« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
shewing, authoritative statements, thing when it applies to a wider made on the part of God, to man, by space of time; only that to our the agency of His own Spirit, in weak minds, distance of time seems order to enlighten our darkness, to to make the proof greater, because it instruct our ignorance, and to lead us makes Omniscience apparently more back to the God from whom by wilful incomprehensibly great and beyond transgression we have been alienated; our powers. If we find the Scriptures and borne out in the authority to prophecying the slavery of the dewhich they lay claim, by the Divine scendants of Ham ; the subjection of wonders which they record.
Esau to Jacob; the wandering chaFourthly. The truth of Scripture racter of Ishmael, and the Arab his being an inspired revelation, is made posterity; the coming of Shiloh from out from the existence of fulfilled pro- Judah at a particular time; the dealphecy in them. It is one of the con- ings of God with His people Israel, victions of common sense that no man, as recorded in Deuteronomy xxviii; and probably no finite being, can ac- the destruction of Babylon, of Tyre ; tually know contingent events before the decay of the Jewish worship, and they take place. He may conjecture, the establishment of another system, he may give a shrewd guess, from and the wandering, separation, and certain circumstances which he sees, degraded state of the Jewish nation ; but that is all; and that all is, in the --if we find in the New Testament a way of accurate and certain know- specific declaration of the destruction ledge—nothing. We are ready to ad- of Jerusalem, and of the rise of the mit that the knowledge of the future Roman apostacy in the Christian is the prerogative of God: if, there- Church, and can look to the actual fore, we find anywhere a distinct and verbatim fulfilment of these events, statement of future events, which are —we have unanswerable proof that seen afterwards to have come to pass, these writings are in some way or we have a conclusive, irresistible proof other the dictates of Him who knoweth that there the omniscience of God has all things. It teaches that God has manifested itself. For instance, in thus pledged Himself to those Scripthis way the Saviour connected Him- tures as truth, and that in every inself, in the most extraordinary man
stance in which He overrules events, ner, to a contingency by which every to bring about a literal and manifest one of His Apostles could judge of the fulfilment of scriptural statements, He truth of His mission ;—“Before the bears a testimony to the Divine origin cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." of the record, which it is awfully criIn the same way He committed Him- minal to disregard. The mass of self to the declaration of His resur- fulfilled prophecy is very large, and rection on the third day. If either worthy of most serious consideration. of these events did not occur, His Another line of argument in favour disciples were warranted to doubt the of the inspiration of Scripture is found truth of His mission; if they did oc- in the miracles by which the miniscur, they confirmed the fact that the trations of the prophets and apostles omniscient God was with Him. Thus were sustained. The ordinary course is the argument from prophecy brought of nature is accurately known. If into narrow bounds. It is the same then, in the support of any religious
system, the declarations of its teach- developes itself with progressive and ing are accompanied by events, per- increasing clearness from age age, formed in public and in broad day- till at last, in the fulness of time, light, which run counter to ordinary everything is accurately and minutely experience, and those events are explained in the writings of the aposbrought forward as proofs of that tles,—whilst at the same time it is truth,-if the lame walk, the dumb found that in all the typical instrucspeak, and the dead are raised,- there tions and figurative forms of earlier is ample reason for believing that days, and in all the high-wrought system to have a Divine origin. This language of prophetic vision ;-in the was the conviction of Nicodemus:“We traditonary collocutions of Job, the know that thou art a teacher come pithy sentences of Solomon, or the from God : for no man can do these devotional effusions of David's remiracles that thou doest, except God tired hours,—not one word escapes be with him.” And such must always which is contrary to the genius and be the conviction of common sense in spirit of the system; but all is in persuch cases. Satisfy us that a miracle fect accordance with the real neceshas taken place, that the powers of sities of man, and in keeping with nature in God's world have been sus- the few simple but sublime principles pended, contradicted, or amplified, in on which it proceeds,—the rich prosupport of certain teaching, and we vision of grace made for him, and are prepared to bow to that teaching the unspeakable dignity of his Divine which the miracle confirms. Now, of Redeemer. And whatever may be the Gospel miracles there cannot be the feeling of weariness, on hearing a shadow of question. The Gospel at first, casually and carelessly, a few histories were written and in circula- trite statements of the doctrinal systion during the very period of mira- tem of the Scripture,-most assuredly cles, and the statements received with it is not easy to give the serious attengeneral consent,-neither Jew nor tion of the mind to a view of the Gentile writer of that day contradicted whole scheme of deliverance for the them. On the miracles of Christ reconciliation and salvation of sinners, therefore we rest the truth of His mis- without being struck with the infinite sion ; on the miracles of the apostles, wisdom and benevolence which it the faithfulness of their own report; displays,—without bowing down beand on the truth of Christ, the author fore the ineffable grandeur of that of these miracles,—we rest all the plan, which brought down the Etertruth of those extraordinary events nal Word in the veil of humanity to recorded in the Old Testament Scrip- earth, to reconcile the guilty by His tures; to which Scriptures, and to atoning death, and to open for them which histories, He repeatedly re- by His rising from the grave unhurt, ferred with approbation.
the gates of life, of immortality. Another argument also may be And then, lastly, a very powerful drawn from the wisdom, beauty, and argument may be drawn by him who harmony of the system of redemption really studies his heart and his Bible, which the Scriptures set before us ; from the admirable suitability of the and which in the course of a number redemption of the Gospel to the cirof writings of different ages, gradually cumstances of man,—the way in
which the alienated heart of the fallen many who once smiled incredulously and rebellious is won, by a display of at the Scriptures, now wait respectthe character of God as a God of fully before them. love ; in which his pride is broken by Now if we really are what we ought a view of the condescension of Omni- to be, it is on grounds such as these potence; in which the beauty and that we gather together, from Sabbath purity of God's law is shewn in the to Sabbath, for the worship of God in human perfection of Jesus ; in which Christ, and to hear christian instruceternal and unseen bliss are laid open tion. It is because on satisfactory to the mind by the resurrection and grounds we regard the christian reascension of Jesus; and the affections cords as inspired, and because they raised from a degrading attachment require this of us as a duty, and set it to the things of time, towards that before us as a privilege ;-we come world in which the Saviour has en- together to worship that Holy Being tered as our Forerunner. And the whom His own inspired word declares truth and power of this system is con- to us; and to hear that word opened firmed by its practical utility; for and explained by His delegated mithose who really have recourse to it, nisters; with the promise that His in sincerity, find that in all the serious blessing shall accompany their minisstruggles between temptation and tration, to make it profitable to those duty, between resolution and unbe- who seek sincerely. lief, the true motive of the Gospel, And in what an interesting and imthe love of an incarnate God, is the portant situation this places us. We only effectual means of really repel- verily believe that the Almighty Maling the power of evil, of sustaining ker of all worlds enjoins this upon us; the fainting spirit, and gilding with that He has spoken the word of peace a ray of encouragement and conso- and life; and that these words are lation the darker hours of life.
still spirit and life for the edification In this way we have endeavoured and salvation of the souls of men. to give a very rapid summary of the We come up to the house of God to reasons why we regard the Scriptures receive His message by the mouth of as a revelation from heaven, speaking His servants. How thankful, then, authoritatively the word of God to and how teachable, we ought to be. guilty, dying man. The mass of proof
It does call peculiarly for our grainvolved in all these several points is titude, that God has been pleased thus immense and unanswerable. Much to bless us with a dispensation of light wicked ingenuity has been employed and mercy. What a blessing that we against almost every point of a widely have, sent down from heaven, a saextended line of proof, but no impres- cred volume of truth and wisdom, sion has ever been made upon it. The which, as it were, connects the very assaults of infidels, reiterated and re- extremities of this world's history, futed till they have lost their force, and brings the succession of events are become stale and wearisome. before us with a power, and life, and They are left now only in the mouths freshness, that makes us intimately of the half-learned and the profane; interested in its earliest days, and in while the evidence for the revelation the circumstances of its first few wanis gathering strength every day; and dering inhabitants. What a mercy, that on every side, to the fairly in- to us, ready and willing to instruct quiring mind accu
ecumulating evidence us; and while we are on this side the presents itself, in favour of the claims grave, His Gospel is an offer to us of of these Scriptures to our attention. all the blessed resources of His unWe are not left to grope our way failing love. through dark and doubtful proofs of But are there not many amongst a mystic religion, difficult to under- us who have never seriously examined stand when we get at it. No; the the question, as to whether God has evidence is clear, and comprehensible spoken to us by a revelation, or not? to even moderate capacities and sim- Have all who read this done what ple minds; the force of that evidence duty, circumstances, and the privimay be perceived by the uneducated leges of their situation warrant, to man of common sense. And then the examine this point for themselves? truths which the book contains are We fear not. Generally, those who plain and direct; applicable to the do not enter upon such questions direalities of our condition, and appli- vide into two great classes. There cable in such a way, as to show us are those who are indifferent to the at once, that He who dictated them point altogether; and there are those knew what was in man, and what he who feel something of the power of needed. The God who paints with religion on their hearts, and conseminute and inimitable beauty the quently think that it must be dry and wildest blossom of the field, or traces needless work to read, in order to out the measureless evolutions of the substantiate the conviction of the inmost distant planet,—that same God spiration of that word, whose living adapted the evidence for His revela- efficacy they feel in the very depths tion to the minds of His intelligent of the soul. But to these last we say, creatures, and wrote that word so as -It may not be always so with you. to meet their difficulties and their A time of darkness, and trial, and wants. We never can fully value the temptation may come; and then, if mercy by which, in this respect, we the suggestions of unbelief should are surrounded. We need not look assail an ill-informed mind, what out hopelessly and gloomily for some could you answer? “ If the foundaray of light, and say, “Who shall as- tion be taken away, what can the cend into heaven, or who shall des- righteous do?” If, in such a moment, cend into the deep, to bring us instruc- you cannot substantiate to yourself tion, and mark out to our cheerless the truth of the inspiration of Scripspirits a way of peace?” On the con- ture, you leave yourself defenceless trary, as it is written, “ The word is and comfortless, at a time when you nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in most need support and consolation. thy heart; that if thou shalt confess Then to those who are really indifwith thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and ferent to the question whether the believe in thine heart that God hath Bible is the word of God or not,raised him from the dead, thou shalt whether God has spoken to man by be saved." The record of our God revelation or not,—to those who are is with us: it appeals perpetually to sufficiently indifferent as to leave this our consciences : and if we will question unsettled, we say, - Why hearken, and turn to Him, He is nigh attend the service of God at all? Can
you act so absurdly as to associate be found; it is borne out with such yourselves with the forms of a religion evidence, as to make it plain and conthe origin of which you do not believe vincing to him who seriously inquires, to be Divine ? Do you really act upon and so as to throw an awful responsia principle which would make you a bility on him who does not. If God Mohammedan in Turkey, and an has spoken, and has put salvation idolator in India ? Do you merely from sin and death within the reach go, without thought and without in- of the simple and conscientious inquiry, along with the crowd? This quirer, and if he, from indolence, or is surely wrong, whatever is right. It the love of business or of pleasure, or is indeed incumbent on you, as a mat- any other cause whatever, neglect it, ter of common prudence, to examine - he must regard himself as the authe evidences for the christian reli- thor of all the evils, which a righteous gion, and to determine for yourself and offended Judge may see fit to whether there is in the world
him in another world. vinely authorized religion at all; for
Φωνη τεθνηκοτος. rest assured that if there is, it may
“ Isaac went out to meditate.”-Gen. xxiv. 63.
THE CONTRAST. How striking an image of endless The sea-shore presents some strikduration is the sea! As we gaze on ing images, both of the character of the boundless expanse, the imagina God and of that of man. With a heart tion stretches into the incomputible hard as the rocks that line the shore ; future, and “ embraces the column of with a life as unfruitful as the sand; eternity.” Before the creation of the to whom can the burthened sinner first dependent being, Jehovah had turn but to Him whose promise to existed from all eternity, alone; feel- subdue and soften that heart, and ing no want and no dreariness. And energize that life, stands firm as the as “ He that inhabiteth eternity" had solid and unshaken rock,—whose merno beginning, so the joys of those cies are countless as the particles of who are
- complete in Christ” will sand? The heart, by nature, is deep have no end. The Christian, en- and deceitful as the ocean, and restless dowed with a blessed immortality, as the tides; but, looking beyond shall hymn the Redeemer's praise for himself, the sinner may find in God ever. The time will arrive when there an immeasurable sea of love, an overshall be “no more sea on earth, but flowing tide of grace. in the new Jerusalem there shall flow unceasingly “ a pure river of water of
EJACULATORY PRAYER. life, clear as crystal.”
In difficult havens, so choked up
with sand. that ships drawing many TAKING UP THE Cross.
feet of water cannot approach, lighter Sails are a burthen for a ship to vessels may freely and with safety carry, but what captain could part gain an entrance. Thus, when we are with them? He who takes
Christ's time-bound, place-bound, or personcross aright, shall find it such a bur- bound,” so that we cannot compose then as sails are to a ship. The ourselves to make a long, solemn Saviour's yoke is easy.
prayer, a fit occasion is presented for SEPTEMBER 1851.