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the means, than in the gradual nature of its pros gress. It has not risen upon the ruins of political institutions and ancient manners and national character, subverting every thing established to make way for some peculiar form of civil society or government under which alone it can exist. But it has mingled itself with what it found, and insinuating its renovating views of God and man into the hearts of those with whom it has come in contact, has given a new colour to their laws, and softened their nature and improved their genius. The Koran has every where banished liberty and literature from the heads and hearts of its victims, and changed the person of the governor, and the nature of the government; but the Gospel has united itself with both, and encouraged, improved, and extended their blessings. It has been the established religion of consuls and emperors, as well as kings, in other countries, and of a Cromwell as well as a Charles in our
Change a monarchy into a republic, as in America; change a republic into a monarchy as in the states of Italy; divide a whole land amongst its spoilers, as in Poland; and still Christianity remains the authorised religion of the state, and the only religion of the people. It can leaven any form of government, and subsist under all.
Thus speak the Lord and the Scriptures; and thus speaks also, as far as it has had an opportunity of bearing testimony to the fact, the voice of experience in the history of mankind. Tacitus first tells us of the meanness and minuteness of the origin of the Gospel seed, and of the hopelessness of its increase when sown, and of its gradual growth until it had pushed its roots and spread its branches over the Roman earth. Pliny next comes forward to establish the propriety of the second similitude, and compares the progress of Christianity to a contagion which had penetrated, like leaven, not through cities only, but through villages also, and through the open country, places most remote and least liable to the fermentation of novelty.
Let us not, however, suppose that these are the mere general prognostics of success which are uttered alike by the true and the false prophets of the world, or that our Saviour was but imperfectly acquainted with the events which should attend the propagation of his religion, or that he thought that all its history might be written in the same strain of triumph and joy. There is not one circumstance, whether of glory or of shame, which should follow the march of the Gospel, that does not appear to have met his prophetic eye. He knew what was in man. He pronounced," unto the world because of offences; for it must
n - Woe
n Matt. xviij. 7.".
needs be that offences come;" and the schisms and heresies and corruptions of the Church, have in every period abounded unto the world's woe. He said unto his disciples :o “ In the world ye shall have tribulation,” and in the world they were buffeted and persecuted and reviled. And, lastly, he put forth unto them the parable of the tares, and vouchsafed also to explain it for their use.9 Tares and wheat, he declared, would both grow together in the Gospel field—the wheat as the good children of the kingdom of Heaven, and the tares as the evil children of the wicked one; and both are to grow together till the great spiritual harvest of mercy and wrath. And such has ever been the fate of Christianity in its growth. It has ever had to meet with obstacles, to struggle with enemies, and to be almost choked by the weeds of error and dissension which spring up and are permitted to flourish even within its own holy precincts. There have been false brethren in the fold of Christ; and they are tares, and confirm the word of Jesus. There have been infidels amongst men; and they are tares also, and do the same. And if there be an infidel here, he too is a tare, and bears witness by his predicted infidelity to the authority and inspiration of that very Lord whom his infidelity would deny. God's long-suffering is no proof of favour ; God's per• John xvi. 33. p Matt. xiii. 24. 9 Matt. xiii. 36.
mission that evil opinions should flourish is no evidence of their truth; for the Lord hath foretold of these things. The growth of the Gospel has indeed been rapid and gradual, but never has it enjoyed a progress of uninterrupted felicity.--It has always been clogged with difficulties and surrounded with danger, convincing us at once of the foreknowledge of its Author and its own vital vigour.
Thus have we found described in these prophetic parables of our Lord a complete and lively picture of the state and progress of the Church, as it has been, as it is, and as it will be until time shall be no more. And now let us turn to estimate the nature and measure the value of the testimony of these fulfilments.
Now the first general inference which we draw from the fulfilment of these prophecies is this—that they must necessarily have been uttered by Jesus in the fulness of the spirit of foreknowledge. And if so, the question as to the probability of miracles in general, and of the certainty of those of Jesus in particular, is at an end. The infidel himself allows that “a prophecy. is a real miracle,” subject to the same rules and leading to the same inferences as any other wonderful work. Here then we say is prophecy, and
here, therefore, we conclude is a real miracle. The infidel may deny the existence of the spirit of foreknowledge in Jesus if he will. He may talk of conjecture, or of reasoning, or of assertions hazarded by imposture or enthusiasm, and by accident fulfilled. We can only lament the blindness of his heart, or the perverseness of his understanding, and continue to maintain, with a firmness and a resolution which the reasonable ness of the opinion justifies, that the predictions of our Lord were too bold for conjecture, too positive for reasoning, and too varied and minute for mere accident to accomplish.
A second inference seems equally sure, and it is this that it is impossible to view those prophecies of our Saviour which we have detailed, in connection with their accomplishment, and not allow that the foreknowledge in which they were uttered was of divine origin.--The predictions were uttered ages ago. That is one fact undeniable and undenied—The predictions have been fulfilled in every age, and are fulfilling in our
That is another fact of like clearness and certainty. Take then these two facts together, and tell me what other conclusion you can fairly draw than this, that the spirit in which the words were spoken was of God, and that their fulfilment was also of him.