« 前へ次へ »
about Zion, and go round about her, and tell the towers thereof: mark ye well her bulwarks; consider her palaces! Beautiful for situation; the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. Nor shall we linger among the outworks of Christianity, longer than to offer a very brief survey; after which, we shall, with joy, open the gates, and invite the willing to enter in, and see the salvation of our God.
Now, it seems to us no inconsiderable argument for the truth of Christianity, that its first teachers proposed it to the belief of the world, with such a tone of ingenuous confidence, as everywhere appears in their writings and address; never betraying the least distrust of their cause, nor appearing solicitous to defend what was new in their statements, or apologize for what was marvellous. They had unquestionable means for attaining conviction, and they were convinced, as every word and action show.
Though assailed by the disputers of this world, with every mode of objection, they seem generally to have contented themselves with a plain testimony of Gospel facts, and a plain statement of gospel doctrines; asserting their truth and authority with great solemnity and earnestness, and
persuading men to receive them by motives drawn, as well from the grace of the Gospel, as from the danger of neglecting it. But though they shunned no fair investigation, but rather courted it on every occasion, they seldom betook themselves to defensive reasonings, or sought to fortify their cause by a minute discussion of subordinate proofs.
They were sent forth, indeed, not to produce treatises in defence of the Gospel, nor leisurely to debate its pretensions to credibility with captious gainsayers, but with a commission to preach it authoritatively, and to testify to all the world, that their everlasting condition depended on the reception which they should give to it. They, accordingly, went forth, as ambassadors of Christ, carrying with them miraculous credentials; perfectly assured themselves, and assuring others, to whom they came, that what they delivered to them, was “ the word of truth."
And surely their Gospel was internally its own witness ; exhibiting throughout a genuine character of verity,--simple, intelligible, holy, and authoritative. Its precepts commend themselves to the consciences of men, as wise and salutary; as tending to
exalt the character, and promote the happiness of mankind; enforcing universal goodness, on motives the most cogent and common to all ; in no case tolerating a bad action, nor sullying a proper one, by proposing it on unworthy principles, or for an unworthy end.
Its doctrines, though wonderful, are free from inconsistency or extravagance; and though above the reach of unassisted reason to have framed them, they are not contrary to reason, when understood, nor, as far as the attributes of Deity are known to us, in any way, unworthy of God. It harmonizes with, and fulfils all that claims to be a revelation from God in the Old Testament Scriptures; while its statements accord with all, and account for many of those moral phenomena of the universe, which on any other system remain inexplicable. It, doubtless, affords the sublimest discoveries of the Divine attributes and character, and explains, in a way capable of satisfying a candid mind, the most pressing difficulties relative to God's moral government,the prevalence of evil, the nature of a future state, and the methods by which creatures chargeable with guilt, and burdened with
imperfection, may rise to moral rectitude, and obtain endless felicity.
In fine, it sustains the majesty and glory of the everlasting God, vindicating his truth, holiness, and sovereignty ; while it elevates man-fallen and degraded as he is, under the bondage of corruption,—to the notice, and compassion, and kindness of his Creator. And if a revelation was to be given, adapted to the exigencies of the world-a revelation which should assert God's glory, and relieve man from guilt and fear, without compromising the interests of eternal truth and holiness, the gospel fully answers the idea; and the more we study its adaptation to the existing character and relations of the human race, the more impressed shall we be with the conviction of its divine origin and suitableness. Every fresh examination will termi. nate in this conclusion—the Gospel is “the word of truth."
But the Gospel has more to entitle it to that character, than internal probabilities, however strong.
It appeals to facts-to facts that took place openly, and in the presence of many witnesses; the facts, too, of such a nature, and the witnesses of such a character, that if exaggerated statements of
them had gone abroad, thousands were deeply interested to contradict them, and would have contradicted them immediately, beyond a doubt. The Gospel facts, as handed down to us, are better authenticated by historical testimony, than any other facts of the same period, which are most surely believed; being not only recorded soon after the time at which they are said to have taken place, by several eye-witnesses, each of whom wrote a separate, but consistent narrative; and that not for the purposes of authorship, but to furnish fuller information to those who had already believed on oral testimony: (and what other facts of antiquity have been so unsuspiciously put on record ?) but those historical testimonies, are, besides, corroborated by monuments and institutions still existing, which took their rise from the facts, institutions, the origin of which it would be impossible to explain on any other supposition but that which assumes the facts to have actually happened.
But the things, it is alleged, are in themselves improbable. Be it so. Yet who does not know that sufficient evidence of things will outweigh a very strong argument of improbability, as every man will admit, and has seen verified in a thousand