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are; which we could not have seen at first,-being in respect of the last named advantage, experience, richer than all our predecessors, through the more sure word of prophecy like a light shining at first in a dark place (Pet. II. i. 19); but growing daily more conspicuous, as the word is daily approved by signs and occurrences referred to long ago. The additional experience of every age may be considered as a point gained in the meridian of our Saviour's evidence, until the day dawn, and by the day star rising in our hearts evidence shall be turned to conviction: and the evidence, which many who saw it could not comprehend because it was not yet day (John xii. 16), we, who never saw it can, because the day now favours our mental perception. Well may it be said therefore that “ faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (as it is the last) of things not seen” (Heb. xi. 1): for it is no more than we find; though it would appear rather strange in theory, to make the substance of what is hoped for, which may be grace as well as faith, the evidence of its object,-seeing the evidence would naturally, and one should think most properly, minister to a conviction of the fact, and consequently go before, like one with a light, instead of following: but this necessarily results from the conjunction of faith with experience. We necessarily believe what we feel to be true: and such was the evidence of good men who lived before Christ in the flesh. “These all died in faith; not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Ib. 13). They could only see or experience inwardly what we may both inwardly and outwardly: which makes this sort of evidence to be indeed not only the most complete and express that has been given of the Subject, but also the most authentic,– especially, as he refers to himself in more than one saying; as for example, " When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself,” &c. (John viï. 28). “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (Ib. xi. 32). Which being experienced both ways, if it be not evidence there is none; if there be no ground of certainty in this assured condition, then can there not be a ground of certainty in any thing.
For besides our own grateful subjection thereto, have we not seen nation after nation ranging itself continually under the forementioned ensign of this Great Leader according to the prophecies before cited? And what more would men see; but the first that was, and now last, first ágain ; according to the Word direct, which says, “ Many that are first shall be last” (Matt. xix. 30): and that having happened literally, what he farther says in the same place by the last that now is becoming first again, as so often predicted both in the Old and New Testament? The restoration of Israel to his primitive freedom and importance as a nation by Messiah is, as we have seen, both in the Old and New Testament equally predicted, with the common restoration of mankind to their primitive state of righteousness and peace. Therefore as the delay of this event is the Jew's best plea for withholding his assent to the identity of the Subject, for their sake as well as for the general cause of Christianity, the conversion or recovery of the Holy Land is one of the greatest desiderata in our evidence. It may be questioned, whether the nefarious crusades, as nefarious crusades must ever be when prosecuted with carnal weapons—whether they were ever cloaked with so plausible a pretext: but had it been so, A GOSPEL CRUSADE WITH SPIRITUAL WEAPONS ONLY, if not so popular, must always have appeared to the discerning few, a more probable way as well as more consistent,--by hewing and “ casting down (not hapless infidels with their houses and fields, but) imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (Cor. II. x. 5.) . And then, if the old proprietors of the soil also, wanting only this last evidence and the miraculous effect foretold by the prophets, Isaiah especially, should at length repent, and turn again unto the Lord, as they have often done, acknowledging their good angel in the Son of David, would he not be that good angel to them, and lead them into their rest, with the joy and triumph which Isaiah and others describe ? .
It is much to be doubted, if the conquest and forcible possession of the Holy land by any power in Christendom would ever lead directly to the restoration of Israel: but if this important post could be gained to Christ by the CoNVERSION of its half believing inhabitants, as Paul said to Agrippa, “King Agrippa; believest thou the prophets ? I know that thou believest ..... Would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds !” (Acts xxvi. 27: 29)—then the Jews must certainly yield, or never; seeing not only the fulfilment of every prediction, but what is more obvious, the evidence of possession: which is generally allowed for a good title until it shall be fairly disproved. And is not the “ Heir” already come to possession ? He is not yet indeed at Jerusalem: but look around, and behold his acquisitions: look upon Christendom! “ I will preach the law whereof the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee. Desire of me; and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Ps. ii. 7, 8).
Comparing all the forecited predictions with the corresponding record in the Gospel of Christ, in the Acts of the Apostles and the history of the church in after ages, and with the experience of the present-it must be allowed, that a pretty sensible authentication is hereby afforded of the Subject's forecited pretensions. Few public ambassadors have ever shewn a more satisfactory set of credentials than Messiah : few princes of the earth could ever shew a clearer title to their dominions than the heavenly King of Israel.“ Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest !” (Matt. xxi. 9.)
§ 3. But the Theme of the evidence just considered and of the doctrine by which it was preceded has also been very fruitful in Objections and Errors—“ as it is
written, Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and Rock - of offence” (Rom. ix. 33): and again, “ Thou hast brought
a vine out of Egypt, &c. .... Why hast thou then broken down her hedge, that all they that go by pluck off her grapes ? The wild boar out of the wood doth root it up; and the wild beasts of the field devour it ” (Ps. lxxx. 8, &c.). But of these objections and errors there are different degrees: as 1, some shall admit the dispensation of a Messiah ; only denying the person, or his divinity, or the several characters here imputed to him, or some of them, or some other particulars : while 2, other some shall go the length of denying, not merely persons, characters, or any particulars, but the whole scheme of salvation with the facts on which it is founded, -or the person and dispensation of a Messiah altogether. In the midst of so much diversity therefore it is hard to find a method of distinguishing very exactly, but a round or general distinction of the said objections and errors may be conceived agreeing with the premises, and also with two corresponding classes of objectors,—acknowledged in the Gospel seemingly by the names of Jews and Greeks: as, where St. Paul, in allusion probably, to the above passage cited by him from the Psalms, observes, “ The Jews require a sign, and the GREEKS seek after wisdom : but we preach Christ crucified; unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (Cor. I. i. 22, 23).
The forecited image of “THE WILD BOAR," from the Psalms likewise, might suggest a third class of objectors in the barbarous multitude of every sort or degree partaking neither with the Jew in descent, nor with the Greek in intelligence ;--but that there are barbarians enough per
haps in either of these two classes among the rest, to frustrate that distinction. Adhering therefore to the simplicity of the original,--of these two classes the first mentioned will be the more dogmatical; as they seem to reason little, and to read only one side :-the second, more sceptical; as they both reason and read, if that make any difference. Considering the two principal sorts of objections thus distinguished therefore apart
1. The objections of the first mentioned class will first claim our attention; being those of the Jews and others by whom the dispensation of a Messiah is admitted on the authority of the Old Testament, but not the person to whom it was certainly entrusted, the true Messiah : whose objection will include several particulars, as well as contradictions.
1, For if the Jews especially had not admitted a good share of what we read in the New Testament as well as of what THEY likewise read in the Old they could never have been driven to the horrid objection which stands foremost for consideration, and which being in a manner peculiar to that people may therefore be stiled THE JEWISH OBJECTION, or Pharisaic, at least; being the imputation of a diabolical agency to the Subject instead of an heavenly; or in a word, of Diabolism-if the word may be allowed. For“ the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, HE CASTETH OUT DEVILS THROUGH THE PRINCE OF THE DEVILS" (Matt. ix. 33, 34). As that half learned sect had more reason than they desired, to acknowledge the supernatural power of the Subject,-particularly that over unclean or immoral spirits, the proofs of which were too clear to be denied, and as no inferior power would be adequate to the production of such a mass of evidence as was given in the many miracles wrought by him (John xi. 47), and by the many prophecies fulfilled and constantly fulfilling in him, --they acted very shrewdly, though not very wisely, nor equitably, in trying to avert the effect of such evidence by