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Yet that mysterious HOPE which Alexander declared was all he kept for himself, when he profusely scattered kingdoms among his favourites ;-those ambiguous TEARS which he shed, because he had no more worlds to conquer ;-that deeply felt, but ill understood hope, those undefined and unintelligible tears, mark a profounder feeling of the vanity of this world, a more fervent panting after something better than power or knowledge, a more heartfelt «longing after immortality," than almost any express language which philosophy has recorded.
"Learn of me" would have been thought a dignified exordium for the founder of a new religion by the masters of the Grecian schools. But when they came to the humbling motive of the injunction, "for I am meek and lowly in heart," how would their expectations have been damped! They would have thought it an abject declaration from the lips of a great Teacher, unless they had understood that grand paradox of Christianity, that lowliness of heart was among the highest attainments to be made by a rational creature.
When they had heard the beginning of that animating interrogation,-Where is the wise? Where is the disputer of this world? methinks I behold the whole Portico and Academy emulously rush forward at an invitation so alluring, at a challenge so personal; but how instinctively would they have shrunk back at the repulsive question which succeeds;-Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? Yet would not Christianity, well understood and faithfully received, have taught these exalted spirits, that, to look down upon
what is humanly great, is a loftier attainment than to look up to it?
Would it not have carried a sentiment to the heart of Alexander, a system to the mind of Aristotle, which their respective, though differently pursued, careers of ambition utterly failed of furnishing to either?
Reason, even by those who possessed it in the highest perfection, as it gave no adequate view even of natural religion, so it made no adequate provision for correct morals. The attempt appears to have been above the reach of human powers. "God manifested in the flesh," -He who was not only true, but THE TRUTH, and who taught the truth as "one having authority,”-was alone competent to this great work. The duty of submission to Divine Power was to the multitude more intelligible, than the intricate deductions of reason. That God is, and is a rewarder of them that seek him; that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, make a compendious summary both of natural and revealed religion; they are propositions which carry their own explanation, disentangled from those trains of argument, which, as few could have been brought to comprehend, perhaps it was the greatest wisdom in the philosopher never to have proposed them.
The most skilful dialectitian could only reason on known principles; but without the superinduction of revealed religion, he could only, with all his efforts, and they have been prodigious, furnish "rules," but not "arms." Logic is indeed a powerful weapon to fence, but not to fight with; that which is a conqueror in the schools is impotent in the field. It is powerful
to refute a sophism, but weak to repel a temptation. It may defeat an opponent made up like itself of pure intellect; but is no match for so substantial an assailant as moral evil. It yields to the onset, when the antagonists are furious passions and headstrong appetites. It can make a successful thrust against an opinion, but is too feeble to "pull down the strong holds of sin and Satan."
If, through the strength of human corruption, the restraining power of Divine grace is still too frequently resisted, if the offered light of the Holy Spirit is still too frequently quenched, what must have been the state of mankind, when that grace was not made known, when that light was not fully revealed, when "darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people?" But under the clear illumination of evangelical truth, every precept becomes a principle, every argument a motive, every direction a duty, every doctrine a law; and why?
Because thus saith the Lord.
Christianity however, is not merely a religion of authority; the soundest reason embraces most confidently what the most explicit revelation has taught, and the deepest inquirer is usually the most convinced Christian. The reason of philosophy, is a disputing reason, that of Christianity, an obeying reason. The glory of the pagan religion consisted in virtuous sentiments, the glory of the Christian in the pardon and the subjugation of sin. The humble Christian may say with one of the ancient Fathers,-I will not glory because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed.
ON THE HISTORICAL WRITERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
AMONG the innumerable evidences of the truth of Christianity, there is one of so rare and extraordinary a nature, as might of itself suffice to carry conviction to the mind of every unprejudiced inquirer, even if this proof were not accompanied by such a cloud of concurring testimonies.
The sacred volume is composed by a vast variety of writers, men of every different rank and condition, of every diversity of character and turn of mind: the mo narch and the plebeian, the illiterate and the learned, the foremost in talent and the moderately gifted in natural advantages, the historian and the legislator, the orator and the poet,-each had his immediate vocation, each his peculiar province: some prophets, some apostles, some evangelists, living in ages remote from each other, under different modes of civil government, under different dispensations of the Divine economy, filling a period of time which reached from the first dawn of heavenly light to its meridian radiance. The Old Testament and the New, the law and the gospel; the prophets predicting events, and the evangelists recording them; the doctrinal yet didactic epistolary writers, and he who closed the Sacred Canon in the apocalyptic vision;-all these furnished their respective portions, and yet all tally with a dove-tailed correspondence; all the different materials are joined with a completeness the
most satisfactory, with an agreement the most incontrovertible.
This instance of uniformity without design, of agreement without contrivance; this consistency maintained through a long series of ages, without a possibility of the ordinary methods for conducting such a plan; these unparalleled congruities, these unexampled coincidences, form altogether a species of evidence, of which there is no other instance in the history of all the other books in the world.
All these variously gifted writers here enumerated, concur in this grand peculiarity-that all have the same end in view, all are pointing to the same object; all, without any projected collusion, are advancing the same scheme; each brings in his several contingent, without any apparent consideration how it may unite with the portions brought by other contributors, without any spirit of accommodation, without any visible intention to make out a case, without indeed any actual resemblance, more than that every separate portion being derived from the same spring, each must be governed by one common principle, and that principle being Truth itself, must naturally and consentaneously pro. duce assimilation, conformity, agreement. What can we conclude from all this, but what is indeed the inevitable conclusion,-a conclusion which forces itself on the mind, and compels the submission of the understanding; that all this, under differences of administration, is the work of one and the same great, Omniscient, and Eternal Spirit.
If, however, from the general uniformity of plan visible throughout the whole Sacred Canon, results one of