The Demands Of Infidelity Satisfied By Christianity -- By: Samuel Harris

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:50 (Apr 1856)
Article: The Demands Of Infidelity Satisfied By Christianity
Author: Samuel Harris


The Demands Of Infidelity Satisfied By Christianity

Samuel Harris

You are associated,1 gentlemen, to inquire respecting the interests of Christ’s kingdom; to study its dangers and the means of averting them; its resources and the means of making them available. At this moment no enemy threatens the churches so deadly in its nature, or so formidable in its position and resources, as infidelity. It is befitting this occasion to consider how this enemy may be most successfully opposed.

It may aid us to consider, for a moment, the true relation of Christianity to heathenism. The heathen religion is not unmingled diabolism. It is the expression, though distorted, of universal spiritual wants which Christianity alone can satisfy; wants buried, with their immortal life in them, beneath mountains of error and depravity, and therefore manifesting themselves, like Enceladus beneath Aetna, only in volcanic groans and struggles that terrify the world; and

yet wants of the spiritual nature which can never die.2 Heathenism also prefigures Christianity; it shadows the facts which Christianity alone reveals and the truths which it alone expresses — adumbrations monstrous indeed; like fantastic shadows from a flickering fire dancing on the dimness of a kitchen wall, and yet shadows of divine reality. Therefore there is an important sense in which Christianity may address to the heathen world the words of Paul: “Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”

And Christianity is to be vindicated, not by claiming that it teaches the contrary of all that man ever desired or thought, but by showing that it meets the wants of the spiritual nature uttered in all religions, and reveals the realities which they have dimly shadowed; that whatever of good the Greek philosophy taught, whatever of beauty the Greek mythology embodied, whatever of sublimity the Eastern mysticism dreamed, is taken up in Christianity and set forth in its reality, and in its harmony with God’s actual work of redemption; that thus not Aethiopia only, but all nations have stretched forth their hands unto God; that thus Christ has been, as the Scriptures declare, “the Desire of all nations,” and “in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

These views of the relation of Christianity to heathenism, have of late been gaining the assent of Christian scholars. It is not yet clearly understood,—to some minds, the assertion may seem both startling and untenable,—that Chris-

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