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was as God, and consequently describes his coming into the world as of God manifested in the flesh.' Could he then, holding this doctrine, believe that Christ was born of a human father according to the course of nature? This would be difficult to believe. His doctrine concerning the sinless nature of Christ's humanity and the transmission of sin makes it impossible. Respecting the former, he says,
He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin;'—and concerning the latter, he tells us that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin—that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and that by nature we are the children of wrath.' If, therefore, Christ had come into the world as other men, he would have been exposed to the same consequences, and could not be said to know no sin, and still less could he have been a lamb without spot and without blemish. But if, as St. Paul testifies, he was free from the effects, he must also have been free from the cause, that is, his birth as man must have been supernatural. St. Paul's doctrines, therefore, intimate necessarily that he believed in the supernatural conception of Christ, and this faith is plainly expressed in the epistle to the Hebrews, when it is said of Melchisedec that he was · Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God.' The Son of God could only be without father as man, without mother as God, so that in the epistles we find also that Christ's birth answered to the prediction of Jeremiah— The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman hath compassed a man.'—Jer. xxxi. 22. In vain, therefore, are the efforts of short-sighted men to disparage the gospel-narrative. All the essential outlines of the gospel-history are contained in those epistles which they acknowledge as genuine, and the attacks only serve to remind us of the impregnableness of the fortress of our faith. If there were no New Testament at all, the prophecies of the Old Testament, illustrated by the present religious condition of the world, would teach us to believe in Jesus as him in whom these prophecies are fulfilled. The epistles acknowledged as genuine by our adversaries furnish us with details which make mistake impossible—if then the epistles be genuine, we can prove, in spite of our adversaries, that the gospels must be so too, and have thus additional reason for believing that Christ is the Saviour of the world. Time, however, does not permit us to enter upon this to-day.
LUKE XXIV. 46.
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and
to rise from the dead the third day.
IN preceding lectures an attempt has been made
to show that the certainty of our hope, and the reasonableness of our faith, as Christians, do not depend upon the genuineness and authenticity of the gospels as their only warrant. A thoughtful man would not lightly reject the evidence furnished by the constant and universal tradition of the Church : and in the agreement of Hebrew prophecy with the state of the world he would find an irresistible argument for the truth of Christianity. But by comparing tradition and prophecy with the epistles of St. Paul, he might advance even to certainty, so far as it is attainable in matters depending upon the laws of credibility. The verity of the gospel-history is, however, of the greatest importance, for, if true, we acquire two additional arguments, either in itself sufficient to silence every
doubt. The doctrine, the miracles, and the resurrection of Christ, if faithfully narrated, prove incontestably that He is as he claimed to be, the Messiah, the Saviour of the
world, whilst at the same time the minute fulfilment of prophecy in the time, manner, and place of his birth, life, and death, testifies that he it is of whom the prophets wrote, and that their predictions were not the effusions of fanaticism or imposture, but the words of those who wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Many have been the attempts made to deprive us of this evidence by questioning either the genuineness of the gospels or the authenticity of the history which they profess to relate. But recently, as stated in the last lecture, an attack has been made possessing some degree of novelty from the manner in which it applies old objections. This new assailant rejects the gospel-history not as the work of wilful deceivers, but as a collection of legends gradually arising out of the previous opinions and actual circumstances of the early Christians, until at last insensibly and without design, it was moulded into its present form. The limits of these lectures do not permit us to show the impossibility and absurdity of this hypothesis, nor to discuss all the details of his criticism; but we propose this day to show the unsoundness of the principles on which his reasoning proceeds, and the invalidity of the conclusions at which he arrives.
His first reason for rejecting the historic value of the gospel-narrative is, that the evangelists relate not only what is improbable, but what, in his view, is impossible. "A relation,' he says, cannot be matter of history; a narrative cannot be authentic when it is irreconcilable with the known and universal laws of contingency. Now, according to all sound philosophical principles, as well as all sufficiently attested experience, the very first of these laws is, that the great First Cause never breaks through the chain of finite causes by an immediate exertion of power, but, on the contrary, manifests himself only in the production of the whole complex of finite causalities, and their reciprocal action and reaction. Whenever, therefore, a narrative mentions a phenomenon or fact, with the expressed or implied assurance that it was produced immediately by God himself (as heavenly voices, theophanies, and such like things), or by human individuals in consequence of supernatural assistance from him (as miracles, prophecies): in so far we are not to receive it as an historical relation.' In other words this writer tells us, that a direct interposition of the Almighty, as implying a suspension or interruption of the laws of nature, is contrary both to philosophy and experience, and that therefore any narrative including any such interposition either in the
of miracle or revelation, is at the least a legend. Such is the basis of that higher species of criticism, now so highly celebrated on the continent, and regarded as the triumph of the intellectual faculty—a basis that makes all inquiry unnecessary, and all study of the gospels a mere mockery—that pronounces all evidence to be useless. Infidelity sometimes pleads in its defence the insufficiency of the evidence adduced,