« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
men should not be received in reference to a miracle. Now God has in this way attested the authority of his servants, and, therefore, that of their message. At the word of Moses terrible plagues descended on Egypt, and the waters of the Red Sea were divided for the deliverance of the Israelites. There rested on the top of Sinai for forty days, during the giving of the law, a dark cloud, from which there proceeded thunders, and lightnings, and voices. Each successive prophet gave to those who heard him a sign from heaven, The Great Teacher wrought innumerable miracles ;' and the miracles of his ministry were consummated by that which He himself foretold, and on which He suspended his claims, his resurrection from the dead. It may perhaps be objected, “ But how do you know that these miracles were wrought? You can be certified of it only by these very books, whose claims you seek to establish.
Is not this reasoning in a circle, proving the miracles from the books, and then the books from the miracles ?” We reply, Not exactly. Take the miracles attendant on the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and the giving of the law from Sinai. Their very existence as a people was a proof that those miracles had been wrought; and besides, they were recorded in their sacred books 80 soon after they were performed, that falsehood was out of the question. Take the great miracle of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe it, not simply because it is recorded in the New Testament, but because we believe that the apostles were competent witnesses; that they had ample knowledge of the person of Christ; that they had abundant opportunities of making themselves certain of the fact; and because we can conceive of no other motives than the conviction of that fact, which could induce them to affirm it, since they had before them no earthly prospect, save that of obloquy and death, if they adhered to their testimony. This, and other miracles, respecting which they bear witness, are the grounds on which they believed Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, and consequently his religion to be divine. Believing in the truthfulness of their testimony, we accept the conclusions to which they came, and recognise in the religion of the Bible the religion of God.
IV. THE HISTORICAL PORTIONS OF THE BIBLE ARE CONFIRMED BY TESTIMONIES DERIVED FROM PROFANE HISTORY,
A great portion of the events related in the Bible occurred in historic periods, that is, in times respecting which we have authentic records in general history. We know, from independent sources, that men existed, who are said in the Bible to have exerted a very powerful influence on
AND FROM OTHER SOURCES.
the fortunes of the Jewish people, and that they existed at the
We do not by any means assert that success is always a test of truth. But that such a religion, rising under such circumstances-promulgated by such an agency—and encountering such opposition should prevail as Christianity has prevailed, does proclaim it to be divine. We can, however, only state the argument. We proceed to observe that,
VI. THE NATURE OF THE ANNOUNCEMENTS WHICH ARE CONTAINED IN THE BIBLE PROVES IT TO BE THE WORD OF GOD. We might speak of its consistency. Though its respective books were written by so many different men, during a space
of at least fifteen hundred years, there is a substantial agreement in the great principles which they teach. They present the same views of God, of his government, of human nature, and of the way in which man is to be reconciled to his Maker. Does not this proclaim the inspiration of one great, superintending mind ? Let the evangelists be compared with each other, and it will be found, that whilst there is sufficient diversity in their modes of stating the same facts to prove the absence of collusion, there is still substantial agreement.
We have in the Acts of the
ALSO AN EVIDENCE OF ITS TRUTH.
Apostles a brief sketch of the life and labours of the apostle Paul, as well as of other facts connected with the early progress of Christianity. There are in the epistles of Paul a great number of incidental allusions to the history, some of them relating to the minutest matters, all evidently undesigned, and all in perfect accordance with the history.* The natural inference is the truth of the record, and the authenticity of the epistles. Look at the nature of the truths which are contained in the Bible. Has the unaided human intellect ever formed such views of God as those which are presented in the Old Testament ? Did the ancient Egyptians ? did the more cultivated and philosophic Greeks? The apostle Paul says, and all history confirms it, that “the world by wisdom knew not God.” And yet the Jews knew him-knew him, when all the world was in darknessas One, and supreme, and just, and holy, and good; knew him, although they were destitute of all the advantages of intellectual culture and refinement! Could the prophets of such a people have formed such conceptions of Him as those which are embodied in the strains of a David or an Isaiah, unless they had been inspired from heaven? Who does not feel the truthfulness of its representations of our fallen humanity? Does the scheme of redemption look like the thought of man? See what was needed. It was God's purpose to pardon sin ; but he could not do this unless the claims of His violated law were vindicated. His own Son therefore becomes incarnate-suffers-dies—is made a curse for us exhausts the penalty which was due from man, and thus cbviates every difficulty which stood in the way of our salvation. It was God's design, yet further, to win back to himself the alienated heart of His creature, and to engage that creature in the pursuit of all holiness. And the infliction of such sufferings on God's beloved Son presents the most impressive exhibition possible of the evil of sin, whilst it is such a display of love as cannot fail, when rightly perceived, to fill the soul with sincere contrition, and to incline it to do whatever is enjoined by Him from whom there has been received such distinguished mercy. What but infinite wisdom could have devised a plan like this? We ask further, Do those views of human duty, so simple and so just, which are contained in the law, and expanded in the gospel, look like the utterances of human wisdom? Do the discoveries of life and immortality, which are brought to light by the gospel, look like the dreams of an excited human imagination ? We might multiply
* See Paley's Hore Pauline.
almost indefinitely such inquiries as these, for the Bible bears throughout the manifest impress of its Divine Original.
VII. THE MIGHTY INFLUENCE EXERTED BY THE RELIGION OF THE BIBLE ON HUMAN CHARACTER IS ANOTHER PROOF OF ITS
When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, with the question, “ Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another ?" He gave them no direct reply; but, permitting them to remain while He wrought some miracles, He said, “Go and shew John again those things which ye
do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up." Those works of power were the proof that He was the Messiah. And in like manner we might point to the effects of the gospel as a proof of its divinity. It is a power ; "the power
of God unto salvation.” It has taken the idolater, and delivered him from all his idols; it has restored the degraded barbarian to the likeness of humanity; it has delivered the vilest from the dominion of their lusts; it has tamed the most ferocious, and has implanted within them the spirit of kindliness and love ; and it has developed in such as these “whatsoever things are true, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report." Men, like Paul, transformed from the persecutor into the apostle ; like John Bunyan, plucked, as he himself tells us, as a brand from the burning, and then honoured with an influence for good, which will be lasting as the world; like John Newton, hardened by the horrors of the African slave trade, but subdued by the power of the truth ; like Africaner, the terror of the whole district in which he lived, but afterwards one of the meekest followers of Him who was meek and lowly in heart; men like these are the trophies of its power! Its influence proclaims it to be from God.
The Bible is true! Dear reader, are you not persuaded that it is ? Then do you believe it ? Are you confiding in the Saviour whom it reveals ? Do you obey its precepts ? Are you inspired by its hopes ? Only the Bible can guide you, whilst on earth, in paths of safety and peace, and then conduct you to heaven. Recognise, as you commit yourself to the guidance of infinite wisdom and love, the unspeakable value of the Bible, and say with your whole heart, “ Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
THE THREE SISTERS.
In 1814, the late Mr. and Mrs. F - who were lost in August, 1831, on board the Rothsay Castle, steam packet, were acquainted with three sisters, residing in London, who belonged to the higher class of society. Two of them were decidedly pious, but the third was just the contrary, and extremely volatile. They were all advanced in life, which rendered the gaiety of the third the less becoming, and also inclined her the more easily to take offence at any remarks made upon it. She hated the piety of her sisters, and opposed it in a very petty and spiteful manner, though they endeavoured to accommodate themselves to her wishes, and to render the difference between them as little disagreeable as possible. One night, towards the close of 1814, she had been at an assembly very late, and the next morning, at breakfast, her behaviour was so remarkably different from her usual manner, that the sisters feared she was very unwell, or had met with some misfortune which deeply affected her. Instead of her incessant chat about every person she had met, and everything she had seen, and all that had been said and done, she sat sullen, silent, and absorbed. The gloom on her brow was a mixture of displeasure and distress, and seemed to indicate a fixed and dogged resolution, founded on circumstances disagreeable to her, as if she was resolved to pursue her own will, though it should lead her into the utmost distress and trouble, rather than follow the course she knew to be right, but which would reduce her to submit her own will to the power and control of another. As she ate nothing, her sisters asked her if she was unwell. She answered, - No.” 6 What is the matter ?” “ Nothing.” They were afraid something had distressed her. She said, “ I have no idea of people prying into matters that do not concern them.”
The whole of the morning was passed alone by her in her own room, and at dinner time the same conduct recurred as in the morning; she scarcely ate anything, never spoke, except when she answered, in an uncivil way, whatever was asked her, and all with an appearance of depression, obstinacy, and melancholy, that spread its influence very painfully over the cheerfulness of her companions.