Abbildungen der Seite

They were also of the most beneficent tendency; were directed to the supply of human wants, and the relief of human wO;—were worthy in all respects of him, the design of whose mission into the world was to seek and save that which is lost. And finally, they were performed without any of that ostentatious parade with which imposture is so apt to surround itself: the pouring of light upon the path of the blind, the waking up of the dead from the sleep of the sepulchre, the assuaging of the elements when they were wrought into a tempest, was each effected by the same easy and natural exertion of power, with which he performed the most common actions of life. In short it is impossible to conceive of any thing which could have given additional strength to the evidence that the miracles of Jesus were the effect of a divine power dwelling in him.

But, as I have had occasion to remark in a previous discourse, the miracles which our Lord himself performed, are not the only ones which Christianity can claim; for when he left the world, and left his religion in the keeping of his disciples, he left with them the power of proving their commission as he had proved his own. And scarcely had he ascended to Heaven before a signal exhibition of this power was witnessed in the wonderful scenes of the day of Pentecost; when they found themselves able to adapt their ministrations to the multitude of foreigners by whom they were surrounded, by speaking a variety of languages which they had never learned. And subsequently, through the whole course of their ministry, this extraordinary power continued with them; and on no other principle can we account for the success which attended their labours. They went forth preaching the gospel, and proving by their mighty works that

they were divinely commissioned, and therefore that what they preached was the truth of God.

Does any one question the integrity of the Apostles, and say that their pretended miracles were founded in imposture?. I answer, how came these miracles then to produce such mighty effect on minds of every description, and where there was the best opportunity of ascertaining their true character? How came these men to enlist in a cause which they must have known, if they had been impostors, would have been ruinous to themselves; and to persevere in it, with the certain prospect of no other temporal reward than the sacrifice of every earthly good? And how came it to pass that the most active and malignant enemies of Christianity, both among Jews and Gentiles, never called in question the existence of these miracles, but set themselves to account for them on principles which took for granted their reality? The very supposition of imposture is a contradiction of the first principles of Reason, and involves the grossest absurdity.

2. Mohamedism pretends to prophecies; but her pretensions are destitute even of plausibility : Christianity appeals to prophecies of the most unexceptionable character.

Some of the followers of Mohamed have professed to believe that certain prophecies of scripture point to him as a great and illustrious prophet; but this is claiming more for him, on the score of prophecy, than he ever ventured to claim for himself. He did indeed assert that the scriptures, in their original and uncorrupted form, abounded with predictions of the glory of his character and the greatness of his dominion; but he maintained that these predictions had all been expunged from the original record, owing to the extreme jealousy which had

prevailed, both among Jews and Christians, in the anticipation of his reign. The only evidence upon which this alleged fact is given to the world is his own declaration ; but who can contemplate the case for a moment, without perceiving the impossibility of such an occurrence? For how could so remarkable a fact have taken place,-a fact in which such vast multitudes were most deeply interested, and yet not a vestige of tradition remain respecting it? Besides, this fact supposes that all the copies of the scriptures in existence had been corrupted ;-but how was this consistent with the reverence with which the Jews regarded every word and letter of their inspired books, or with the watchful jealousy which Jews and Christians constantly cherished towards each other? We do not deny that Mohamed and his religion are the subject of prophecy, at least in the New Testament; but it is only in the character of a false prophet, and a false religion, that they are exhibited; and to suppose that

any other character was ever attributed to him, or to his system, in the prophetical scriptures, were at least “an enormous tax upon human credulity.”

Christianity is sustained, not by a single insulated prediction, or a few scattered predictions, of doubtful character, but by a whole system of prophecies extended continuously through several thousand years. With the very sentence of condemnation which succeeded man's original apostacy, was joined the promise of a Saviour;a promise which, however obscurely expressed, was still clear enough to be apprehended by those for whom it was more immediately designed : and that may be considered as the corner stone of a mighty fabrick which gradually grew up under the inspiration of the Almighty, till its summit was lost in the Heavens. Under the patriarchal dispensation, Christ was frequently, in some

form or other, the subject of prophecy; and by this means the faith of the patriarchs was kept alive in a Saviour to come. From the introduction of the Mosaic economy, the predictions respecting him became more frequent and more clear; and there was a distinct order of men qualified by a, supernatural communion with Heaven to make known the divine will in respect to futurity; and these revelations, which occupy no small part of the ancient scriptures, almost all relate, either immediately or remotely, to Jesus Christ. Here you will find his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, his intercession, his whole mediatorial work, described with such minute accuracy, that when you read the corresponding history in the New Testament, you read little but what you have already found in the form of prophecy in the Old. It should also be borne in mind that many of the great events of scripture, and particularly the whole typical economy, had all the force of predictions respecting Messiah and his kingdom. Indeed any interpretation of the Old Testament which does not recognise Christ as the sum and substance of all its revelations, every thing else being subordinate to this great subject, would indicate, to say the least, a most unenviable facility at wresting the scriptures.

I might say too that Jesus was not only the subject of prophecy, but was himself, in the strictest sense, a prophet

. Witness his memorable predictions in respect to the destruction of Jerusalem, which, according to the testimony of profane writers, had a most exact accomplishment. And his beloved disciple to whom he imparted the gift of prophecy, after his ascension, disclosing to him his own secret purposes as Head of the Church, has given to the world a book which contains a compendious account of all that is to be ;-a book over which

a vail is even now, to some extent, drawn, but which is becoming more clear with the lapse of ages, and is destined ere long, as every thing indicates, to receive a full interpretation from the Providence of God. Who that is capable of estimating evidence will doubt that to Christianity belongs the Spirit of Prophecy; inasmuch as all its leading facts were the subject of the most unequivocal predictions, and as its great Author not only possessed this Spirit himself, but imparted it also to others?

3. The Koran bears no internal marks of being a divine revelation: the Bible exhibits evidence of this which is overwhelming.

Observe the contrast which the two present in respect to internal consistency. The Koran is inconsistent with itself ; here representing the character of God in the sublimity and majesty which really belong to it, and there attributing to it qualities which would debase the character of a human being; on one page recommend ing and enjoining the practice of the moral virtues, on another inculcating principles whose legitimate operation is to create a thirst for tyranny and blood. It is incon. sistent also with preceding revelations, which it professes to acknowledge:—not to specify other particulars, it denies that fundamental fact in the New Testament history--the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; and maintains that the whole scene of his supposed crucifixion was merely a delusion. The Bible, on the other hand, is perfectly consistent;—the New Testament with the old, and each part with every other part. All its doctrines and precepts, its predictions and histories, perfectly accord with each other, and go to constitute a magnificent system, in which the most critical eye can detect no disproportion. I do not say indeed that the superficial stu

« ZurückWeiter »