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LECTURE IV.

CHRISTIANITY CONTRASTED WITH MOHAMEDISM.

ROMANS 1. 16.

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

IN CONNEXION WITH

I Kings XIII. 18.

He said, I am a prophet alsoand an angel spake to me by the word of the Lord.But he lied

Early in the seventh century, there arose an individual in one of the cities of Arabia, who formed the bold project of imposing, first upon his own countrymen, and ultimately upon the world, a new system of religion. In emerging from the obscurity to which Providence had consigned him by the circumstances of his early life, he claimed for himself the exalted character of a prophet of the Most High God; and pretended that through him was communicated to the world the last and most perfect of the divine revelations. His beginning was indeed small; for he laboured several years without obtaining any converts beyond the circle of his near relatives; while his pretensions were met by the indignation of some, the ridicule of others, and the un

belief of almost all. Nothing daunted, however, by opposition, or discouraged by the want of success, he persevered in his enterprise till the great mass of his countrymen, either through the power of persuasion or at the point of the sword, had recognised his claim to a divine commission, and embraced the faith which he promulgated. Nay, the standard which he had raised in Arabia, was, at no distant period, planted in several of the surrounding countries; and though death terminated his career while many of his plans remained unaccomplished, yet his cause did not die with him; but continued to gather strength by fresh victories, till it had gained to itself a large portion of the Eastern world. He who, at the end of the first few years of his experiment, was almost universally ridiculed as a fanatic, or detested as an impostor, was, within less than a century from that time, hailed by whole nations as God's last Messenger, and man's best Benefactor; and now, after the lapse of more than eleven hundred years, the system which he introduced has lost none of its power over the nations which have received it, and is actually at this hour the religion of about one tenth of the population of the globe. It is scarcely necessary to say that the individual to whom I refer is MOHAMED.

Whoever is at all acquainted with the history of the war against Christianity, as it has been carried on by infidels for the last two centuries, must be aware how. much they have triumphed in the supposed parallelism between the religion of Christ and that of Mohamed, in respect to the rapidity and extent of their early propagation. And it must be acknowledged that there is something in this parallelism which is adapted, at first view, to startle an unreflecting mind; though, if the feeling of anxiety which is thus created be analyzed, it

will always be found to originate in the false impression that success is the test of truth. In contrasting the two systems, as I am about to do in this discourse, I shall hope to show you that they have but little in common; that, while there is everything in Mohamedism to stamp it with a mere earthly character, there is every thing in Christianity to indicate its divine original; that the latter rises to a higher degree of glory, and the former sinks to a deeper degradation, as they are contemplated in the light of each other.

Let the religion of Jesus and the religion of Mohamed then be contrasted, in respect to

I. THE GROUNDS OF THEIR AUTHORITY :
II. THE MEANS OF THEIR PROPAGATION:
III. THE CHARACTERS OF THEIR FOUNDERS:
IV. THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD.

I. THE GROUNDS OF THEIR AUTHORITY. 1. Mohamedism makes no serious pretensions to miracles : Christianity appeals to miracles of a most decisive character. If we suppose God to have commissioned

any

individual to publish to the world truths which had before been hidden from it, or to confirm and illustrate those which had been obscurely revealed, it were reasonable to expect that he would enable him to give some satisfactory proof of his divine commission : and it is not easy to conceive of any proof more satisfactory than must result from the performance of miracles. Suppose, if you will, that we had no decisive evidence that God's revelations to the world are yet closed, and that some individual were to stand forth, at the present day, claiming to be an authorized messenger from Heaven, who had come to introduce a new dispensation,-he surely

would have no right to expect that his extraordinary pretensions would be admitted without evidence: but suppose he were to show himself in the act of putting forth a miraculous energy ;-suppose, at his bidding, the dumb should speak, and the blind see, and the dead live, and the tempest die away into a calm,-should we not be obliged to say, This man' must be what he claims to be; for verily he could not do these mighty works unless God were with him. And as God cannot deny himself by lending his power to the aid of imposture, it is impossible but that the doctrine which he inculcates must be true.' Though miracles can only prove the truth of any doctrine, or system of doctrine, indirectly, by proving the divine mission of Him who introduces it, yet the evidence which they furnish, as making an appeal not only to the judgment and feelings, but the very senses, is perhaps the highest of which the nature of the subject is susceptible.

But, I repeat, this is a species of evidence which Mohamedism has never seriously pretended to claim. It is true that the founder of the system did pretend to have received frequent communications from the angel Gabriel, and to have journeyed in the course of a single night from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to Heaven; and some have imagined that this was an artifice to satisfy the expectations of those who demanded some miracle as a proof of his mission; but be this as it might, the story is too absurd to admit of a sober refutation. The only miracle which Mohamed seems ever to have claimed, or his disciples to have claimed for him, or ra-, ther that which they regarded as a substitute for all miracles, was the Koran: here they maintained was to be found the perfection of moral sublimity and beauty ;every thing that could be desired to mark the signature.

of Heaven. Without insisting upon the fact that it would be, to say the least, an extremely difficult matter to decide what amount of sublimity of thought and elegance of style would, of themselves, entitle any composition to be considered as divinely inspired, I shall here take for granted,--reserving the proof for a subsequent part of the discourse,--that even, on this ground, the claims of the Koran are at once unreasonable and arrogant. I do not say that the Koran is destitute of these qualities; but before we admit them as evidence of its divine inspiration, we must at least inquire how they came to belong to it, and with what other qualities they are associated. And even if it had been all that is claimed for it, it would not have been a miracle, nor could it have stood in place of miracles.

Christianity claims miracles of the most unexceptionable kind, and sustained by evidence which it is impossible successfully to gainsay. When Jesus entered upon his ministry, and began to preach the doctrine of the kingdom, be began at the same time to perform those mighty works which stamped his commission with the seal of divine authority. Though he was never prodigal of his miraculous power, never employed it for purposes to which it was not necessary, yet so frequently was it brought into exercise, that the visible controlling of the powers of nature seemed to be his every day emaployment.

And while his miracles were as numerous as the highest incredulity could have demanded, they were performed in circumstances the most unfavourable to imposture;-in the broad light of day; often in the presence of many witnesses, and of those too who were - most interested to disprove his claims; not to say that the miracles themselves were generally of such a nature as no impostor would have dared to attempt to imitate.

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