« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
persecution, and danger, and death. But to these trials, all who embraced Christianity, on its first propagation, were perpetually exposed ; and its converts frequently endured them in the most painful and aggravated manner, rather than shrink from their acknowledgment of its truth, or give up their faith and hope in its promises.
7. The religion which is founded on truth and righteousness, and which has God on its side, will stand and triumph, in spite of all the opposition of men and the malice of devils. The religion of Christ has this foundation; and is supported and protected by the power of God. Consequently, it is daily gaining strength, extending its peaceful reign, and marching on to universal conquest. But the religion of Mahomud, (like that of the Hindoos,) in consequence of its wanting this foundation for permanent endurance, daily loses ground. It waxes weaker and weaker ; and the time is probably not far distant when it, with every other false system of superstitious and idolatrous worship, will be swept as a refuge of lies from the face of the earth.
On the objections commonly advanced by the Hin
doos against the Christian keligion.
Object. 1st. If Christianity be true, and the only true religion, and its reception necessary to salvation, why has not God superseded the necessity of so many arguments, by giving some plain and convincing proof of its divine authority, which, appealing to the senses, should irresistibly compel men to believe it?
Answer. We are not acquainted with the plan of the divine government, and are, therefore, utterly incompetent to judge what it is proper for God to do, or not to do. His plans occasionally develope themselves, and we are favoured with a partial view of his procedure in the government of his creatures, by the numerous changes which are perpetually taking place among the nations of the earth. It is not, however, to be supposed, that we should know all the reasons which exist for the various measures which he pursues, or be able to fathom the entire mysteries of the divine counsels. We are, therefore, not at liberty. to ask questions of this nature, or to cite him, of whom it is testified, (Isa. xxviii. 29,) that he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, to the tribunal of our shallow reason and mistaken judgment. There is no end to questions of this kind : we may just as well ask, Why has God only made one sun and one moon? Why has he made all men of one form, and nearly of one stature? Why has he created so many destructive insects ? and a thousand other questions of a similar kind, all of which are as unreasonable as they are wicked and absurd. In reference to the precise nature and degree of the evidence by which the truth of Christianity ought to be attested, that must be left entirely with God : sufficient evidence is all that we can possibly require, and sufficient evidence he has already given us in abundance. On the ground of similar evidence, (viz. that which arises from accredited testimony,) we assent to the truth of various occurrences which are perpetually taking place in common life, although we have no opportunity of examining them for ourselves. therefore required, and the requirement is reasonable and just,) to receive the Christian religion on the same satisfactory testimony; and all who do not receive it on the ground of this testimony will be favoured with no other evidence, but left to perish everlastingly, as the fruit of their obstinacy and unbelief. To require a continuance of miracles, (as many among the Hindoos profess to do,)
is childish and vain; and were God to gratify their unreasonable requirements in this respect, no beneficial effect would be produced. Multitudes of the Jews who were eye-witnesses of the repeated and wonderful miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, continued in their impenitency and unbelief. The word of God assures us, and we may appeal to this fact, and also to our every day experience for the truth of the declaration, that the men who reject Christianity on account (as they say) of the insufficiency of its evidence, would not be induced to receive it on the ground of any evidence whatever. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be pursuaded, though one rose from the deady (Luke xvi. 31.)
It matters not (as I have before observed) how weighty and satisfactory the evidences of Christianity may be in themselves : if they be not candidly investigated, and the mind be not open to receive and act up to the force of the conviction which arises from their fulness and sufficiency, no beneficial effect of course can be expected to follow. It is not the want of evidence in support of the claims of Christianity, but the want of attention to that evidence on the part of the Hindoos, which prevents them from enubracing it. If they would but seriously and candidly bend their attention to this subject, they would soon find the proofs of its truth to be utterly irresistible. Their minds would be enlightened to clear and correct views of futurity; and the conviction wliich they would receive of the supreme importance and paramount claims of the Bible would compel them to cast their idols to the moles and to the bats, (Isa. ii. 20,) to acknowledge the authority to which it lays claim, and to receive Jesus Christ, who is therein presented to their view, as of God made unto them wisdon, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, (1 Cor. i. 30.)
Objection 2d. If Christianity be the only true religion, how is it that so many nations of the earth liave been suffered to remain ignorant of it to the present day? God dispenses the ordinary blessings of his providence in
a greater or less degree to all people :--why then has he totally witheld this supreme, most important, and necessary blessing from so many of his creatures, when all of them equally stand in need of it?
Answer. The reply which I have given to the foregoing question, relative to God's not pursuing a line of conduct different from the one which he does, applies with equal force to this objection. And it is an objection which will be found, if duly considered, to be as fully applicable to the conduct of God in nature aud providence, as it is to the subject of our present enquiries. How many blessings, calculated to promote the happiness and comfort of mankind in the present life, does he give in superabundance to some, whilst he entirely withholds them from others? The ground, we know, requires a moderate quantity of rain to make it fruitful and productive; but instead of the requisite quantity being given alike to every part, how frequently does it occur, that in some places there is a total inundation, and in others a parching thirst, both of which extremes are alike destructive of the kindly fruits of the earth? But we cannot, we dare not deny the agency and direction of God in these events, although we are unable to account for his apparently unequal distribution of his favours :-and the remark is equally applicable to the manner in which God dispenses the richer blessings of his grace. He is a sovereign, and nothing can be more blasphemous than for frail short-sighted man to cavil at his procedure, or say unto him, What doest thou ? (Job ix. 12;) for he giveth not account of any of his matters, (Job xxxiii. 13.) Mankind universally have forfeited every claim to his mercy and goodness; and instead of questioning the propriety of his procedure, because he does not bestow his favours alike upon all, we ought to be thankful that he bestows them upon any ; and leave it with him, in the exercise of his infinite wisdom, to judge where, and when, and upon whom it will be consistent with his goodness, and most calculated to promote his own glory, to dispense them.
It will, however, be found, that this objection, when duly considered, has no application whatever to the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of his salvation is designed to benefit and bless the whole human race; and had the nations of the earth manifested a disposition to receive it, God would undoubtedly, in the course of his providential dispensations, have sent it to them ages ago. It is only their enmity to it, (which enmity continues to the present day,) that has been the cause of its being withheld from them. The Hindoos frequently object to Christianity, on account of its not having been sent to them sooner. This objection, however, is invalidated by the history of the primitive church, from which we learn, that it was sent to them soon after the Redeemer's ascension to glory. The apostles Thomas* and Bartholomewt visited this country, and proclaimed to its perishing inhabitants the message of mercy. They were succeeded by Pantaneus, who found amongst the people a copy of Matthew's gospel, supposed to have been left by Bartholomew ; but the persecutions to which they were perpetually exposed from the Bramhuns, by whom Thomas was put to death, prevented the work from proceeding, and compelled them ultimately to abandon their enterprise of benevolence. From all accounts which we have of the ancient state of the Hindoos, it appears that they were formerly, as a nation, greatly superior in every respect to what they are in the present day. And I here take the liberty of enquiring, whether there be any thing improper in considering their present inferior condition as the punishment of their sin in rejecting the gospel, which was undoubtedly brought to them at an early period by the immediate disciples of Christ. That such a punishment would be likely to ensue, perfectly accords with the Scripture declaration : “ Them that honour me I will honour ; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Sam. ii. 30. And I refer the reader for an
See a Father's Gift to his Children, page 78.
+ Murray's Evidences, page 93.