EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY
TOWERS OF ZION;
EVII ENCES OF CHRISTIANITY ILLUSTRATED
TOimuf ron thh America* sunday-school dhioh.
"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereor." F*. xlviii. 12.
PHILADELPHIA: AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION, 1122 Chestnut Street.
Entered according to act of Congress. La the year 1851, by the AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCH J>OL UNION, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
No books are published by the American Sunday-school Uj^on without the sanction of the Committee of Publication, consisting; of fourteen members, from the following denominations of Christians, viz. Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Reformed Dutch. Not more than three of the members can be of the same denomination, and no book can be publisled to which any member of the Committee shall object.
This little volume will be found to be what its title indicates, an illustration of the evidences of Christianity. The author anticipates the objection, which may appear to some to be valid, that it is too full of illustrationsthat the subject is lowered by the abundance of stories. He would suggest to such an objector to keep in mind the classof readers for whom it was especially preparedthe youth ; and if he is still skeptical on this point, let him take a volume on the same subject, logically, and if he please eloquently written, with the illustrative stories omitted, and place it in the hands of any youth of ordinary intelligence, and let
him notice the amount of interest it excites. In i* 6
most cases, it will be opened, its leaves turned over, and then it will be laid aside. Of what avail are books in the hands of young persons, however good and well written, if they have not attractions, to them, sufficient to secure their attentive perusal?
That this is such a book, the author will not pretend to say; but he has endeavored to keep constantly in view, in writing it, two points: first, to present the arguments clearly and forcibly; and secondly, to clothe them in an attractive form, so that they will be read and remembered.
The language is such as occurred under the stimulus of writing, without any effort or desire to use children's words. If the outlines are drawn within a young person's capacity, the verbal detail will generally be readily understood.
An adept in the voluminous subject of Chris tian evidences will find the following but a sketch of the mass of materials they contain; he may discover that which is a strong point
tc him, omitted and matter of less force, in his estimation, introduced. It must be remembered by such, that different minds are differently affected by the same argument. The elaborate argument of Butler, and the more elegantly expressed argument of Dr. Hopkins on the same point, may be the almost exclusive grounds of faith in the Scriptures to some philosophical and cultivated intellects; but it would be difficult to popularize it, or make it appreciated by an immature mind, in whatever form presented. As in the illustrations, so in the selection of topics, we have kept before us the class for whom we write. For this reason, in part, the evidence from experience has been fully detailed, though it must be conceded that this is, of itself, one of the strongest grounds of faith in the divinity of the Bible.
We remark here, as we have done in the concluding chapter, that this work is not intended fully to instruct the Christian student on the subject discussed, but only to open the wayto excite a relish for its more full inves-
ligation, as well as to prepare the inexperienced, in some measure, against the insidious approaches of unbelief, which are sure to find access to the unregenerated heart.
With these few prefatory remarks, the book is commended to the candid perusal of the reader.
^w on I.Children believe the BibleThe Object of %%$ Book.
A Traveller's QuestionsAnother QuestionA little DoubterApplication...............................................Page 16
Section II. The Nature of Evidence illustrated. Gold MinesDoubt statedA real IncidentA^ Fact to be rememberedA Voyage to ChinaReasons for believing the Voyage possibleBelief not compelled......... 18
Section III.Suggestions. First SuggestionSecond SuggestionBible, or Nothing Third SuggestionWashington's Farewell Address The Orphan BoyAn interesting ManuscriptThe wicked Son's view of such a paperApplicationRight State of Heart necessary......................................... 21
TOWER II. evidence from testimony. Section I. Testimony Illustrated. The French Revolution of 1848Three important Questions The Illustration continuedThe Questions re-stated Another ItemIllustrationIllustration continued
TOWER IIL evidence from miracles. Section I.General Illustrations of the Subject of Miracles. A great and wonderful FactThe Magnetic Telegraph The FactoryNature of these WorksSubject to Laws Story of General WashingtonIllustrations applied Dr. Franklin and his KiteFulton and SteamDefinitions of MiracleWorks which would be MiraclesA Fact inferredAn important QuestionThe Purpose of
Section II.Have we the very Statements of the Writers of the New Testament ?
First Question appliedProof from Italian Authors French AuthorsAuthors of Africa, Syria and Asia MinorWonderful Preservation of the New Testament Specimens of VariationsNew Testament frequently copied.................................................................. 33
Section III. Were the Writers of the New Testament honest 9 An Objection answeredThe Writers' PrejudicesTheir SufferingsTheir CandourTheir Representations of ThemselvesThe Conclusion.................................... 39
Section IV. Were these Writers in a situation to know certainly what they stated ? Some of the Things they witnessed.............................. 42
Section V.The Testimony of the Writers of the New Testament confirmed. A Case supposedA Jewish and Egyptian Custom Fourth of JulyApplicationThe Lord's Supper BaptismChurch and Ministry............................... 43
Section VI. Writers of the Old Testament. New Testament confirms their Testimony..................... 46
Miracle*A Mennoa ImpostorThree important Points stated................................................................... 4.8
Section II. The Miracles of Moses. Water turned into BloodThe three Rules appliedDarkness over all EgyptA fearful DescriptionThe Firstborn of the Egyptians slainA supposed CaseThe Passage of the Red SeaImportant PointsWashington crossing the DelawareThe Fall of MannaThe starving IrishApplication...................................... 57
Section III.The Miracles of Christ. The Advent of ChristHis PretensionsThe Character of his mighty WorksTheir benevolent Character Jairus' DaughterHer SicknessA Ray of HopeJai-rus visits the SaviourHis Daughter's DeathThe CureThe two Blind MenTheir ConditionJesus passes byThey desire to be healedThe Cure wrought The Blind Apple VenderFacts to be remembered
A weak Objection.................................................... 63
SECTION IV. The Resurrection of Christ. Its ImportanceCertainty of his DeathCertainty of his ResurrectionJew's Account of itPublicity of the Disciples' TestimonyAn important Point.................. 72
Section V.Miracles of the Early Christians. Gift of TonguesGeneral RemarksConclusion of Subject of Miracles.................................................... 77
evidence from prophecy.
Section I. What ie Prophecy ? Anecdote of Dr. Lyman BeecherSuppositions concerning the AnecdoteSupposed CaseSome Particular* givenThese examinedThe Application................ 80
Section II.Prophecies concerning Christ. Christ expectedThe ReasonsProphecies givenThe time of his Coming foretoldHis Birth-placeTribe FamilyCharacterMiraclesDeath foretold............. 83
Section II.Prophecies concerning Babylon. Bunker Hill MonumentA high TowerA beautiful ProspectThe Streets, Garden, BridgeThe two PalacesThe Suspended GardenGreat LakeBabylon's PrideImportant QuestionsCyrus, the Persian GeneralThe City takenFurther PropheciesThe SpecificationsApplication............................................. 88
Section IV.Prophecies concerning the Seven Churches of The Revelation of John." Four Cities namedEphesusIts present StateChurch of PhiladelphiaThe ProphecyIts FulfilmentChurch of LaodiceaThe Prophecy concerning itFulfilmentSmyrnaHlustration of these PropheciesNew York Baltimore Philadelphia Albany An Objection answeredApplicationOther Prophecies............. 95
TOWER V. evidence from the bible itself. Section I. The Remarkable Character of the Doctrines it teaches.
The World without the BioleMan's Original StateHis FallChristSacrificesCharacter of ChristHumanityDivinityHoly GhostRepentance and Faith Their Simplicity and PowerThe General ResurrectionFuture Judgment............................................ 104
Section II. The Purity of its Morality. The Morality of the HeathenBolingbroke's Confession A Standard of MoralityThe skeptical LawyerHis surprise at the Moral Law........................................109
section III Simplicity and Sublimity of iti Style. Fisher Ames's OpinionSir William Jones's Opinion Examples of SimplicityDescription of the Crucifixion SublimityDr. FranklinHis ingenious DeviceThe Example of Sublimity quotedThe Result.................. 115
Section IV. The Harmony of all its Teachings. The different Writers of the Bible "Jame Doctrines Same Conditions and SanctionsInference................ 121
Section V.The Character it exhibits of Christ, A supposed CaseA benevolent ManThe Supposition changedThe impure WaterApplicationChrist's LoveSeen in doing GoodIn nis WordsChrist's AuthorityExamples His Authority in rebuking SinsInstance of AuthorityHis Godhead and HumanityRousseau's ConfessionChrist's CharacterA wonderful ThomeNever exhausted........................... 125
evidence from experience.
Section I. The Experiments, The Ocean Steam-shipMissionary PhysicianSick Chief The CureThe PoolThe LeperThe Application.. 137
Section II. Testimony from Experience. The young StudentHis ReflectionsThe Resolution The ResultThe ChangeThe CauseThe Family GroupTheir former StateCase of Phebo Bartlett Her earnest Seeking and deep ConvictionThe happy Change................................................................. 149
section III. Testimony from Experience among the Heathen.
The Bible for the DegradedThe State of the Heathen The Heathen and the BibleGreenlandersMany Wit> nessesRemarks........................... ..................... 146
Secti n IV.Scripture Test of Experience, i supposed CaseThe Drunkard's RemedyThe Expe rience MeetingThe old Inebriate's CaseThe Bible TestExamples abundantThe Shipwrecked Sailors Their cruel TreatmentThe Missionary Labours and FruitAnother ShipwreckThe ContrastThe Sand wich IslandsAbundant Fruit................................. 14S
Section V. Dying Testimony. Another TestImportant InquiriesDying Fancies .Fancy of the Dying SensualistFancy of the Dying ChristianThe important ItemDr. CooperDr. Leech-manThe Happy DeathJohn RandolphA Solemn SceneDr. PaysonA Letter from the Top of Beulah... 151
Section I.Summary of the Arguments. The Review of the JourneyKind of EvidenceThe WitnessesTheir Character,
Section II.Important Inferences from the Arguments presented.
The Bible courts InquiryCharacter of the Objections Bible should be studiedThe Naval Officer's InstructionsA Partir g Word........................................... 173
EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY
Section I.Children believe the BibleThe Object of this Book.
A traveller started from a city of New England, to go to New Orleans by land. He was a devoted friend of Sunday-schools, and had, for many years, been trying to promote their usefulness. Before leaving home he stepped into a Sunday-school of many hundred scholars. He walked silently down the middle of the room, passing from Jass to class of happy children. Taking up a Bible he asked some little boys, "Whose book is this?" The book of God," was the prompt reply. He repeated the question to several classes. The answer was always the same in substance.
When*he reached New Ycrk, standing before a large company of youth, he again asked. ;' From
whom did men receive the Bible?" "Prom God." Is it all true then ?" Yes." I
Going from New York, he visited many large cities, and then passing over the mountains into the little retired towns of the "Far West," where a few boys and girls were assembled in an humble place of worship, he asked again, Whose book is it that you study on the Sabbath ?" And the answer was still the same. The traveller noted in his memorandum-book all these replies.
But why did he ask so plain a question, so easily answered? And of what interest were the children's replies ? They impressed upon his mind a great truth, viz.the children of our Sunday-schools believe the Bible.
But now suppose he had asked them this question, "Why do you believe that the Bible is God's book ? Your geography is not, in the same sense, God's book; neither is your arithmetic, nor your grammar, nor your reading-book, God's book." Perhaps many wouldJiave said, "Because my parents and teachers have told us so." And they would have had no reason to be ashamed of that answer. It is right for children to believe a great many important truths, because older and wiser persons than themselves say they are truths, though they are not yet able to understand why they are believed to be truths. Let me illustrate this. Two children are at play on the side of a grassy
A LITTLE DOUBTER.
hill. The sun seems to be exactly over the hilltop, upon which it seemed about to rest. The chil dren watch its progress, because they know thai when it is hidden behind the hill, their parents will expect them to come home. As its bright rayt were gilding the tops of the tall trees, ana theii shadows stretched far along the plain, the youngest boy exclaimed,
" There! the sun has moved from away up there," pointing nearly over his head, and has gone behind the hill since we have been at play."
"No !" replied his brother, with the air of one deeply learnedu father told us the other night, that the sun does not move, but the earth moves and the sun stands still."
" But," said the little doubter, did not we see it move?"
" Well," answered his brother thoughtfully, H father says it does not move, and I heard our school-teacher explaining it to some of the large scholars the other day, and I believe it, though I do not understand how it can be, exactly."
And by and by, this little boy will be permitted to study some simple explanation of the known truth, that it is the earth which moves and not the sun. This will strengthen his belief, and in due time, if he have opportunities for learning, he may be able to prove to others, beyond all reasonable doubt, that it is really so.
Now I suppose all the children who read this Look believe the Bible to be written by good men, who were taught what to write by God himself; and the most of them believe this because they have been told so, just as they believe the earth turns round every day, because they are told so.
Section II.The Nature of Evidence illustrated.
Quite recently the newspapers have published accounts of gold being discovered in California, one of our newly-acquired States. It is said that some American officers and soldiers have been there, and hunters have visited the same places, and have dug up some of the precious metal. The report has been believed and acted, upon. Many young men and some old men have left their homes, taken the little money which they have saved from the earnings of many years of hard toil, and spent it all to enable them to get into these reported gold regions. Vessels are constantly fitted out from some of our large cities to carry on business with them.
Now let us examine the reasons upon which these men act. The newspapers contain accounts of visits of various persons to these places, and of their finding gold. But the newspaper editors are often deceived, and print many such things which are not true. May not this be untrue ? And if officers and soldiers have found what they call gold,
A REAL INCIDENT.
may thej not be mistaken ? A few years ago Jie fol lowing c.rcumstance actually happened. A vessel went on to the coast of California to trade with the natives in the common articles of commerce. Soon after they arrived, they found a yellow, shining min eral which they called gold. The sailors thought it was gold, and the captain thought it was gold, and they neglected their regular business, and filled their vessel with gold dust, as. they supposed, and returned home, anticipating future riches and ease. But no sooner did some of their friends see it tha,n they pronounced it to be a useless, yellow mineral, and known to be so by persons skilled in metals. Such it really was. Now may not these California gold mines be of the same character ? But even if there is gold there, how natural that the account should be exaggerated, and only a small part of it be true There may be only a very little gold, and worth no person's time and expense to obtain it.
All these objections are natural, and may be true, yet men are acting upon the reasons given, namely the evidence or proof contained in newspaper statements. I wish this to be remembered as a matter of fact.
A traveller wishes to go to China. He knows that it is a very great distance from the port in America from which he sails. The wide ocean is to be traversed The dark night will cJose upon him while surrounded with one vast expanse of water.
Even at mid-day and in the clearest sunshine, there i& no path. The tempest will come down upon the ocean with terrible fury, and the strong currents will drive against the ship, in directions opposite to that in which their way lies. Will the captain be able to keep his course amidst the darkness of the nightwhen there is nothing but water, from the bosom of which the sun seems to rise, and into which it appears to plunge at evening? Will he assuredly sail towards the distant port? Will he be able to manage his frail and trembling ship when the storm suddenly spends its strength upon it? Will he not mistake one of the many countries and ports of the long voyage for that one for which he is destined ?
Few travellers, perhaps, stop to make any of these inquiries. Those who do would be satisfied with reasons something like the following:The captain by certain scientific calculations can tell both by night and day, in storms and in fair weather, his exact course. Experience has taught a safe and comparatively easy management of the vessel, in the hour of the greatest peril. And the most satisfactory proof of all is that thousands of ships make the contemplated voyage in safety. All this would be said in proof of its possibility, and in answer to the objections proposed. But, after all, any man might be unwilling to exercise a practical faith in the practicableness of a voyage. There is no such
keuef not compelled.
proof as to remove every possibility of doubt. None are compelled to believe.
Of the same nature are the evidences that the Bible is God's word. They are much stronger and they are more abundant than those upon which men act in common life. Men risk their worldly all to seek gold upon less evidence of success. They expose their lives upon the ocean with less proof of safety. But the Bible does not compel our belief. It affords many and strong evidences of its divine origin, and leaves men to receive them as they do the evidence of common things.
While you study these pages, you will do well to remember what the Bible claims to be, namely The booh of God." Go out in a pleasant evening and look at the bright, clear sky. Behold the stars which shine with so much brillianc}7, and the moon which moves so silently among the clouds, shedding her soft beams over the streams and the forest, and then think of him who made all these. Remember that the Bible claims that same God as its author. Think of the many mercies which crown your life, the food that loads your tables, the house that shelters you from the storm, the friends that so abundantly provide for you, and then think of tue "Father of lights," from whom come all these
good gifts, and recollect that he is declared to be the author of the Bible. If you believe that God gives you food and raiment, home and friends, that the stars shine for your instruction, and the moon gives her light for your gooc\, that every day of your life shows that you are the object of his care, then it will be reasonable for you to believe that this same good God would tell you in some plain way what he wishes you to do to please him, and for what, purpose he had made you, and what was to become of you hereafter. You will do well then to remember this second great truth, that the Bible is the only book which has any good claim to be from God. You would not go to the pretended prophet Mohammed, and take his book, the Koran, which enforces its claims by the sword, and promises to gratify the worst passions of men as the reward of faith. And with less reason, if possible, would you go to the Mormon prophet, whose degraded life is a fair reflection of the character of his pretended revelation from God.
If the Bible claims to be God's book/' and if we must believe that God has not told his children upon earth what is his will and their duty, unless he has told them so in this book, then I think you 1 will agree with me t Jt we ought carefully and seriously to consider the evidence that the Bible is the word of God. When Washington was about to retire from the presidency of the United States, and
THE ORPHAN BOY.
return to private life, he wrote an affectionate address to the, people of this country. He gave them such advice as his long experience and deep interest in his country's welfare suggested. That address is greatly respected by every true American j and indeed every letter and every word which professes to come from him is examined with great respect and care.
Suppose any one of my readers is left an orphan, when but a child. He grows up with but little knowledge of his parents, except the remarks which are occasionally dropped, that they were very devoted Christians. When about to engage in the active duties of life, young, and, of course, inexperienced,-with a feeling of loneliness, and a despondency of spirits, being ready to say, "Nobody cares for me, there is no friend to advise, or sympathize with me:" suppose a manuscript should be given to him, professing to be written by his own father, just before his death. He opens it and examines the handwriting, and compares it with the record of the children's names, wrote by his father's hand in the old family Bible. He inquires where it came from, and investigates carefully all the evidence that it really is from his father. He reads it. It calls him by name. It points out, with a father's affectionate solicitude, the path of honWr and success in life. It warns him of dangers which he never before thought of. It is fuK of sympathy. It not only contains
the best earthly advice upon whbh he can rely, but it is the only exhibition of his departed parent's character and wishes concerning his son, that nas ever come to his knowledge. With what interest and respect does he examine the hand-writing, and study its history since it was written, and reflect upon its claims as a genuine manuscript, and that it is really what it is said to be, A father's dying and only advice to his *son.''^ The document itself would seem at once to him.'to be so excellent, that his feelings would be on the side of its being true. ]Je would desire it to be so. ?ut if, in the course of time, this son should become very profane, iale, and in every respect unworthy of such an excellent father; and if, upon a more careful perusal of this manuscript, it should warn him against the consequences of the course he was pursuing, uttering the most pointed reproof, and holdrttg up a very different course of conduct as the only one that can be safely or honourably pursued, he would then perhaps feel differently in reference to the evidence which showed it to be from his parent's hand. He would wish to disprove ithe would gladly have the manuscript destroyed.
Without the Bible, my you-ng friend, we are like such an orphan. We \mge no certain adviser with regard to another worlo; our way is dark, and tha future full of gloomy forebodings. "Dangers beset ua on every side, and perplexities meet as at every turn.
Why were we created ? What must we do ? What will become of us ? are questions we never could answer, except by the light of the Bible. But this book professes to solve all doubt. If you have the right state of heart, you will examine*it with a desire to receive all the evidence of its truth. It will seem so desirable to have your Father who is in heaven by your side, as it were, to counsel you, that your heart will leap with joy, as, step by step, the evidences of its truth unfold to your apprehension. But if you so live that it reproves youif you are the dissipated and prodigal sonif all your affections are upon earth, I have every reason to fear that you will not consider the evidence I am about to offer in a candid spirit.
Seek to love that which is good. Be a child indeed, that you may learn. Remember you are a worm,and God is the holy and just one who in-habiteth eternitywhose ways are past finding out.* Try to say from the heart, Oh, may the Bible stand forth to me, in all the fulness of its claims, as his revelationmay my head and n v heart bo disposed to receive it in the love of it."
evidence from testimony.
Section I.Testimony illustrated.
The year 1848 was remarkable for a great revolution in France. It commenced with the overthrow of the government of Louis Philippe, and the establishment of a government by the people. In June, there was an unsuccessful attempt to put down the new rulers, and many thousands of the citizens and soldiers were killed. In December, a republic was established and a president chosen. Now suppose a person had arrived in the United States at the time of the commencement of the revolution, and had declared that Louis Philippe, the king of France, notwithstanding he had trained and well-paid soldiers around his palace and parading through every street, and though the walls of Parir had just been fortified at enormous expense, and the city was supplied with well-stored magazines, had been driven from his throne and been Compelled to fly with his family from the country, destitute of the ordinary means of subsistence, and that all this was ac-
three important questions.
complished in the face of there soldiers and ali these defences, by an unarmed people, without the shedding of a drop of blood! The inquiry would first be, What is the character of the man who brings such astonishing, and, in many respects, improbable news ? Is he an honest man, or is he a mere hireling of some newspaper, who is paid for any exciting intelligence he may bring, and who may either have formed this story without any foundation, or greatly exaggerated it ?
Having decided these questions, it would next be asked, Is this the testimony of an eye-witness, or did the man receive it from common report, by which it may have grown from a few slight circumstances into its present form ? And, perhaps the man, if he were honest, would come forward and say, I did not exactly witness these transactions ; but being in the country near Paris, the people flocked out in great numbers, and from many contradictory stories, I gathered what I have reported, and which I believe to be true." Or he might say, that, standing on an eminence not far from the city, he saw a great commotion in its streets. The soldiers were gathering about the palace, and parading in haste to the principal points of defence. The citizens also thronged the residence of the king, and appeared to enter within the doors. Suddenly when he expected to hear the roar of musketry and the tliuniler vf cannon, the soldiers
and people seemed mingled in a friendly mass, and personages resembling the royal family were seen escaping as fugitives from the city.
This last statement concerning the circumstances under which he saw the transaction would give rise to a third question, namely, whether the distance at which he witnessed these circumstances was such as to make it quite probable that he observed accurately. If he only saw a commotion of the soldiers and people, which he supposed to be a threatened battle, and then a friendly mingling; and if he saw persons who from some not very remarkable characteristics seemed to be the royal family, but might have been some other persons of rank, then the face of the whole affair is changed. He might easily have been mistaken.
But if he states that, being in Paris, near the palace, he saw the attack of the people in great anger;heard the cause of their discontent proclaimed about by them; noticed the command to the soldiers to disperse the multitude, and saw them refuse, and finally, with shouts, join the citizens, and following the wishes of the people as they surrounded and secured the palace; saw them go in, and saw the thron', of state tumbled from the window; and if to all this he adds' that he saw the king come out of a private gate, and hastily enter a carriage and drive off; that he had the honour of being in his company frequently; he addressed a
THE QUESTIONS RE-STATED.
few words of condolence to him as he passed, and received his card, the only token of friendship which he happened to have ; Such a statement would have made a different impression.
We will now state the three points distinctly. The Nearer of the news is a person of well-known character for honesty; he is not a reckless, hired newsmonger. This establishes the first point, Is he Iwnestf (2.) We have Ms own testimony, and not some common rumour which comes at second or third hands. This is the second question, Is it the very statement made by the author of the report f9 (3.) And, lastly, we have it plainly declared that he was not on a distant eminence seeing indistinctly the transaction, but was in the street and near the place, where he could see and hear every particular. This is the third point, "Was he in circumstances to know what he stated V9
When any important fact is to be proved, we ask these three important questions, which must be answered fully before the point is established. We will place them in order, as follows:
1. Have we the exact account given by the witnesses themselves ?
2. Were they honest men ?
3. Were they in a situation to know certainlj what they stated ?
But if the events happened a great many years ago, and the eye-witnesses are all dead, we must *
then resort to their written testimony, proved to he their's by undoubted evidence. The following case will illustrate the manner in which this is done.
More than tnree hundred years have passed away since a very extraordinary man, named Martin Luther, lived in Germany. He was at first a monk in the papal church, and was very much devoted to that corrupt form of Christianity. But he found in its austerities and ceremonies no peace for a mind convinced of its sinfulness in the sight of God. After much inward perplexity, Providence placed in his hands a Bible. He read it, and learned that the way of salvation is by faith in Christ, and not by any works of righteousness which man can do. His sorrow was turned into joy. He began immediately, like Saul of Tarsus, to preach the way of salvation by faith alone. He attacked the wicked practices of the papal church. The pope sent his ministers to turn him from his new faith. They met him in a public discussion. They persuaded, dattered, and threatened him. But all did not ivail. He continued to write, and preach, and debate, until the pope upon his throne trembled. A s;reat reformation in religion, commenced by him and his companions in labour, spread through Germany, Switzerland, France and England; and to this day, the world rejoices in its influence.
A life of Luther has lately been written bv the Rev. Dr. Sears, of Boston, Massachusetts, which is,
TIT* ILLUSTRATION CONTINUED. 31
or should be in all of our Sunday-schools. My readers have read it, I hope, or they can go to their libraries and get it and read it. Dr. Sear professes to give an accurate account of the doctrines which Luther taught, of the manner in which his public life was spent; and in many cases he professes to give the very words which he uttered. No one, as I am aware, doubts that he does, in truth, do all this.
The question which I wish the reader to consider is, how can Dr. Sears, three hundred years after Luther's death, know all these facts ? This question is answered in his history. Among many other books from which he obtained his information, he refers to a certain old "Life of Luther," written by Luther's personal and intimate friend, Philip Melancthon. This biography was published during the life of many who knew Luther, both friends and enemies, and its statements were not disputed. To get the materials out of which to prepare his history, Dr. Sears went to G-ermany, and travelled over all parts of the country where Luther is said to have lived and preached, saw the places of most interest connected with the extraordinary incidents of his career, and collected medals that were struck in honour of his life and memory. He also finds many authors quoting from this work of Melancthon, and some of those who lived very nearly at the same period.
We will then suppose that Dr. Sears goes into Prance while writing his history, and finds histories
of "The Reformation," written hy Papists and Protestants, published at different periods, all quoting, more or less, from this Life of Luther by Melancthon. He enters England, searches the ola libraries, and finds many English writers, some of these having lived very near Luther's day, quoting this very life of him by his friend Melancthon. He compares the quotations, and finds that, put together, they make nearly the whole life, and that they agree with each other, German, French, and English authors, and agree also with the copy of "Luther's Life by Melancthon," which professes to have been copied, from time to time, from the very one which the author wrote with his own hands.
Now would it not be very, very strange that all these authors, of different ages and different countries, some friends, and some enemies to Luther, in quoting from Melancthon's Life of Luther, should agree, if it was not the very same biography which Melancthon wrote. But Melancthon saw and knew what he wrote about, and this is the way in which the statements of the eye-witness are obtained, though he may have been dead many hundred years. I shall show, in the next section, that in this way, though by much stronger proof, we know what the manner of Christ's life was, what were the doctrines he taught, and the miracles he performed.
We might take up the second question again, and applying it to this case, ask Was Melancthon
APPLICATION OF THE ILLUSTRATION. 33
honest V To this Dr. Scars would doubtless answer by pointing to the fact that even his enemies did not call in question his honesty in his lifetime with regard to these statements. Besides he got nothing but reproach for espousing Luther's cause, and lost the favour of the rich, the learned, and the great. He had no reason for dishonesty.
We might apply the third question, and ask, Was Melancthon in a situation to know certainly wrhat he stated?" We have already answered this, by saying that he was the companion and confident friend of Luther during nearly his whole life, at least during that part of it concerning which he writes.
Section II.Have we the very Statements of the Authors of the New Testament?
We have a brief life of Jesus Christ by four authors, whose names are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Besides these, we have twenty-three other books, teaching the same doctrines wThich he taughtall professing to be written not far from the same time, constituting unitedly what wre call the New Testament. These twenty-three books were written by Paul, James, Peter, Jude and John. Is the book which we call the New Testament just what they wrote ? This question can be determined in the affirmative, by the same kind of proof which showed that the old u Life of Luther" was the one written by Melancthon.
If we go to Rome, in Italy, we shall find in the libraries there, many books, written by different Italian authors of every age, back to Clement of Rome, who had seen the apostles and conversed with them,* all of whom refer to these sacrec1 books, and quote freely from them. If we search the ancient libraries of France, we shall find authors making numerous quotations from the same books up to the celebrated Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, who lived but a short time after the death of the apostle John. If we go to Africa, we find a series of writers bearing the same testimony up to Tertullian, in the second century. A fourth series are found in Syria up to Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, in A. D. 107. A fifth are found in Asia Minor, up to Poly carp, bishop of Smyrna.
If I should gather together these many hundreds of books, and find in them quotations from our New Testament, so numerous, that together they made nearly the whole volume, and should find that the quotations agreed with each other, and that they also agreed with copies of this Testament which professed to be handed down from the apostles, I should have a right to say, Our Testament con tains the original writings of its authors." How could these writers, many of them enemies to the Christian religion, and enemies to each other,
* Pbil. iv.3.
PRESERVATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. 35
living in different countries and ages, and writing in different languages, agree, unless they all quoted from the same books, and those are the same books which we have. These many writings to which I have referred have been found and read by learned men, and we believe the statement of their existence upon the same grounds that we believe the statement that different writers have quoted from the old Life of Luther by Melancthon.
But if we turn from the quotations, and examine the Life of Christ and his doctrines, that is the New Testament itself, and trace its history, we shall find still more astonishing proof that we have the original testimony which we desire. Less than one hundred years ago, some opposers of the Bible declared that it had been so altered since it was Qrst written, that it was now very different from what it was eighteen hundred years ago. They said that the different copies and the various libraries of tb ) ancient churches differed in many thousand passages. This led pious and learned men to devote their whole lives to the business of collecting all the manuscripts of the various books of the Scriptures, and comparing them together. \fter many years of incredible labour, they found, in various parts of the world, nearly five hundred of these manuscripts; and, instead of many thousand differences, they found that they were so much alike that they all taught the same doctrine;
that they differed scarcely at all, except in the or thography and use of words which meant the same thing; and that even these disagreements were few, and confined generally to two or three manuscripts, while the greatest number were just alike. The reader will find the specimen of these differences, which I am about to give, very interesting and remarkable. I will copy from the "Inspiration of the Bible, by Gaussen," every variation in the Epistle to the Romans, -that has been found in all the ancient manuscripts of the world. In one column is the received translation, and in the other the variations.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS. Received translation. Variations.
Verse CHAPTER I.
16. Of the gospel of Christ. Of the gospel.
24. Wherefore also. Wherefore.
29. Of injustice, of impurity, of Of injustice, of wickedness, wickedness.
81. Without natural affection, Without natural affection, without implacable, without mercy. mercy.
CHAPTER III. 22. To all, and upon all them To all them that believe.
28- We then conclude. We conclude in fact.
CHAPTER IV. 1. Abraham our father. Abraham our ancestox.
19. And not being weak in faith, He looked not, feeble in faith, tc he looked not at, Ac.
CHAPTER VII. 6. That in which being dead. Being dead to that in which. 2C. I tender thanks to God. Thanks be to God.
SPECIMENS OF VARIATIONS.
CHAPTER VIII. 11. By his Spirit. On account of his spirit.
26. To our infirmities. To our infirmity.
Prays for us, with groanings, Prays with groaning*.
31. Works of the law. Works.
32. For they. They.
33. Whosoever. Who.
1. For Israel. For them (referring to Israel.)
2. Against Israel, saying, Lord. Against Israel, Lord.
6. If it is by grace, then it is If it is by grace, is no more b>
no more of works; other- works; otherwise grace i n* wise grace is no more more grace, grace; but if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work. 80. You yourselves were. You were.
CHAPTER XII. 11. Serving the Lord. Serving the opportunity.
20. If then thine enemy. If thine enemy.
CHAPTER XIII. 9. Thou shalt not steal, thou Thou shalt not steal, thou, shall shalt not bear false witness, not covet, thou shalt not covet.
7. Received you. Received us.
8. Now I say. For I say. 19. Of the Spirit of God. Of the Spirit
24. I will go towards you when When I shall depart to go into I shall depart to go into Spain, I hope to see you. Spain, and I hope to see you.
29. With abundance of blessings With abundance of Christ's bene-from the gospel cf Christ. diction.
CHAPTER XVI. 3 Priscilla. Prisca.
6. Ot Achaia. Of Asia.
6. For us. For you.
18. Our Lor'' Jesus Christ. Our Lord Christ.
Here are all the corrections of the Epistle to the Romans, one of the longest and most important books in the sacred volume, having four hundred and thirty-three verses, and ninety-six Greek words not found in any other part of the New Testament. And no other book has any more corrections than this!
" Such is the astonishing preservation of the Greek manuscripts, in which has been transmitted to us the New Testament. After having been copied and re-copied so many times in Asia, Europe, and Africa; in convents, in colleges, in palaces, 01 in parsonages; and that almost without interruption for fifteen hundred years; after that, during the ilast three centuries, and especially the last hundred and thirty years, so many noble characters, so many ingenious minds, so many learned lives have sbeen consumed in labours till then unrivalled in "their extent, and admirable in their sagacity; after all the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, buried in private, or monastic, or public libraries, both Eastern and Western, have been searched; after they have compared with them not only all the ancient versions of the Scriptures, but also all the ancient fathers who have cited them in their innumerable writings, both in Latin and in Greek; after so many researches, see, by our specimen, what they have been able to find !"
Surely we have the original testimony of the writers of the New Testament.
Section III. Were tlie Writers of the New Testament
I have said much about the history of The Re formation" as it is called, and of Martin Luther, its great author under God, in illustration of this subject. I will refer to it further in illustration of this section, because I suppose my readers are acquainted with its history. Let us suppose that a person rises up and says, "I allovv that Dr. Sears, has given us the life and doctrines of Luther just as Melancthon and other friends of his wrote them; but they were dishonest men. They were interested in writing as they did; they had their own private ends to secure." In answer, Dr. Sears may say, u How could that be ? Melancthon was educated and lived a papist, strongly attached to the church of Rome up to the time that Luther began to preach his peculiar doctrines and perform his wonderful works. In stating what he did, he went against all the prejudices of his youth and all the strength of his long cherished notions of religion." And he might further say, that this Melancthon was slow, in many cases, to receive Luther's doctrine, and even at one time came near conceding all that Luther had opposed in the papal church, for the sake of reconciliation with it. Still further, that this Melancthon had every roason, of a selfish kind, to hide the truth rather than publish it. His life was
every moment endangered by what ho aid. Many of his friends were tortured in the most cruel way; some died a lingering death at the hands of their common enemies. From being honoured, his name was everywhere cast out as evil. Besides all this, Melancthon's enemies never charged him with dishonesty. They believed, living in his own day and having it in tlieir power to disprove every statement he made of Luther*s H/e and doctrines, if they were untrue. But even they believed what he stated as facts, though they tried to refer them to wrong motives, or to put an injurious construction upon them. Surely you must say, the charge of dishonesty is not true. Every candid man does say so, for the world believes the whole history.
Let us apply this reasoning to the writers of the New Testament. Were they honest ?"Did they write what they believed to be true ? I answer, the writers were Jews, the very people, of all others, most opposed to Christ, and to all he taught. Their early prejudices and long cherished notions of religion were all against what they wrote. They wero slow to believe his claims to be the Messiah, and opposed his doctrines, up to the very time of his death. They were told by Christ himself, that the world would hate themthat in it they should have tribulationand that whosoever killed them ^ould think he did God service. This they soon found to be true. They suffered the loss of all things, even
THE WRITERS' PREJUDICES.
of life itself, yet they persisted in their testimony a testimony not concerning a religious faith mainly, but of occurrences of which they declared they had been eye-witnesses.
Besides, they speak like honest men. If thev are telling that their Master walked upon the sea, that he fed thousands with a few loaves of bread, that he healed the sick or opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, they state the facts without a word of comment. When they describe his crucifixion, it is with no expressions of reproach upon his enemies nor of sympathy for the sufferer. And there they crucified him" is at once the language of simple truthfulness, and of touching simplicity. There is no effort to prevent misapprehension, indicating a fear of detection. So far from it, there is almost a careless ease manifested, where we should suppose they must know every word would be sifted and weighed. And lastly, they speak of their own faults and hold themselves up to the world, in connection with the history they write, often in the most unfavourable view. Could all this be if they were dishonest men ?
Similar facts connected with other historical books have been received with unhesitating confidence by the world. When the writers of the New Testament put forth claims to honesty upon similar evidence, the world, to be consistent, must not doubt their statements.
EVIDENCE FROM MIRACLES.
Section I. General Illustration of the Subject of Miracles.
Many great and wonderful things are done by man which are not miracles. I will endeavour tc illustrate the difference between such acts and those which are called miraculous.
When, on November 7, 1848, the three millions of voters in the United States were going to the ballot-box to elect a President or Chief Magistrate, each section of the country was anxious to hear from the other. As the election was on the same day in all parts of the land, every means were, of course, used to convey the news of the result as speedily as possible. Probably these votes were not counted earlier than 3 o'clock, P. M., in any place. At 10 o'clock, A. M., the next day, (in about nineteen hours,) the people in the centre of Massachusetts received returns from all the Eastern and Middle States, with the returns from the large cities of
THE MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH.
most of the Western and Southern States, sufficiently full from each to determine their general character When we remember the many thousands of miles that part of this intelligence had to come, the wide extent of country from which it was collected, and the out-of-the-way position of hundreds of the towns and cities, we shall be obliged to acknowledge that it was a great and wonderful circumstance.
Our readers understand, at once, how this intelligence was conveyed. The Magnetic Telegraph wrought the wonder. If we had entered the telegraph office in Cincinnati at the time, we should have seen a man at work, at a very curious piece of machinery. Tick tick tick! and in the twinkling of an eye the news is at Pittsburg. Tick! tick! tick! again goes the curious instrument, and the votes are all recorded at Philadelphia. Thus after a few ticks, the printers in Boston are setting up the returns from the most distant city of the West, situated in what but a few years ago was considered an almost inaccessible wilderness. Thus men speed their thoughts through the length and breadth of our vast country, on the wings of the lightning.
Go into the mills of one of our large manufacturing cities. How like a thing of life does the machinery move! The large and small wheels, the shuttles, the spindles, and even the material which is manufactured, seem to know their place, and to move with the order, precision and understanding
KVIDEKttE from MIUACI.ES.
of living creatures. A few men and young women, or perhaps small boys, stand around watching the operations, as if only prompting or suggesting what equal minds were doing. From the raw cotton we soon see the elegantly baled cloth,or from the roughest looking material, the most beautifully wrought carpet,or from dirty rags, the finest writing paper.
Now let us look at the nature of these wonderful operations. Without attempting to explain them fully, we can state a few of the principles connected with them. God has made a very subtle fluid, called electricity, remarkable for the rapidity of its motion. Man, by his power of mind which his Creator has conferred upon him, has contrived to use this fluid to convey intelligence, by the same wisdom that led him to use water to turn his wheels, and steam to propel his cars. This fluid is subject to laws or invariable rules, just as water and steam are. When he has ascertained the nature of this agent and the laws which govern it, he applies it to a certain purpose. It becomes a piece of common knowledge among men, and is made to work on with frequent improvements from age to age. So in the manufactory. Here are contrivances which will doubtless continue to be used in the same way, for the same purposes, so long as men have any interest in employing them.
It is related by Weems, as one of the traditions abcut George Washington, that when he was a small
STORY OF GEORGE "WASHINGTON.
boy, his father adopted a very wise plan to impress upon his mind the great truth that there is a God who made all things. The story may be used, on such authority as we have, for a very different, though, I think, an equally appropriate purpose. George, one day, came running, out of breath, to his father, exclaiming, Father 0 father Do coma and see what I have found in the garden. You never saw any thing so wonderful! Do come quick.''* Taking his father by the arm, he pulled him along into the garden, his eyes all the whiJj sparkling with delight, and showed him, marked out by green plants, just shooting from the ground, the name of u George Washington." "There, father," said he, did you ever see any thing like it ? My name growing in this bed !"
Well might he be surprised at so unusual a sight. But any of my readers who can write can go into the garden in the spring, and prepare a piece of ground by breaking the earth up and giving it a fine even surface, and then in the mellow soil mark out a name. We may then drop into the lines which are so marked some flower or vegetable seeds, and, of course, they will come up in the shape of the name. All this happens according to established laws of nature.
I will now attempt to explain the difference between these wonderful things and miracles. If the man who arranges the telegraphs in this country, instead of using the laws jrod has fixed, and
by which electricity is governed, should have stood in the city of Cincinnati, and pointing to a cloud from which the lightning was flashing, have said, u Let that lightning record the votes of this city this moment, in the Boston Post Office;" and if the lightning had obeyed, so that the result of the Western elections had been known in a few hours throughout New England, that would have been a miracle. Or, if the same person professing to teach some great truth, sent directly from God, had performed this act in the presence of the citizens of Cincinnati, and for the purpose of proving that God sent him to teach that truth, then it would have been a miracle, and of the same character with those recorded in the Bible.
If some great machinist should enter a manufactory, and, instead of fitting one wheel to another, or placing some band so as to move distant and different sets of wheels, using well-known rules all the way through, and applying the power of water or steam, to set them in motion, should touch the bales of raw cotton and say, Let these become bales of cloth, ready for the market,"' and they should become such, that would be a miracle. He would use no laws by which God has made it possible for man to change raw cotton into cloth, but the result would be contrary to such laws. Nor could another man do the same, though he should have seen the manner in which the machinist "stretched out his hr.nd, and I card the very words'
If Washington's father had taken his little son into the garden in the month of January, and^ taking his cane, had marked his name on th6 ground, and said, Let green plants spring up instantly in the marks which I make''and the name had immediately appeared, to the delight and surprise of his son, that would have been a miracle. He would have used none of the laws which God has established, to govern the springing forth of plants, but he would have acted above or contrary to those laws.
Dr. Franklin sent up a paper kite among tho clouds when they were black and all ready to discharge their electric fluid, and drew the lightning down, all according to a law of attraction which God had given it. He did not command it to come; and any scientific man or boy can at any time do the same. Robert Fulton entered a boat on the Hudson river, and, after great toil and study and expense, applied the power of steam according to law, and propelled the boat against the current. He did not stand and command the boat to sail up the river.
Men make plants grow in the coldest weather, and cause water to become ice in summer, but it is by God's lavs. When then the known laws which God has made in nature are set aside, or suspended, the result is called a miracle. As we have shown,
do matter how great and wonderful an event it is, if it be in accordance with known laws, we cannot call it miraculous.
If a man pretends to work a miracle, it must be before men that they may see it, and be that kind of an act which they can understand. If a person should stand and order the course of the lightning before all who might assemble to see him, they could judge of the act; and if all the citizens of Boston read the intelligence of the election, as we just now supposed, in the next half hour, they could judge of thai fact.
If a philosopher should stand with a multitude of persons on the banks of a stream, at an appointed hour, and command the water to leave its channel, and ascend in a column two hundred feet through the air, the people could judge of such an act. They could as easily tell that the water ascended, as they can that it runs in its natural channel. Men are then capable of judging when a miracle is wrought. But if these or like acts are done, they must be by the power of (.rod. No created being can do any thing contrary to the laws of nature, as established by Him who made all things.
But nobody who believes in a God doubts that he can set aside his own laws, or suspend them. It is as easy for him, and as much his right, to roll the sun back in its apparent course, as to make it go
THE PURPOSE OF MIRACLES.
forwardto cause plants to grow as well in winter as in summer, or bread to be made of stones as well as of wheat. But will he ever do so? The witnesses whose testimony is recorded in the Bible say he nas done so, and we have proved that we have their uncorrupted testimony, and that they had every motive to speak the truth. Yet we are not called upon to believe that God will violate his own laws without good reasons. He has good reasons for doing all that he does in the ordinary course of nature, and very many of these reasons are plain to every thoughtful person. The reason why, in a particular case, he seems not to observe them, may be equally plain. Such is the case with the miracles of the Scriptures. Men say they are taught certain things of Godabout heaven and hell, holiness and sin, which are very important, and which men never did, or could find out of themselves. How do we know that Paul, for instance, is taught of God, or is not mistaken, when he says that God has told him to declare that "a man is justified by faith, and not by works V We know by the miracles he performs, and which he performs on pur pose to show that God is with him and teaches him. God would not work through him in setting aside or suspending his own laws, if he were a fanatic or a liar.
A certain pretended teacher of the community called Mormons, once calhd on a friend of mine. He tried to convince him that Mormonism is true, and
that he had a new revelation from heaven. Thi. friend heard his arguments and doctrines very quietly, and when the impostor closed, calmly said, 4'If you have a new revelation, you can work a miracle.11 "Well,"' said the other, "I can." u Well, then," said my friend, here is an arm which has been withered ever since I was a boy. It has no vitality. It is past all cure. Speak the word and heal this arm, and I will believe your doctrines and espouse your cause." The false teacher hastened away in confusion. But when Christ called upon the people to believe that he was the Messiah foretold by the prophets, he admitted at the same time that the Messiah was to do many great and miraculous works, and he proved his Messiahship by doing them. Thus did the apostles and early Christians who were commissioned to make known more fully Christ's doctrines. We have now illustrated these important facts which I will repeat connectedly.
1. A miracle is something not in accordance with the laws of nature and consequently can be done only by the immediate agency of God.
2. To deserve credit, it must be done openly, and be such in its nature as that people may clearly apprehend.
3. It must be done to confirm some doctrine claimed to be from God, and by the instrumentality of the persor. daiming to teach that doctrine
Section IV. Were these Writers in a Situation to knoio certainly what they state?
We need say but few words under this head. If we have proved, as we think we have, that the gospel contains the real testimony of the witnesses, and that they were honest, then we must believe them when they say that they were Christ's companions in his travels, and during his entire ministry ; that they were upon the water with him; that they heard his command to the waves Be still," and saw the calm which ensued; that they handled "the few loaves" which he blessed, gave them to the multitude, and took up the twelve baskets of fragments; that they knew Lazarus who was sick, saw his weeping sisters, and heard the testimony (undenied by opposing Jews) that he has been dead four days already;" that they heard his command to the dead to come forth," and saw their friend Lazarus start up from the tomb with his grave-clothes on; in short, no miracle was hidden from them,nothing was done in secret; they saw him dragged away to Pilate's bar; they witnessed his toilsome journey to Calvary; they beheld him hanging upon the tree; they saw the darkness, felt the shock of the earthquake, and heard his expiring praj7er! In company with watchful enemies, they looked upon his lifeless body. On the third day after his resurrection some of their company saw him alive, and through the space of forty days after, tl^y all saw
WATER TURNED INTO BLOOD.
Section II.The Miracles of Moses.
1 shall only notice a few of the many extraordinary acts of Moses, the man of God."' The reader can turn to the 7th chapter of Exodus and the chapters which follow, and read the history of all his miracles, to bring afresh to his mind their astonishing character.
The first to which I shall call attention is The turning of the waters into blood.'* Moses was sent by Jehovah to request Pharaoh to let his people go out of Egypt that they might worship him. The first object of Moses, in fulfilling his commission, was to convince Pharaoh and his subjects, as well as the children of Israel, that the Lord only was God. The Lord said when Moses was about to work a miracle, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord.'* Aaron, at the command of Moses, stretched forth his rod and smote the waters that were infthe river, and "all the water that was in the river was turned into blood. And all the Egyptians loathed the water, and the fish in it died."
In this miracle we notice the fact, that it was such a one as all the people could know and appreciate. The Nile, the river which was turned into blood, and which became so loathsome, was held in great veneration; its waters were peculiarly excellent, and it was the entire* dependence of the people to render their land productive. They
could not, therefore, but know that this miracle wat wrought.
There was a reason for its being done, namely to convince that generation, as well as all coming generations, that Israel's God was the only God, and that he spoke in his word by Moses; and lastly, it was done by the agency of Moses, who professed to teach the will of God. That the water of a mighty river should be turned into blood by the word of nan, is surely not in accordance with any known law which God has made, but contrary to the well-known laws of water. God only could have done this act. It is true, the magicians attempted to imitate it by their tricks, but that it was an unsuccessful attempt is evident from the fact that they soon ceased to contend with Moses and Aaron.
Again, Moses commanded Aaron to lift up his rod, and a darkness so thick that it might be felt pervaded the land of Egypt. But there was at the same time light in all the dwellings of the Israelites, their neighbours. It could not arise from an eclipse, for it lasted three flays, whereas an eclipse which causes darkness lasts in any one place, but a few momentsand eclipses are not partial, making the dwellings of some dark, and leaving others light. This was a miracle that all could and must know. It was not done in secret, or before a few credulous persons. The effect was general and awful. No one could impose upon a
tf,rit!sT-norN OF THE EGYPTIANS SLAIN. 59
m. ^ith such iu\ event as this, and none could wii'.:e it as history, as Moses has done, unless it actually too* place.
Another miracle was the slaying of the first-born of man and beasts of the Egyptians, while the families of the Israelites escaped unhurt. If it is according to God's law that many shall die where he sends the plague, it is not according to any law that the first-born only shail die. Such a circumstance besides this was never known. Nor is it according to any law, that those cf our own people shall die, and those of another, living among them, shall escape. And this, too, was an event deeply impressed upon the minds of millions jf people. It has been kept in continual remembrance by the institution of the Passover among the Jews, and a solemn ceremony among the Egyptians, as already mentioned.
Suppose the cholera should have killed the first-born in every family in Cincinnati or St. Louis, would not that event have been known throughout our country, and would not history record it as most extraordinary ? And if the day on which it occurred should be observed as a day of fasting in such a city for the next hundred years, would any future age doubt its reality ?
Or suppose some historian, who has partly completed a history of the United States, should affirm that such an event actually did take place in the year 1820, and relate all the circumstances, would any
one believe such a story, or could such a statement be handed down to future ages uncontradicted ? Every body would say the cholera never was known in the United States till 1832. It is false.
When the Israelites had escaped from their oppressors, and had arrived at the borders of the sea, their enemies, armed and breathing fearful threatenings, pressed upon their rear, while the wilderness and the sea shut them in. But Moses stretched out his rod, and the sea divided, and the people passed through in safety. The Egyptian army followed, and when they had all entered, the waters returned into their accustomed channels, and destroyed them. God, in this case, made use of an east wind to cause the sea to go back. Now it is according to the laws which govern wind and water, that a "strong east wind'* should dry up water, but not that it should dry up a sea in one night. Nor is it according to those laws that the wind should cause the sea to "go back," and the water to stand up upon each side as a wall; neither is it natural for it thus to continue until one people shall pass through its channel dry-shod," and close upon the army of another when they were attempting to follow.
Suppose Washington with his army, being closely pressed by a superior English force, and crossing the Delaware river in the night, had lifted his sword, pointing to the river, and com-
WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELAWARE. 61
manded its waters to divide, and they had piled themselves on each side, like a wall of solid stone, until his army had passed through ; and suppose the British had attempted to follow, and been drowned in the midst of the river; and let us imagine still further that a very beautiful song had been composed by some officer or soldier in the American army, and had been sung ever since throughout the country in commemoration of the event, would any one doubt that it actually happened? The English nation would know whether they had lost an army, and their national pride would have led them to have contradicted the manner of its loss, if possible; and the whole American army would know whether they crossed the Delaware under the circumstances supposed. No history could, at any time, impose such a transaction upon the world, if it had never happened. Still more remarkable was the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites, for here was a whole nation. Millions of people were actors in this scene, and every one would be a witness for or against the record of the event; and still more impossible would it have been for Moses, or any person, to have fabricated the story.
The last of the Old Testament miracles which I shall mention, is the fall of the manna in the wilderness. By it some millions of the children of Israel were fed for forty years. It fell six days in the week, but on the seventh there was none. If
during five of the days of the week they gathered more than enough for one day, it bred worms, and was spoiled; but that which was gathered on the sixth day, though double in quantity, kept in a wholesome state two days; and the supply ceased altogether when the people arrived in Canaan, where there was corn.
Some parts of Ireland, have been, for a few years past, in a great measure destitute of food, and many of them are known to have starved. If the queen of England, their sovereign, had claimed to have been raised up by God to teach them their duty to him more fully than it is now revealed, and if she had called upon God to send them food from heaven every day, in receiving it directly from the sky, as they now do the rain, they would have known God spake by her. And if it had all the peculiarities of the manna, that is, if it came regularly every day, except that it came on Saturday for Sunday,none being sent on that day, and ceased whenever they could obtain other food, it would have been still more astonishing. Would not all the Irish people have known this was a miracle? They could not be deceived. The English nation would know it, and the world would be filled with the news of such an event. No man could pretend such a thing was true and make men believe it, unless it really was so. It could and would soon be disproved, if it was fabricated. And so of i,he manna which came from
A CASE SUPPOSED.
him frequently and at different placesthey ate with himhandled his bodyheard him converse; and finally they stood "gazing up into heaven" while he ascended in a cloud in the sight of an assembly of more than five hundred persons.
Surely, they were more than dishonest, they were above expression wicked in heart and life, if they did not see what they declare they saw. And moreover, such assertions if not true, would have been contradicted at the very time they were made.
Section V.The Testimony of the Writers of the New Testament confirmed.
If a man should be tried in a court of justice for stealing, and two men of good character should testify that they saw him in the very act, and there should be no conflicting testimony, the jury would be fully satisfied of his guilt. But still, if some pieces of money known to be the same that were stolen were found about his person, this circumstance would be regarded as a strong confirmation of the testimony.
We have probably all read the history of the battle of Bunker Hill with great interest. We have fancied we could see Charlestown wrapt in devouring flames, and hear the roar of musketry and cannon from the surrounding heights. Who ever doubted the correctness of the history? But if yju should go on to that same battle-ground,
and gaze upon the noble granite monument whose top rises towards the clouds, you would feel that here is an evidence that such a battle was fought, confirm-ing the historical statement. So long as that pile stands, defying the winds and storms, so long will it defy all unbelief of the event it commemorates.
More than three thousand years ago the sacred historian recorded the fact, that in one night all the first-born, both of man and beasts, of the Egyptians were slain, and that the first-born of the Israelites, in the same land, were spared. Now if you should chance to find a company of Israelites at this very day, in sufficient numbers to have stated worshipwhether they were in Europe, Asia, Africa, or Americayou would see them, at a certain period of the year, celebrating the "passing over" of the angel of death, when he spared the first-born of their fathers. If you should visit Egypt, as travellers inform us, you would see the Egyptians at the same period of the year, rising up at midnight, lighting torches and going through their dwellings, howling as if for the dead.* These customs confirm the testimony of the historian.
* It is a matter of common history that the Egyp tians were in the habit for thousands of years, even down to modern times, of risirg at midnight on a certain day of the year, and lighting candles, going about the house Weeping and groaning until midnight.Nelson's Cause and Cure of InfidelityNew York edition, ch. lxiii, 1837, p. 292
FOURTH OF JULY.
The history of the United States declares, that cm the 4th of July, 1776, a Declaration of Independence" was adopted and publicly announced in the city of Philadelphia. On every successive year since 17765 the 4th of July has been observed in all parts of the United States, by enthusiastic rejoicings ; and all this confirms the testimony of history, and will not fail to do so, so long as they are continued.
The writers of Christ's history say that he was crucifiedthat his body was broken and his blood shed for the sins of the world. Jhey state that on a certain occasion he directed that wine should be drunk and bread eaten by his disciples, in memory of his sufferings and death, to the end of the world. The Christian church, in all ages and countries, to this day have observed this rite or ceremony. It is called u The Lord's Supper.'' These same writers also state that he commanded all his disciples to be baptized "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost." In every place where that gospel is known, this solemn sacrament is also observed. Still further, these witnesses affirm that, at the commencement of the preaching of the doctrines of Christ by his disciples, a church was formed and a ministry estab 2Lshed as a part of the gospel system. That church and that ministry are found universally, to this day, in connection with that gospel. These are the
THE ADVENT OF CHRIST.
heaven for three millions of starving people. They could not be deceived, and Moses could not have written it as truth, if it were not known to be so.
Section III.The Miracles of Christ
No being ever appeared in the world, with so imposing a character, or with so high pretensions, as our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The heavenly hosts rejoiced at his birth. A light, from that moment, dawned in the midst of the deepest darkness of our sin-smitten world. Those that waited for the consolation of Israel,"* from the instant that it was said "A Saviour is given," exclaimed, "Now lettest thou thy servants depart in peace; for our eyes have seen thy salvation."
Christ claimed to bring life and immortality to light"to possess in himself "all the fulness of the Godhead"and to be equal with the Father." He proclaimed the natural unfitness of man to dwell with God; but offered him salvation in his own name, and as a free gift. He declared this salvation possible, because of the shedding of his own blood as a sacrifice for sin. He promised to be with all his disciples everywhere, even unto the end of the world; and finally, he represented himself as the future judge of the wrorld, and as having the right to admit his faithful people to sit upon his throne," and to wear crowns of glory for ever and ever.
Surely no teacher ever made pretensions like these.
ad his worldly substance at their feet, if they would but save his daughter.
Suddenly a ray of hope crossed the father's mind. He remembered, in the extremity of his sorrow, the "Prophet of Nazareth," whose fame had filled the land. He remembered the report of his unexampled goodness; he had seen the blind rejoicing in their restored sight; the lame, whom his benevolence had ft d while sitting at his gate begging, had returned from a visit to him, walking and leaping and praising God. The pride of the ruler is lost in the afflicted and subdued parent. He believed in the power of Jesus of Nazareth, and he sets otT to urge his immediate presence. He would not trust so important an errand to his servants. He did not hesitate, when he arrived, to pay divine honour to the Saviour, though he knew the Jews would deride him. His heart was deeply smitten while he remembered that his only daughter lay dying." He earnestly entreated the Saviour to come and heal her.
But while the master turned to perform another benevolent act, the messenger came to announce that the child was really dead Why need the Saviour be further troubled ? they thought. The work of death, is done. All hope has vanished. But the Saviour would not suffer that parent's heart long to be wrung with anguish. Looking with tenderness upon him, he said, "Fear not." Uow timely! How grateful to his sinking spirit!
JAIRUS. S DAUGHTER.
"Believe only, and she shall be made whole"' The parent, accompanied by the Saviour, soon entered his now desolate house. There were many persons present, but Jesus put them forth and went in, and took the maid by the hand, and she arose !
How extensively must the news of so astonishing an event have been circulated through that country i A multitude thronged about the Saviour as he went towards the ruler's house. They knew the errand on which he had come. They heard the messenger say, Thy daughter is dead."' Many of the people entered the house and satisfied themselves she'was dead, for when the Saviour said, She is not dead/" (meaning not irrecoverably dead,) thinking he meant she had yet life remaining in her, they derided him. It was such a case as they could understand, and when they saw her arise up and eat before them, they were astonished.
After Jesus had wrought the miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, he journeyed towards Jericho, the city made memorable by the falling of its walls at the sound of the ram's horns of the children of Israel under Joshua. A great multitude accompanied him, for the excitement in consequence of the resurrection of Lazarus was very great, A. he drew near unto Jericho, two blind men, who sat by the way-side begging, cried out most earnestly, s* Thou Son of David, have mercy on is I" They had without doubt heard of the wonder-
fill acts of this far-famed prophet. They had long felt the deep affliction of blindness; but they had considered their case as a hopeless one. 11 Who ever heard of one that could open the eyes of those who are born blind ?" had been, perhaps, :he language of their hearts. They had heard men speak of the glorious sun, and of the beauties of nature ; they pressed the hand of friendship, and had sighed to look upon the countenances of those they loved.
A rumour had come to them that one Jesus, a prophet, "mighty in deed and in word/" had opened, by a touch, the sightless eyes of many an humble supplicant. They may have long sighed to hear the tones of his voice of mercy. But who cares for the unfortunate ? They were beggars. Who shall carry them where the Saviour labours? The boon is too great to ask. Their tears must fall in silence.
But they hear the voice of a multitude. They inquire the reason of the trampling of so many feet, It is Jesus of Nazareth/' is the reply. "Jesus of Nazareth I"The very name sent a thrill of joy through their hearts. As with one voice they cry out, Son of David, have merc> on us!" There were none to lead them to Christ, but there are many to repulse their importunate application to him. What to the tl oughtless multitude who follow Christ through mere curiosity is the blessing of sight, the loss of which they never experienced ?
" Be still!" say the by-standers. Clam mr not for
TI1E blind SEE.
himHe will iiot notice beggars like you ?" Alas! how little of the character of Christ do the world understand! He never turned a deaf ear to the voice of earnest supplication. He came for the very purpose of giving sight to the blind, healing the brokenhearted, and preaching the gospel to the poor.
He commanded them to be brought to him. When the Master calls, there are those who are ready to help. They catch the infection of his benign spirit. Be of good cheer; rise, he calleth thee.'" "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" is the encouraging question. They are not at a loss for an answer. 11 Lord, open our eyes." They were intent on the great blessing of sight. This was the only opportunity of receiving it they ever would have. They cannot now be denied.
He touched their eyes. They saw instantly. What a change! Hard indeed must have been their hearts if they had felt no disposition to follow him in the way," praising God. Consider the greatness of this act, the opeiling the eyes of men horn blind!Consider hoic public it was. They sat by the way-side begging. They were well known : and then what a number of witnesses!in the open street, amidst a crowd of enemies as well as friends.
We have often seen, in one of our large cities, a blind man sitting at thex corner of one of the most crowded streets. Perhaps he has a few apples to sell. There he sits, sad, and almost motiouless
The thoughtless pass him, and notice him not, The multitude throng around, earnestly pursuing their schemes of gain or glory. But his position for many years in that same place has caused him to be extensively known, and they all know that he is blind. If Jesus were on earth to day, and had made professions of his Messiahship, and should visit that city, and amidst the multitude that were eagerly gazing upon him, some watching with malicious intentions his every act, he should stop, and while this bund man cried out Open my eyes," he should touch them and restore his sight, how clear would be the proof of his divine power! How would the fact become noised abroad, and how easily could the deception be detected if there had been any attempt to deceive!
Such were the miracles of Christ. The examples we have selected are not, perhaps, the most striking. Where all are so clearly performed by divine power, so astonishing in their character, and so convincing in the proof they afford that they were of God, we had no need to be careful in our selection. Let a few particulars concerning Christ's miracles be remembered.
1. They were generally performed in the most public manner. The chief priests, in many cases, doubtless, and the bitterest enemies of Christ, witnessed them
2. They were, very numerous. It became so notorious that th's professed Messiah wrought miracles that the people would naturally be on the watch for
FACTS TO BE MENTIONED.
them. This gave all skeptics an opportunity to attend on his ministry, and see his mighty acts for themselves. The Jewish Council could send their most sagacious men, and prove whether or not he possessed this power; a test which they allowed would settle his claims to be sent of God. This they did, they did watch him closely, and this leads us to notice another very important fact.
3. Neither the Jewish rulers nor any of that generation attempted to deny that Christ raised the dead, healed the sick, fed multitudes with a few loaves, opened the eyes of the blind, and cast out devils. They did indeed say that he cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. But this was only their very weak and wicked construction of a very plain matter. Our Lord's answer was sufficient to silence them on this point. The devil could not engage in a warfare against himself; he would not be found demolishing his own work. "If Satan be divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand ?" The weakness of the objection shows how impossible it was to disprove the divine character of his miracles.
4. They were all of a kind suited to his character and the design of his holy mission. This point we repeat here, because it should impress our minds. Christ's miracles were like himself and like the gospel he preached,they exhibited the coinpas si on ol God to fallen man.
monuments of the events which they have recrrded the confirmation of their testimony. When Christians partake of the bread and wine, they do show forth the Lord's death fin baptism they acknowledge that they believe in Christ for salvation. Thus they have done in all ages. It would be as reasonable for Americans to doubt that our independence was declared jn the 4th of July. 1776though each return of the day is distinguished by the nation's joy in commemoration of that eventas to doubt that Christ was crucifie'd, when they see the memorials of his death in these sacred solemnities of his professed followers.
Section VI.Concerning the Testimony of tlie Writers of tlie Old Testament.
We have shown that we have the writings of the authors of the New Testament, unimpaired; that they were honest men, and had ample opportunity to know what they wrote.
Now, the New Testament writers speak of the Old Testament as God's Book. They quote from almost every part of it, calling it the holy Scrip tures," and say it is all given by inspiration of God," and that holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
As soon as we commence the book of Matthew, we find an account of the ancestors of Christ, preserved in the Old Testament. The prophets are
THE OLD TESTAMENT. 47
referred to immediately; and Christ says, All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the Psalms, and in the Prophets, concerning me," thus recognising the three general divisions of the Old Testament, viz.:1. Tlie historical books. 2. The poetical writings. 3. The writings of the prophets.
The manuscripts of the Old Testament have been preserved in the same wonderful manner as those of the New, and their authors afford the same evidence of iionesty, and had the same abundant opportunity to know wrhat they testified. Therefore, if we receive the testimony of the writers of one, we >ust receive that of the others.
Section IV.The Resurrection of Christ.
The Apostle Paul* says, If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vajn." He laid much stress on this great truth, in proof of the divine authority of his own preaching [t is the most important, and the most interesting and convincing of all the miracles of the Scriptures. We will examine the account of it briefly :
The Saviour, during his public preaching, had said that he should be betrayed, tried, condemned and crucified, but the third day he would rise again. Thus all his enemies and all who doubted his assertion were put upon their guard against deception. The Jewish rulers who crucified him remembered this saying, and were virtually challenged to pre-vent or disprove its final accomplishment. The fame of his promised resurrection was as extensively circulated as the report of his wonderful works. How intensely interested then must the whole city have been in the progress of his trial!
As the news of his arrest spread, his enemies doubtless said, "Now we shall see what will become of his promise of living again after the third day.'" And, among the many who believed on him, there were possibly some who, unlike the twelve, clung to his premise with a steady faith,'saying, He will burst
* 1 Cor. xv. 14.
CERTAINTY OF HIS DEATH.
tne bands of death. He will triumph over the grave. I shall see him in his glory Vi
Under these circumstances, there could be no mistake in the fact that he was really put to death. His enemies, with malignant satisfaction, saw his body scourged and lacerated. Their own hands bound the thorns about his brow. They followed his weary steps to Calvary, and hung him upon the cross. They triumphed in their hearts when they saw his agony, and cried, He saved others; himself he cannot save."' They gazed at him, until they knew that he was really dead, for they would first of all be sure that his predicted resurrection should not be a mere resuscitation; and in addition to the crucifixion, a soldier pierced his side with his spear, making death certain beyond all doubt. But their care stopped not here. They laid him carefully in the tomb. It was his own body; there could be no mistake about this. They closed the door and rolled against it a heavy stone, and placed a seal upon it. If the disciples had broken that seal, the people would have known it. But to make it still more sure, a guard of Roman soldiers was set to watch the tomb. Their life depended upon their vigilance. While the enemies of Jesus thus thought to defeat the Saviour's design, the}r were preparing the strongest proof of the event which he had predicted.
It being certain that the Saviour was dead, they J
waited the return of the third day. The tomb was visited, but the body was not there Could the disciples have stolen him away ? So* say the chief priests, and thereby they acknowledge that the body is really gone. Was the seal broken ? No. Did all the soldiers sleep under such circumstances H Impossible. They were told to say that the disciples came by night and stole the body away while they slept. But how did they know what happened when they were asleep ?
The disciples were timid, and had little apprehension of Christ's true character. They had no clear understanding of his resurrection. But some of them, with the women, coming to the tomb early on the first day of the week, found not the body, but were astonished at seeing Christ himself. Again and again he appears to them for the space of forty days, going in and out with them, and conversing about the things of his kingdom. They ate with him. They handled his body. More than five hundred saw him at one time. This is the disciples' story. This account they published at the very time of the transaction, when his enemies, the unbelieving Jews, had the fairest opportunity to disprove it. They published the facts at Jerusalem, yes, in the temple, in the very ears of thosr who crucified himwho watched him at his death, and who saw his body laid safely away in the tomb. They could rise up.( if it wero possible, and
PUBLICITY OF THE TESTIMONY.
say, u We know your story of his resurrection is not true ; we have seen his body sincehis dead bodysince the third day." Or, upon the first announcement of this, to them, unpleasant truth, they could, (if the disciples testified falsely,) hasten at once to the sepulchre, and produce the body.
But no. They adopted no such course. To oppose to the disciples' statement, they have only the testimony of those who allowed that they were asleep at the time. But even this defence is soon abandoned, it being too weak to be insisted upon, and the publishers of Christ's resurrection have the field to themselves. From the Roman governor, and the Jewish high priests, down to the lowest reviler of the name of Christ, not one dared to say, M Your story of the resurrection is false."
The disciples were arrested, scourged, and charged to say no more about the unwelcome truth. Not because they published a lie and deceived the people, but because the rulers were afraid it would stir up the jealousy of the Romans, or excite the rage of the people, who might charge them with the blood of that just person. From the crowded temple of the Jews, and the thronged city of Jerusalem, to the extreme boundaries of the land of Canaan, u Jesus and the resurrection was proclaimed. Nor did the disci-p/es tarry long among those who accounted themselves unworthy of eternal life; but among the philosophers of Greece, the orators of Rome, the
great and the lowly, the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, of every city and country, the same doctrines were announced. They endured all manner of reproach in attesting this fact. They were derided, imprisoned, and many of them were put to death, yet they persevered to the last in their testimony.
Let the reader recollect that they declared not a religious opinion, such as might or might not be true, but a fact which they asserted they had seen with their own eyes.
On this point, an excellent writer says, "It is common for men to die for false opinions. But even in those cases their sufferings are an evidence of their sincerity; and it would be very hard to charge men who die for the doctrine they profess, with insincerity in their profession. Mistaken they may be, but every mistaken man is not a cheat. If we allow the sufferings of the apostles to prove their sincerity, which we cannot well disallow ; and consider that they died for the truth of a matter of fact, which they had seen themselves; we shall perceive how strong the evidence is in the case. In doctrines and matters of opinion, men mistake perpetually ; and it is no reason why I should take up with another man's opinion, that I am persuaded he is sincere in it. But when a man reports to mc an uncommon fact, yet such a one as, in its own nature, is plainly an object of sense, if I believe him not|
CLOVEN TONGUES. 77
it is not because I suspect bis eyes, or his sense of feeling, but merely because I suspect his sincerity. For if I were to see the same thing myself, I should believe myself \ and therefore my suspicion does not arise from the inability of the human senses to judge in the case, but from a doubt of the sincerity of the reporter. In such cases, therefore, there wants nothing to be proved but the sincerity of the reporter; and since voluntary suffering for the truth is, at least, a proof of sincerity, the suffering of the apostles for the truth of the resurrection is a full and unexceptionable proof."
Section V.Miracles of the early Christians,
I shall but allude to the miracles wrought by those who claimed to be commissioned by God to carry out the great work of men's salvation, by publishing in all the world the glad news of the gospel. Some of these Christians wrote a part of the Bible. We receive their words as from God. If, then, they really did such works as no man could do, we have the proof that they were inspired, and, as they were the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it serves as an additional evidence that that great miracle was wrought.
Let us turn to the 2d chapter of the Acts. It ^was the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. "There were dwelling at Jerusalen, Jews, devout men, out
of every nation under heaven." Their minds had been filled with the fame of Jesus They had been informed of his death, and had heard the report also that he was risen again. No doubt they were skeptical, if not full of animosity against the professed Messiah. Now it was noised abroad that the disciples of this Jesus were filled with divine power. Public curiosity was immediately excited. People Tan together to the place where the disciples were assembled, and were amazed to hear themunlearned men as they werespeak each in his own language; as if a convention of Frenchmen, Austrians, Italians, Spaniards, Japanese, and Sandwich Islanders, should be assembled in New York to attend the May meetings, and half a dozen unlettered American fishermen should come in and address them in the language of their respective countries. Here was a fact of which all could judge. It occurred at Jerusalem, at the time when that city was filled with people. It was therefore known to thousands. It was wrought by those who now began to preach the gospel.
Of th*3 same characterclearly miraculous and extensively knownwere all the miracles of the early Christians. They spake, therefore, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
I have thus briefly laid before the reader the subject of the miracles of the Bible. How astonishing their nature How great their variety. How be-
CONCLUSION OP SUBJECT OF MIRACLES 79
nevolent their character, and at the same time how convincing is their testimony! The finger of God is clearly seen in them all. The voice of Jehovah is heard through them calling upon men to listen. The will of God is plainly made known in connection with them, so that they, to whom the Bible comes, may take it as a light to guide them safely to heaven.
evidence from prophecy.
Section I. What is Prophecy?
Not a great many years since, thi rich and fashionable people of Boston erected u beautiful building in one of the most frequented streets, and dedicated it to theatrical performances. Thither they hoped the young and the gay, the rich and the influential, would resort, and sustain the reputation of such amusements. While pleasure-seekers rejoiced in the enterprise, the pious mourned. They saw in it the means of the ruin of many promising youth. A clergyman was at that time officiating as pastor of a church in that city. With regard to 'his theatre he remarked, (and the observation became generally known,) I shall yet preach the gospel in that building.11
Years rolled on. The pastor removed to a Western city, and the theatre continued to be crowded with its votaries. But the gospel was at fhe same
time exerting its silent and powerful influence upon the community. The interest in theatrical amusements began, at length, to wane, and the templed of God were filled with attentive worshippers. The gain of those who owned the theatre was gone, and it was sold to a society of Christians, to be consecrated to the service of Almighty God. The pastor was visiting his old friends in Boston, at the time the purchase was completed, and he preached the first sermon within its capacious walls. I was favoured with the privilege of hearing that sermon. The venerable man of God stood upon the stage, where the actors had been accustomed to perform for the amusement of a thoughtless multitude, with many of the decorations of the theatre remaining in the building, and proclaimed the unsearchable riches of Christ. Before him sat an aged and distinguished friend in the ministry, around him were the pastors of perhaps fifty churches, and, crammed into every part of the house, was a listening audience.
In commencing his discourse, the pastor pleasantly remarked, alluding to the prediction above mentioned, I was not quite so sure it would take place, as I am now."
My readers will not understand me to present this incident as an example of a prophecy like those the prophets of the Bible uttered. I have introduced it to point out the difference between such a prediction and a Scripture prophecy.
The pas*or formed an opinion concerning the theatre from the probable course of events. He did not know that it would take place.
But suppose he bad said, that in 1843, on the 5th day of September, a Society of the Baptist denomination would purchase the house; that upon the very stage on which plays had been performed for twenty-five years, with all the theatrical decorations about hi in, he should preach to a crowded house on a certain day ; that an aged minister, whose name he gave, should sit before him with a hearing trumpet at his ear, while many clergymen, as yet but mere boys, all of whom he named, describing their characters and person, should stand around him ; and if all these particulars happened with the exception, perhaps, of the precise date, exactly as he had stated them twenty-five years before, we should exclaim, God must have directly communicated these facts to him. It is a prophecy."
Here would be a great many little particulars which no one could know would happen at the very time, and under the very circumstances in which they did happen, and yet all were minutely predicted.
Suppose one of the pilgrim fathers
From the ocean upon the east to the ocean Tipon the west, and from the wonderful lakes and the unequalled cataract of the north to the salt water that washes the southern shore, the white men shall be in numbers as the leaves of the forest. While yet they are but three millions, war shall arise, and they shall fight against their rulers. There shall be a great and a good man raised up, whose name will be called Washington, and he shall lead their armies to victory, after enduring incredible hardships, and surmounting innumerable difficulties. Seven years shall the war rage, and then shall the people be free. Thirteen distinct governments shall be formed, and they shall be called state governments; and a general government shall be established, and the people shall thoose their own rulers aud make their own laws according to a determined constitution, and Washington shall be elected the first president. He shall rule with great wisdom and popularity, and then shall he retire, and a man named Adams shall succeed him in office. The people shall increase greatly in numbers and power, and there shall be great convulsions in the old world, and war shall occur between this country and Great Britain, whieh shall last three years. And while men shall be yet living who conversed with Washington, the number of the states shall increase to thirty, and the people shall be more than twenty millions,
Now will the reader notice several particulars of this supposed case? The boundaries of the country are given, and the incidenta. particulars of wonderful lakes," and "unequalled cataract," not yet known to him who spoke these words. The duration of the war is given, and the name of the deliverer and first president. Thirteen states are mentioned, and not a greater or less number. The nature of the new government, that it shall be a republic and not a monarchy, is stated. And lastly, the precise number of the states within a given generation, and the popular estimate of the number of the people, are distinctly announced. Let us suppose further, that this statement was published among the writings of this man who professed to teach many truths concerning religion not yet fully understood, and who claimed that he received them directly from God ; and that these writings were known by all the Puritans of that generation, and a great many books were written, referring to this statementsome of them referring to it as the fancy of a madman.
Now, no one doubts that God only could enable a man to reveal such facts, and the people of these United States would receive more and more evidence of their truth up to this time. And when the people saw that they were true, they could not reasonably doubt that he who uttered them
was a good man, and that the doctrines he taught were from God.
If I now present statements from the Pit /e embracing more wonderful particulars, and a greater number than those contained in the above supposed case, every candid reader will allow that God must have revealed them, and that the men by whom they were uttered, were good men, and what they taught must be true.
Section II.Prophecies concerning the Messiah.
When Christ wafc born in Bethlehem of Judah, the whole nation of the Jews expected a person to appear among themto become greater than any of their former kings or prophets, and to be to them a mighty ruler and saviour. When, therefore, the wise men from the east announced that they had seen the star of him who was to be king of the Jews, Herod, the ruler under the Romans, was troubled, lest this expected king should excite the Jews, whom he governed, to rebel. All Jerusalem was in a state of excitement.
Why was this general expectation ? Why had they expected such a man then, rather than a generation sooner or later ?
It was because Christ, the Messiah, had been foretold. More than one hundred predictions had been written in their religious books, referring to different circumstances concerning him. They were
86 EVIDENCE fiiom Piiornr.cY.
wnUen at different periods, but all of them more than four hundred years before that time. All the bnoks containing these predictions had been trans-tated nearly three hundred years before, from Hebrew, the Jews' language, into Greek; and had been, of course, known and talked about, by the friends and enemies of the Jews' religion. 1 will present a few only of these propheciesand in such order that they may be read in connection.
" Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and three-score and two weeks."*
The reader has only to bear in mind that each day stands for a year in this prophecy, and that seventy weeks are four hundred and ninety prophetic days or yearsand that the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem/' refers to the decree of Artaxerxes, contained in Ezra 7th chap. 9th verse.
" But thou, Bemlehern Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of
* Dan. ix. 24
PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE MESSIAH. ST
thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler in Israel."*
" There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (or the son of Jesse, that i David), and a branch shall grow out of his roots j and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord."f
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing."J
"He is despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him ) he was despised and we esteemed him not.
" He was oppressed, and he was afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth ; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."||
In the above prophecies, there are the following particulars stated concerning the Messiah :
1. The exact time of his birthfour hundred and ninety years from the decree of Artaxerxes.
2. The place where he was bornin Bethlehem Ephratah.
* Micah v. 2. -j- Isaiah xi. 1. X Isaiah x\xv. 5. fl Isaiah liii. 3,
3 The tribe from which he should springfrom Judah.
4. The familyfrom the stem of JesseDavid's fatherthat is from the family of David.
5. His character" the spirit of wisdom and understanding rested upon him/' etc.
6. The miracles that he should performthe lame walk, the deaf hear, and the dumb speak.
7. The contempt of those to whom he preached. He was despised and rejected."
8. A very particular account of his death. u He was led as a lamb to the slaughter," etc.
Now, since we know that Christ was born just at the time stated, in the very place, and of the tribe and family mentioned, and that his character and the miracles he wrought, and the death he suffered, are all as they were foretold, we certainly know that God inspired the men who declared these things. And we know too they must be good men, and what they taught must be true.
Section III.PropJtecy concerning Babylon.
Some of my readers may have ascended to the top of the Bunker hill monument, and from that elevation marked the outlines of the city of Boston, with all its adjacent country. Towards the south is its beautiful harbor spotted with sails, and upon every other side are towns of romantic beauty, while the eye passes rapidly over the principal
points of interest in the, city itself. Will the reader now ascend with me, in imagination, a tower six hundred feet high, that is, about three times as high aa the Bunker hill monument ? Though this tower has crumbled into dust, we will suppose it yet stands, where it once stood, in Asia, on the bank of the river Euphrates, or not far from where, on the map, you see the waters of the Tigris, quite near those of the Euphrates. What a splendid view! We are in the centre of the great city of Babylon We can distinctly see that wall, three hundred and fifty feet high, and twelve miles long on each side, extending entirely around the city. It looks, in the distance, like the dark outline of a regular ridge of hills, shutting in the city from the surrounding plains. See those towers upon each corner, piercing the very clouds! And what beautiful and massive gates open through the walls, twenty five on each side, and all of solid brass The streets too, how unlike those of Boston or New York They are so wide and straight, running from each gate to the one opposite, making fifty streets, dividing the city into such beautiful squares. The houses are not crowded together as they are in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, but each square has vichly cultivated gardens.
We may now follow the course of the Euphrates through the very centre of the city, with those high walls won its banks, and we can see twenty-
five brazen gates upon each, side, leading from the river intc the streets. We can scarcely discern, at the foot of the tower, those men, appearing no bigger than ants, ascending from the boats, through the gates, into the city. No doubt all these gates, around the city and along the banks of the river, are shut at night, so that no enemy, either from the plains or from boats, can enter. How secure they must feel!
But what a splendid bridge spanning the Euphrates directly below !
Near us, on this side of the river, are large, elegant, though old looking buildings, enclosed by three separate walls, one within the other; these buildings, says our guide, form the old palace, now forsaken by the royal family for that more expensive and noble one on the opposite side of the river. The new palace, he tells us, is enclosed by a wall eight miles in circumference. But the most remarkable thing about the new palace, is that garden, which seems to be suspended between heaven and earth, which has been raised upon terraces to the height of three hundred and fifty feet, and planted with every thing beautiful. I think its erection must have been a shameful waste of time and labour, and well-fitted to swell ihe pride of the queen for whom it was made.
Let us now listen to a description of the surrounding country with which we are supplied, and
THE tlREAT LAKE.
learn what lies beyond the walls. First, there is an immense ditch filled with water. This was made by removing the earth of which the bricks were made that are used for the walls. It must add greatly to the difficulty of taking the city, for the people of Babylon and their enemies know nothing of bombs, mortars and cannon, which hurl destruction across ditches and over the highest forts. West of the city we shall find an extensive basin forty miles in circumference and thirty-five feet deep, into which the waters of the Euphrates were turned from above the city, in order to build the wall along its banks more conveniently. There are also two canals, through which, when they fear an inundation, they turn the superfluous waters into the Tigris.
Such is this mighty city, Babylon, which, comprehending, as we have stated, a square forty-eight miles around, was at least eight times larger than London and its appendages. These particulars w* have in the history written by Herodotus, who visited the city of Babylon. No wonder at her great boasting. She saya, "I will be a lady for ever." I am, and none else besides me. I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children/'*
Will this glory ever depart ? Will these mighty
* Isa. xlvii. 7. 8.
walls be prostrated, these splendid palaces bicomo the habitation of loathsome reptiles, and these beautiful gardens the haunts of wild beasts ? Will this vast area, teeming with busy inhabitants, become so desolate, that even the wild and fearless Arab, who loves to pitch his tent in desert places, will not even tarry here for a night ? And will these plains, whose soil is so deep and rich, and whose produce is so abundant, cease to bo -feeding-places for the flocks of the shepherd ? We will stand amidst its greatest wealth and grandeur, while Nebuchadnezzar is revelling in his gorgeous palace, and her merchants are receiving the wealth of the world into their coffers, more than one hundred years he/ore the commcncrmoit of her downfall, and hear what the voice of the prophets of God say concerning her.
" Her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down." "The very wall of Babylon shall fall." The broad wall of Babylon shall be utterly broken." Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord."*
Still further, if the reader will turn to the 45th chapter of Isaiah, and to the 51st of Jeremiah, he will find several particulars of its fall there stated.
The name of the general who should conouei
* Jer. 1. 15li. 44, 68, 63.
CYRUS THE PERSIAN GENERAL. d3
Bab} .on is given more than a hundred years before he was born. "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus." The manner in which he should enter the city is also stated. I will open before him the two leaved gates; the gates shall not be shut."
Cyrus, the Persian general, surrounded the city with an immense army five hundred and forty years before Christ, and besieged it two years, hoping to force its inhabitants to surrender from starvation. But the Babylonians had provision enough for twenty years, so they laughed at him from the top of their high walls. But during a great feast in the city, while the king and all the people were thinking only of making themselves merry, Cyrus caused the waters of the Euphrates to be turned into the great basin of which we have spoken, which was forty miles square, and then m a relied his army, in two divisions, from above and below, in the dry bed of the river. The citizens were so given up to pleasure, that they forgot to shut the gates, which led from the river into the city. Through these two leaved gates" the army entered, and its separate divisions met at the new palace, slew Belshazzar the king, and took the whole city in a few hours.
A great many particulars will be found in the chapters referred to, concerning the taking of Babylon, which we have not room to present. From
* Isa xiii.
the time Cyrus took it, it ceased to be the metropo* lis of a kingdom, and declined rapidly.
We will now consider, briefly, Isaiah's description of its present state :*
" It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation, neither shall the Arabian pitch his tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there; but wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there, satyrs shall dance there, aud the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces," &c.
1. Who could have told that so great a city, in a beautiful place, with so fruitful a soil, would never be inhabited ? Surely none but God. The exact place of its location has hitherto been \mknown, and the whole region is uninhabited, and many a traveller has sought in vain for some certain trace of those mighty walls.
2. It need not necessarily be inhabited by ferocious beasts, for a few poor people may live among its ruins, and keep under the brutal creation. But God said it would be so, and it is so.
3. But the Arabians are not afraid of the wild beasts, and they love to rove through the desert* and pitch their tents in the most desolate places
THE SPECIFICATIONS NOTICED. *5
15ut undeineaJth the rubbish of these immense ruins, are deadly scorpions, serpents, and reptues, so that none can sleep beneath a tent there in safety.
4. But time will crumble into dust this rubbish, and destroy these hiding places. Will not the rich soil again bring forth abundant pasturage, and the shepherd make his fold there ? Noso the prophet declares, and so it has been.
5. But it is said that it shall become pooh of water. Travellers say that within comparatively a a few years, the Euphrates, becoming singularly obstructed, two-thirds of the site of Babylon is now M pools of water for the bittern," (a water fowl,) to cry in."
Thus hath "the golden city ceased," and the desolation of her once crowded streets, and the dust of her splendid palaces, been made the evidence both of the wrath of God against the pride and oppression of kings, and the truth of Jehovah speaking through the Bible.
Section IV.Prophecies concerning the Seven Churches of Asia.11 The Revelation of John."
If the reader will turn to the second and third chapters of the Revelation of John, he will find distinct prophecies uttered concerning each of the seven churches there named, which were situated in Asia Minor. The readei will be able to turn to
some Bible Atlas and find the relative position of this country and these churches.
We will point out the prophecies, at d their fulfilment, which respect four of thembecause the nature of the declarations concerning these will be more easily understoodnamely, Ephesus, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Smyrna.
To the church at Ephesus, John was ordered to write : Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out" of its place, except thou repent." By candlestick," in this prophetic language, is meant church. The Ephesians are therefore threatened with the removal of their church out of its place" except they should repent. For many centuries after this declaration was published to the world, Ephesus remained a flourishing city, so that its church, favoured with the labours of the apostles and early Christians, might hear and consider fche warning, and the world know that the denunciations were not written after its decline. But now a few heaps of stones and some miserable mud cot* tages, occasionally tenanted by Turks, without one Christian residing there, are all that remains of ancient Ephesus." It is, as described by different travellers, a desolate, forlorn spot. The epistle to the Ephesians is read throughout the w'jrld; but there is none in Ephesus to read it now. They left
their first love, they returned not to their first works. Their "candlestick has been removed out of its place," and not only the Christian church, but the great city of Ephesus is no more. A modern traveller says, u Its streets are obscured and overgrown. A herd of goats were driven to it for shelter from the sun at noon j and a noisy flight of crows from the quarries seemed to insult its silence. We heard the partridge call in the area of the theatre and stadium. The glorious pomp of its heathen worship is no longer remembered; and Christianity, which was here nursed by apostles and fostered by general councils, until it increased to fulness of stature, barely lingers in an existence hardly visible."
Concerning the church in Philadelphia, Jesus says, as recorded by his servant John, I know thy works : behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength and hast kept my words and hast not denied my name. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
An American traveller, who has recently visited these cities, writes concerning Philadelphia :
11 The promise of Divine interposition in the hour of temptation, is the distinguishing feature in this letter of Jesus to the Philadelphians; and won-
deriully has it be:n fulfilled for the last eighteen hum dred years. The candlestick (the church) has never been removea; the angel (the minister) of the church has always been there. The altar of Jesus has been often shaken, both by the imperial pagan power, when Philadelphia supplied eleven martyrs as companions to Poly carp in the flames at Smyrna, and by the arms of the false prophet, when Bajazet and Tamerlane swept over Asia Minor like an inundation j yet it has never been overthrown. The crumbling walls of twenty ruined churches, and the swelling domes and towering minarets of a dozen mosques attest the hours of fiery temptation; yet three thousand Christian Gree/cs, and a half a dozen churches, still kept in repair and still vocal with praise to Jesus, attest that he has been faithful to his promise, I also will keep thee in the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth/ "
To the Laodicean church the Saviour wrote, Because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." The writer just quoted, says of the city of Laodicea, It was situated on several hills of volcanic origin, the principal of which is described by travellers as covered from its summit to its base with ruined arches, bro ken pillars, and remnants of magnificent buildings. The only living creatures that occupy this melancholy spot are wolves, jackals and foxes. Beneath
the hills and the plains are the snu aldering remains of the ancient volcanoes that so often desolated the district and destroyed the city, and which yet render the air lukewarm. To a country like this, how awfully appropriate is the message of Jesus, to the church at Laodicea. 11 know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. So, then, because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth/ "
From the eleventh century, when the Turk set his iron foot upon it, it became a scene of war. Finally the withering dominion of the Mohammedan settled upon the city, and, lo! she has disappeared, and with her the church which Paul planted, and for which he repeatedly expressed deep concern. All that is known of her subsequent history attests that she heeded not the counsel" of the Saviour^ who said to her, "Buy of me gold, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. Be zealous, therefore, and repent." And because they heeded not, the doom of excommunication was pronounced by the Saviour; their separation from the pale of the church, as something nauseous and loathsome, was threatened; and after a lengthened course of vicissitudes and humiliation, they have been blotted from the map of nations and the family of God. The winds sighing over the hiil
of Laodicea, with the melancholy cry of the j^cka^ are the only sounds which break in upon the solitude."
To the church in Smyrna it was written, "Behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." In this book, we lind a day in the prophetic manner, standing for a year, as in the prophecy of Daniel. The church in Smyrna were to have tribulation ten years. History informs us that this church, with the other Asiatic churches, suffered persecution under Diocletian, precisely that length of time.
Let us look attentively at these prophecies. Of one church it is said, its minister shall be removed out of his placeof another, that it should be preserved amidst a furnace of trialof a third, that it should be utterly extinguishedand of a fourth, that it should suffer ten years' affliction. Here is a different and specific declaration for each church.
More than one hundred and fifty years ago, there lived in Boston, a well-known divine by the name of Mather. He wrote a great number of books and was esteemed a good and wise man. Now suppose this minister had left among his writings several letters which he had written, one to the citizens of New York, one to the people of Baltimore, another
to the people of Albany, and still another to the people of Philadelphia, and that these letters had been received and read in those cities, with great interest, coming from so distinguished a man as Increase Mather, at one time president of Harvard University. In the letter to New York, we will suppose he wrote as follows:A devastating plague called the cholera, shall come upon you, and your streets shall be deserted, and your business shall cease." To the Baltimoreans, "Your town shall be attacked by a victorious army, and they shall fight against it, but they shall not conquer; God shall preserve you." To the Philadelphians, War shall rise up in your midst, and you shall slay one another, and you shall bo consumed by your civil commotions." And in the letter to Albany, "Your beautiful town shall increase and become great, but fire shall consume it, and your splendid temples shall become ashes, and the wind shall blow them away." These letters being found, ever since his day, in the libraries of these several cities, and making a part of their history, and being published also at the time among the works of Mather, and read throughout this country, as well as* in England, there would be no doubt about the time wlim they were written. Now if we should open the nistory of each of these cities and read that New York alone, of all of them, had been desolated by the cholera ; that Baltimore alone had been attacked
by a foreign foe, and successfully defended j that Albany had been consumed by fire, and Philadelphia destroyed by civil war, (the events all having happened more than one hundred years after Mather's letters were known and read,) would it not establish the fact that he was divinely inspired ? And if any should say Oh, he only happened to guess right," we should answer, It is very singu* lai that he should have guessed that it was Albany and not New York which should be consumed by firethat it was New York and not Baltimore or Philadelphia, which should be visited by the cholera; very singular that just the right event was guessed and applied to just the right city It requires more faith to believe in this wonderful guessing, than to believe Mather, if he should say, 'Thus saith God concerning these cities.'" We may suppose such cases, but the truth is, no such predictions ever have been made, much less fulfilledexcept those recorded in the Scriptures, which profess to have been written under the inspiration of God.
Of this character are the letters of the Spirit to the churches in the book of The Revelation." Their fulfilment is recorded by Volney, a great op-poser of religion, and it is very strange that this infidel and scoffer should, in his description of the condition of Philadelphia, use the very expression which had been used in the Bible. He never de-