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LUKE XXIV. 46.
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and
THE universal Church has set apart this season of the year to remember the first advent, and to look forward to the second. An effort has, however, been lately made to rob us of the ground of our rejoicing. A foreign critic has recently attempted to show that the gospel narratives, as being mere legends arising out of the circumstances, the religious opinions, and mistaken piety of the early Christians, are devoid of all historic value. He pretends that the conclusion at which he has arrived is the result of scientific investigation. But his principal argument-which is, that an allusion to miracle or supernatural interposition necessarily stamps the record in which it occurs as fabulousshows that his conclusion was attained, not only before the termination but before the commencement of the inquiry, and is founded in hostility to
the idea of all revealed religion.* He is, however, mistaken, if he thinks that the rejection of the gospels would necessarily involve the overthrow of Christianity. The history of the world, as open to our own daily inspection, compared with predictions which certainly existed before the beginning of the Christian era, is quite sufficient to prove the truth of its main facts and doctrines, and the certainty of divine revelation. It is a fact of which the most sceptical cannot doubt, that many, and those the most civilized, nations of the world worship and acknowledge as their Lord and their God an individual of the Jewish nation, who has been and still is despised and rejected by his own people, and further, that His doctrine has been the means of dispelling from amongst those nations the darkness of heathenism, and bringing them to faith in the Creator of heaven and earth. It has been shown in the preceding lectures that a series of predictions, beginning at least 2600 years ago, have announced this state of things, and have led the world to expect a descendant of the tribe of Judah, who should thus deliver the nations from idolatry, and be himself acknowledged as the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father. The inevitable consequence is, that these predictions are themselves divine revelations, and that Christianity is true. If, therefore, there were no gospels in existence, the common tradition of the Christian Church and
* Strauss, Vol. I. pp. 30, 31, p. 75 especially.