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solute need of knowing, yet could not | tingly instrumental to preserving the possibly devise by human wisdom. general purity of the text, as well as Applying these observations to the case increasing the number of its copies. of Moses, and the Lord Jesus Christ So early as the first century, numberand his Apostles, we may lay down as less heresies sprang up, the votaries of a demonstrable theorem, that if the each appealing to the Scriptures of the facts mentioned respecting them in the New Testament in support of their Bible be true, they were inspired peculiar opinions, and thus serving as teachers, and consequently their testi- mutual guards against the adulteration mony must be received as paramount of the sacred text. And while no to all other in matters of religion and book has been translated into so many morality.
different languages, none has suffered I would premise, that the Bible has so little by the errors of translators, one thing in common with all other or generally preserved so much of the books—it is liable to errors in tran- spirit of the original : so that it may scribing, and to mistranslations. Yet, be said of it with truth, that “the it is remarkable, that no book what- worst translation ever yet made, is soever has descended through such a capable of teaching all the principal lapse of ages, with so 'few of these facts and doctrines of Christianity, so blemishes.
far as the knowledge of them is necesThe Old Testament contained sary to salvation, or even to some conthe political, as well as the religious siderable degree of edification in piety.” constitution of the Jews; and was SECONDLY—There is no question of therefore necessarily exposed to the the great antiquity of the Pentateuch: most vigilant and jealous scrutiny of it is allowed to have been antecedent to every member of the community, any existing records of any nation on each feeling an individual interest in the globe. Nor is it denied, that on'a preserving the purity of that text, comparison of it with those composiwhich determined upon matters essen- tions, which are most nearly contemtial to his well-being in society. Each porary, it is, as a history, not only was enjoined and privileged by the more credible, and confirmed by a constitution under which he lived, to greater number of concurring testihave a copy of these laws, to read monies, in the appearances of the earth, them diligently at all seasons, to teach and the early traditions of nations, to his children, and to speak of them but far exceeds all others in beauty of in his social intercourse with his fel- style, and language, and sentiment; low-men. Moreover, they were the and in some parts breathes a spirit of ground-work of all public instruction, sublimity and eloquence, which does they formed a part of religious worship, not yield to the most renowned prothey were read in the service of the ductions of antiquity. temple and the synagogue, and in lat- Now, as a narrative of facts, it is ter times the veneration for the text authentic, because these facts are of amounted to superstition, giving rise that nature, that men's senses were to the sect of the Masorites, who ac- capable of judging whether they really tually numbered the letters of the sa- happened or not; and they were pubcred volume. So that there was a licly transacted in the presence of mulmoral impossibility that the text of titudes ; and not only were public mo. the Old Testament should have been numents kept up, but several ordimaterially corrupted. And with re- nances and outward actions of a peculiar spect to the New TestAMENT, the nature observed in memory of them ; enemies of Christianity were unwit. 'which monuments, and actions, and
observances were instituted, and did , their children (for the books assert all commence from the very time when this); and certainly no persons could these matters of fact were said to have been so persuaded, unless the have happened. By the first of facts were truly stated—the book itthese considerations, it will appear self a true book. impossible that the miracles ascribed There were two very remarkable to Moses could have been imposed political regulations amongst the Jew. upon the Jewish people at the time ish people, which were in themselves when they were said to have happened, standing miracles, and to which doas they were appeals to men's senses, thing is found parallel in the history and were publicly performed, and, of any other nation. One was, abtherefore, altogether of a different de- staining from the cultivation of the scription from those ascribed to the soil every seventh year; the other impostor Mahomet. All his reputed was, leaving all the borders of their miracles being, at the best, visions and land defenceless three times every year, conversations with the angel Gabriel, when all males capable of bearing arms were not generally cognisable, and were were compelled to attend at Jerusalem. performed without the presence of wit- Now the former regulation could
If the Pentateuch then were never have been adhered to, in a counpublished at the time when these ac- try naturally almost too small for the tions were said to have happened, or support of its population, and altowhile the witnesses were alive to whom gether without commerce; nor the it was addressed, it is impossible they latter, by a people surrounded by in. could have received it as true, unless veterate enemies, some of whom they it really was so, because it says, that had despoiled of their territory, and the facts it records happened in the reduced, in some instances, to the conpresence of the persons to whom it was dition of slaves. Their receiving these addressed. And if, at any future time, regulations proved that they regarded it was attempted to be imposed upon their legislator as a messenger of God; men, then the other considerations and the fact of their continuing to ob. would equally prevent its reception ; serve them, proves that he really was for it states, that monuments of these
an inspired teacher-for they could miraculous acts were then actually in not have been observed unless there existence,-such as the budding rod of was a continual recurrence of a douAaron, the golden pot of manna, the ble harvest every sixth year, and a brazen serpent, &c.; and that several freedom from hostile invasion at the extraordinary observances and actions periods of their festivals : and these were performed, commencing at the two things could only have taken place time of these asserted miracles,- by divine interference; and, therefore, e.g. the celebration of the passover, the man who foretold that they should the feast of tabernacles, &c.; and that take place was a divinely inspired certain municipal and political laws,
person. which governed them, had been, from It is obvious, that whatever applies the days of Moses, acknowledged as to the facts of the Mosaic history, does the standing laws of their nation. equally so to those of the New TestaNow no man could have imposed this ment. The miracles of Christ and his book upon a whole nation unless he
Apostles were all appeals to men's could also have persuaded them that senses ; they were done publicly; it they had actually received it from their
was impossible that they could have fathers-had been instructed in it while resulted from fraud or collusion, or children themselves-had taught it to have been deceptions of sense ; they were not denied at the time by Jews | ment; because these are invariably or heathens ; and the supposition of quoted and appealed to by the Lord their having been wrought by the Jesus Christ and his Apostles, as the agency of the evil spirit, was in itself productions of men inspired by the an acknowledgment that they were Holy Ghost. miracles.
THIRDLY-Infidels object to the Old We have two remarkable testimonies Testament especially, that it gives us to the existence and miraculous deeds unworthy ideas of God, as creator and of Christ and his Apostles, namely, moral governor of the world. Let us Josephus amongst the Jews, and TA- | try whether more exalted conceptions citus amongst the Heathens. Josephus of that great Being are, or ever have lived within forty, and Tacitus about been, propounded or discovered by seventy years after the death of Christ. unassisted reason. They were both capable of examining The popular creed of the most pointo the truth of the matters of fact lished nations of antiquity presents asserted concerning Christ and his nothing but a series of puerile and abApostles,—they wanted neither malice surd fables in mythology. The God nor prejudice to dispute them. Yet whom they adored was neither One they admitted these facts; and so did nor spiritual. Every part of creation, Lucian, and Celsus, and Porphyry, every element in nature, had its pecuand Julian the Apostate, and even liar and appropriate deity, and the suMahomet himself,-forming altogether premè in dignity amongst this rabble an undeniable attestation to the truth crowd was not even supreme in power. of these matters of fact. It is noto- The Jupiter of Hesiod and Homer rious, that the several writings, espe-(who were at once the poets and the cially the historical books of the New theologians of Greece) was a Being Testament, existed early in the first subject to every vice and infirmity of century, and are quoted and alluded the worst of men; and the only disto by a series of Christian writers, tinction, in fact, between their gods beginning with those who were con- and men, was, that the former had temporary with the Apostles, or who more power to accomplish every base immediately followed them, and pro- and detestable purpose, which they ceeding in close and regular succes- equally followed with the human race. sion from their time to the present. Their worship of these deities was conThey appealed to institutions then in formable with these gross conceptions. existence, such as Baptism and the Like that of their ancestors the PhæLord's Supper ; they speak of miracles nicians or Canaanites, the religion of performed by their writers in the pre-Greece, that nurse of arts and literasence of the persons to whom they ture, as also of imperial Rome, the were written ; and they never could mistress of the world, was a tissue of have been received as they were re- impure, abominable, and sanguinary ceived, unless such institutions, in rites, degrading equally to the worcommemoration of these facts, ac- shippers and the adored. And what tually did exist, and that these facts did their philosophers, who affected were actually performed before com- to despise the vulgar, attain by their petent witnesses.
abstruse speculations,—what did they If, then, the books of Moses and the learn of God? Anaximenes says, that New Testament be truly the oracles of God is air ; Archelaus, that he is air God, the same must be asserted of and mind; Democritus, that he is the Histories, the Proverbs, the Psalms, mind in a spherical form. There was, and the Prophecies of the Old Testa- | in fact, a vacuity in their minds upon this subject, which they gladly filled | awfully clear to us who live in latter up with fortune, necessity, accident times ! a God who compassionates the or fate, just as each fell in their way. | ignorance of man, and provides him Are we better informed when we turn an unerring guide in the volume of into the boasted theology of the Hindoos, spiration ; who pities his infirmity and or the arrogant disciples of Confucius ? offers the gracious assistance of the No! We find their God is a Being Holy Spirit to correct the weakness who undergoes perpetual transmigra- and purify the defilements of his nation, at one time immersed in slumber, ture ; who in the fulness of time sent at another, absorbed in meditation, at forth an accredited messenger on the another, sailing over the waters of the grand purpose of mercy, bearing the wide abyss. (Compare 1 Kings, xviii. stamp of divinity in every feature; 27.) And how do his worshippers who resigned that glorious Being to adore him? Not as a pure ethereal the temporary rage of men and devils, spirit, but as abiding in rude idols of and glorified him by a triumphant vicstone, or shapeless blocks of wood; tory upon the cross at Calvary; who delighting in the self-murder, or the made there, by that “one offering, a unutterably impure gestures, and at- full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, titudes, and actions of his suppliants. | oblation and satisfaction for the sins Nor are we better informed by the of the whole world.” And is this the cannibals of Africa or the warrior God and Saviour whom we are called tribes of the New World. Their God to surrender for the Jupiters, or Mois, literally, the Devil! whom they lochs, or Juggernauts of Infidelity. worship because they fear him, and Infidels reject the Bible because it whom they appease by tortures and states the doctrine of eternal punishself-afflictions, from the bare mention ment, which they cannot reconcile of which humanity recoils.
with the idea of a benevolent Being. Let us turn hence to the God of the
Evil we know exists. Why was it Bible, a pure Spirit, who will be wor- introduced, why suffered to continue ? shipped in spirit and in truth,-a Be- When every difficulty which attends ing to whom sin is hateful, and who this inquiry shall have been removed, yet regards the sinner with compas- then, but not till then, may we sion, and willeth not his destruction ; question the doctrine of eternal puwho manifested his abhorrence of nishment, not only less clogged with evil in extirpating the accursed nations difficulties, but perfectly analogous to of Canaan ; who selected a peculiar the established chain of causes and people as depositaries of his revealed effects in the natural world. will, as an eternal beacon to the The happiness of heaven is holiness. world against the rocks of idolatry, It cannot then be heaven to an impeinfidelity and vice; who furnished nitent sinner. Remove him there, them with a code of laws, the admi- with all the sinful passions and proration of every reflecting mind, and pensities of his lower nature, and the very source and spring of all just heaven would become his hell. Leave principles of legislation ; who ordered him to himself: as he dies, so shall he a ritual of worship, sublimeand solemn, awake at the resurrection. His crime and instructive even in its obscurest is its own punishment, and, from rites ; and these, explained as typical their nature, both must be progressive and emblematic of his future purposes, and everlasting. by a succession of men eminent for Infidels scoff at the credulity of the their piety and magnanimity of soul, Christian. But let us fairly state the and gifted with a prophetic spirit I case, and see whether of all beings in existence the Infidel is not the most like that of any being who ever dwelt weakly credulous. What is the In- on earth, sustained throughout with fidel's creed? He believes that the the most exact consistency, and the whole world united in a conspiracy to most minute and apparently undecesimpose upon themselves about the æra sary particularity of dates and times of the introduction of Christianity;- and places ;--that they travelled over that they invented an universal per- the greater part of the world, every suasion of the coming of some great where successful, though every where personage, and that by mere accident persecuted; and that they were eventu. their conjecture was verified in the ally the means of subverting the rebirth of Christ,-that verses or poems, ligious establishment of the most the productions of men who lived se- powerful nation upon earth. veral hundred years before, accidentally Yes! and the Infidel believes that all happened to apply to that extraordinary this was CHANCE ; these men were all person, and things the most contra- impostors; the whole story was a fable dictory did accidentally concur in him; and a forgery!!! If it be so, then the that he was a deceiver and an en- case is without a parallel in history; thusiast, and a false claimant to a and the man who receives the creed of divine commission, and yet that he the Infidel betrays a credulity so cawas, without exception, the purest and pacious, a faculty so prodigious of overthe most amiable of beings;—and that looking difficulties, that we cannot but he succeeded in his object without any suspect there is something wrong in of the means usually employed by the ordinary powers of his understand. similar characters; for that without ing. But the case is otherwise : inmoney, without troops, without power, fidelity is not a derangement of the he convinced multitudes of his divine head, but of the heart. Believing, as authority. He believes that after we do, that the words of Christ are Christ was openly crucified as a male- words of eternal truth, we maintain factor, twelve illiterate fishermen took that it is impossible for any man to up the extraordinary tale that he had disbelieve the Bible who searches it risen from the dead, although these with a right spirit : “If any man will fishermen must have known to the con- do his will, he shall know of the doctrary if he was a deceiver ; and with. trine whether it be of God." out any assignable motive, in the face Pride and evil passions are the main of danger and death, they formed the springs of infidelity. bold design of converting the whole believe, which receive honour one of world to a belief of this strange story; another, and seek not the honour —that although aware of the calami. which cometh of God only? Ye love ties which they must thus occasion to darkness rather than light, because mankind (and therefore men of un- your deeds are evil.” “Every one feeling and cruel dispositions), their that doeth evil hateth the light.” No writings and actions exhibit the purest wonder, then, that the profligate and morality and the most benevolent the libertine should hail the temporary spirit ;-that without education or triumphs of infidelity, which annihiliterature they composed several works, lates the salutary dread of future rein which the leading character or sub-tribution, and substitutes universal reject of their memoirs (if a fictitious demption, or the vain and fantastic personage) is unquestionably one of salvo of purgatory, that most successful the most wonderful creatures of ima- device ever yet employed by Satan to gination that the range of literature open the floodgates of licentiousness, can furnish; a character altogether un- and break down every barrier which