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THE WELSH WEEKLY. June 17, 1892. THE KHASI'S PRAYER. AN ARGUMENT AND AN EXPOSTULATION. By Rev. John Hughes, M.A., Liverpool. (Continued.) " An, U Blei, lada me don, to pynpaw ia lade ha rya." The scepticism of the learned men of science, which has given such prestige to infidelity in our days, is the result of this deep under-current of moral causes, more than the weakness of the argument for the Being of God. We make this remark in the interest of many young believers who are alarmed, perhaps shaken, in their faith by seeing so many of the great and wise of this world numbered with unbelievers; and so often with pen and tongue spreading the poison of unbelief. Let not tbe reader be alarmed at this. Rather than shake, it should strengthen our belief in God and a Divine Government. It appears to us to be a signal instance of the great law of moral proba¬ tion; and proves how far these men, though in intel¬ lectual parts above their fellow men, yet, in a moral sense, are subject to the same law, and undergo the same trial as the lowest and simplest in the land. Great learning and profound science do not absolve men from the moral laws of God's universe; nor do they hinder the growth of the seeds of corruption and unbelief, which, according to Scripture, are the natural inheritance of fallen man. And men of science are moral beings like ourselves, subject to the same prejudices as the majority ; and their intellectual vision is too often warped by an evil heart of unbelief which is ever departing from a living God. There is hidden deep in every man a seed of corruption that sprouts up into enmity against God, and buds into a pre¬ judice against His being; and when he brings his intellect and his reason to the facts and phenomena of the external world, unless this spirit of unbelief is held in surveillance by the voice of a quickened conscience, he will find in all these nothing but a philosophy of unbelief. " The heart," we are told, " is deceitful above all things " ; and unless there is some predisposing cause, some centrifugal force giving it a Godward tendency, it will fly off at a tangent from Him, when reason catches the first glimpse of His Being in the works of Nature. All atheism springs from the heart. It is not because there is no light in God's works leading the soul to Him, but because there is in man an evil eye and a root of bitterness, that turns the light and Bweetness of God's creation into darkness and unbelief, and the philosophical and scientific scepticism of our days is nothing but this root of bitterness cultivated by the pride of reason. " The fool hath said in his heart there is no God " ; and when the heart says it, his intellect and reason will find no difficulty in hearing it echoed by all the works of God. There is no lack of proofs for the Divine existence. " I had rather," says Bacon, " believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind; and, therefore, God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. Man has only to look upon himself with an unpre¬ judiced mind to find a summary of these arguments, instituting him, as one of the Fathers expressed it, " the true specimen of God's creation." He is fear¬ fully and wonderfully made ; and it has been said by one that " none but fools or lunatics, after examining the structure of the heart alone, and the circulation of tbe blood through it, can doubt the existence of its Maker." One is truly astonished, in the, face of the cumulative strength of this argument, and the force with which a belief in the Divine] existence is borne in upon the mind and conscience of the majority of, mankind, at the possibility of atheism. And if man were all intellect and understanding, our astonishment might be well grounded ; it might in that case be as impossible for him to deny the existence of God as to deny that two straight lines cannot enclose a space, or that the whole is greater than its part. For even with reference to these mathe¬ matical axioms, it has been well said by an old writer that "if there were any interest of life, any concernment of appetite and passion, against the truth of geometrical theorems themselves, as of a triangle having three angles equal to two right, whereby men's judgments may be clouded and bribed, notwithstanding all the demonstrations of them, many would remain at least sceptical about them. Where¬ fore mere speculation, and dry mathematical reason, in minds uopurified and having a contrary interest of carnality, and a heavy load of infidelity and distrust sinking them down, cannot alone', begetj an unshaken confidence and assurance of so high a truth as this, the exis-tenca of one perfect understanding Being, the original of all things." If geometry had any influence and play upon men's hearts and passions, it would not be the certain science it is ; nor would our opponents be so able to flaunt its demonstrations against the probabilities of moral and theological truth. Man would be a sceptic in mathematics and science if they made such a demand upon his heart as they do upon his intellect; and if his moral estrangement from God, as the great author ot his being, influenced his judgment as muph in the pursuit of science as it does in his pursuit of the knowledge of God, men might &till be disputing about the laws of motion; and seeking to demolish scepticism about the first veritudes of science. The possibility of atheism lies within the sphere of morals, its hidden spring is in the heart, not in the head. The heart has an interest in prejudicing the mind against an argument which it feels to be a criminal indictment; no rigour of logic, no lucidity of exposition in marshalling the proofs, can easily prevail against this moral habit of our nature. It does not follow from this that the argument is practically useless. I do not mean to assert that no service is done to Christianity when the different proofs for the Divine existence are stated with all possible clearness and strength, nor do I undervalue the many praiseworthy attempts to combat the scepticism of the age on the ground of logic and argument. We must all rejoice at the steady fire which is opened upon the enemy all along the line in these days. And there is no doubt that the able and popular presentation of many branches of the Christian evidences tends to stem the tor¬ rent of unbelief, and to establish many weak and wavering minds. Upon the minds of the young especially, we can expect a rich harvest of strong and clear convictions as the result of this apologetic warfare. But as to the great primary truth of the Being of God, though a clear and strong state¬ ment of the argument may strengthen the conviction where it exists already, and cause it to strike root deeper in the soul, we question very much whether it can produce it where it is not. When once atheism has taken possession of man's soul, it is a plague which is not easily cured ; and certain it is, that the instances of its cure by argument alone are extremely rare. " No argument can cure atheism," says the great Dr. Owen. " The opposition that hath been made unto atheism, with arguments for the Divine Being and existence of God taken from reason and natural light in this and other ages, hath been of good use to cast contempt on the pretences of evil men to justify themselves in thsir folly; but that they have so much changed the minds of any I much doubt. No man is under the power of atheistical thoughts, or can be so long, but he that is ensnared into them by his desire to live securely and uncontrollably in sin. Such persons know it to be their interest that there should be no God, and are willing to take shelter under the bold expressions and reasonings of them who by the same means have hardened and blinded their minds into such foolish thoughts. All atheism springs from a resolution not to see things invisible and eternal." The logical presentation of the proof of the Divine existence, therefore, has its use " to cast contempt upon th6 pretences of evil men to justify themselves in their folly " ; it checks the tendency to unbelief which is natural to the human heart, by nonsuiting the objector; and it strengthens our intuitions of the Divine existence by pouring upon them the light of reason. We think, however, that nothing is really gained by putting the great truth of God's Being too often on its defence, and to regard it as an occasion for a fresh and elaborate trial whenever some new-fledged sceptic chirps from beneath the eaves of unebelief. The Word of God has only very few words for the man who denies His Being. It refuses to treat with him, and puts him summarily aside, as unworthy of being ranked with rational beings. " The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good ;" and with the thunder of this impeachment it passeth the atheist by. It does not dally with the spirit of unbelief; nor does it place the question of the Being of God within de¬ batable grounds. It treats it as the great moral axiom of God's universe, and never entertains nor suggests any doubts about its truth. The Bible begins where Nature ends—with the unclouded revelation of God's Being, and the manifestation of His attributes as our great Creator and Governor. Its first verse is the sum and substance of natural theology, and in the words of Matthew Henry, " it gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful knowledge of the origin of the universe than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancies of the greatest wits." And the positive assertion of the great truth in the words, " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," which strikes the keynote of the Divine revelation, is present to the mind in all the variety of its style and contents. There are no climatic changes here; the positive assertiveness of the Book never falls one degree below the declaration in the first verse ; and never shows the least tendency to fall to the zero of the atheist. Very often, as in the Psalms, it touches the boiling heat of praise and adoration at the sight of the Divine glory in the works of creation. Who has not felt the power and music of the words, " 0 Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth ! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. When I consider thy heavens the work cf thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hatt ordained, What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him. The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmanenfc sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge " ; and many other verses which are familiar to the Christian reader ? It is this positiveness with reference to the truth of God's Being, which surrounds the Bible like an atmosphere, that makes it the best apologist for the truth. True, we find in it no formal statement of the argument, such as appeals to the naked intellect, similar to what we find in the works of Christian apologists ; but every argument, all the proofs for the Divine existence, are held in solution in its pages by the solvent of its institution; its precepts and its poetry, its histories, and prophecies, and epistles, are charged, not with that formed logic that puts the truth on its trial before the lower court of the understanding, but with that which appeals at once, with a voice of power, to the higher courts of the conscience and the heart. It is a still, small voice, divine-living, authoritative; and though it may not speak in Barbara and Celerent, and other persuasive forms of human wisdom, nevertheless, when it speaks it brings a man out of the cave of darkness and unbelief to bow and adore before the living God. It does not argue the point, and yet it proves it ; the thoughtful and unprejudiced reader that comes to its divine pages ,with a mind open to con¬ viction, honestly desiring to know the truth as to the Being of God, is informed and instructed in the truth in an indirect yet sure way, by being lifted out of the atmosphere of doubt and hesitation, into that higher one of positive assertiveness which is the prime quality of the Book, by having his mind braced and plied upon by words and narratives which take for granted the truth of Divine existence, and yet hold all the arguments for the truth in solution, all the avenues of belief are stopped, the soul's health is restored, its spiritual instincts are quickened; the temperament of faith and a sound mind is begotten, until at length the man feels that there is a pulse of Deity beating in his own soul. To any of my readers who may, per¬ haps, in this age of scepticism, sometimes feel the shadow of a doubt concerning the Divine Existence cross their minds, I would say, betake yourself to your Bibles with the poor Khasi's prayer upon your lips, leaving for the occasion the books and words of men, close the doors of the sanctuary upon your souls, let the breezes of this Mount of Vision play upon your minds, search the Scriptures and abide therein until your minds are thoroughly formed and established in this great truth. Abide in the truth of the Divine existence as it is presented to you here, and you will find that the truth will make you free. (To be continued.) WESLEYAN METHODIST STATISTICS. The following letter from the Secretary of the Con¬ ference, which appeared in the Times a few days ago, may serve to interest many- of our readers, and throw light upon the real position of Wesley an Methodism in Great Britain, a proper idea of which, it is evident, the annual statistics do not convey. To the Editor of the Times. Sir,—The statement in the Times of to-day, in reference to the "completed returns of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion," is somewhat misleading. The number of members in Great Britain is correctly given as 424,597, a net increase on the year of 737. These returns, however, only represent the number of those in the society-classes, and are by no means the " complete returns of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion." In addition to these numbers there are on trial for church membership 27,596, and 65,144 in junior society-classes, making a total of 517,697. But what I especially wish to point out is that these returns convey an utterly inadequate idea of the extent and progress tf the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Its sphere and influence cannot be measured by the above returns. Those who judge of Wesleyan Methodism by the standards which are applied to other churches will find these returns to be very misleading. It is essential to bear in mind that the half-million of members returned in the annual statistics represent at least another million and a half of adherents of whom no account is taken. Tbe com¬ plete returns of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion in Great Britain would place their share of the population at more than two millions. That this is not an over-estimate is evident from the fact that the accommodation provided for public worship by the Wesleyan Methodists is 2,156,209 —about four times the number of church members returned. In this connection I may mention that the number ol Sunday scholars is 938,327, and of day scholars 177,015. According to Wlritakcr's Almanack the population of the Church of England "is estimated on trustworthy data at 13,756,000, for whom 6,250,000 church sittings are avail¬ able." It will be seen that the Wesleyan Methodists estimate their numbers within the accommodation actually provided in their places of worship, and not at more than twice the number.—I am, yours faithfully, D. J. Waller. Sir Andrew Claek, who is Parliamentary candidate for Chatham, declares his intention, if returned, of raising his voice in the House of Commons against the " blasting and withering influence of the drink traffic."