« 前へ次へ »
infidelity to preclude the Creator from affording to his creatures with adequate confirmation, any new manifestations of his will concerning them. It is done, they tell us, to exalt God in the unalterable perfection of his work; but such exaltation would amount to dethronement, and leave no room for constant providence and sovereignty.
In fine, if miracles are necessary, to give Heaven's attestation to a scheme professing to be of God, we cannot conceive miraculous power employed with greater wisdom, moderation, and beneficence, than appears in the Gospel; or with less departure from the ordinary course of nature, and yet sufficiently prominent to afford irresistible de. monstration of its exercise. And so far are the miraculous facts of Christianity from lessening its credibility, that they establish it beyond suspicion ; like the royal signature in some important state-document, which ratifies its contents, and stamps it with authority. The Gospel miracles,against which infidelity vainly exclaims, while it is confessedly unable to disprove the testimony by which they are supported, stand from
to age unimpeachable witnesses in the cause of Christ, and show that his Gospel is infallibly “ the word of truth.”
But why is miraculous evidence now withheld? We answer-perpetual repetition would destroy its character, and render it miraculous no more. Besides, the admission that it was once given, proves all that a thousand repetitions of it could prove. The cause is already decided; and what need to call back the same witnesses, to repeat the same evidence, in order to come to the same conclusion ?
It seems to be overlooked, too, by those who call for frequent repetition, that miracles were in reality often repeated, and for a great length of time; not only during the personal ministry of Christ among men, but both before its commencement, and after its close. From the fall there was a testimony of a Saviour to come.
In early ages, a family was selected from which he should descend; its increase to a great nation was foretold, when as yet it consisted of a childless pair, far advanced in years. From these, however, sprung the tribes of Israel, who were gathered into a community differing from all the rest of mankind. The prophetic testimony concerning the Messiah was continued among them; and it was expressly declared, that their state should subsist until He came'; while his li
and place of birth were likewise marked out in prophecy ; together with the leading circumstances of his life and death. And was not this in itself a continued miracle of knowledge ?
And, besides, the testimony of prophecy concerning Christ in ancient times, the fame of which had even reached the heathen, and had raised their expectation of his coming, to the highest pitch, in the very age of his advent; there were many miraculous displays of divine power, both at the setting up of the Jewish polity, and during its continuance; for they who were sent to prophecy of Christ, were empowered to do miracles, both to prove that God was with them, and to excite the greater attention of a careless generation to the subject of their testimony. The very constitution, too, of the Mosaic ordinances, was so framed, as to represent as in a figure the blessings of the coming dispensation ; and when the Messiah did come, these ordinances were so evidently fulfilled as to their intention, and so clearly sgperseded by the Christian scheme, that they fell of themselves into disuse, as no
onger obligatory, nor profitable to nose who understood their design.
Now, long before Christ came, prophecy
foretold his manifestation, miracles, character, and death, with a precision of circumstantial detail, compatible only with a divine prescience. To add credibility to their testimony, men of God demonstrated His concurrence by unquestionable miracles. A whole people witnessed these things for ages, and in their daily rites of religion, exhibited the scheme of Christianity in typical representation. And if we mark events subsequent to the death of Jesus Christ, we observe his immediate followers working undeniable miracles, to confirm their testimony concerning Christ as come, and as commissioned by the Father to introduce the dispensation called by his name. Nor does the miraculous evidence terminate with the age of the Apostles ; for not only were the predictions of Christ, relating to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Pentecost effusion of the Spirit, and the progress of his doctrine in the world, accomplished; but what the apostles, in the spirit of Jesus, foretold of things that should take place among the nations and in the church, have been in part already fulfilled, and are at this day in evident progress of accomplishment. In fact, not the Jews alone, (though their peculiarity furnishes a signal proof of Chris,
tianity,) but the whole history of the world, both before and since the coming of Jesus Christ, doth in this way, either directly, or indirectly, bear testimony to the truth of the Gospel. And we cannot but lay down those two positions with unhesitating confidence,_that miraculous evidence of the truth of Christianity has been given; and that it has been given with sufficient variety of circumstance, and with sufficient frequency of repetition. And we now ask, is there any just occasion, or plausible pretence for diffidence or incredulity ?
No, my friends, when we preach unto you the Gospel, we speak “the word of truth ;” and if the Gospel be not true, surely no other system of religion has equal pretensions; and then are we left to hopeless inquiries after our Maker's will, and our own final destination, without any divine revelation at all ;-a thing which is infinitely improbable in itself, when we advert to the moral constitution and existing circumstances of men. If the Gospel be not true, then were the senses of men deluded by an unexampled and inexplicable imposture, which the stars in their courses lent their aid to impose on mankind; which the elements of nature, the sun in the firmament,