Abbildungen der Seite

farther. Abraham by faith and on foot ascended to the appointed place. Can you tell me, Susan, any incident in the life of Christ that exactly resembles Isaac's carrying the wood of his own burnt-offering upon his shoulder?

Susan. It is written that Jesus was compelled to carry his own cross up the Hill of Calvary ; but it was much heavier than the wood which Isaac bore; for he almost fainted under the load.

Olympas. In what year of the world did this event transpire ?

Eliza. As Abraham was born in 2008, and as this was in the one hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life, it must have been in the year of the world 2132 or 3.

Olympas. Then it greatly antedates all the human sacrifices found in the profane and mythological histories of the world. The idea of human sacrifice and self-immolation seems to have originated from an apprehension that because of the blessings pronounced on Abraham in consequence of this display of obedience, the Divinity was better pleased with human sacrifices than any other. Hence arose the practice in the Pagan world, as may be gathered from the most ancient facts on record, as to the place of its commencement and progress through the East. But what think you, Thomas, is the most useful lesson taught us in this whole transaction ?

Thomas. That the faith which triumphs is a working, active, and efficient principle-indeed, that John spoke the whole truth when he said, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith."

Olympas. The triumph of faith over self in the

way of obedience-over the temptation of this world, is, my good children, I would have you all learn, the only guarantee and pledge that it will overcome death. When you see any one's faith triumphing over the lusts of the flesh, and of the eye, and of the pride of life, rest assured that man's faith will triumph over death and the grave, You must, then, early learn to walk by faith, and thus you will walk with God and overcome the world.



Olympas. Not merely for the sake of variety, but for your farther improvement in the first principles of the Christian institution, I have thought it expedient to intermit for a few lessons the book of Genesis, and to take a few readings in the New Testament. You will, therefore, turn over to the evangelical history, and read this morning the first chapter of Luke.

Thomas. Why not begin with Matthew, seeing he is placed at the beginning of the book ?

Olympas. Matthew, indeed, it is agreed is the oldest of the four Evangelists. He wrote first; but he is not so full, nor so methodical as Luke, especially in the early incidents of the Christian history. Now, as we wish to trace every thing with accuracy belonging to our holy religion, and to arrange in order and harmony the incidents, facts, and events found in the sacred biographers, and bis views of the New Institution, I desire you to read Luke's preface, and to observe the reason which he offers by way of apology for his attempting the matter.

[Thomas having read the Preface, Olympas proceeded.]

You will observe from this apology and dedication to Theophilus, that the Christian Religion, its Author, and its propagators had even at this early period attracted much attention; and that the demand for information on the whole subject


was so great as to call for numerous accounts and narratives from the hands of those who were first converted to the faith. From Luke's account both of these contemporaries and himself, we would expect from him a more copious and methodical history of the whole affairs of that day, than from any of his predecessors in the work.

And as to his competence to the task, and fidelity in executing it, the work itself and the concurring voice of all antiquity fully and satisfactorily avouch. Writing in Greece, and being better educated in that language, as well as more conversant with the characters of history among foreign nations, than any of the other three elect writers, his narrative has always been regarded, so far as the human character of the work is considered, as the most finished and instructive of them all, though in various particulars not so full as the testimonies of either Matthew or John.

It has another excellence that gives it superior claims to our attention at this time. Besides its being together with the Acts of the Apostles, a concise and perspicuous narrative of all the great facts and events of the first sixty-three years of the gospel history, it affords us the greatest variety of facts and documents from which to deduce the doctrine of Christ in the inductive manner, which is a capital object of the examination wbich we are now about to undertake. The spirit and tendency of the age is in favour of the inductive mode of communicating and acquiring knowledge on all subjects. In the Christian religion it has scarcely, if at all, been introduced. We purpose, then, making an effort to acquire the knowledge of the doctrine of. Christ by a strictly inductive method

of considering the voluminous facts, precepts, and promises of the sacred writings of this Book of Life.

We shall, for the time being, seem to ourselves, as far as possible, mere learners, ignorant of all that we already know, and as seeking to acquire for the first time in our lives an understanding of Christ's religion. In attempting this we shall use all the terms, and only the terms found in the Book, indicative of new facts, ideas, or institutions. A most minute analysis of the whole narrative may then be expected, and such allusions and references to the other memoirs of Jesus Christ and the Apostles as will make out in our minds a congruous, orderly, and comprehensive view of the whole matters of fact and of faith reported to us by the original witnesses and Apostles of Christ.

We shall endeavour to cultivate a very intimate acquaintance with every name of place or person however remotely introduced, or connected with the subject of these writings—of course always noting those of the most interest and importance to the clear intelligence of the doctrine of Christ's religion.

These things premised, we shall now farther hear you read, Thomas, the first twenty-five verses of the first chapter of Luke; and then we shall attend to the preamble.

[The verses being read, Olympas farther proceeded.]

Tell me, William of what does Luke propose to write ?

William. A declaration or narrative of the things most surely believed" among the Christians.

« ZurückWeiter »