Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

never succeeding in the formation of a people or government of their own!

d) Since “ Shilo, the Messiah, has come” “the sceptre has actually and finally departed from Judah.” More than seventeen hundred years before the Saviour actually appeared, the Patriarch Jacob having “ gathered his sons together that he might tell them what should befall them in the last days, told them that the Messiah, or Shilo, should appear before the civil power or sceptre had finally departed from the Jews, implying that after the advent of the Messiah, that power should not long be retained by them. Now we cannot fail to see a strong confirmation of our faith and cumulative evidence of the divinity of the bible in the fact, that although the civil power was never finally wrested from the Jews during all the vicissitudes which they had experienced as a nation before the birth of Christ, it was soon after actually taken from them and never has been restored till this day !

e) The Messiah or - desire of nations” was also to come, whilst the second temple 2 was yet standing; implying that after his advent, it would be destroyed; and its entire demolition was clearly predicted by the Saviour himself. Now in A. D. 70, about forty years after the Saviour's appearance, the temple actually was destroyed and has never since been rebuilt ! We have therefore in the destruction of the temple another progressive evidence, which the first Christians had not, that Jesus was the Messiah, was sent from God, and therefore his instructions divine.

1 Gen. 49: 10.
2 Haggai 2: 7—9. See also Malachi 3: 1.

3 Matth. 24: 1, 2. And Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, see ye not all these things ? verily I say unto you there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

f) The Revelation of St. John, contains a prophetic history of the Christian church, and is a standing miracle for all ages. It was not designed, that all its portions should be intelligible.prior to their completion. Hence this book of prophecy always has been enveloped in some mystery. But the progress of completion in every successive century, has reflected increasing light on this interesting portion of sacred writ, and in the last three centuries, the vicissitudes of the Papal“ beast,” the glorious Reformation, and the more recent efforts to spread the gospel of Christ over every nation of the earth, have placed in strong relief the prominent features of that prophetic exhibition of futurity, and tended greatly to confirm the believer's hope.

g) Another progressive evidence of the divine origin of Christianity we behold in its extension and preservation under the circumstances of the case. The nature of this religion is such, that it presented no inducements to its adoption to any other than those who sincerely believed its doctrines and promises. Present difficulties, persecution and often death, were the re-' ward of its profession. Nothing but the belief of a rest remaining for the people of God hereafter, could enable men to believe that godliness is profitable unto all things; nothing but the belief that God was with them, and that he required such sacrifices, could have fortified the breasts of the primitive martyrs amid the horrors of the rack and stake. Moreover, no other religion was ever propagated by mere instruction. The different forms of paganism had been transmitted by tradition from the earliest ages, and were so incorporated with the civil governments as to be mere machines of state. They were therefore supported by the governments for political purposes, and not, like Christianity, extended by the intrinsic force of their own truths. Hence arose the oppositions of those who

on

1 On this interesting subject the reader is referred to Faber the Prophecies,” and the “ Prophetic History of the Christian Religion," by the Rev. J. G. Schmucker, D. D.

derived their subsistence from the services of the established system, hence the cruel, the inhuman persecutions which raged with almost uninterrupted fury for several centuries, and in which frequently all the energies, pecuniary, military, and intellectual were exerted to exterminate Christianity from the earth. Yet amid all these difficulties the religion of the despised Nazarene, by the sword of the Spirit and the aid of its divine Author, fought its way against the pride of power, the pomp of opulence, and the sensuality of lust; until in the short space of a few centuries, the vast and powerful empire of the Romans, bowed her neck to the crucified Galilean, and the banners of Christianity, which were first unfurled in the valleys of Judea, waved triumphant over the palace of the Cæsars! Was any other religion thus extended ?

Could any other be, especially such a religion as the Saviour taught?

h) The salutary influence which Christianity has exerted on those nations which have embraced it in any tolerable degree of purity, presents another item of progressive evidence. An influence so salutary could proceed from no other than a good source; an influence so far transcending all that men ever exerted by their own ability, proves that another power beyond that of man was concerned in its propagation. It inculcates those principles, by which alone the faithful administration of civil governments can be in the highest degree secured. It has mitigated the horrors of war; abolished human sacrifices; it has elevated the female sex to their proper station in society ; it has almost throughout the whole extent of its influence abolished domestic slavery ; it has improved the situation of the poorer classes of society, and given rise to various enterprizes of benevolence, almost as numerous as the forms of misery and want met with on earth. And if the influence of this religion were more generally felt in nations nominally Christian, and its precepts faithfully obeyed; it would still farther mitigate every

form of suffering, and banish from the face of the earth that prolific mother of evils, war.

i) The peculiar structure of Christianity by which it accomplishes the benign effects above enumerated, and which adapt it to universal adoption under every form of civil government, and every state of social society, demonstrate that it is based on a more perfect view of all the complicated relations of human society and all the principles of human nature than ever fell to the lot of any uninspired teacher of religion.

Similar evidences are found in j) the mythologies of the Asiatic nations, which confirm many of the prominent facts of

Old Testament: k) in the discoveries of modern geologists, who find in the bowels of the earth conclusive proof of a universal deluge, of antediluvian aniinals, &c. &c.

In view of this overwhelming mass of concurrent evidence, to which might be added the corroborative testimony of profane writers, of coins, of geology, &c., it is impossible for the impartial and persevering inquirer to doubt the divinity of the Christian religion. To suppose all these evidences to have originated in chance, is to admit a far greater miracle than any contended for by the Christian, and to believe it performed without any design, performed too without any beneficial effect, yea performed in circumstances calculated inevitably to involve the human family in a stupendous system of unqualified error! The different objections against Christianity are either mere misapprehensions of the objector, or they can be, as they often have been, satisfactorily answered. How truly may it, then, be said of the Christian," on argument his faith is built.” How just the declaration,

A Christian dwells, like Uriel, in the sun,
Meridian evidence puts doubt to flight;
And ardent hope anticipates the skies.

5

CHAPTER III.

THE CANONICAL BOOKS OF SCRIPTURE, AND

PRINCIPAL VERSIONS.

The books which participate in the mass of evidence above discussed are the following, viz. The five books of Moses, termed Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus Numbers, and Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon's Song, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, which constitute the Hebrew canon or the Old Testament. The books of the New Testament are I. Historical, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Acts of the Apostles, also by Luke ; II. Doctrinal, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, his 1 and 2 to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews; the Epistle of James, the 1 and 2 of Peter, 1, 2 and 3 of John, and of that of Jude; and III. Prophetical, the Revelation of St. John.

The books termed Apocrypha, neither lay claim to divine origin, nor are entitled to be regarded as inspired. For they contradict themselves; contradict the Scriptures; were not acknowledged by the Jews; were not written until after the spirit of prophecy had ceased with Malachi; are never quoted by

« AnteriorContinuar »