Swiss divine. Read more about Abbadie here.
Lutheran pastor. "Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Clearwater Lutheran Parish (E.L.S.): a parish of four Confessional Lutheran congregations in very rural Northwestern, Minnesota. He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson has served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) for since Dec. 2001."
Abrahamson's archive can be found here.
Writer. Read more about Adams here.
Math professor and college president. Read more about Adams here.
American President. Read more about President Adams here. Disclaimer: Adams shifted from Congregationalist to Unitarian.
February 18. Wednesday. ..."The following questions may be answered some time or other, namely,--Where do we find a precept in the Gospel requiring Ecclesiastical Synods? Convocations? Councils? Decrees? Creeds? Confessions? Oaths? Subscriptions? and whole cart-loads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?"
February 22. Sunday. "Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law-book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged, in conscience, to temperance and frugality and industry; to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence, towards Almighty God. In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness, or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal, or lie, or in any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men; no man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship; but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all heats. What a Utopia; what a Paradise would this region be!"
March 2. Tuesday. "Began this afternoon my third quarter. The great and Almighty author of nature, who at first established those rules which regulate the world, can as easily suspend those laws whenever his providence sees sufficient reason for such suspension. This can be no objection, then, to the miracles of Jesus Christ. Although some very thoughtful and contemplative men among the heathen attained a strong persuasion of the great principles of religion, yet the far greater number, having little time for speculation, gradually sunk into the grossest opinions and the grossest practices These, therefore, could not be made to embrace the true religion till their attention was roused by some astonishing and miraculous appearances. The reasoning of philosophers, having nothing surprising in them, could not overcome the force of prejudice, custom, passion, and bigotry. But when wise and virtuous men, commissioned from heaven, by miracles awakened men's attention to their reasonings, the force of truth made its way with ease to their minds."
March 17. Wednesday. "A fine morning. Proceeded on my journey towards Braintree. Stopped to see Mr. Haven [The Reverend Jason Haven, then just ordained as pastor of the first parish in Dedham.], of Dedham, who told me, very civilly, he supposed I took my faith on trust from Dr. Mayhew, and added, that he believed the doctrine of the satisfaction of Jesus Christ to be essential to Christianity, and that he would not believe this satisfaction unless he believed the Divinity of Christ." ...
"The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity, let the blackguard Paine say what he will; it is resignation to God, it is goodness itself to man."
... "One great advantage of the Christian religion is, that it brings the great principle of the law of nature and nations, -- Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to others as you would that others should do to you, -- to the knowledge, belief, and veneration of the whole people. Children, servants, women, and men, are all professors in the science of public and private morality. No other institution of education, no kind of political discipline, could diffuse this kind of necessary information, so universally among all ranks and descriptions of citizens. The duties and rights of the man and the citizen are thus taught from early infancy to every creature. The sanctions of a future life are thus added to the observance of civil and political, as well as domestic and private duties. Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, are thus taught to be the means and conditions of future as well as present happiness."
"The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet,' and 'Thou shalt not steal,' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free."
"I assure you, sir, that your Employment, in investigating the Moral Causes of our Miseries, and in pointing out the Remedies, is devoutly to be wished. There is no station more respectable; nor any so pleasant and agreable. Those who tread the public Stage, in Characters the most extensively conspicuous, meet with so many Embarrassments, Perplexities, and Disappointments, that they have often reason to wish for the peacefull Retreats of the Clergy.... Who would not wish to exchange the angry Contentions of the Forum, for the peacefull Contemplations of the Closet. Where Contemplations prune their ruffled Wings and the free Soul looks down to pitty Kings? Who would not Exchange the discordant Scenes of Envy, Pride, Vanity, Malice, Revenge, for the sweet Consolations of Philosophy, the serene Composure of the Passions, the divine Enjoyments of Christian Charity, and Benevolence?
"Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.... The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies. You cannot therefore be more pleasantly, or usefully employed than in the Way of your Profession, pulling down the Strong Holds of Satan. This is not Cant, but the real sentiment of my Heart. Remember me with much respect, to your worthy family, and to all Friends."
"While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many pats of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
"I have not seen, but am impatient to see, Mr. Cheetham's life of Mr. Paine. His political writings, I am singular enough to believe, have done more harm than his irreligious ones. He understood neither government nor religion. From a malignant heart he wrote virulent declamations, which the enthusiastic fury of the times intimidated all men, even Mr. Burke, from answering as he ought. His deism, as it appears to me, has promoted rather than retarded the cause of revolution in America, and indeed in Europe. His billingsgate, stolen from Blount's Oracles of Reason, from Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Berenger, &c., will never discredit Christianity, which will hold its ground in some degree as long as human nature shall have any thing moral or intellectual left in it. The Christian religion, as I understand it, is the brightness of the glory and the express portrait of the character of the eternal, self-existent, independent, benevolent, all powerful and all merciful creator, preserver, and father of the universe, the first good, first perfect, and first fair. It will last as long as the world. Neither savage nor civilized man, without a revelation, could ever have discovered or invented it. Ask me not, then, whether I am a Catholic or Protestant, Calvinist or Arminian. As far as they are Christians, I wish to be a fellow-disciple with them all."
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young men could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system. I could, therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles."
"Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony "that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do." You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell'd Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days.
When I look back to the Year 1761, and recollect the Argument concerning Writs of Assistance, in the Superiour Court, which I have hitherto considered as the Commencement of the Controversy, between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole Period from that Time to this, and recollect the series of political Events, the Chain of Causes and Effects, I am surprised at the Suddenness, as well as Greatness of this Revolution. Britain has been fill'd with Folly, and America with Wisdom, at least this is my Judgment. Time must determine. It is the Will of Heaven, that the two Countries should be sundered forever. It may be the Will of Heaven that America shall suffer Calamities still more wasting and Distresses yet more dreadful If this is to be the Case, it will have this good Effect, at least: it will inspire Us with many Virtues, which We have not, and correct many Errors, Follies, and Vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonour, and destroy Us. The Furnace of Affliction produces Refinement, in States as well as Individuals. And the new Governments we are assuming, in every Part, will require a Purification from our Vices, and an Augmentation of our Virtues or they will be no Blessings. The People will have unbounded Power. And the People are extreamly addicted to Corruption and Venality, as well as the Great. I am not without Apprehensions from this Quarter. But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe."
Philadelphia July 3d. 1776 -- "Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven Months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious Effects. (1) We might before this Hour, have formed Alliances with foreign States. We should have mastered Quebec and been in Possession of Canada.... You will perhaps wonder, how such a Declaration would have influenced our Affairs, in Canada, but if I could write with Freedom I could easily convince you, that it would, and explain to you the manner how. Many Gentlemen in high Stations and of great Influence have been duped, by the ministerial Bubble of Commissioners to treat.... And in real, sincere Expectation of this Event, which they so fondly wished, they have been slow and languid, in promoting Measures for the Reduction of that Province. Others there are in the Colonies who really wished that our Enterprise in Canada would be defeated, that the Colonies might be brought into Danger and Distress between two Fires, and be thus induced to submit. Others really wished to defeat the Expedition to Canada, lest the Conquest of it, should elevate the Minds of the People too much to hearken to those Terms of Reconciliation which they believed would be offered Us. These jarring Views, Wishes and Designs, occasioned an opposition to many salutary Measures, which were proposed for the Support of that Expedition, and caused Obstructions, Embarrassments and studied Delays, which have finally, lost Us the Province.
"All these Causes however in Conjunction would not have disappointed Us, if it had not been for a Misfortune, which could not be foreseen, and perhaps could not have been prevented, I mean thePrevalence of the small Pox among our Troops.... This fatal Pestilence compleated our Destruction. It is a Frown of Providence upon Us, which We ought to lay to heart. But on the other Hand, the Delay of this Declaration to this Time, has many great Advantages attending it. The Hopes of Reconciliation, which were fondly entertained by Multitudes of honest and well meaning tho weak and mistaken People, have been gradually and at last totally extinguished. Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence and to ripen their Judgments, dissipate their Fears, and allure their Hopes, by discussing it in News Papers and Pamphletts, by debating it, in Assemblies, Conventions, Committees of Safety and Inspection, in Town and County Meetings, as well as in private Conversations, so that the whole People in every Colony of the 13, have now adopted it, as their own Act. This will cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago.
"But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."(2)
RC (MHi). Adams, Family Correspondence (Butterfield), 2:29-31. 1 Suspension points in MS, here and below. 2 For the provenance and publication history of this celebrated letter, see Adams, Family Correspondence (Butterfield), 2:31n.9.
"Congress will appoint a Thanksgiving, and one Cause of it ought to be that the Glory of turning the Tide of Arms, is not immediately due to the Commander in Chief, nor to southern Troops. If it had been, Idolatry, and Adulation would have been unbounded, so excessive as to endanger our Liberties for what I know.
"Now We can allow a certain Citizen to be wise, virtuous, and good, without thinking him a Deity or a saviour."
"When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise concerning the forms of government to be instituted over the whole and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives of this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present number, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forging and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an ocean of uncertainty.
... "if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country and of my own duties toward it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured but exalted by experience and age; and, with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.
"With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the same American people pledged to support the Constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy, and my mind is prepared without hesitation to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.
"And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence."
"There is one fact immediately connected with this subject, which ought to be more generally known. At one moment, during the discussion of this momentous question in the Continental Congress, some of the most ardent friends of liberty conscious of its overwhelming importance began to hesitate and incline to timid perhaps it might be better said to prudent counsels. As a just tribute to the memory of John Adams, it should be told to every American citizen, that in this important exigency, he urged the adoption of the measure with all the energies of his mind and with all the powers of his eloquence. After stating fully the reasons of policy in favor of the declaration, he is said to have concluded his argument in language of the following animated and intrepid character.
"But whatever may be our fate, be assured that this declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, it may cost blood; but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through the thick gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future as the sun in the Heavens. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves, our children will honour it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. Sir, before God, I believe the hour is come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment; Independence now; and Independence forever."
"His bold and determined counsel prevailed. The Declaration of Independence, as presented by Mr. Jefferson, the chairman of the committee, to which duty he was appointed on the nomination of Mr. Adams, was unanimously accepted by Congress.
"To no one individual is this country more largely indebted, than to John Adams, for his ardent and patriotic zeal in the crisis of its destiny. This tribute of just acknowledgement should be the more cheerfully given, at this lime, as the malignity of party feeling, to accomplish its despicable purposes, has attempted to detract from his well earned fame, as a sincere and devoted friend of civil liberty. The means which are employed for this purpose, are well worthy of the object to be effected, and fully illustrate the character of his accusers. Soon after the peace of 1783, while Mr. Adams was in England, as the minister of the Confederated States, for the instruction of his countrymen in the principles of republican government he published a commentary on the constitutions of the several States. This work which contained copious historical details of most of the ancient and modern Republics, with sagacious reflections upon their excellencies and defects, was received with universal praise by the worthiest men of the time. It was not even suspected to contain a single maxim or comment inconsistent with the great principles of freedom, in support of which the contest had just ceased."
American patriot. Read about Samuel Adams here.
Samuel Adams to James Warren: "I hope our Countrymen will render the just Tribute of Praise to the Supreme Ruler for these signal Instances of his Interposition in favor of a People struggling for their Liberties. Congress will, I suppose recommend the setting apart one Day of publick Thanksgiving to be observd throughout the United States."
(TM): William Adams (1706?-1789) was a Fellow and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, and a friend of the literary giant Samuel Johnson.
(TM):When David Hume first published his attack on the reasonableness of belief in miracles in his Philosophical Essays in 1748, the work provoked a great number of replies of varying quality. Adams's work, now inexplicably forgotten by most apologists and neglected by Hume scholars, is one of the earliest and ablest rejoinders to Hume's attack. Adams pursues Hume courteously (Hume is said to have remarked that Adams had treated him better than he deserved) but also relentlessly, reading him closely, criticizing his reasoning, and rebutting him point by point.
The 3rd edition of the work, linked here, contains a particularly good discussion of the alleged miracles at the tomb of the Abbé Paris to which Hume refers in the second part of "Of Miracles." Adams makes full and careful use of sources that Hume does not mention, distinctly refuting the key claims Hume makes regarding the affair.
English essayist. Read more about Addison here.
Church of England clergyman.
Scottish bookbinder. Read more about Aitken here
Attorney. B.S., J.D., M.A. (Simon Greenleaf), Member of the Oregon Bar.
Preacher and college president. Read more about Alexander here, here and here. His conversion is discussed here.
As these books have come down to us under the names of certain apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ, so they were ascribed to the same persons, from the earliest mention of them. It is, by the ancient Fathers, spoken of as a fact, universally believed among Christians, and contradicted by nobody. And we must not suppose, that in the first ages of Christianity, there was little care or discrimination exercised, in ascertaining the true authors and genuine character of the books in circulation. The very reverse is the fact. The most diligent inquiries were instituted into matters of this kind. Other books were published in the name of the apostles, professing to give an account of Jesus Christ, which were not genuine. The distinction between the books of the New Testament, and all others, of every class, was as clearly marked, in the earliest ages, as it has ever been since. The writings of the apostles were held in great veneration; were received by the churches, all over the world, as the rule of their faith, and directory of their lives; and publicly read at their meetings for the instruction of the people., When any controversy arose, they were appealed to as an authoritative standard. As soon as published, they were so widely scattered, and so carefully guarded, that no persons had it in their power to make any alteration in them.
The style, or dialect, in which these books are written, furnishes an evidence of their authenticity, of peculiar kind. It does not, indeed, ascertain the persons of the writers, but proves, that they must have been exactly in the circumstances of those to whom these books have been uniformly ascribed. The words are Greek but the idiom is Hebrew, or rather Syro-Chaldaic, the vernacular tongue of Judea, in the time of Christ and his apostles. This is a peculiarity which none could counterfeit, and which demonstrates, that the New Testament was not composed by men of a different country and age, from those in which the apostles lived.
In the New Testament, there are numerous references to rivers, mountains, seas, cities, and countries, which none but a person well acquainted with the geography of Judea and the neighboring countries, could have made, without falling into innumerable errors. There is, moreover, incidental mention, of persons and facts, known from other authorities to have existed, and frequent allusions to manners and customs, peculiar to the Jews.
From all these considerations, it ought to be admitted without dispute, that these are indeed the writings of the apostles, and of those particular persons to whom they are ascribed. It would not, however, destroy their credibility, even if other persons had written them, since they were certainly composed at that age, and were received by the whole body of Christians. But what imaginable reason is there for doubting of the genuineness of these books? What persons were so likely to write books to guide the faith of the church, as the apostles? If they did not write them, who would? And why would they give the credit of them to others? But their universal reception, without opposition or contradiction, should silence every cavil. The persons who lived at this time, knew the apostles, and were deeply interested in the subject, and these are the proper judges of this question. And they have decided it, unanimously, as it relates to the historical books of the New Testament. From them the testimony has come down, through all succeeding ages, without a chasm. Even heathen writers and heretics are witnesses, that the Gospels were written by the persons whose names they bear.
In other cases, we usually possess no other evidence of the genuineness of the most valued writings of antiquity, except the opinion of contemporaries, handed down by uncontradicted tradition. How soon would Homer be deprived of his glory, if such evidence was insisted on as is required for the genuineness of the New Testament? Certainly, as it respects evidence of genuineness, no books of antiquity stand upon a level with the books of the New Testament. The works of the Greek and Latin historians and poets, have no such evidence of being the writings of the persons whose names they bear, as the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For we have the testimony, not merely of individuals, but of numerous societies, widely scattered over the world. We have internal evidence, of a kind, which cannot be counterfeited. We have, in short, every species of evidence, of which the case admits. It may, therefore, be considered, as an established fact, that the books of the New Testament are the genuine productions of the apostles; and consequently, contain their testimony to the miracles of Jesus Christ, and also to those miracles, which, in his name, they performed after his ascension. --pp. 70-72.
Pastor. Professor of Rhetoric at Princeton. Hymn-writer. Son of Archibald Alexander. Read about Alexander here.
"The great truths of the Christian religion lie within a small compass. There is an agreement among all the conflicting sects of evangelical Christians as to a few cardinal points. They are such as these: that by nature men are children of wrath; that God will punish the impenitent; that we must be born again; that without faith it is impossible to please God; that he who believeth shall be saved, and he who believes not will be condemned. Further, the faith which saves us, regards chiefly the Lord Jesus Christ; that he is the Son of God; that he became man for our salvation; that he bore our sins in his own body on the tree; that he rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven; and that we are justified by faith in him. He who believes thus, and manifests this belief by corresponding works, is a true Christian.
"There is reason to think that infidelity is on the wane in our country. About the time of the French revolution, the impious falsehoods of Voltaire were making havoc among our youth. This arch-infidel once predicted that in twenty years the Christian religion would be no more! Those who were deceived by him found nothing but disappointment and wretchedness. Learned, witty, and applauded as he was, he had less real wisdom than the poorest and most ignorant Christian widow."
Scottish church leader.
Clergyman. Read more about Allen here.
Statesman. Read more about Allen here.
Educator. Read more about Allen here.
Illinois U. S. Representative.
Editor. Read about Allen here
English divine. Read more about Allestree here
French Protestant divine. Read more about Allix here.
Read more about the American Anti-Slavery Society here.
U. S. Representative. Read more about Ames here, here and here.
"It has been the custom, of late years, to put a number of little books into the hands of children, containing fables and moral lessons. This is very well, because it is right first to raise curiosity, and then to guide it. Many books for children are, however, injudiciously compiled: the language is too much raised above the ideas of that tender age; the moral is drawn from the fable, they know not why; and when they gain wisdom from experience, they will see the restrictions and exceptions which are necessary to the rules of conduct laid down in their books, but which such books do not give. Some of the most admired works of this kind abound with a frothy sort of sentiment, as the readers of novels are pleased to call it, the chief merit of which consists in shedding tears, and giving away money. Is it right, or agreeable to good sense, to try to make the tender age more tender? Pity and generosity, though amiable impulses, are blind ones, and, as we grow older, are to be managed by rules, and restrained by wisdom.
"... Why then, if these books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the sacred book, that is thus early impressed, lasts long; and, probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind. One consideration more is important. In no book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant; and by teaching all the same book, they will speak alike, and the bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith. A barbarous provincial jargon will be banished, and taste, corrupted by pompous Johnsonian affectation, will be restored."
French Protestant theologian. Read more about Amyraut here.
Church of Scotland minister and author.
Scotland Yard official. Read about Anderson here.
..."These infidel books habitually assume that, if we refuse their nostrums, superstition is our only refuge. This is quite in keeping with the amazing conceit which characterises them. Wisdom was born with the Agnostics! They have monopolised the meagre stock of intelligence which the evolutionary process has as yet produced for the guidance of the race! But there are Christians in the world who have quite as much sense as they have, who detest superstition as much as they do, and who have far more experience in detecting fallacies and exposing frauds. And if such men are Christians it is not because they are too stupid to become infidels." -- p. 92.
English physicist and engineer. Emeritus Professor of Materials Science at the University of London. Read more about Andrews at his website.
Extract: A response to Victor Stenger's advocacy of a flat earth myth:
Fourthly, did religionists really believe in a flat earth before the advent of the scientific age? Not since Aristotle presented evidence for a spherical Earth in 330 BC, observing that southbound travellers see southern stars rising higher above the horizon . He also pointed out that the shadow of Earth on the Moon is always circular, and that only a spherical earth could cast a circular shadow at all lunar phases. In 240 BC, Eratosthenes even calculated the Earth's spherical circumference. In his treatise The Reckoning of Time, the venerable Bede (c.672 - 735) explained the varying duration of daylight in terms of 'the roundness of the Earth', and continues, 'for not without reason is it called 'the orb of the world' on the pages of Holy Scripture and of ordinary literature. It is, in fact, set like a sphere in the middle of the whole universe'. And anything Bede wrote was required reading for the priests of his day.
It is true that mediaeval scholars allegedly reverted to flat-earth beliefs, but Jeffrey Russell (professor of history at University of California, Santa Barbara) argues in his book 'Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and modern historians' that the flat earth theory is little more than a fable used to denigrate pre-modern European civilisation.
Geocentricity is a different matter. As the quote from Bede indicates, Dr Stenger is correct to say that the ancients believed in an earth-centred universe. But here's the fact that fells his house of cards -- this geocentric system was the product not of religious faith but of Greek science! Anaximander (6th century BC) taught that the earth was a cylinder situated at the centre of the universe. The Pythagoreans disputed the centrality of the earth, holding that it was in motion around an unseen fire, but Plato (5th century BC) believed that the Earth was a sphere, stationary at the center of the universe and orbitted by the stars and planets. Greek astronomy eventually settled for the geocentric 'Ptolemaic system' -- proposed by Claudius Ptolemaeus during the 2nd century AD and accepted by all and sundry until the 'Copernican revolution' in the 16th century, when geocentricity was finally put to rest. But then, the headline: '16th century science disproves 2nd century science!' doesn't read as well as: '16th century science disproves religious belief!'
On p.175 Stenger makes the following extraordinary statement: 'Throughout the Bible, the universe is referred to as a 'firmament' that sits above a flat, immovable earth'. He even gives us Bible references in an attempt to prove his point, claiming to have consulted 'both the King James and Revised Standard versions'. Perhaps he should also have consulted a Hebrew lexicon, because he builds his case on a total misunderstanding of two Old Testament Hebrew words. The first word he mangles is 'firmament' which is a general term meaning 'expanse' (Hebrew raqia). Genesis 1 does not use the word to mean 'universe' but simply 'sky' -- the expanse where the birds fly (v.20) and which separates earthbound waters (the waters 'under' the firmament) from the clouds (the waters 'above' the firmament; vv. 6-8). When Genesis 1 describes the sun and moon as 'lights in the firmament of the heavens' it is merely using phenomenological language -- these bodies are visible in the sky (the same applies to the three other Bible verses that use 'firmament' to locate the stars).
Since 1957 Sir Patrick Moore has presented his long-running BBC series on popular astronomy entitled 'The sky at night'. No one has ever protested that the programme should be called 'the universe at night' -- or that Moore is teaching that birds and stars inhabit the same cosmic space. Most people have the common sense to recognise that phenomenological language is appropriate in a popular science programme and that the visible universe is what we see when we look up into the sky.
The second word that Stenger didn't check out properly is "circle". He states, 'Isaiah 40:22 says Earth is a 'circle'. Note that a circle is flat' (p.189 note 2). In fact the verse in question doesn't say this at all -- it says God 'sits above the circle of the earth', which means that the earth has a 'circle' not is a 'circle'. Stenger reminds us that a circle is flat but omits to mention that it also has a hole in the middle (be careful where you step!). I suspect that Isaiah would have seen the absurdity of calling the earth a circle when (if he really believed in a flat earth) he could have called it a disc. However, although this demonstrates Stenger's careless way with words, his real problem is that the Hebrew word chug -- translated 'circle' or 'circuit' in our English Bibles -- can mean variously 'circle, arch, vault or compass'. Like our own vague word 'round' it can be used to indicate both two and three dimensional objects. Almost certainly, Isaiah meant 'vault' and was referring not to the earth at all but to the heavens. If Dr Stenger had had the patience to read the whole verse he would have learnt that the God who sits above the 'vault' of the earth (that is, who is higher than the heavens) also 'stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in'. You're reading poetical phenomenology, Victor, not early Greek science!
Reading Stenger, anyone ignorant of the Bible would conclude that it teaches a 'flat earth at rest at the centre of a firmament of stars and planets', but nothing could be further from the truth. Stenger sires an orphan child (by Greek science out of Chinese mythology), rejects it, and leaves the baby on the Bible's doorstep. In fact the Bible is entirely innocent of such teachings -- nowhere does it discuss the shape of the earth or claim that it lies at the centre of the universe. It frequently describes the universe as observed from earth (don't we all?) but it does so without a hint of geocentric dogmatism.
Sermons at the Campus Church, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, UK
These are notes used in delivering a lesson, or for personal Bible study. It is essential to actually look up and consider the Bible references given in the notes.
CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. Read more about Andrews here.
Jurist. Read more about Andrews here.
British trade unionist.
Influential early church writer. Read more about Aquinas here.
(TM): Thomas Arnold (1795 - 1842) was a British educator and lecturer in history at Oxford. Arnold was born in 1795 to a postmaster and customs agent. He began his education at Winchester and went on to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1815 he was elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, afterward becoming ordained. He tutored for a number of years before becoming headmaster of Rugby School - a post he would hold for the rest of his life, and would use to shape education throughout the rest of England and the Western world. He authored many sermons, as well as a history of Rome, and was the father of the critic and poet Matthew Arnold. Read more about Arnold here and here.
It assures us of God, that He loves us, and will love us for ever. To those who think upon it fully, it does become the real sign from heaven which was required ; for it brought God into the world, and the world near to God. " He that hath seen me," said Christ, " hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father?"
But it is the remarkable part of this our Christian sign, that it speaks to us more and more strongly according as we are better and holier. It speaks strongly as a matter of fact to all of us: the evidence of our Lord's life and death, and resurrection, is of the same sort as that which we rest on in human matters. Whoever has heard the summing up of a judge on any great trial, will be able to understand what I mean; the jury have heard a great many witnesses; some of them have perhaps contradicted others, some have stated things very improbable; in a long cause, if the jury are un- accustomed to what are called the laws or rules of evidence, they may be utterly puzzled what to believe. But it is their business to pass a judgment in the matter, and therefore they must make up their minds one way or the other. In order to do this, they are glad to listen to the summing up of the judge. He goes clearly through all the mass of evidence which seemed so contradictory and perplexing; he gives them reasons why such a witness is to be believed rather than another; how he had better means of knowing the truth, and less temptation to depart from it; how his evidence is in itself consistent when examined carefully, and has a look of truth about it; and so he shews the jury that they have very good grounds for making up their minds, and for giving their verdict. Now in this same way the evidence of our Lord's life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been shewn to be, satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and ten thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as ever judge summed up on a most important cause: I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others, but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the history of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them; and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind, which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair enquirer, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.
But where the evidence of other facts ends, that of our great sign of Christ crucified and Christ risen may be said only to begin. I might convince your understandings, as my own has been convinced long since, that the fact is proved according to the best rules of testimony; -- but if our belief rest here, we do not yet know the full richness, the abundant and overflowing light of our Christian faith. The evidence of Christ's apostles, preserved to us in the writings, is very strong, very full, very irresistible; hear it fairly, and we cannot believe that Christ is not risen. But the evidence of Christ's Spirit is much more strong, more full, more penetrating our whole nature. He who has this evidence, not only believes that Christ rose, and was seen of Peter, and of the other Apostles; Christ has manifested Himself to him also; he knows in whom he has believed. Life and death are no longer a great mystery, beyond which our faith dimly catches the light of resurrection; Christ is with us now, and life is clear, and death is peaceful, and resurrection is the natural end to which both lead us. There are thousands and ten thousands who have gone through this blessed evidence also; who, doing Christ's will daily, have learnt by experience the manifold riches of His grace, who have received His Spirit, and live in a continued consciousness of His presence and His love; to whom there is no need that they should pray for the sky to be opened, that they may see and hear God. God dwelleth in them already, and they in God. The heaven is opened and the angels of God are every hour ascending and descending on that son of man, who, through a living faith in Christ, has been adopted through Him to be a son of God. So perfectly may the sign of the Prophet Jonah, the sign of Christ's death and resurrection, be rendered to each one of us all that we could desire in the sign from heaven. It may be rendered such by our own prayers and careful living, by which we should draw near to Christ more and more. This may be done without our going out of the world; what we need is not that, but rather that we should bring Christ's Spirit into the world to us." pp. 14-17. Sermon II: "The Sign of the Prophet Jonah." January 7, 1838.
Also known as General Assembly's Missionary Magazine, or Missionary Magazine; or, Evangelical intelligencer. Edited by William P. Farrand.
Apologist. Read more about Athenagoras here and here.
English man of letters, politician and bishop. Read more about Atterbury here and here.
A Standing Revelation, the Best Means of Conviction. Extract from 9th edition, vol. 2 (London: C. and R. Ware, T. Longman, and J. Johnson, 1774), Sermon II, pp. 34-35.
It is not, for want of strength, that the standing ordinary ways of proof are rejected, but for want of sincerity and a disinterested mind in those to whom they are proposed; and the same want of sincerity, the same adhesion to vice, and aversion from goodness, will be equally a reason for their rejecting any proof whatsoever. The evidence they had before was enough, amply enough, to convince them; but they were resolved not to be convinced: And to those, who are resolved not to be convinced, all motives, all arguments are equal. He that shuts his eyes against a small light, on purpose to avoid the sight of somewhat that displeases him, would (for the same reason) shut them also against the sun itself; and not be brought to see that, which he had no mind to see, let it be placed in never so clear a light, and never so near him.