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How skilfully do they dissect the human heart; and delineate to the very life the character of man in his lapsed and restored condition. How pure are the precepts-how precious the promises-how awful the threatenings-how solemn the warnings with which their writings abound.
When contrasted with the fables of the heathen poets; with their deification of the worst passions of mankind; with the impure character which they give to their gods; though embellished by all the flowers of rhetoric, and sweetened by the enchanting flow of numbers : it must surely convince every unprejudiced mind, that such writings as the Jewish Prophets have left for the benefit to mankind, cannot be the product of unassisted fallen reason, but the gracious revelation of the DIVINE SPIRIT, under whose influence these holy men both spake and wrote.
Secondly—as it respects the New Testament.
The writers of the New Testament, with the exception of St. Luke and St. Paul, were men of no education ; and yet their writings are the only standard of truth, respecting the character and work of the Saviour of the world. These unlettered men elevated the standard of morals to the highest pitch; and revealed those heavenly principles which alone are able to restore man to the lost image of his Maker. So did not the most renowned and wisest philosophers of antiquity. The authors who immediately followed the said writers, called the primitive fathers, fell into many fancies, and even errors, on certain points, as if it had been permitted, in order to draw the line of distinction between divine inspiration, and the ordinary illumination of the human mind, more clear and defined
But the two great evidences for the truth of Christianity, are Miracles and Prophecy.
At the time when the Lord Jesus declared him. self to be the Messiah, and proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation to a lost world, miracles were needful, in order to prove the truth of his mission, to manifest the divine approbation to his doctrines, and to fulfil the prophetic character of the Messiah, as recorded in the 35th chapter of Isaiah. · Miracles were also necessary after his ascension, to evidence the truth of those doctrines propagated every where by his apostles, which declared Jesus to be the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Saviour of the world. When these doctrines were thus fully attested, by the power of God accompanying the preaching of the cross, miracles ceased in the church as being no longer needed.
Yet a still more important evidence was reserved for future ages, no less declarative of the divine approbation to the Christian religion than miracles; and that evidence is prophecy. The gradual fulfilment of those prophecies which were foretold by Christ and his apostles, may be considered as a standing miracle; since it is utterly beyond the power of man to ensure the accomplishment of any. predicted event independently of the will and purpose of God.
Any man may predict, but the accomplishment must prove the truth of the prediction.
Christ as God in our nature foretold what should come to pass through his own prescience. The prophets and apostles, as his servants, spake under the immediate influence of his Spirit dwelling in them. (1 Peter i. 10, 11.) Thus the prophecies which have been fulfilled, and which are now fulfilling, and which still remain to be fulfilled to the end of time, form a chain of evidence to the divine origin of Christianity, which Satan and his emissaries can never destroy.
These two external evidences of miracles and
prophecy, taken together with the whole character of the blessed Jesus, answering in every minute particular to the ancient prophecies of the Old Testament; and also in connection with the internal evidence of the Gospel, arising from its agreement with the nature of God; and its adaption to the wants of fallen man: ought, yea, and will satisfy every honest inquirer after truth, that Christianity is of God.
Such an one, through grace, will be led to acknowledge with heart-felt gratitude, like the Bereans of old, that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh; the only Saviour and hope of perishing sinners.
The joyful exclamation of such an enlightened soul will be: “ we have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." And should any sceptic reply, * Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?” The simple answer will be: “Come and see.”
In every age, a generation of men have sprung up, the Serpent's brood, who have laboured to bring the word of eternal truth into discredit by false state ments and sophistries of every kind. “ Thy word is tried to the uttermost, therefore thy servant loveth it,” was the language of David in his day.
It may appear strange, in this age of light and information, that the New Testament should be arraigned by modern infidels as the most immoral book that is extant. Surely this must be the dying grasp of infidelity; for what can be more feeble than such an attack? They may as well assert that the sun, when shining without a cloud in its meridian splendour, is the darkest part of the visible creation. The sun is indeed as darkness to those who are blind; and so are the things of God to those who are unenlightened by the Spirit of truth.
How strange! A Roman Emperor placed a sta
tue of Jesus amongst his idol deities, on account of the excellence of his moral precepts; whilst modern infidels, reaping the benefits of his morality in the inestimable blessings of the British Constitution, dare, in defiance of common sense, common honesty, and common experience, to denounce the Holy Gospel of Jesus as the chief of immoralities !
It is truly awful to behold, how far men may travel in the road of sin and rebellion against the Almighty Governor of the universe.
Is there in the whole world a morality so elevated so pure, so influential as the morality of the Gospel ? We need only compare the lives of those who reject the Christian revelation, with the lives of those who truly believe it, and live under its purifying influence, in order to ascertain where true morality is to be found.
It lies in the pages of the Bible, and is exhibited in the spirit and conduct of its sincere believers.
The history of the church in all ages attests this delightful truth, that, “the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Men of the most savage natures have become mild; the most impure have become chaste; the most ungovernable have become obedient. In short, the whole moral change from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from Satan unto God, has been effected solely by the Spirit of God through the instrumentality of the Gospel of Christ.
O! blessed Sun of righteousness, thou who art the light of the world, let thy bright beams shine upon it, that the deep shades of error, superstition, and sin, may fly before thy powerful rays, till all the earth shall be filled with thy glory.
Shine, blessed Jesus, upon thy church. Let all thy people become burning and shining lights in the world, shining by reflection to thy glory. Illuminate
my dark mind. Take away the thick film from my mental vision. Remove the veil from my heart, and let me behold thy glory with unveiled face. Yea, let me daily contemplate thy glorious character, offices, and perfections, till I am changed into thy holy image, and made meet for the enjoyment of thy heavenly kingdom.
How rich, how varied are the themes,
The sacred page contains,
That fertilize the plains.
Salvation through his blood;
To happiness and God.
Here lofty philosophic minds,
Deep vers'd in learned lore,
The cherubim adore.
The sacred mysteries of grace
Confound their reasoning pride ;
But firm as on a solid rock,
The saint on Christ relies ;
And mounts into the skies !
LVIII. ON THE LIVING WATER.
How beautifully instructive is our Saviour's conversation with the woman of Samaria, whilst sitting, wearied with his journey, on Jacob's well.
What an example to his followers does the bene