Sidor som bilder

widow's son to receive again the principles of vitality, to tell us that he did these things? No! we are satisfied that they are faithfully recorded in God's holy word. But again, was it not prophesied that Jesus should die?—the very manner of death he should die? and did he not die, and suffer, fulfilling to the very letter every prophecy relating to his death? Was it not prophesied, that he should rise again the third day? We read, notwithstanding the vigilance of the guards, and the bitter desire of his enemies to deceive the people, that he arose and appeared unto many. And did not the prophets say, that he should ascend to the Father, exactly as Jesus, in the sight of the multitude, ascended into heaven? Yes; all prophecy relating to the Messiah was actually fulfilled; the most trifling circumstance, which was recorded in the prophets, came to pass. The Jews saw this -they could not but observe it; yet they disbelieved that he was the Christ, and their descendants still look for their Messiah to appear upon earth. At the time his humanity had ceased to suffer upon the

cross, and all nature trembled at the death of the victim, some disbelieved, others doubted; and even many of his disciples, at his resurrection, were very long ere they were persuaded, that he was truly risen. Yet even this was prophesied. It was prophesied that the Jews should reject the Gospel-that they should disbelieve the report. Isaiah asks, "Who hath believed our report ?" But some may say, that all things hang upon the simple testimony, or upon the mere record of men; that they require further proof, that these prophecies were actually fulfilled. We tell them, that the record is not of men, but of God; that the New Testament contains a faithful history of Jesus Christ and his religion; and that the account there given of both may be securely relied upon as strictly true. For the Gospels were written by the very men, inspired by God, whose names they bear, and have been considered by the whole Christian world, from the Apostolic age, as containing a faithful history and a correct fulfilment of every thing relating to our Saviour. It was impossible for these


writers to have been deceived; and very improbable, that they should be able to deceive others. They were actually present at the scenes which they describe eye-witnesses of the facts, and ear-witnesses of the discourses, which they relate. They were plain, honest, artless, unlearned men, in very humble occupations of life, and utterly incapable of inventing or carrying on such a refined and complicated system of fraud, as the Christian religion must have been, if it were not true. There are facts also recorded by the heathens, which correspond precisely with those recorded in the New Testament; and the testimony of an adversary is surely the strongest possible confirmation of the truth and authority of these sacred books. These books, too, are scattered throughout libraries, in manuscripts, some dating a thousand years gone by, together with versions of them in languages, which, by the antiquity of their style prove, that they were composed at a very early age. Again, the particular diction, in which the books of the New Testament are written, goes very far to demonstrate their truth. Had they

been fables, they would have been ascribed to men more eminent and conspicuous, in the eye of this shallow world. The men who wrote the Gospels had no fictitious influence, -no mighty power, naught, save the indubitable veracity of their narrative to circulate and establish them; and had what they narrated been false, or even questionable, the Gospels must, in the nature of things, have long since died away. But no! in despite of every opposition, they stood out beacons of light as from a tower, and gradually dispersed that gloom, in which the world was involved at their first appearance.

The last argument which we shall here urge to establish our position, is the consideration of the many persecutions, which the disciples endured, rather than deny the truth of Christianity. The propagators of it endured the greatest torture, which frequently only terminated in a slow and agonizing death. They submitted calmly, yea, smilingly, to these cruelties, rather than concede truths, which, through strong faith and confidence, they knew to be founded upon facts. And would any.

one, think you, endure martyrdom for the sake of that which he did not, at all events, feel to be veritable? Would these martyrs have calmly endured the fiery trial, which awaited them, and have preferred persecution with the people of God to apostasy, and sinful preservation of life, had they not been overwhelmingly convinced, that their religion was true, and that those light afflictions, which would endure but for a moment, would work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory? Would they have met death with that resignation, with that firm trust and confidence, had they not been persuaded that the glory of their Redeemer lay beyond it? Impossible! when the danger of persecution threatened them, they must have yielded; when the racks were screwed up to their utmost torture, and the firesheet inflicting its greatest severity, and death was playing upon the brow, it was then that they would have flinched' had

1 It would appear from the writings of the early Fathers, that if these martyrs repined at any thing, it was

« FöregåendeFortsätt »