprehended under the head of the external evidence in favour of Christianity; and some of my hearers occasionally expressed their pleasure at the information which they received, and the new views on the subject which had been opened to their minds. At last they appeared to have tired, as twice all, except S., failed to attend at the time appointed; and as I did not conceive myself called upon to solicit their attendance, the discussion was considered as abandoned. Though I am not enabled to record any good effect which has resulted from these meetings, except simply an increase of knowledge on various points on which they were ignorant; yet I trust that my friends who were present at them, will some time or other recall to mind, with pleasure and satisfaction, the efforts which I made to do

* See Appendix. Note on page 71.

them good. After the first meeting at which
Lord Byron was present, I would willingly have permitted the matter to drop; but I was deterred from proposing it, lest it should be ascribed to a consciousness of my inability to execute the task which I had undertaken, arising from a conviction of my own ignorance, and the weakness of the cause.

Shortly after the first meeting, Lord Byron was invited by the officers to dine with them. At table Colonel D. sat between his lordship and myself; he soon drew me into conversation. As usual, he was polite, lively, and facetious; and what he said was, from time to time, eagerly listened to by the officers. We talked of St. Gerasimo, the patron saint of Cephalonia, whose anniversary had just been celebrated, and of the miracle which his bones are believed to perform when carried in procession, followed by the principal civil and military officers in the island, both Greek and English, from the convent to a neighbouring well; the water in which, upon his presence, is caused to rise. “Do the people believe in this miracle?” asked his lordship. “They seem to do so with full sincerity,” I replied. He observed “that it was easy to persuade people of the truth of any thing if it came in a religious
shape, as they then willingly gave up both their senses and their reason.” He then asked me, if I believed a miracle could be proved by human testimony. “Certainly,” I said, “if the effect of the miracle remained, and was permanent in its nature and cognizable by the senses.” He talked about the Apocalypse being a strange book, and that it had perplexed the early Christians to decide whether it was divine or not. I said, “the best people are puzzled on many subjects often without any sufficient reason; but that we now can have no difficulty, from the circumstance of some of the prophecies in it being literally fulfilled.” “What prophecies in it have been fulfilled?” asked his lordship. “Those,” I said, “with regard to the seven churches, which appear to have struck
Gibbon himself in some degree, and those which relate to the low, oppressed, and corrupted state of the church at large, and the wars and persecutions, and bloodshed, which should arise in it. Did people,” I said, “attend to these prophecies, instead of drawing an argument against Christianity from its slow progress and many corruptions, they would have seen, in the fulfilment of them, a fresh confirmation of its truth.” We again reverted to the subject of St. Gerasimo, and
I expressed my hope that when education was more extended, the gross superstitions of the Greek and Roman churches would cease, and we should hear no more of the miracles performed by the saints. I said that there were already signs of this improvement beginning to appear, as the Pope, who seemed to be rather a liberal kind of man, had, at the request of the governor of Malta, lately abolished fifteen festas of the minor saints. “I like his holiness very much,” said his lordship, “particularly since an order, which I understand he has lately given, that no more miracles shall be performed.” In allusion to the character of the
Pope, I was mentioning his kindness to a friend of mine, the celebrated missionary Wolff, and in giving some anecdotes of the latter, I mentioned the names of Mr. Henry Drummond and Lord Calthorpe. “Do you know those gentlemen?” said his lordship. “No,” I replied, “except by report, which points them out as eminent for their piety.” “I know them both well,” he said, “they were not always so; but they are excellent men. Lord Calthorpe was the first who called me an atheist when we were at school at Harrow, for which I gave him as good a drubbing as ever he got in his life.” Among the many anecdotes
which his lordship told with humour and vivacity, was one which he said happened when he was in Italy. A church having taken fire, one of the saints held out his toe, and the conflagration immediately ceased, to the great delight and edification of the multitude. His lordship’s manner was cheerful, affable, and lively.

Next Sunday, M., M., M., and myself, met in S.’s house. On this occasion I wished to engage them a little more in the subject. I pointed out to them the propriety of remembering that each of the books of the New Testament was distinct and separate in itself, and that different individuals had composed them. Therefore they ought to be considered as distinct relations and testimonies, each confirming the other, and not as one testimony, as many imagine, from the circumstance of their being now always published together. The character of these authors I would leave till I had shewn the opinion of many men of great reputation on the subject of the Christian religion.

Beginning with Polycarp, the disciple of John, and Clemens of Rome, the fellow-labourer, as it is believed, of Saint Paul, I read a long train of positive evidence and testimony of the earliest
Christian writers and fathers down to the time of the
Emperor Constantine, after which period there could be no doubt of the full tide of testimony in favour of this religion. I pressed upon them the rank, the talents, and the integrity of many of these writers, whose abilities and testimony could be deemed inferior to the negative testimony of the most celebrated infidel writers, only by those who rejected or undervalued them. I marshalled the conflicting testimonies together, and shewed that if the question was to be decided by authority alone, that it must be in favour of the Christians, as every circumstance which could constitute evidence, or give weight to it, was unequivocally in their favour.

The Christians were men who gave a proof of the sincerity of their principles by exposing themselves to persecution, to the loss of their estates and effects, and even to death itself. Their lives were unblemished and innocent, and they were occupied in acts of forgiveness and benevolence. Their abilities were of an order as high, or even higher, than their pagan opponents,—though the latter are better known to scholars, as writing on
subjects connected with philosophy, history, or poetry, than those of the Christians, whose works were all on the subject of religion.

If a strict review, indeed, is made of the talents of each party, no honest mind could long be at a loss to give a preference to the great erudition, the sound judgment, and manly eloquence of some of these writers. The amount of the whole is, that Tacitus, though acknowledged as an able historian and fine writer, did not know whether the Jews came from Mount Ida, and derived from it their name,—whether they were of Ethiopic descent, and driven out from Egypt for a contagious disease,—or whether Jerusalem is not mentioned by Homer under the name of Solymar. He states, apparently without doubt, that Moses, an exile, brought them from Egypt; that the people thirsting in the wilderness, and being likely to rebel, Moses had the cunning to follow some asses, who would, he knew, search out the first grass and water; and that in this way he pretended to get water by heavenly aid; that in order to retain his power and confirm his authority, he gave out that the laws which he imposed on them were given by heaven,—that they sacrificed the effigy of the ass, the animal to which they had been indebted
for their lives when thirsting in the desert,—in the most sacred places of the Temple. And with respect to the Christians—“that they were haters of mankind, and their religion a detestable superstition.”

Pliny only learned something of the sect when they were accused as criminals before the tribunals, and, not finding them guilty of any moral crime, he yet thought it right to punish them for their obstinacy in refusing to worship the gods, and in persisting to call themselves Christians.

Except Porphyry, and Celsus, and Julian, who wrote against them, and who do not deny the accuracy of many of the accounts of the facts and miracles recorded in the Scriptures, most of the other writers either allude to them by the way of illustration, of ridicule, or contempt; and all the philosophers of the latter Platonic school appear to have considered Christianity as a philosophical system deserving of some attention, and accordingly, many of them blended its doctrines with the reveries of Plato and of the old Greek philosophers. In opposition to this, the Christian writers, by their numerous quotations from Scripture, by their arguments and explications of its doctrines, shew that they had deeply studied them, and un-
derstood them exactly in the same sense as the Christians of every age, down to the present day, have invariably done.

After having thus given an historical view of the writers who either opposed or alluded to Christianity, and those who embraced, accepted, and defended it, or died for it, I read to them that chapter of Paley in which he shews the character of Christ as a moral preacher, and those points in which, simply considered in this light, he was not only original, but differed from, and excelled all other teachers whatever. Part of this was heard with attention; but some observations and criticisms having been occasionally made, a good deal of time was lost in discussing points which had no immediate connexion with the subject.

In order to come, therefore, to what was really useful, I proposed to them that we should meet every Wednesday night, as well as Sunday, by which means our course of discussion would be the sooner ended. This was readily agreed to, and the meeting was appointed to be held in my house. The chapter in Horne’s excellent work, entitled, “Testimonies from natural and civil History to the credibility of the Old Testament,” was my text
book. I read passages and commented on them. My object was to shew, that among the various, strange, and contradictory mythologies of the ancient nations, there was a mixture of truth blended with them respecting the creation of the world, an universal deluge, and various other particulars of the early history of man,—such as the primeval chaos, the division of time into weeks, the fall of man and the introduction of sin and misery, the worship of the serpent, and the necessity of sacrifice as an expiation for sin. A good deal of conversation took place on the pretensions of various nations to antiquity, and the claim of such inventions and astronomical observations as implied a contradiction of Scripture chronology.

At our next assembling I read the testimonies of Manetho, Eupetinos, Artapanes, Tacitus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Justin, Juvenal, Porphyry, Julian, and Mahommed, to shew that Moses was a real character, and not a mythological person, as some have impudently asserted, and that he lived long before Sanconiathon, who, according to them, lived before the Trojan war.

The history of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is attested by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Solinus, Tacitus, Pliny, and Josephus. Barnes,
Alexander Polytresh, Nicolaus Damascenus, Artapanes, and other historians cited by Josephus and Eusebius, make honourable mention of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and their miraculous passage of the Red Sea, are mentioned by Berosus, Artapanes, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, &c. These, and many other circumstances of minor importance, which I pointed out, proved the real existence of Moses, and called upon us to examine his history, and those parts of his character which would mark his credibility or incredibility. I then referred to the external proof of the genuineness of the Old Testament; the historical testimony and character of the Jews; the internal evidence, the language, style and manner of writing, circumstantiality of the narration; and the proofs of the genuineness and authority of the Pentateuch in particular; from the nature of the Mosaic law, and the united historical testimony of Jews and Gentiles.

As they seemed pleased with the subject, at our next meeting I endeavoured to put them in fuller possession of the whole facts and opinions of ancient nations respecting their early history and worship, or mythology. The specimen I
read, I said, would give them an idea of the extent, the obscurity, and difficulty of tracing the religious opinions of the earliest nations; since for a long period after the commencement of mankind, nothing, as far as we know, had been committed to writing, and the accounts we have of them, have been given by authors who lived long after the period of which they write. The same uncertainty exists in the history of all early nations, examples of which might be cited in the histories of Scotland, Ireland, China, Greece and Rome, where much of what is related is nothing else but fiction and fable.
Hesiod, the earliest of the Greek writers, in his Theogony, may be referred to as an instance of the impossibility of arriving at truth on these subjects. It is not necessary, I said, to adopt Bryant’s theory in its full extent, as it was evident that he had advanced many opinions, which, though ingenious, could not be received as sound, for they were founded on data, which were obscure, fabulous, and contradictory. No man of sober sense, judging of these things, could form any decided opinion, as he had no means by which to correct the discrepancies; nor was it of the least importance, whether one nation borrowed from another,
—whether the Greeks from the Egyptians,—or the Egyptians from the Hindoos, since, if this was settled, the whole would still rest upon the same uncertain foundation. There was one thing, however, amidst this mass of fable which was clear and discernible, namely, the reference to the creation of the world, and to a deluge which overspread the earth. These two events stand prominent amidst the darkness. All the eastern nations, of whose mythology we have any account, appear to have had among them traditions and a belief of these two events, which are recorded to have happened in various ways, under various circumstances, and by various agents,—the whole attended with circumstances so absurd, so ridiculous, so inconsistent and unnatural, that they require only to be mentioned to be laughed at.

The history of Moses, on the contrary, gives a succinct, but clear account of the creation of the world, the introduction of sin and misery, the character and age of the antediluvians, the universal deluge, the re-peopling of the earth, and the dispersion of its inhabitants. The sober inquirer has to choose between Moses’s account, and the innumerable absurdities of the ancients. With a man who should prefer their accounts be-
fore Moses’, and say, that these are true, and his are false, I would never attempt to reason, but would leave him to the enjoyment of his own opinions. For we must either adopt Moses’ account, or those of the ancients, (and except in two principal events, the Creation and Deluge, they are contradictory,) or we must reject them both. We cannot say that Moses, a man of superior ability, extracted, from the mass of contradiction which the ancients have given, a clear and consistent statement; for Moses lived anterior to the earliest of the ancient writers: and though some of them must have either read or heard of his account, they nevertheless give their strange cosmogonies and theogonies, which is the subject in question. If we reject them altogether, we must confess our utter ignorance of every event in the history of the earth, and of nations prior to the 600th year before the Christian era. It will be vain to expect further light to be thrown on the history of these early times, by future researches or investigations into the histories and archives of the barbarous tribes, which inhabit the few distant isles of the earth not yet sufficiently explored, or of those who roam in the midst of the vast continent of Africa. The Deist, to be consistent, must con-
fess his ignorance whether the world was created or not, or by whom, whether by Vishnu or Budha; he must find its archives, and the history of its early inhabitants, in the wild dreams of some geographers and world-makers; that is, he must substitute his conjectures for facts, and call his imagination, reason.

If, however, a man exercise his reason soberly; if he consider Moses’ account clear and consistent, the circumstances worthy of the events and narration; and if he believe, from other evidence, abundance of which still remains, that Moses’ account is true, he can form an opinion which will at least amount to probability. Taking for granted that the world has been created, and that a deluge overspread the earth, events which are found in all histories, he will easily conceive how, in progress of time, these two great events would be disguised among barbarous tribes, being handed down by tradition, and how every different nation, according to its circumstances of improvement or deterioration, would vary the narrations of these great events. So that, while we discern them standing prominent, as we really do in all the accounts, we should find a disagreement in all the collateral circumstances. Nor is it
necessary to suppose that the obscure knowledge of these events was derived from the Jews or their early history, because the people who lived soon after the deluge, could not but have some knowledge of such an event before the nation of the Jews had an existence. On the whole of these facts, I told them that I wished them to form no other opinion for the present, than that Moses’ account was entitled, considering him merely as an historian, to as much credit as that of any, or all the most ancient writers; that their account is not contradictory to that of Moses, nor by any means disproves its genuineness and authenticity; that the earliest writers refer to him as a real personage: thus, Moses did write an account of those times, which must stand or fall on its own peculiar evidence, since no external evidence from ancient hi story can disprove its antiquity and its priority to all publications. Admitting Moses’ narration as true, we have a key to account for all the absurdities of ancient mythology; it is not proved to be untrue by that mythology itself, which cannot be true, unless contradiction be truth, and tradition certainty.

“These arguments,” I said, “do not prove that Moses has spoken the truth, nor are they
sufficient to induce us to believe that he has spoken it. His book may have been written at the early period which is claimed for it, and he may have been its real author; yet we were not bound to believe it, if there be any thing in the book which is contradicted by fact or testimony more certain and more indisputable than his.” I said, “that I had read enough at least to justify me to give a glance at the character of Moses and the facts which he relates, to see if anything could be inferred for or against his credibility. I then mentioned those particulars in Moses’ life and conduct which shew that he was no impostor; that his statements were corroborated by the Jews in every age, which would have been impossible if the belief of them had not been universal; since no one in any age had ever dared, and perhaps had never thought of affirming, that the statements of Moses were untrue. The origin of every belief; of right of inheritance, of worship, was derived from the works of Moses; every writer whose works we find in the Bible, refers to Moses, or implies that his history was well known and true; and the writings of the Old Testament were connected with the New, by the direct reference and quotations not only of Christ, but of his apostles.
I referred to the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, where
St. Paul takes a review of the principal pious men who lived in the earliest ages. As far as external evidence goes, the writings of Moses were proved beyond a doubt, and the accuracy and perfect preservation of them are proved by the fact, that the Samaritan copy, made in the time when Israel was separated from Judah, agrees with the copies preserved by the Jews; while the translation of the Scriptures made into the Greek language, called the Septuagint, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt, two hundred and fifty years before the Christian era, affords another source of ascertaining the accuracy of the writings of the Old Testament, since all these copies, when compared, agree perfectly in every respect, making only an exception for verbal discrepancies, on points of inferior moment, and that too without often affecting the sense.

I informed them that, at our next meeting, the subject of our conversation would be miracles, a subject to which I requested their earnest attention; for, unless they gave me this, all I could read or say would be useless. After some observations, I found my hearers were more disposed to talk than be attentive. I read a passage from Dr.
Priestley: some discussion arose at first about its meaning, which branched out into other topics. Some of them got very warm, and one of them, forgetting all his former information, and acknowledgments of it, exclaimed that the whole was a mystery, and that the more he read and heard of the subject, the more mysterious and incomprehensible it became. Observing this frame of mind, I did not wish to press the subject further that night, and contented myself with stating, that the incomprehensibility did not arise from the subject, but from want of attention and study in themselves; that they judged from their own ignorance, and the time I hoped would come, when they would be astonished at their obstinacy and blindness. We then joined the ladies, and the conversation turned on other topics.

Although I did not finish the subject with my hearers, I may be permitted to offer a few observations for my reader’s satisfaction*.

Next Sunday, M., M., M., S., and myself met at S.’s house. I proposed the consideration of the Prophecies, and I added. “I hoped it would interest them more than the Miracles, a subject which I was not disposed to continue at present, because of their

* See Appendix. Note on page 98.

former inattention.” I remarked, “that surely they could not deny, that if events were predicted hundreds and thousands of years before they had really taken place, those who had predicted them must have been inspired. And whatever difficulty might have occurred, if one prophecy only had been made,—as to the conclusion respecting this inspiration,—there could be none where there were many prophecies, and where these had been literally fulfilled. Great sagacity, or great genius, or even some fortunate conjectures, might seem, as it were, to predict changes and events which were afterwards realized; as in the case of
Lord Chesterfield, who, forty years before the French revolution, expressed in a private letter his opinion, that he saw, in the then state of France, all the signs of a general revolution. These happy conjectures have taken place, and may hereafter take place; but,” I added, “they were totally different from prophecies, at least from the prophecies of the Scriptures, where things most unlikely to happen were predicted, and that, with a minuteness of circumstance as to time, and place, and name, that the greatest sagacity or the most profound genius in the most fortunate conjectures could never pre-
tend to equal. If the power of prophecy in this manner was within the compass of the abilities of man, and if any one had ever possessed it, I should like to know where his name is recorded. The prediction of certain events, to take place in futurity, belongs certainly to Omniscience. Neither angels nor devils can possess it, unless so far as it may be revealed, since everything that concerns created beings is to them contingent as to futurity, and no contingency can afford certain knowledge. To the Creator, however, this peculiarly belongs, because every thing in existence now, or that will exist in time to come, depends on His will, and that will is omnipotent, independent, and uncontrollable by any agent, act, or volition of every created being or thing. This certainty, therefore, of what will occur, belongs to Him alone and to no other. That it can belong to man is clearly impossible, from the imperfection of his nature. He may conjecture that such an event may or may not happen, but he has no certain knowledge of this till the event take place, since it depends on circumstances over which he has no control.”

After some other observations, pointing out the important and irresistible evidence arising from
prophecy, I said I would entreat their patience while I read to them. I began with the first prophecy in the Scripture, and read it with
Scott’s comment. At the fall, the Lord himself predicted the following events. The Lord said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust thou shalt eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Unto the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And unto Adam he said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of the woman, and hast eaten of the fruit of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat; cursed be the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.”

This includes a prophecy and a promise which
has ever since been fulfilling, but has not yet received its entire accomplishment. It comprises the whole Gospel, and is a prophetical history of the opposition with which it should meet, and the success with which it should be crowned in all ages and countries to the end of time. Christ himself is the seed of the woman. He is called the seed of the woman, and not the seed of Adam, though descended from both, not only because Satan had prevailed first against the woman, but likewise with an evident prophetical intimation of his miraculous conception and birth of a pure virgin. The devil, his angels, and wicked men, are the serpent and his seed. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye will do.” God himself has put enmity between these two contending parties. The effect of his grace in the hearts of true Christians is enmity,—not against the persons of sinners,—but against their character, the image of Satan which they bear, and the cause of Satan which they favour; for that mind is in believers which was in Christ, “who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.” Their character and conduct also, the testimony which they bear against the wickedness of the world, and the opposition which they make
to it, as well as the success which the Lord vouchsafes them, excite the rage, envy and malice of Satan and his servants; whose pride they offend, whose consciences they disturb, whose real characters they detect, and whose iniquity they oppose. Hence Satan and his seed, by open violence and cruel persecution, by secret machinations, and base slanders, by artful temptations and pernicious heresies, fight against the seed of the woman. In doing this, they bruise his heel. They once crucified the Lord of glory himself; they have massacred, perhaps, millions of his disciples, have caused inward and outward tribulations; yet this is no mortal wound, for it does not prevent the final glorification of the whole multitude who thus in succession have Satan bruised under their feet. The seed of the woman fighting under the Redeemer’s standard, by the doctrine of truth and the armour of righteousness, which are united with prayer and patience, hatred of sin and compassion for sinners, carry on their benevolent war; and they gain most illustrious victories when the power of Satan is broken, and his deluded servants are brought to Christ. But these victories are the fruit of his severe conflict and glorious triumph over the tempter, especially
upon the cross, where in human nature giving a ransom for sinners, he broke the whole force of Satan’s usurped empire, and now, risen from the dead, and having all power in earth and heaven vested in him, he is continually employed in crushing the serpent’s head,—yet in measure, and order, according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. (Ephes. i. 11.) Already by his apostles and ministers he has shaken the very foundation of Satan’s kingdom, and rescued millions of his wretched captives: but ere long he will, even on earth, gain a more decisive victory, and at last, setting his foot on the serpent’s head, he will entirely crush his interests, deprive him of all power to do further mischief, and execute condign punishment on all his seed. (Rev. xix. 17; xx. 1, 3, 11, 15.)—From this short explication, we perceive that the person, sufferings, glory, and triumphs of the Redeemer; the character, tribulations, and felicity of the redeemed; the temporary success and final ruin of all the enemies of Christ and his people,—and indeed almost the whole history of the church and of the world throughout time and to eternity, are compendiously delineated in the singular clause which stands, and
will stand, to the end of time, an internal demonstration that the Scriptures were given by inspiration from God. It is remarkable that this gracious promise of a Saviour was given unsolicited, and previous to any humiliation on the part of man.

Thus the Gospel, or the declaration of salvation to sinners by means of the seed of the woman, was proclaimed the moment that sin entered the world. The prediction is still fulfilling with respect to man, who toils in sorrow, sweat, and care for his subsistence; and also with respect to woman, in the sorrows and dangers of conception, of birth, and in the prediction that man would rule over her; and how cruelly he has ruled, thousands of instances attest. If the soul of woman is upon an equality with that of man, I know not on what grounds, except on the supposition that the Scriptures are true, and the punishment of the woman is heaviest because she was first in fault, we can explain the inequality in sorrow and care which exists between the man and the woman; and why, all other things being equal, there is a load of weakness, and sorrow, and infirmity in her very frame from which the man is free.

I then read the three first verses of the 12th chapter of Genesis, in which the Lord, speaking to Abraham, predicted that he would make of him a great nation, and make his name great, and bless him, and make him a blessing, and that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed. This has been fulfilled in some respects, and is fulfilling in others. Abraham was not renowned as a king, a conqueror, nor as a man of science or literature. He was a plain man, dwelling in tents, and feeding cattle all his days. The Arabians and Jews are his descendants, yet no general or man of genius has a name so great, or is more distinguished in the world even now, or will be, than Abraham has been and will ever be. In what other way will he be a blessing, or has he been so, than that among his descendants the light of the Gospel was preserved and proclaimed in all its fulness, and that from one of his descendants after the flesh,—Jesus Christ, not only temporal but eternal blessings have spread, and will more extensively spread to every nation and family under heaven? This was predicted four thousand years ago.

I then read the 16th chapter of Genesis and 12th verse, in which the character of Ishmael
is described, and that of his descendants. He is a wild man, and his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. The Arabs have been a race of plunderers in every age. They have never been conquered, and at this very day they still retain the character given them; their hand is against every man, and every man’s hand is against them.

I then referred to the blessings pronounced by Jacob upon his children, and showed, by reference to history, the character of each tribe about to be formed and blessed in future times. That respecting Judah is particularly remarkable. The sceptre should not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from under his feet, till Shiloh come, and to him shall the gathering of the people be. Shiloh—The sent, the seed, the peaceable, the prosperous one. Judah was the fourth son, and had no apparent likelihood of gaining the pre-eminence over his brothers, much less the kingly power. Yet all the successors of his brethren are called after him, and the sceptre did not depart till Shiloh, or Jesus, came, after which it departed, and has never returned again.

I then read the 26th chapter of Leviticus,
which contains a prediction of what has befallen and still befalls the Jews, and particularly the 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, and 44th verses, where they are warned—that if they neglected the command of the Lord, the land should be a desolation, and they themselves should be scattered among the heathen, and the land should be desolate as long as they shall be in their enemies’ land.

I pointed out the prophecy in Numbers*, in which the Messiah is predicted; that† in which the affliction of the Jews by the Assyrians and Romans is foretold, together with the utter desolation of Assyria and Rome.

I read the 4th of Deuteronomy, from the 27th to the 32nd verses, in which the scattering of the Jews among the nations, and their preservation among them, is predicted. A prophet like unto Moses is predicted in the 18th chapter, 15th to the 20th verse. In the 31st chapter, 20th to 30th verse, the rebellion and idolatry of the Jews is predicted; and the evil which would befall them in the latter days. Also the 28th chapter, from the 15th verse to the end, where all that has happened to the Jews is denounced. I pointed out that prediction in the 37th verse, about which, I said,

* Chap. xxiv. 17. † Ver. 22, 23, 24.

there could be no dispute—“And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a bye-word among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.” That this has been fulfilled, no one will deny:—the name of Jew has every where been proverbial for every thing that was vile and base among Christians, Mahomedans, and Pagans, who have all joined in promoting the fulfilment of the prophecy and accomplishing the will of the Lord, although, in doing so, they have committed iniquity themselves.

Proceeding onward, I referred to the sublime song of Hannah in the beginning of the 2nd chapter of Samuel, where for the first time we meet with the name of the Messiah, or anointed. The 7th chapter of the 2nd Samuel, 16th verse, where God declares to David that his house and his kingdom shall be established for ever before him, and his throne also shall be established for ever—predicting not only the temporal power of his posterity, but the spiritual power which Christ, a descendant of David, inherited, now exercises, and will for ever possess. In the 1st Kings, chapter xiii. ver. 2, Josiah, king of Judah, is predicted, by name, three hundred years before his birth. I then read the remarkable verse in Job, chapter
xix., v. 25, 26, which is a confession of faith in Christ. “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the last day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I sea God.”

I quoted that prophecy where it is declared the Lord himself shall give a sign. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, i. e. God with us*.” (See Matthew, chap, i.) Here it is not said that a woman, now a virgin, shall be married and conceive, but that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. The 11th chapter of Isaiah is another prediction of the Messiah. In the 13th chapter it is declared that Babylon shall never be inhabited, neither shall the Arabian pitch his tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. In the 45th† chapter there is a prediction of Cyrus, king of Persia, by name, nearly two hundred years before his birth; in the 49th is another prediction of the Messiah; the 53rd chapter contains the plainest and most circumstantial prediction of the coming, character, death, and resurrection of our Saviour. In the 51st chapter of Jeremiah are recorded the particulars

* Isaiah vii. 14. † See Appendix.

of the siege of Babylon, and the final and utter destruction of that city. After the siege, Babylon ceased to be a royal city, the kings of Persia preferring Susa, Ecbatana, and Persepolis. The Macedonians built Seleucia in its neighbourhood, according to
Strabo and Pliny, for the purpose of withdrawing its inhabitants. The new kings of Persia, who afterwards became masters of Babylon, completed its ruin by building Ctesiphon, which carried away the remainder of the inhabitants. When Pausanias wrote in A. D. 96, the walls only remained. The kings of Persia, finding it deserted, made a park of it, which they kept for the hunting of wild beasts; at length the walls fell down, and were never repaired. The animals kept for the chase deserted it, and scorpions and serpents took possession. The Euphrates took its course another way, and Babylon has become an utter desert; and at this day, the most able geographers cannot determine with certainty the place where it stood.

I then read the prediction against Tyre*, where the Lord declares he will make it like the top of a rock, that it should be a place to spread nets upon. “Thou shalt be built no more, for I
the Lord have spoken it.” Tyre is at present inhabited by a few wretched fishermen, who dry their nets on the top of the rock.

The prediction against Egypt came next*. It is declared that it shall be the basest of kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations. Egypt was once renowned, but was subdued by the Persians, next by the Macedonians, then by the Saracens, and finally by the Turks, to whom it remains in the most abject servitude. For 2000 years it has been a base and tributary kingdom, and unable to exalt itself above the nations†.

I then read the prediction of the four kingdoms which were to arise; that in the days of these kingdoms shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever‡. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces; .... and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the earth§.”

* Ezek. xxix. 15. † See Appendix. ‡ Dan. ii. 44,

§ Dan. ii. 34, 35.


I then introduced the Prophet’s delineation of the Babylonian empire, which is represented under the character of a lion,—the Medes and Persians under that of a bear,—the Macedonian under that of a leopard,—the Roman empire under the emblem of a beast, terrible and dreadful, with great iron teeth, and with ten horns; and a little horn which rose up among these horns. This little horn which had eyes, and a mouth which spake great things, and whose look was made stouter than his fellows, was to make war with the saints, and to prevail against them till the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High, and the time came that the Saints should possess the kingdom*.

In the 8th chapter, the empire of the Medes and Persians is introduced, under the emblem of a ram with two horns. It was usual for the kings of Persia to wear a diadem of gold, made like a ram’s head. The Macedonian empire, under the character of a goat, is represented as destroying the ram. The Macedonians were originally called Ægeadæ, or the goat’s people. The division of the empire into four principal monarchies is also predicted, when, it is said,

* Dan. vii. 22.

“the great horn was broken, and for it came up four notable ones, towards the four winds of heaven.” These were the kingdoms of Egypt to the south, of Syria to the east, Thrace and Bythinia to the north, and Macedonia to the west. The Mahomedan heresy is predicted, in the 9th and three following verses, under the character of a little horn, who should come forth out of one of the four horns. That there might be no mistake as to the meaning of this emblematical language, it is expressly stated, “The ram which thou sawest, having two horns, are the kings of Media and Persia, and the rough goat is the king of Grecia; and the great horn that is between his eyes, is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation*.”

The little horn, which rose up among the ten horns, from the beast representing the Roman empire, is predicted as plucking up three of the horns, or the ten kingdoms in which the Roman empire was to be divided. Now it appears from history, that the kingdom of the Heruli, that of the Ostrogoths, and that of the Lombards, were successively eradicated by the little horn represent-

* Dan. viii. 22.

ing the papal power, which in this way became a temporal as well as a spiritual power. The horn which was to have a month speaking great things, aptly represents the Roman papal power; the title of His Holiness, another God on earth, his claim to infallibility,—his dispensing with God’s laws to forgive sins,—to give admission to heaven,—and to relieve from purgatory, are specimens of the great things which this mouth has spoken. In A. D. 606, by a decree of
Phocas, emperor of Constantinople, the bishop of Rome was constituted universal bishop, and supreme head of the church. In the very same year, the Mahomedan delusion commenced, which was predicted in the 22nd and following verses of the 8th chapter. Daniel states, “that this opposition to the Prince of princes will commence when the transgressors are come to the full.” St. Paul says that the delusion of the man of sin shall be sent as a punishment because men believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. By the Prophet and the Apostle, the same period is assigned for the rise of the two powers. St. John also assigns to each of them the same duration, and speaks of the time of their end as the same.


The little horn, and the two-horned beast, represent the same ecclesiastical power—the one at its rise, the other at its height. Hence Daniel, who describes fully the little horn, makes no mention of the two-horned beast; while John*, who describes the two-horned beast, styling him a false prophet, makes no mention of the little horn.

It is predicted† that the little horn which rose out of the four horns of the Grecian monarchy was to magnify himself, to take away the daily sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctuary, and cast the truth to the ground. It is declared that the sanctuary shall be trodden under foot 2300 days; that is, the duration of the vision from the time the prophet saw it till the end of this Antichristian or Mahomedan power. It is 2373 years since Daniel wrote. The Septuagint read 2400 days. In Revelations it is stated that the holy city was to be trodden under foot forty-two months, or 1260 days. Daniel says, from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set lip, shall be 1290 days. The 1260 days of John and the 1290 of Daniel form a part of the 2300 days; and these were all to terminate at one time,

* Rev. xili. 11-17. † Dan. viii. 11.

when the desolation which affected the church would be removed.

I then read the following most remarkable prophecy of Daniel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and in threescore and two weeks the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times, and after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon
the desolate.” Here from the edict for rebuilding Jerusalem shall be sixty-nine weeks, after which, in the seventieth week, the Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself—the people of the prince shall destroy the city.

Each day is in these prophecies a year: seventy weeks are four hundred and ninety days. The most eminent chronologists compute it to have been nearly four hundred and ninety years from the commission granted to Nehemiah* to the death of Christ, and some contend that it was so with the greatest exactness. This was divided into three subordinate periods. During seven weeks, or forty-nine years, the street and wall were to be built in troublous times; from the expiration of this term to the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist, or to that of our Lord, was (as some compute) four hundred and thirty-four years, or sixty-two weeks, and the last week or seven years is allotted to the ministry of John, and of Christ himself until his crucifixion; for he was to be cut off after the seven and the sixty-two weeks, or in the seventieth week.

It therefore appears undeniable, that Daniel foretold that the Messiah would come within less

* See Appendix.

than five hundred years from a decree granted for rebuilding Jerusalem; he showed that he would be put to death by a legal sentence (for so the word implies), and he expressly predicted that, in consequence, Jerusalem and the temple would be desolated, and the nation of the Jews exposed to tremendous punishment. Within that time Jesus of Nazareth appeared; he answered in every respect the description given of him by all the prophets: he was put to death as a deceiver, yet vast multitudes became his disciples, and Christianity gained a permanent establishment. After a short time Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, and the state of the Jews to this day is a striking comment on this prediction. How then can it be denied that Daniel spake by Divine inspiration? Or that Jesus is the promised Messiah?—Both these important points might be demonstrated by this one prophecy, even if it stood alone; how much more when it is only one star in a resplendent constellation—one among a great number of predictions, all of which combine with united evidence to confirm the same grand truths?

Since Daniel mentions expressly that Greece and Persia were represented by the two beasts—the one a ram, the other a he-goat, we have a certain key to the interpretation of the others;
and when the fact is certain, that from the time of the edict to build Jerusalem to the death of the Messiah, would be seventy weeks or four hundred and ninety years, and, that by every system of chronology it appears that the distance between the two events was four hundred and ninety years, what further evidence can be required?

I alluded to the prediction of the destruction of Nineveh in the book of Nahum. Nineveh was one of the most flourishing and populous cities in the world, and at the head of a powerful empire. Yet within two hundred years after the coming of Christ nothing remained of this proud capital of the Assyrian empire; and at this day it is not agreed, either among learned men or travellers, where Nineveh stood.

I then read from Horne the principal prophecies respecting our Saviour, which I shall put down briefly for the benefit of my readers. I referred also to the prophecies which predicted that he was to be a prophet and a legislator like unto Moses,—that he was to be a teacher, to instruct and enlighten man; that he was to be Messiah, Christ, anointed of God, a priest; that by offering himself for sin he was to make reconciliation for iniquity; make men holy, and destroy the power of
the devil; that he was to be a Saviour, a Mediator, an Intercessor, a Shepherd, a King; the head and ruler of the church, and exalted after his sufferings and resurrection.

I then referred to Christ’s prediction, “that he was to be betrayed by one of his own disciples—that the others would forsake him—that Peter would deny him.” He mentions the circumstance, place, and manner of his sufferings, his resurrection, his appearance again, and his ascension. He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem—that it would be preceded by the appearance of false Messiahs, by wars, and commotions, famines, pestilence, and earthquakes, fearful sights in the heavens, and persecution of the Christians; by the preaching of the Gospel through the then known world; and that Jerusalem should be besieged by the Roman armies. He describes the miseries of the Jews during the siege; predicts that false priests and prophets should arise, and that the temple and city of Jerusalem should be totally destroyed.

To S., I afterwards showed the prophecies which completed the course I wished to lay before them.

When reading the prophecies of Daniel, a long discussion took place about the interpretation of a year for a day, and the reason for it; and they
produced instances where years were mentioned; and demanded to know whether the same mode of prophetical interpretation, with respect to the prophetical days, was to be adopted. I said that the prophecies themselves furnished a key for this mode of calculation.

Some of my hearers exclaimed very much against the obscurity of the prophecies, and expressed their regret that plain language was not used, and the usual mode of computation adopted, but as I was desirous of finishing the course of prophecies necessary to be laid before them, I requested them to be content to listen to me for the present, and I would afterwards attend to any objection or difficulty which occurred to them. I then continued to read the prophecies which respected our Saviour.

During the reading of the prophecies one of the gentlemen held a Bible in his hand, and turned to every passage which I read. He expressed his surprise at such wonderful predictions and coincidences, especially at those which referred to Christ. The impression was, however, quickly removed, for while we were standing conversing a little previous to separation, the same gentleman, as well as the others, forgetting all that had been
advanced, and the surprise and interest they had exhibited, expressed their belief that the whole subject was involved in the most inexplicable mystery, and that the more they heard, with less clearness did they discern the truth of anything like a system, which they could think probable to have been revealed by the Creator.

Although I saw no immediate fruit from the lecture on the prophecies, I was pleased to have been able to bring them in an extended view before them. I was less anxious about the miracles, knowing the prejudices against them. But the prophecies I consider not only the strongest evidences in an argument with a deist, but an evidence in fact, which, when properly displayed, no deist can set aside; for, if he reasons fairly he must either be compelled to acknowledge the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, or show himself incapable of using that reason of which he makes so great a boast.

The evidence from miracles, though excellent and useful in its kind, is inferior to that from prophecy. The belief that we have in miracles arises partly from the testimony of witnesses who saw them, a testimony believed in every succeeding age; and partly from all the other evidence which
supports the truth of these Divine books. It is strengthened not merely by direct evidence, corroborated by the belief of every age, but by the want of all indirect or opposing evidence—for no one has ever testified that he was present at these alleged miracles and that they were false; and by the fact, that among so many, so strange, and striking miracles performed in the presence of thousands, no enemy of the Christian name has ever appeared to deny them. I am not speaking here of the evidence which the real Christian has, for, as I shall afterwards point out, he has an evidence greater than that which results from miracles or prophecies. I refer to the evidence most calculated to produce conviction in the minds of those who exercise well their natural reason.

I would request the deist to explain by what power the minute circumstances of our Saviour’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, even to the mention of the thirty pieces of silver, for which he was betrayed, and the casting of lots for his garments, were foretold. Can he prove that Jesus of Nazareth never existed? Profane history would belie him. Was it human sagacity that predicted these events, or was it chance?

This might be a plausible supposition if amidst
a thousand conjectures one might have proved true; but what will he say when he sees that every prophecy in the Scriptures was fulfilled, even on those minute points which no sagacity could foresee? Will the say that the prophecies were written after the event? even this conjecture will not avail him. For he cannot but confess that the Septuagint translation was made from the Hebrew Scriptures two hundred and fifty years before Christ was born, and he can satisfy himself of their accuracy and agreement, by comparing them with the Hebrew or the Samaritan copy.

If then these prophecies existed two hundred and fifty years (at least) before Christ, he is reduced to the alternative, either that they were human conjectures, or predicted by inspiration from heaven. If the former, by what process of reasoning can he shew that future events, various and minute, can with certainty be predicted at so long a period before they occurred. If a man can shew parallel instances in history, or at the present day, that minute particulars were fulfilled, three centuries after their prediction, by the mere force and strength of human reason, I will willingly give up all the evidence for the Scriptures arising from prophecy; but if he cannot, as I am sure
he cannot, I am entitled to pronounce his rejection irrational and illogical.

I have already observed, that no created being can predict events, since no one has power over futurity but the Deity; it is his prerogative alone, and created beings can only do it in as far as he makes them the instruments or agents of his will.

The destruction of Babylon and Nineveh might have been conjectured, but no impostor could have ventured his reputation on their utter ruin, since it was possible, that, however various might be the vicissitudes of these immense capitals, they would always continue to have inhabitants. But the prophets hesitated not to pronounce their complete destruction; and history attests the fact. The same observation applies to Tyre. It is equally strong with respect to the Jews. Nearly four thousand years ago, Moses declared that they would be scattered among the nations; would be driven from the land of Canaan; their cities destroyed, and that themselves would become a proverb, a laughing-stock, and a scorning among all nations. An attentive consideration of this prophecy alone, ought to produce a conviction of the truth of Christianity. The prophecy is fulfilling under our own eyes, and surely it is the most
extraordinary one that was ever uttered. No art, no political scheme, no persecution has succeeded either in destroying this nation, or in amalgamating them with others. They are still a separate, distinct, and peculiar people; preserved by the power of God, in defiance and opposition to all ordinary nations, for 1800 years; and though persecuted and despised, they consider themselves superior to those who oppress them, and look forward to a restoration to their own land.

By means of the prophecies, we have a distinct view and knowledge of the great outlines of future events to the end of time. There is no other book but the Bible which explains to man the object and end of his creation, and the object and end of the creation of this world which we inhabit. Without this revelation man would be left in total darkness. No science, no learning, no sagacity, could explain when this world is to terminate, and what is to be the result of all things. In the Bible we have an epitome, or a general view of the history of mankind, of the world, and a distinct knowledge of the object and end of their creation. We know that Christianity shall spread in spite of all opposition, till it covers the globe,—till every spot in this world knows
and acknowledges the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that the Jews shall submit themselves to be disciples of that Jesus whom their ancestors crucified as an impostor, and that they will be greatly blessed. We know, that for a thousand years there will be peace and happiness, and true religion; and that Christ will then be truly said to reign in the earth. We know that, after this, there will be a falling off from true religion,—that wars, and rumours of wars will take place, and then, after an unmentioned period, when men are busy buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, the history of all sublunary things will be wound up; the heavens and the earth will flee away from the face of their Creator: Death shall cease; Time shall have an end, and an eternity of happiness shall be given to true believers, while the misery of the Devil, his angels, and of the unrighteous, will be completed, and endure for ever.

At our next meeting, on Wednesday night, perceiving that they were not disposed to enter into subjects which might be esteemed by them dry and serious, I took the opportunity of giving them some information relative to the appearance of misery in the moral and physical world,—the
origin of evil,—and on the question of free-will and necessity. They, however, objected to every proposition, and entered into many extraneous arguments.

Having gone through as extensive a course of the external evidence as I imagined the temper and patience of my hearers would permit, it was my intention to enter on the internal evidence, which is by far the most useful part of the subject. I flattered myself, that if I had failed to convince them by what I had already said, I had at least removed their prejudice so far as to obtain a tolerably patient hearing for a display of the fundamental principles of Christianity.

If I had succeeded in this, there was some reason to hope that those truths which, taken separately, produce no effect, might, when combined, form a beautiful whole, worthy of their divine origin; and cause, if not an immediate conviction, at least such an impression as would induce them fully to study the subject. I repeatedly assured them that I would be ready to enter into an examination of any particular difficulty or objection which they might make.

On the following Sunday, I went to the house of S. at the usual hour. I waited a long time,
but nobody came. I went the next Sunday, but, as before, no one came. As they had all voluntarily absented themselves from coming, I did not think it was my duty to entreat them; and I contented myself in the failure of my attempt, by reflecting that I had done my duty, and with resolution. The charge of non-conviction I would attribute neither to myself, nor to the cause; but to their own ignorance, prejudice, and want of patience. They can all testify that I was not backward, on any proper occasion, in laying the blame almost entirely on themselves. I was justified in using this tone; because, even allowing my small abilities to be less than they are, the strength of evidence which religion possesses, derivable from every source, is so great, that no deist can withstand it. He must do as my opponents did,—stay away, and throw the blame on others, rather than on themselves.

As S. and I met daily on duty after this for more than five months, we had frequent, and almost daily conversations on the subject of religion. With the other gentlemen, I never regularly resumed the subject, and I may dismiss them with an account of the effects which were produced on their minds.


M. too often made a jest of all that was said, but once he observed, “that after all these disputations and jestings, they might all find it necessary in their old age to apply to the serious study of the Scriptures, to prepare them for dying.” I hope that, by the mercy of God, he may do so in time. He shortly after left the island for England. He always said that he believed in the Scriptures, but his assent proceeded more from habit and education, than from that internal conviction which produces a life and conversation inculcated by the Gospel. M., another gentleman, so far from being better, is become worse; and very lately, he assured me that he was a much better Christian before he knew me than since. He said that our frequent discussions had led him to think often on the subject, and the result was, that his unbelief, which was before doubtful, is now certain and confirmed. Let it not be imagined that this gentleman studied the Scriptures, either before or since he knew me. His ignorance of them, and of all subjects connected with them, is striking and obvious to every one. If his eye ever glances over these pages, I wish him to remember that he has been soberly warned of his danger; that his bitterness of expression against every one who professes the
Christian name, and his evident delight at any errors they may commit, and his ready belief of any false accusation which is brought against them, will be injurious only to himself, and forms a striking contrast to the incredulity he has so obstinately manifested against the evidence of Christianity and the candid conduct of Christians towards him. I pray that God may in his mercy remove his ignorance and blindness, and enlighten his understanding to see the truth and the necessity of that Gospel which he now rejects, and make him as eminent an example of faith and piety, as he is now distinguished for his bitterness of hatred and incredulity.

It deserves to be remarked, that though I had many books on the evidence of Christianity, not one of them expressed the least wish to read them, and from this we may judge of their candour, and of their eagerness to acquire that knowledge of which they were ignorant. To this remark S. formed the only exception. He had the curiosity to read the Religio Medici of Sir Thomas Brown. He read with me the whole of the Epistles, and a part of Milner’s Church History. This gentleman possessed a character distinguished for simplicity and sincerity; but it was united with
a powerful and ill-regulated imagination. Warm and sincere in all his impressions, he expressed himself with a corresponding degree of animation; but as these impressions were produced by the impulse of the moment, they were quickly effaced and soon forgotten. Of him, however, I have the greatest hope. He confessed that the subject of religion made a strong impression on him, and was constantly recurring to his mind; that our discussions had shewn it to him in a very different point of view from that in which he had formerly contemplated it, and proved that the subject was worthy of deep study and investigation, and he often expressed his determination to prosecute his inquiries. He confessed also that the French writers
Rousseau and Voltaire, the latter of whom was, as it were, the god of his idolatry, no longer gave him the pleasure they once did, and he sold the writings of these authors. The conversations I had with him were long and numerous, and I trust they will not be effaced from his mind; and though I was greatly disappointed one day, shortly before his departure, to find him arguing against the sacrifices, as a cruel and tyrannical thing, and affirmed that he saw no necessity for the sacrifice of our Sa-
viour as an atonement for sin, yet I hope, if he prosecutes, as he promised he would, the study of the Holy Scriptures, that the Holy Spirit will enlighten his heart, and enable him to perceive the beauty, excellency, and greatness of that sacrifice, and of all the truths and consequences dependant upon or following from this corner-stone of Christianity.

Previously to narrating the remaining conversations with Lord Byron, it would be proper to notice those which I had with S., because they were more numerous and more interesting. There was hardly a topic or principle of Christianity which was not touched upon and discussed. Many objections, sometimes original, sometimes commonplace, often sophistical and absurd, were stated and attempted to be confuted. For the gratification of the reader’s curiosity, I shall enumerate some of the topics which constituted the subject of our conversations. The Deity of Christ—the personality of the Holy Spirit—the characters of the Jewish writers, the Apostles, and Prophets—the nature of prophetical language—the incredulity of the Roman and Greek classical writers—the destroying of the writings of the Ancients by the Monks, and the
probability of some of their works containing a refutation of Christianity—why our Saviour did not appear with superhuman splendour and power, and strike down his enemies or force conviction on all—why Christianity has made so slow a progress—why the heathen are still destitute of it—why the conduct of Christians is so inconsistent with their principles—why there are so many divisions, sects, and parties—the different forms of external discipline—the fury of controversies—the persecutions by those who have secular power of their Christian brethren of a different denomination—the pride and corruption of the Church of England—the corruption of the Church of Scotland, and all the dissenting churches.

I now proceed directly to the task which I have undertaken, and as it is necessary that the objects I have in view be distinctly understood, it will be expedient to mention them again, though I should expose myself to the charge of repetition. This will be attended with advantage to the reader, who can judge, at every step, whether I am keeping on the proper ground, whether each part of the argument is satisfactory and conclusive, or the reverse. I shall forbear to allude to many objections, because the most natural order is, first
to survey the whole of the evidence, as it exists in itself, and then the force of the objections will be better understood, and more easily answered or admitted.

I shall comprehend them in the following propositions, which I consider and establish one after another, without, however, referring to them, or repeating them; the summing up of the proof with the general conclusion to be drawn from it will succeed, and then the consideration of the most weighty, plausible, and forcible objections.

1st. The evidence that the books comprehended in the Old and New Testament were written at the time, and by the authors to whom they are ascribed, is complete, full, and satisfactory.

2nd. That they have been handed down to us in a state of perfect integrity.

3rd. That they contain internal evidence that they were written by inspiration of God—and that every thing that is contained in them is true.

4th. That beside the mass of human testimony, of the highest character, which establishes the foregoing facts, in as satisfactory a manner as any fact in past time can be attested—that the following facts or propositions demonstrate in a manner
beyond that which human testimony can do, that they came from God.

1st. They contain revelations which could never have been invented by mankind, and these revelations are suited to the character of God, the nature and situation of man, and the state of the world.

2nd. That the numerous prophecies of future events, with the fulfilment of them in different ages and nations, is susceptible of proof,—that by the wisdom of God they were predicted; consequently they are divine, for the experience of every age has proved that the power of prophecy is beyond the capacity of man.

3rd. That as God is truth, and the sign that they came from God thus appearing in those who wrote these books,—it follows that the writers could not lie, and were preserved from all error.

4th. That there are many other proofs, which, in addition to the foregoing, add to the evidence of the Scriptures, and among others the dignity, majesty, and divinity of the matter and style, which has never been equalled by any, of all the most distinguished authors of every nation.

5th. That besides the above foregoing positive
evidence to prove the propositions, there is evidence that it is impossible for mere human reason to have composed the Scriptures.

6th. That all objections made against them, to whatever point they may be directed, arise from ignorance, and their fallacy is demonstrable.

The external evidence is in itself satisfactory, as well as interesting and useful; yet, as it is exclusive in its nature, and has been treated of by many authors, and as it is, in my opinion, neither so interesting nor useful as the internal evidence, while the latter carries a weight of proof with it which the other does not possess, I shall run over the display of the former with as much brevity as possible, in order that I may enlarge more upon the latter* . . . . . .

During the time that these discussions were going forward, Lord Byron resided at his country-house in the village of Metaxata, about four miles and a half from the town. Several of the gentlemen who were engaged in them, were in the habit of visiting him, and the conversation often turned on the attempt which they said I was making to convert them to a pious and religious life. The conversations were always repeated to

* See Appendix.

H., an officer, was in the frequent practice of visiting his lordship, dining often and riding out with him. He asked me why I did not come, for his lordship would be very glad to see me at Metaxata; this he said several times; at length he told me that Lord Byron had requested him to say so expressly.

Various causes prevented me from visiting his lordship. I was much engaged at this time in public duties, from the approach of the sickly season, and the indisposition of the other medical gentleman: besides this, I wished not to appear forward in visiting Lord Byron, as I knew that my motives would be misrepresented, and I was not previously assured that his lordship wished me to come. I thought also that if he were in earnest to hear religion explained, he must have been aware that the least hint from him would induce me willingly to comply with his desire. I was besides deterred a little by the consciousness that there was often a secret, ambitious desire of making such a convert, and though I immediately repressed such vain desires, yet I knew that others would readily enough impute to me these motives: thus I had convinced myself that it was more proper not to go near him, but to be ready, should he
at any time invite me. With this view I was diligently employed in preparing myself for these possible interviews, and, like many others, who are equally wise on such occasions, was studying and refreshing my memory on points which had very little relation to the subject, and which were not in the least interesting to Lord Byron.