Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

had, as a nation, been delivered by the most stupendous miracles, out of Egypt, if they had never heard of these miracles before.

How could any impostor persuade a whole nation to receive these as God's laws, delivered to their forefathers in the wilderness, if they had never heard of these laws before?

How could a whole nation, like the Hebrews, be persuaded that they were in a visible covenant relation to God, and bore the national marks thereof in their flesh, in circumcision, if that national rite had never been heard of by them?

What human power could induce a whole nation unanimously to celebrate, weekly, monthly, and annually, their grand national festivals, in commemoration of their escape from Egypt, their miraculous passage through the Red Sea, and their miraculous sustenance in the desert,-if these events had never happened; and they, as a nation, had never heard of them?

Moreover, the law of Moses, and the code of religion, were to the Hebrew nation, what our common law of the land, and courts of equity and justice, are to our American nation. The law of God given by Moses was the common law of the land.

Will any man say that our laws and courts are an imposition, a contrivance of imposture, strangely forced upon us? Can any combination of imposture ever so impose on a whole nation, as to induce it to receive a law, and a code of religion, as established by their fathers, if they never had heard of that law and code before? It is impossible.-And the same argument may be extended to every portion of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Hence, it is manifest that the position which infidels assume here, is infinitely more difficult to be believed, than any position of the Christian. For infidels profess to believe, in the face of reason and common sense, an absurdity the most palpable and ludicrous!

Hence, some of them that are more reasonable, do admit that the law of Moses, and the Psalms, and the Prophets, existed in the Jewish nation, in the days of Jesus Christ. But they alledge that we have no proof that they are the same as originally given forth; they have been altered, say they, and corrupted by forgeries.

This allegation is almost as modest and credible, as would be the allegation of an Austrian despot, that our Declaration of Independence and first enacted laws are by no means the original and uncorrupted laws of the national legislators of '76.

:

The truth is it was just as impossible to alter, or add to, or take from the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, as it now would be to alter, or add to our public law, by fraud or forgery, without instant detection. The law of Moses, and their religious code, were as public as are our common statute laws, and our courts of justice. A copy thereof was placed in the hands of the sovereign and princes of the nation; another copy, as we have already stated, was deposited with the Levites, in the Ark; and, every seventh year, it was solemnly brought out, and publicly read. This effectually prevented even the possibility of alterations, or additions, by forgery.

The same argument may be pursued in reference to the New Testament. Our Lord, and his Apostles asked no man to believe without irresistible evidence. They demonstrated their divine mission from God, by their miracles. These furnished overpowering evidence to the outward senses, and to reason, and judgment. Their authority from God being thus settled, they delivered their divine doctrines, laws, and ordinances. The apostles delivered their writings of inspiration publicly to the church. These autographs were preserved with extraordinary care in the archives of the church, until copies of them were multiplied over the world. Besides, certain public monuments were instituted

in the days of our Lord and his apostles, to commemorate his miracles, his death, his resurrection, and ascension. Hence the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week; hence Baptism; hence the Lord's Supper; hence the stated ministry, and hence the sanctuary of God, lifting its spires to heaven.

These doctrines, laws, and divine institutions could not possibly have been fabricated by impostors, in the days of Jesus Christ, or his apostles, and the Jews then living. No combination of the most successful impostors could have persuaded the multitudes of Jews, converted to christianity, at Jerusalem, to keep the Sabbath on the first day of the week; or to celebrate the Lord's Supper in solemn commemoration of a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour,― if that Saviour had never been heard of by them, and had never been crucified, and had never risen from the dead, and had never ascended into heaven. Within a few days after our Lord's ascension, there were many thousand Christians in Jerusalem. Each of these stood up as a bold and public witness of all the facts and events of our Lord's miracles, and death, and resurrection. Each of these was a living eye-witness of these things; and each of these handed down these things to their children; and these, again, to theirs.

Hence, it is utterly inconceivable that the gospel and its sacred institutions could have been invented, as a fiction in the days of Christ and the apostles, and of Pilate and the Jews.

It is equally inconceivable that they could have been fabricated after the death of that generation. For if the following generation had not actually received the New Testament, and its sacred institutions from the cotemporaries of Christ and his apostles,-then it would follow, that certain impostors had actually, though falsely, persuaded millions of the best and most enlightened men of all nations, that the New Testament, just now made known to them, for the first time, had been actually handed down to them from their forefathers! For so is it stated on its first pages.

The impostors, on this supposition of infidels, must have persuaded millions of the shrewdest and best men of all nations, that they, and their fathers from time immemorial, were baptized,-and that they, and their fathers did continually celebrate the Lord's Supper, in commemoration of events which they had never heard of, and never had believed.-A thing inconceivably absurd!

The truth is :-Just as certainly as our national history, and our national commemoration of independence on the 4th of July, does afford an expression of the nation's belief in the public fact of our national Independence:-even so, the public institutions of BAPTISM, and the LORD'S SUPPER; and the Christian SABBATH; and the perpetual MINISTRY of the gospel, do stand forth as grand public monuments, kept up throughout the whole Christian world, to exhibit the unshaken faith of reasonable men, in the doctrines and facts of the New Testament!

The Historical Argument for the authenticity, and genuineness of the Holy Bible is irresistible.-Here is a specimen of it :-From the present, back to the 4th century-with the exception of a few eccentric writers, who sought the immortality of doing mischief, like him who fired the temple of Ephesus,-there has been an unbroken, and continuous chain of testimony, and evidence of the most satisfactory nature.

In the 4th century, we have the testimony of the churches in Egypt, in Greece, in Rome, and over Europe; and of such illustrious writers as Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome, Eusebius, the Cyrils, and Gregory.

In the 3d century, the following writers, in union with all the church, testify to the authenticity and genuineness of the Holy Bible;-viz. Arnobius, Lactan tius, Origen, Cyprian, and the famous German Victorinus, who quotes nearly all the books of the New Testament.

In the 2d century, we have the testimony of Tertullian, of Clemens of Alex. andria, Iræneus, who quotes every book of the New Testament; and gives his solemn testimony to "the code of the New Testament, as well as the Old." "These codes," says he, "are the oracles of God, and are dictated by the Holy Ghost." We have also in this century, Justin Martyr; and the Epistle of the persecuted Christian Gauls to their dear brethren of Asia, in A. D. 170. And we have Tatian, who composed a harmony of the four gospels in A. D. 172.

In the 1st century, we have the testimony of the five apostolic Fathers,Barnabas, the fellow-laborer of Paul; Clemens, mentioned also by Paul; Hermas, who wrote "The Pastor;" Ignatius; and Polycarp, the disciple of St. John. Thus we have an unbroken chain of writers, and witnesses, from the apostles to our day.

But we have also the testimony of the bitter enemies of the Holy Scriptures. The Jews admit the facts, events, and miracles of Christ's life, but ascribe his miracles to magic. Cerinthus, and the Ebionites, and Marcion also, admit these facts and miracles.

The heathen philosophers who opposed christianity did all of them admit the authenticity and genuineness of the New Testament. I allude to Celsus, the antagonist of Origen; and to Porphery, and Julian the Apostate; and Mohammed in the 6th century. (Horn. I. p. 95.) All these candidly admitted the scriptures to be genuine; and as containing real facts, and miracles of Christ.

But modern infidels have neither the candor, nor ingenuousness of the ancient antagonists of the Christian Fathers. To meet the taste of these reckless moderns, we lay down this position :-He who professes to say that the Holy Bible is a forgery, does profess to believe that which is an absolute moral impossibility.

If the Holy Bible be a forgery, then some impostors must have fabricated it: and these must have been Christians, or Jews, or Gentiles.

:

In reference to the Old Testament the Christians could not have fabricated it, as it existed before their time. The Gentiles could not have done it for they were ignorant alike of the language, laws, and rites of the Jewish nation. No Jew could have done it: he would not have enjoined such strict laws, and exact. ed such stern morals; he would not have told their enormous national faults, and crimes, had he forged it! Besides, as we have seen, no impostor could have thus imposed on a whole nation; so as to induce them unanimously to believe events which, on this supposition, never happened; and commemorate, as a nation, miracles and deliverance of which they had never heard.

Mohammed's imposture was totally different from a case of this kind: he made no pretence to miracles; he exacted no rigid morals; he enacted no severe laws; he reared no national monuments of national deliverances. He merely drew together a horde of profligates, and licentious epicures, and bloodthirsty men, under a system which gave loose reins to their most unbounded ambition, and lust, and blood!

In reference to the New Testament, and the most pure and sublime doctrines of the gospel, neither Jew, nor Gentile, could have ever conceived it: nor would ey have been willing to form such a system of purity and selfdenial, had they even been able! Their wisest men and greatest philosophers, even such men as Antoninus Pius, abhorred it, and persecuted its disciples even unto death!

No Christian could have forged it. There is a moral impossibility that a genuine Christian could do any thing of the kind. A saint of God could not do such an execrable deed.

If you say that a Christian, under a mask of hypocrisy, imposed it on the world, then I affirm that a hypocrite could no more achieve such a composition, than Satan could establish a paradise on earth, were he willing to do it! What!

a hypocrite and impostor invent such a holy and pure system! A system that elevates man; that purifies human nature, and leads man to glory, honor, and immortality! No, no! when men of hypocrisy and wickedness fabricate systems, you may expect such systems from their hands as the polluted Koran of Mohammed! When impostors invent systems, you may expect such works as the sparkling wit, vanity, and boundless pollutions of Voltaire; the gossamer absurdities and suicidal scepticism of Hume; the disgusting ribaldry of Paine; and the super-human blasphemies of Houston!

Such are the systems of impostors and hypocrites. But that impostors, or fanatics, or even talented knaves, could form such a divine system as THE HOLY BIBLE, is what no sane mind can really believe. Satan and his trodden-down servants are neither able, nor willing, in sober truth, to climb up to heaven! Far less can they preach gospel faith and repentence to each other!

In a word, we are led, irresistibly to this conclusion:-The laws, miracles, and doctrines of the Old Testament were received with implicit faith and obedience by the whole nation of the Hebrews, from Moses to this day; it follows that these laws, doctrines, and miracles, were in every iota true, or there must have been a universal deception of a whole nation's senses and intellect, from generation to generation! Again-the facts, miracles, and doctrines of the New Testament were received with implicit faith and obedience by millions of the most enlightened, the most sincere, and virtuous men of all Christian nations, and they gave evidence of their enlightened views, and unshaken faith in Christ. This they did by their resistance to every earthly temptation; by making the greatest sacrifices that human beings could make; and, many of them, by sealing the truth with their blood. Hence, either these doctrines, confirmed by miracles, were received by them on the ground of what they deemed infallibly true evidence; or there must have been an universal deception of the senses, and the intellect of millions of the most judicious, enlightened, and virtuous men that ever lived; and that, too, for these 1800 years! The man who is capable of believing this, is really an impostor upon himself!

And who are the men that oppose all such testimony as this, and reject the authenticity and genuineness of the Holy Bible? Are they sustained by reason? No: their doctrine and principles of evidence, if carried out, go to reject all history, ancient and modern. On their principles, no man can believe in any past event, whatever; they can believe in nothing, unless they have seen it, or heard it. And even then, says Hume, it is a doubtful case! "For," says he, "the perfection of knowledge is to doubt. We ought to doubt of every thing: yea, of our own doubts themselves. Therefore," he adds, "the utmost that philosophy can do, is to give us a doubtful solution of a doubtful doubt!"

Who are they that reject the Bible? Are they willing, or able, to give us a better book, and a holier law than the blessed Bible? They cannot; they could as soon create a new heaven, and a new earth! Are they humble worshippers of Almighty God, their Maker? No: they have made such an approximation to what is brutal, that many of them, DO NOT EVEN BELIEVE IN HIS EXISTENCE! Are they zealous for sound morals, and the reformation of mankind? No: they mock religion; and scoff at every thing like pure morals, as sheer bigotry and absolute fanaticism! Do they study the happiness and peace of mankind by trying thus to extinguish religion, and deprive us of our Bibles? Yes! they bring us such HAPPINESS, ay, and such PEACE, as Robes. pierre, and the French terrorists spread over wailing and bleeding France! Do they commend themselves by a rational and elevated philosophy? No: they outrage the first elements of science and philosophy. They, indeed, admit that a globe, and an orrery, must have had a maker, and an origin. But they gravely aver, that this globe, on which we live, and these heavens, had no Ma

ker! A school-boy's globe must have been made-it really, after all, could not make itself! But, say our infidels, this, our great globe, made itself; and these heavens, and these sparkling stars, and yon blazing comet, planned themselves, and made themselves! Ay! and by a voluntary start and impulse, they set out and continued in their mighty career! Oh! most accomplished natural philosophers! Do they aim at elevating, and polishing the human mind? Yes! by withholding all elevating, and all purifying power and means! Yes! they bring man, and the soul of man, to the summit of perfectibility, by teaching him to live as the beasts that perish; and by assuring him that he has the noble and glorious career before him, of dying as a beast, without hope, without glory, without immortality! For there is neither a hell, nor a heaven; no! nor a soul in man to be lost!

In conclusion, I submit the argument with these questions :-Is there one sober reflecting person here, who will hesitate between Bible knowledge, and infidel ignorance of God's word; between Bible virtue, and infidel wickedness; between Bible glory, and infidel degradation; between Bible happiness, and infidel remorse and perdition; in a word, between the honorable service of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the slavery of the Evil one, waxing worse and worse through all eternity? In view of the fearful tendency of the system of infidels contrasted with that of the Christian, who does not exclaim-"O my soul! come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united! Rather let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !" And, finally, in view of the strong language with which this Revelation of Heaven closes, who that dares even to speak light of any portion of it, or to neglect its truths, will not tremble lest he be found among those who fall under its condemnations at the last day?" If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus!"

« AnteriorContinuar »