Images de page


CHRISTIANITY is the Religion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, about eighteen hundred years ago, was born in the land of Judea, and afterwards appeared as a prophet, mighty in word and in deed, before God and the people of the Jews; and who, having lived a spotless and holy life, was, at the annual feast of the passover, by a sentence extorted from the Roman governor, publicly crucified at Jerusalem. After he began his public ministry, he chose twelve illiterate men to be his Apostles, whom he instructed in the doctrines that they were to teach, first to their countrymen, and afterwards to the world at large. The evidences of the Christian Religion are comprised in the Miracles wrought by our Saviour and his Apostles; in their Prophecies; in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; in the miraculous propagation of the Gospel; in the conversion of the Apostle Paul; and, lastly, in the internal proofs which the Gospel exhibits of its being a Revelation from God.

Our Saviour appealed to the Miracles he wrought among the Jews, as an incontestable evidence of his divine mission. "The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me."-John, x. 25. The Jewish dispensation had been introduced by a train of stupendous miracles, and it was but reasonable to expect that the more excellent glory of that which was to supersede it, should be attended with an evidence, at

least, equally decisive. Our Saviour's miracles consisted in raising the dead, in giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, agility to the lame; and in healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people. Wherever he came, in his progress through the cities and villages of Judea, "they brought unto him all sick people, that were taken with divers diseases and torments; and those who were possessed with devils, and those who were lunatic, and them who had the palsy, and he healed them." No case was so difficult or so desperate, that he refused to undertake the management of it, and he undertook none of which he did not perform the cure. In one respect, his miracles were very unlike those of Moses. Many of those wrought by Moses, were miracles of judgment and vengeance, upon the enemies of that dispensation of which he was the prophet. But the miracles of Jesus, like the spirit of the Gospel he preached, were all of compassion and tender mercy. His miracles were not done in a corner, nor within the circle of those who were friendly to his doctrines; but in the face of day, and in the view of his bitterest enemies. Even these never attempted to deny them, or dispute his claims by confronting them with opposite evidence. They contented themselves with ascribing them to the power of evil spirits; as if the devil who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, had at length become the physician and friend of men. Nor were the miracles of compassion which he performed, and which began with his public ministry, confined to a part of that scene. He went about doing good, and the exercise of his compassionate powers was continued to the last day of his life.-After the descent of the Holy Spirit upon his Apostles, they

were enabled to perform the same mighty works, in his name; and disease and death fled at their command.

Our Saviour's prophecies, and those of his Apostles, form another decisive part of the Evidences of Christianity. Our Saviour foretold his own passion, death, and resurrection; and also the circumstances that were to attend them; that he would be betrayed by one, denied by another, and forsaken by all his Apostles. He foretold the mighty success of his Gospel, that his Apostles should be his witnesses not only in Judea and Samaria; but also to the uttermost ends of the earth. He foretold the calling of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, and the exclusion of the great body of the Jews from it.

But the most remarkable of our Saviour's prophecies is that relating to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was delivered nearly forty years before its accomplishment, and committed to record by St. Matthew, nearly thirty years prior to that event; and, by the other two Evangelists who have taken notice of it, Mark and Luke, many years, it is certain, before the facts took place which were predicted. From the concurrent testimony of the Fathers of the Christian Church, it appears that neither Matthew, nor Mark, lived to see the accomplishment of what they had recorded. From the same testimony it is evident, that the prophecy was universally known in the Christian Church, long before Jerusalem was destroyed; and that the knowledge of it was the means of the Christians escaping from that city, when it was tottering to its fall. Our Saviour predicted the awful sights and signs which were to precede the catastrophe, and that neither the city nor temple should have one stone left upon another; that the Jews should be carried

captives into all nations; that Jerusalem should be trodden under foot of the Gentiles, till the time of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. Such is the prophecy; and the fulfilment of it, in the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, may be read in the history of these events, written by Josephus, the Jewish Historian, who was a witness of the facts he describes. The same facts are

also summarily stated, by Tacitus, the Roman Historian. The Apostle Paul, in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, gives a prophetical account of a falling away from the purity of the Gospel, and of the appearance of one whom he calls the man of sin, the son of perdition, who exalteth himself above all that is called. God.-ii. 3 4. The same Apostle, in his first Epistle to Timothy, speaking of this apostacy, pointedly names two of the doctrines it was to teach. It was to forbid marriage, and to command abstinence from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth. iv. 3. And has not the church of Rome, with the scriptures in her hand, taken care, for many hundred years together, to accomplish this prophecy, and to prove herself the Antichrist, predicted by the Apostle?

The book of Revelation contains a wonderful series of prophecies, extending to the end of the world, and to the general judgment. The prophecies of this book have engaged the attention, and been the subjects of the commentaries of men of the keenest perspicacity; of a Newton and a Napier. Many of its prophecies have evidently been fulfilled, in a manner which leaves not the smallest room for doubt; and our own age teems with events portentous of the fulfilment of many more. The temporal power of the Pope has expired. The empire of Turkey, convulsed in every part, threatens every day to fall, and

several governments in Europe, the inveterate enemies of civil and religious liberty, are laboriously heaving their last breaths.

A pious and reflecting mind must be wonderfully struck with that nice adjustment of evidence, for the truth of Revelation, by which, as the power of one of the arguments weakens, the force of the other proportionally increases. To us, the evidence from miracles has not that strength of demonstration, which it had to those who were the witnesses of those mighty works; miracles were to them the grand evidence. Of the accomplishment of prophecy they knew but little. To us, the force of the argument from miracles is not lost. The existence of the Jewish and Christian Churches, as their history is presented to us in the word of God, can only be accounted for, upon the supposition that the miracles, with which their history is interwoven, were really wrought. But to us, who live in these latter ages, the accomplishment of Scripture prophecy, rising before our eyes with demonstrative evidence, furnishes such accumulated proofs, that the Bible is the word of Him who knew the end from the beginning, that it not only solicits, but compels and extorts from us a confession, that "this is the finger of God."

The spirit of prophecy began to give forth his oracles in the first promise, and continued to issue his predictions, till the Revelations of the Apostle John closed the sacred volume; a period of about four thousand years. Nearly two thousand more have since passed away, and justified the depths of Omniscience to man. Retired from the busy and noisy scenes of human strifes and competitions, from the toys which amuse the giddy, from the pleasures which captivate the sensual, from the phantoms which solicit the


« PrécédentContinuer »