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"with their eyes, which they had looked upon, "and their hands had handled of the Word "of Life," declared they unto others. But unless they had had the willing mind to profit by these things, wherein would they have been better than the multitudes who saw and heard the same, without being converted to the Truth? On another occasion our Lord said, "Blessed are they who have not seen, “and yet have believed." To whom then does this blessedness belong? Not surely to the blindly credulous, who care not whether they rely on truth or falsehood; but to them who "know wном they have believed";" who are assured, that they are "not following cunningly-devised fables," but the faithful report of them who "were eyewitnesses of his majesty'." Upon such only is that blessedness pronounced: and in that blessing we may all be partakers. We have the authentic records of what the Apostles saw and heard; and to bring us to the acceptance of the truth, nothing more is now requisite than the sincere desire to know and to do the will of God. If any, therefore, possessing these opportunities, obstinately shut the ears and close the eyes of their understandings, to the truths
d John xx. 29.
c 1 John i. 1.
f 2 Pet. i. 16.
that are set before them, they are nearly in the same predicament with those who rejected the personal ministry of our Lord and his Apostles.
If, however, it be said that our Lord's Disciples were blessed above others, not only because to them was revealed more than to any who lived before them, but also because they enjoyed, in their Lord's immediate presence, some peculiar benefits to which none even since their apostleship can pretend; the observation, though just, will rather aggravate than extenuate the fault of those who urge it as a plea for scepticism or indifference to the truth. For, on what does our faith in the apostolical records depend? Is it not grounded on those very advantages which we know they possessed, and which consequently give to every thing they have written a stamp of indisputable authority? In proportion, therefore, to the assurance which the Apostles themselves had of the truth of what they saw and testified, is our assurance of the credibility of what they have related. And in proportion to the extent of knowledge communicated to them, is the extent of knowledge we derive from their writings. If the Spirit guided them into all truth," it was that they might be enabled to guide others into the
truth. If the same Spirit "brought all things "to their remembrance whatsoever their Lord "had said unto them," it was that those things might be preserved and perpetuated to all succeeding generations. Accordingly, when our Lord prayed for them, "that they might be "sanctified through the truth," he added, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them "also which shall believe on me through their "word; and that the world may know that "thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as "thou hast loved me." To us, therefore, as well as to them, it may with truth be said,
Many prophets and righteous men have "desired to see the things which ye see, and "have not seen them, and to hear the things "which ye hear, and have not heard them." In some respects, indeed, we are placed in circumstances more favourable than even those who lived in the time of the Apostles themselves. The joint productions of the sacred writers being placed before us, we have it in our power to compare them with each other. This very important advantage few, if any, of the primitive Christians had at their command. Our Lord himself went not beyond Judæa and its neighbouring districts. The Apostles, for the most part, travelled into
g John xvii. 17-23.
different regions, and limited their teaching each to his appointed province. A sceptic in those days might have raised a doubt, whether Paul and Peter and James preached the same doctrine; and whether Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John attested the same matters of fact. We, on the other hand, are enabled, as it were, to confront these witnesses: and by comparing what was delivered and certified by so many different persons, who had either been with our Lord from the beginning, or had had peculiar opportunities of verifying what they advanced, we can consider their testimony collectively; and are assisted in our examination of it by the light which they shed on each other's narratives and discourses.
Again; it is another circumstance eminently in our favour, that we live in times subsequent to the fulfilment of many signal prophecies in the New Testament, delivered by our Lord, or by the Apostles themselves, of which it was not possible that they should witness the accomplishment. Such are the predictions relative to the destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jews, the fall of Paganism, the rise and progress of the Antichristian powers, Papal and Mahometan, and other events connected with the state of the Christian Church, of which
the faithful page of history has proved itself the sure interpreter. The argument from Prophecy, thus continually increasing in light and strength, gives to these latter ages an accession of evidence, which our Lord's immediate Disciples must have desired in vain.
Of these striking peculiarities in our situation, unbelievers as well as Christians are also bound to acknowledge the force. For hence occasion is given to the most rigid scrutiny into the multiplied evidences on which our faith depends; a scrutiny, which could not but be fatal to its pretensions, if it were a system of fraud and falsehood. And has not this test been applied to it with unsparing rigour? What writings have undergone such strict investigation into their genuineness and authenticity, as those of the Sacred Canon? What historical facts have been sifted with such scrupulous and even jealous care, as those on which its whole credibility depends? While therefore they who gladly receive the Word have abundant reason to be thankful for the corroboration thus given to their faith, the adversary cannot but confess that an opportunity is freely afforded him of assailing it wherever he may deem it to be most vulnerable.
Our Lord's observation, then, is applicable,