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ness, and he went and hung himself, In the time of Ezra, five hundred Here was no decisive evidence of years before the coming of Christ, genuine repentance; he was sorry, when the Jews had regained their but it was the sorrow of the world liberty under Cyrus the Persian mowhich worketh death. “ He fell narch, and the city and temple of into perdition.” None of them is Jerusalem were rebuilt, the differlost but the son of perdition. ent books of the Old Testament, « Judas by transgression fell, that historical, prophetic, moral, and he might go to his own place." devotional, had not only been writ, “ Lord let not all my hopes be vain,
ten, but published and received as Create my heart entirely new,
genuine writings. They were soon Which hypocrites could ne'er attain,
afterwards united with the PentaWhich false apostates never knew."
teuch, and for a series of ages appealed to by all parties in the Jew
ish state, as books of the highest LETTER II.
authority in subservience to the law. On the Evidences of Christianity. During our Lord's ministry, the Old
Addressed to a young Person of Testament scriptures were not only Sceptical Opinions.
owned by the Jews themselves, and MY DEAR FRIEND,
publicly read in the synagogues, but I will now endeavour to redeem
were appealed to by our Saviour my promise, by inviting your at
and his apostles, as the standard of tention to the authenticity of the
divine truth. They had also been scriptures. It appears to me that
translated into the Greek and Sy. there is no fact, recorded on the
rian languages, and were generally page of history, confirmed by great
by great. koown and acknowledged by the er evidence than the genuineness of learned in all parts of the civilized the sacred books, the acknowledged worl
world. repositories of the christian religion. In reference to the New TestaBy the testimony of Josephus, and m
ment it is equally certain, that the other ancient writers of unquestion.
profession of Christianity has exable authority, as well as by the isted in the world for nearly eighcontents of the Old Testament it. teen centuries, during the whole of self, it is proved beyond a doubt which, subsequent to the death of that the people of Israel had existed the apostles, the books now before in the land of Canaap. as a distinct us have been quoted and appealed nation, for a period of fifteen cen- to by its dih
of fifteen cen. to by its different advocates, in distaries before the commencement of puting among themselves, or repelthe christian era. During the whole ling the accusations of unbelievers. of that period, they were distin.
distin. It is as unquestionable as a fact of guished from other nations, by the
the this nature can be, that the people peculiarities of their civil and reli. who first received the gospels and gious institutions, which, as they epistles from their several authors, believed. bad been established ană felt a deep sense of their importrecorded by divine authority in the ance as the compositions of inspired five books of Moses, their undoubt. men, and employed the utmost care ed lawgiver. In all the proceedings
to have them handed down for the of their rulers, whether they were
benefit of posterity unmutilated and men of piety or not, the genuineness
unimpaired. In multiplying copies and authority of those writings were
of the Old and New Testament, never questioned, but uniformly ac, every precaution appears to have knowledged and maintained.
e been used, both by Jews and Chris.. tians, to prevent mistakes. And the to be the truth. It can scarcely be divisions and controversies which imagined that the five books of have taken place in all periods of Moses, and other historical parts of the christian church, are a sufficient the Old Testament, would have proof, that no material alterations been received with universal confior gross corruptions of the original dence by the people of Israel, even could have been attempted, to serve when the events recorded must have the interests of a party without be- been fresh in their memories, if the ing discovered and exposed. In statements contained in them had short, my dear sir, there are no been untrue. Some of the facts are books come down to us from ancient indeed very extraordinary, which sages, whose genuineness and pu- may seem to justify suspicions. But rity are better verified, or more in the greatness of these events would dubitable, than the holy scriptures. have rendered the imposture more
In reading a book professedly his- notorious, and enabled every man torical, our first inquiry is, whether of common sense to detect the cheat. or not the statements contained in The miraculous events moreover it are true. If the events in ques. are interwoven with the common tion happened at a time or place, history in a manner so intimate and in which we had no means of know- inseparable, that if the latter be ing them by personal acquaintance, true, the former cannot be fallait would be right to inquire, whe. cious, but the whole must stand or ther the character of the historian, fall on the same ground. But the the nature of the events themselves, writings of the prophets are found. the manner in which he states them, ed on the facts affirmed in the histhe sources from which he derived torical books, and by a continual his knowledge, and the testimony reference to past events and wellof other historians, sufficiently con- known customs, prove beyond a firm the veracity of the facts re- reasonable doubt, the credibility of lated. If the writers of national the statements which those books history.were to publish a number of contain. fictions, falsehoods, or misrepre. If, moreover, we proceed to the sentations intermingled with the New Testament, we shall perceive truth, many of their contemporaries in the narratives written by the four would be induced to expose the de- evangelists, every appearance of the ception, and consign their writings most sacred regard for truth. The to contempt. In matters of great facts which they record respecting interest and universal concern, whe. our Saviour's doctrine, miracles, ther they be ancient or modern, death, and resurrection, are amply near or remote, the truth or false- verified by the acts of the apostles hood of a narrative is for the most and the epistolary writings. Ilad part closely scrutinized and suffici- they been untrue or even doubtful, ently confirmed.
the opponents of the gospel wanted • If then, my dear friend, we ex. neither ability nor inclination to examine the scripture upon these prin- pose them to public scorn. But ciples, we shall find in the particular their veracity in the most essential mention of times and places, per- particulars is corroborated by the sons and circumstances, and in the acknowledgments of the Jewish San. whole texture and style of writing, bedriin, and by the testimony of
abundant proof that the sacred Josephus, Porphyry, Celsus, Pliny, · writers intended to record nothing and a numerous host of writers, in
but what they believed and knew the first three centuries, enemies as
well as friends. In short, whether structions were delivered; they were we appeal to the books themselves, men of God, whose names should be or to the foreign and circumstautial embalmed in our memories, and evidences of their credibility, no so. spoken of with gratitude as the exlid reason can he adduced to im. cellent of the earth. . peach the truth of a single narrative. With respect to the apostles of much less to invalidate the claims of Christ, the same things may be affirmthe whole volume.
ed more forcibly, and with stronger Although bad men are sometimes evidence. Though they had neither made the instruments of moral yood, learning, opulence, nor power to vet it seems reasonable to expect, promote their cause, they went forth that the character of persons raised in pursuance of their Lord's coulup by Divine Providence for impor- nission, as the avowed ministers of tant purposes, should, in a great a new and a divine religion, intending measure, correspond to the work as to overturn, by their instructions, signed. If the prophets and apostles those false and pernicious systeins were indeed the messengers of God, of superstition which had been es. inspired to communicate to the world tablished for ages, and were every a revelation of his purposes and where supported by the great. And commands, it is but just to antici. yet they were neither madmen, impate, in the discharge of their com- postors, nor fanatics; but they spoke mission, those evidences of faith and the words of truth and soberness, piety, wisdom and integrity, purity commending the gospel to every and benevolence, fortitude and per- man's conscience in the sight of God, severance, which would verify their and, at length, suffering martyrdom pretensions, and furnish an example in attestation of the doctrine they of the truth and excellence of their delivered. religion.
What then, my dear Sir, shall be In the character of Moses and the said and thought of the character of Jewish prophets, it must be con- Christ himself, in whom, even his fessed, we do not find an entire ex- bitterest adversaries could find noemption from moral defect; nor can thing to justify their malice, or to absolute perfection be looked for in substantiate their charge? His unany man. But no person, I conceive, exampled excellencies, as delineated can take an impartial review of their by the four evangelists in their simwhole conduct, and, at the same ple unstudied narratives, leave ou the instant, consider the time and cir. Christiau's mind a deep and indelible cumstances in which they perfornied conviction that the authority he as. their part; without admiring the sumed was real, and the doctrines simplicity and purity of their man- taught by him entitled to universal ners, their manifest superiority to a credence. That the author and fi. selfish and vain ambition, the elevated nisher of our faith was a model of fervour of their devotions, and the every virtue that can adorn humanity, manly firmness they displayed in the or benefit the world, has been ac. hour of difficulty, martyrdom, and knowledged indeed by many, who, death. Their characters, viewed in at the same time, denied the truth, comparison with the greatest sages or questioned the authority of his of antiquity, instead of sinking, will doctrine. But do person, possessing rise in our esteeni. In a dark and the wisdom and virtue of our Saviour, benighted age, they appeared as stars '10 say nothing of his divine nature, of the first magnitude. And though could either be imposed upon himpersecuted, in many cases, by the self, or attenipt to impose on others, people for whose benefit their in- by assuming a commission for which
he had no credentials; or in propa. tually dependent, and intimately gating, under divine sanction, a re. combined. ligion, which, at ihe same time, was The New Testanient is, in fact, untrue. The character of Christ ihe perfection of the Old; and inand his apostles may, therefore, be cludes all the discoveries we are deemed a decisive evidence, that the warranted to expect, till the consunisystem recorded in the New Testa. mation of all ihings. But, if the ment, is indeed " the glorious gospel one be true, the other, though less of the blessed God.”
iniportant, inust be true likewise, Allow me also, before I close this The New confirnis and elucidates letter, to remind you that the different the Old, and is itself confirmed by parts of divine revelation, though the same circumstauce. Hence there given to the church at sundry times exists in the different books of scripand in divers manners, instead of ture, though written by different being opposed to each other, are persons al remote periods, a coinci. perfectly consistent and harnionidus, dence of design which bas no analogy The patriarchal dispensation prepared in the whole range of uninspired the way for the divine legation of composition. Could the same num. Moses, the lawgiver of Israel. The ber of books, written by the best spirit and design of the Mosaic in- authors in this or any other nation, stitutions, were further developed at periods equally distant from each and exemplified by the ministry avd other, be collected into one volume writings of the prophets till the close of the saine bulk, it would, on the of the Old Testament. · The divine contrary, exhibit a strange inass of authority of Moses and the prophets contradictory and irreconcilable is acknowledged and maintained by ideas. What then could produce the founders of the New Testament; in the sacred volunie this remarkable and the accomplishment of their agreement, but the unity of truth, predictions is referred to, as one of and the unerring dictates of the the principal evidences of the Chris- same divine and infallible Instructor? tian faith. Though different persons I should now proceed to the inwere employed in different ages as trinsic excellencies of the sacred the inspired messengers of God, volúine, but for the present, must there is nothing discordant or irre- leave these cursory hints to your concilable in their commission or candid and serious attention ; while doctrines. Some of their commands I again subscribe myself, dear Sir, certainly were local, temporary, and
Your affectionate Friend, prefigurative, and were in couse- Harlow.
T. F. quence abolished by ihe same authority, when the design of their insti. tution bad been answered. But - QUERY. whatever difference of a circunstan. Wilt any considerations justify tial nature may exist between them, evangelical Christians in giving their their authority, their principles, and support to a literary Institution, their designs, are the sanje. The when its conductors have refused different parts of the divine economy, “to declare their adherence to including the patriarchal, the Jewish, Christianity," or even, that “ nothing and the Christian dispensations, must contrary to Christianity should be therefore be viewed as gradual dis- taught” by its Professors ? Would closures of the same divine purpose, not such conduct be in opposition to and modified applications of the same the Divine injunction, “ That ye plan. Like the different wheels of contend carnestly for the faith ouce the same machinery, iliey are mu- delivered to the saints."
MENNONITES. Mr. Ris, a most interesting Christian,
from all accounts, and a truly zealous
servant of Christ. He took an uncom LETTER, No. VI. mon interest in the Moravian Missions,
the only ones existing in Holland at Hoorn, Sept. 24, 1820. his time: ten pounds a year was his I had the pleasure of addressing regular subscription to them, as I have you last from Alkmaar, and, since then, understood. Besides this, he stood have visited the Mennonite Baptist in correspondence to the last with some Church in this place. It stands under of the most devoted Christians and the pastoral care of a Mr. Pol, who Misssionary spirits of that body. Somereceived me in a very friendly and time after his death, a collection of his hospitable manner, offering his table letters was published by a pious clergy. and his roof. Hoorn was formerly a man of the reformed church. They place of considerable commercial con- breathe a very sweet spirit, and aro sequence; but, like most other towns interesting for the naivette of their on the Zuider Zee, fell into decline as style, and the depth of their piety. A Amsterdam rose. The late war also copy of them was presented me, by one gave it a mortal blow. In its better of the Mennonite brethren at Zeist. O days there was a population of twenty that the spirit of this excellent man to thirty thousand, and out of this were to be found in every one of his there were two very flourishing Baptist surviving brethren! Having heard Churches : ten to twelve thonsand in- and read so much of Mr. Ris, it was habitants are now the utmost extent. natural that I should call on his wiThe two Baptist interests becoming so dow, before I left Hoorn. In this considerably reduced in numbers, they venerable sister I could not help ima. united. This way of closing the ranks, gining that I was speaking with the has been adopted by other churches in deceased, as he seemed to live and Holland, where the same causes have move and speak in her. operated.
* Mr. Pol took me also to see their ** After dining with Mr. Pol,'he, agree- place of worship. It is a plain buildably to the object of my visit, sent a ing, and particularly neat and clean, circular notice to call a meeting of his Though the church does not consist of deacons, at his house, for the evening. more than seventy or eighty members, Six of them attended, and appeared to the place would seat from five to six enter upon the subject of the Mission hundred, without being crowded. We with more than common interest. They afterwards made a call upon the deahad been previously apprised of it, also cons, and others of Mr. Pol's floek, who of my coming, by the printed circular. had not been with us the preceding The evening passed away very agree- evening. I proceed next to Enkhuisen, ably, and not unprofitably, I hope, for whence I hope soon to write to you. the Mission. After giving the friends In the meantime I am, all the information I could, I left the
Yours truly, whole matter with them, to concert
W. II. Angas. with their bretbren such measures as they thought best" adapted to tlie furtherance of the object. A monthly Familiar Illustrations of the sacred prayer meeting for the spread of the
Writings. gospel, is held, in its turn, I find, in their church, in connection with tho Rotterdam Missionary Society, a cir
No. VI. cumstance I thought favourable, rather 1 Thess. y. 18. “ In every thing give than otherwise, to the object of my thanks." errand.
There is a tradition, that in the · The predecessor of Mr. Pol was a planting of New England, the first