Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

his journey into that city, his own eyes having been so overpowered with the bright glories of the vision, that he did not recover the use of them for three days. Here, the Lord sent Ananias miraculously to restore his sight, to preach the Gospel to him, and to baptize him into the Christian faith. From that time to the conclusion of his life, he was the most laborious, indefatigable, patient, resolute, and successful servant of his Divine Master, and, in his cause, he at last joyfully laid down his life. Whoever reflects on the decidedness of his conduct, both in persecuting, and in defending and disseminating Christianity; on the bright prospects of worldly honours and wealth, which his zeal against the Gospel held out to him; on the certain consequences which presented themselves to his view, of the most envenomed hatred and persecution from his countrymen, as well as from the Gentiles, should he embrace a religion, which itself warned him how much he must suffer for the sake of the Saviour's name; and, finally, on the pen. etration and vigour of his manly and highly cultivated mind, that enabled him to examine and to detect imposture, will find it impossible to account for his conversion to Christianity, but upon the supposition that the miraculous facts, recorded by St. Luke, actually took place. And if these circumstances attended his conversion, and had great influence in producing it, Christianity is demonstrated to be true. Lord Lyttleton's Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul, form a treatise of great value, and one, as Dr. Johnson justly observes, “to which infidelity has never been able to fabricate a specious answer."

The Gospel carries with it internal evidence of its truth. This evidence consists in its being a religion worthy of God, and a religion suitable to the condition of man; a VOL. I.

2 G

religion perfectly consistent with itself, having a perfect uniformity and harmony of parts, and of design.

It is a religion worthy of God. The honour of the Creator, as the moral Governor of the universe, occupies that place in the Christian system, which the Supreme Being fills in the scale of existence. On Him all other beings depend for their existence and well-being; and to his laws it is truly fit that they all should bow. His honour and glory constitute the bonds of harmony to all created intelligences. Let the bonds of his authority be once relaxed, and confusion pervades all nature's law, and spreads misery through the universe. The Gospel uniformly supports the honour and government of God. It represents him as uniformly consulting and supporting the happiness of his obedient subjects, by a wise and just system of laws calculated to fix their dependence on Him, from whom alone they can derive their happiness. The Gospel, while it offers pardon to rebels, disdains to compromise the honour of the Legislator. It represents him as having given such a public expression of his displeasure at sin, as proclaims to all the world that he is a just God, as well as a Saviour; that he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. The atonement of Christ is the grand medium of his being reconciled to men; as well as of their being reconciled to all his obedient subjects. With this doctrine, the necessity of our being reconciled to his moral government, and of our returning to obedience to his laws, is inseparably connected. His Son becomes the author of eternal salvation to none but those who obey him; and as the obedience of the best of men in this life is attended with imperfection, while the Gospel suffers us to come with boldness to the throne of grace, it requires us never to come to it, but through the mediation of our

great High-priest, through whom alone we have redemption.

The Gospel is a religion exactly suited to the state of man, and to his wants. It addresses him as a sinner, and because he cannot atone for his offences, it directs him to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of ihe world, as the great propitiation for his guilt. As his nature is corrupted, beyond the hope of being restored by his own exertions, to its original rectitude, it offers him the gift of the Holy Ghost, to create him again to the love and practice of righteousness; and to superinduce those holy dispositions and habits, which alone can fit him for converse with God, and for the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.

The consistency of the Gospel with itself, and the perfect uniformity and harmony of its parts and design, are other striking evidences of its truth. Though the substance of the religion of the Gospel has existed under various dispensations, the Patriarchal, the Jewish, and the Christian, the great doctrines which have pervaded it, in all the forms that it has assumed, are the same, only they appeared with different degrees of light and evidence. It has always been the religion suited to a sinner; it has always presented to man the necessity of a vicarious sacrifice for his guilt, and the necessity of the purification of his heart and life. It has always been calculated to give glory to God, and to restore man to peace with his Maker, and with himself; to prepare him for a higher and nobler state of being, action, and enjoyment; and to reflect the whole glory of his salvation on the loving-kindness and mercy of God his Saviour.

Its morality does not accommodate itself to the fluctuations of human manners and opinions, but like the Saviour himself, it is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Its promises and its threats have been the sources of hope or of terror, to the mind of every reflecting man, according as he has embraced, or as he has rejected it; stamping on his conscience the peace of God that passeth all understanding; or the sense of guilt and condemnation, of which the business or the amusements of the world may suspend, or alleviate, but can never wholly eradicate the feeling. Had it been the work of uninspired men, its doctrines and its aims would have been as various and contradictory as their different and opposite characters; as the circles in which they moved, and the predominant passions which gave the colour to their lives and sentiments. But the unity of the design, the harmony of all the parts, and the coinci. dence of all its energies, in promoting the glory of God, and the good of man, in providing for his social, as well as for his individual happiness in this world, and, in preparing him for an eternal mansion, proclaim its origin to be Divine.

“ It is a distinguishing property of the Bible, that all its precepts aim directly at the heart. It never goes about to form the mere exterior of man. To merely external duties it is a stranger. It forms the lives of men no otherwise than by forming their dispositions. It never addresses itself to their vanity, selfishness, or any other corrupt propensity. You are not pressed to consider what men will think of you, or how it will affect your temporal interest; but what is right, and what is necessary to your eternal well-being. If you comply with its precepts you must be, and not merely seem to be. It is the heart that is required; and all the different prescribed forms of worship and obedience, are but so many modifications, or varied expressions of it.”*

To preserve an accurate knowledge of Christianity in the world it was absolutely necessary that its truths should be committed to record. . Oral tradition cannot long preserve ancontaminated even the words that spring pure from the fountain of eternal truth. Like other rivers, even the waters of the sanctuary are mingled with the qualities of the soil through which they pass, and blended with the streams which they collect in their course. Scripture is therefore necessary as the depository of the Oracles of God. Though the writers of the Scriptures were men naturally fallible in their opinions, they were by the superintendence and illumination of the Spirit of God, rendered infallible both in preaching and in committing to writing the truths of Christianity. Nor was this miracle greater than the other miracles with which their ministry was attended ; and without this one, all the other must have been thrown away. It would have been entirely useless to set the seal of God upon a religion, of which there was no perfect and authentic record. To bring all things to their remembrance which Christ had said unto them, and to lead them unto all the truth, were the purposes for which our Saviour promised to send them the Holy Ghost.

When they should be called upon for the defence of the doctrines they taught, at the bar of the civil magistrate, they were forbidden to prepare an apology, “ For it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak: for it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father that speaketh

The Gospel its own Witness, p. 27.

« AnteriorContinuar »