Изображения страниц

crucifixion of Jesus, several thousand Jews became his disciples, and, according to records, which no adversary ever ventured to accuse of falsehood, led most holy, harmless, and benevolent lives; and even "a great company (rous oxλos) "of the priests became obedient to the faith." 1

Persecution, however, soon drove great numbers of the converted Jews into distant lands; but, wherever they went, they made known the gospel to their countrymen, and in every place a remnant embraced it. These, in general, "walked in the "fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy "Ghost." Probably at the time of Saul's conversion there were ten times, perhaps a hundred times, more sober, righteous,, and godly persons among the Jews, than there were at the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry; and immense numbers were added to them before the desolations of Jerusalem. These were only "a rem"nant" compared with the whole nation: yet there can be little doubt that this remnant amounted to at least the 144,000, seen by John in vision, sealed from the twelve tribes of Israel. 2 And was the turning of so many tens of thousands of formal Israelites, with their families, to the Lord their God, and bringing them into the way of peace and salvation,' of no use,' because the Jews as a nation rejected the Messiah?

Soon, however, the ministers of Jesus preached to the gentiles also, " that men should repent and "turn to God, and do works meet for repentance:" and in a short time vast multitudes "turned to

1 Acts vi. 7.

2 Rev. vii. 4-8.

"God from idols, to serve the living and the true "God;" (p. 27. 1. 33;) whose pious, holy, and useful lives rendered them as "lights" among their heathen neighbours. And, not to be prolix, the sacred leaven of the Christian doctrine, diffused its influence so rapidly among the nations, notwithstanding fierce and bloody persecution, that Christians abounded in all parts of the Roman empire: they soon were found in all their cities, and even in their courts and camps; millions were doubtless thus converted to the true 'worship' and a holy life; and at length, in about 300 years, Christianity became the established religion of all the nations which had formed the idolatrous Roman empire: and it so continues in most parts even to this day; besides its extension far beyond the utmost boundaries of that empire, to the east, and west, and north, and south.

There always, indeed, have been far more nominal Christians than real ones; as well as far more Jews and Israelites, than genuine children and imitators of Abraham and Israel: but who can deny that, after every reasonable reduction has been made, immense multitudes have become in all successive generations, the spiritual worshippers and servants of God," they and their children with "them?" Will even a Jew deny, that everlasting salvation was the consequence of this conversion from idolatry and wickedness, to God and holiness? If he do, let him state the grounds on which he denies it. And is the everlasting salvation of millions of no use?' Is the introduction of so many hundreds of thousands, nay, millions,

of families, into the company of the true worshippers of God, which in many cases ensures "the oracles of God" and the means of grace to succeeding generations, of no use?'-Even among those who we fear are only nominal Christians, Christianity has in every way produced most salutary and important effects. It has fixed the standard and tone of morals far higher, than it ever was in the Pagan nations of old, or than it is among modern idolaters. It has terminated gladiatorial shews, the allowed and sanctioned murder of infants, and various other murders, such as those of slaves, females, and old persons; with many more cruel and detestable practices and customs or it has driven them, like wild beasts, into deserts and secret lurking places. Christianity has mitigated the horrors even of war: it is undermining slavery and mitigating its horrors. Christianity alone has built hospitals, and provided asylums for the aged and destitute. We might easily enlarge, but a hint must here suffice.Mr. C. allows, that the Jews receive better treatment in this country than in others: but he is not perhaps aware, that this is the effect of the superior knowledge of Christian principles and duties, which prevails in this favoured land, more than in most others in the world. Were these still more fully understood and practised, the Jews would meet with proportionably a more candid, equitable, and benevolent treatment, from the inhabitants in general; not affected, or as deeming their religious difference from us of subordinate consequence; but as springing from our principles and heart, and as the means of conciliating them

[ocr errors]

Ere long, I

to our holy and loving religion. trust, the Jews will more effectually know the use of the coming of Jesus, and of his having been "preached to the gentiles," by means of such institutions as the London Society,' and by the blessing of God, on our endeavours to communicate our holy religion to Israel, and being instrumental to their expected conversion and restoration. In short all the true religion, which has been for successive ages in the whole world, or which exists at this day on earth, and we trust will soon diffuse its sacred influence among all nations, is the effect of the coming of Christ. If the Jews plead that their nation, or part of it, is at least an exception; without examining the validity of the plea, it must be allowed to be a solitary exception, and comprises a very small portion indeed of the whole human species.

But the meaning of Mr. C.'s question and objection is evident: he judges nothing of use, so long as his own nation is excluded from the desired dominion over other nations. In every other view, the advantages of Christianity to mankind, even as to morals and temporal good, have been incalculable and millions, yea, probably hundreds of millions, have through it obtained" salvation with "eternal glory." Surely, then, Mr. C.'s objection is satisfactorily answered.

[ocr errors]

P. 29. 1. 19. A man arose by the name of Mo'hammed.' Leaving the discussion of several things advanced on this topic till afterwards, I will here take occasion to consider a subject of the highest importance in the controversy; namely,

[blocks in formation]


I am not competent to decide whether Mo'hammed has now many more followers than 'Christ.' (p. 29. 1. 21.) Mohammed has comparatively but few followers in Europe, probably none in America. We know very little of the interior of Africa; but it is probable that that continent has far more Mohammedan than Christian inhabitants. China, Japan, and many of the northern parts of Asia, contain few either Christians or Mohammedans. But, however that may be, the followers of Mohammed are doubtless very numerous; and the success of that impostor has been exceedingly extensive and permanent. But three things should be considered, in comparing his success with that of Jesus. 1. The state of those regions in which the success of each was at first obtained: 2. The nature of the religion which each propagated: and 3. The means by which the triumphs of each were acquired.

1. The state of those regions in which the success of each was at the first obtained.

When our Lord entered on his ministry in Judea and Galilee, the inhabitants though hypocritical, or immoral, to a very great degree, were not illiterate or uncivilized. Most of them could read, and were acquainted with the Old Testament, and there were many learned scribes among them. They were also extremely attached to the forms of religion, and to "the traditions of the elders," on the knowledge of which they highly valued themselves.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »