網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

true, must be allowed, for the following plain reasons:-1. Because it was the accordant testimony of numerous witnesses: 2. Because the written records of these supernatural events abound in the internal marks of simplicity, candour, and entire fidelity: 3. Because, on the one hand, the miracles to which the apostles bore witness, were of such a nature, that they could not possibly have been themselves deceived respecting them; and, on the other hand, the real integrity and goodness which these persons displayed, absolutely preclude the supposition that they intended to deceive others : 4. Because they confirmed the truth of their testimony by lives of unexampled self-denial, and by a willing submission to innumerable sufferings, and even to the infliction of death itself: 5. Because, in further proof of the truth of their declarations respecting Jesus Christ, they were enabled to work miracles themselves. This fact is repeatedly recorded in the book of Acts: it is proved, first, by the appeals which the apostle Paul, in his authentic letters, has made to the miracles wrought by him, in the presence of those very persons whom he thus addresses; as well as to the supernatural powers with which some of those persons were themselves endowed; Rom. xv. 19, I. Cor. xiv.

II. Cor. xii. 12: and, secondly, by a known result, for the production of which such extraordinary interpositions of divine power appear to have been essential-I mean the wonderfully extensive promulgation of early christianity, not only without the assistance of human authority, but in direct opposition to the systems, habits, and prejudices, of the whole heathen. world.

The miracles of Jesus Christ and his apostles, therefore, really took place; they were true miracles. Now we acknowledge that God created all things, and instituted those general laws by which the order of nature is regulated and maintained; and miracles are supernatural infractions of those general laws, and changes, in that order. Every reasonable theologian will allow that no creature can possess any inherent, independent power of controverting the designs, or of interrupting the harmonious arrangements, of an omnipotent God; and hence it follows, according to my apprehension, that all true miracles, like the original creation, are to be regarded as the especial work of God himself. If, however, it is granted, that a certain limited and controlled power over the order of nature has sometimes been permitted for especial purposes to be exercised by evil spirits, such an al

lowance by no means affects the christian miracles; which not only proclaimed their own divine origin, by their astonishing variety and greatness, but were wrought in direct attestation of a professed revelation from God, and for the furtherance of ends perfectly consistent with his justice, holiness, and mercy. Christianity, then, was attested by supernatural events, of which the Deity was the sole and immediate author; a fact to which nothing similar can be predicated either of Mahometanism, or of any of the religious systems of the heathen: christianity, therefore, and christianity only is the religion of God.

III. It appears, in the third place, to be a clear and undeniable position, that the actual knowledge of the future is an attribute peculiar to the Divine Being. No one, who admits the existence of the one God, will refuse to allow that, in point of both knowledge and power, he is placed at an infinite distance above all his creatures-that, while he regulates the course of events according to his own will, none of those creatures are his counsellors, and none of them are capable of penetrating his secret designs and intentions. From these premises, it follows that all prophecies, which, by their exact fulfilment, are proved to have proceeded,

not from intellectual sagacity and human conjecture, but from actual fore-knowledge, must have been inspired, or dictated by the Almighty himself; and further, that the religion, which is attested by such prophecies, is a divinely authorized religion.

That christianity is attested by true prophecies, is a fact capable of easy proof. Jesus Christ was a prophet, and during his conversation among men accurately predicted a variety of events, which were then future; especially his own death and resurrection, and the circumstances by which they were to be attended; the out-pouring of the Holy Ghost; and the approaching sufferings of the Jews, with the destruction of their city and temple. But, perhaps, the most striking prophecies, which attest the truth of christianity, are those contained in the Old Testament, and relating to our Saviour himself. The writings of the Hebrew prophets are replete with the promises of a great spiritual deliverer, denominated the Messiah, who was appointed to appear in the world at a certain period declared by the prophet Daniel. In various parts of these writings, (composed as they were by a number of unconnected persons, living at different periods,) it is predicted that this long-expected deliverer should arise according

to the flesh, out of the seed of Abraham, Gen. xxii. 18; and from the family of David. Isa. xi. 1, Jer. xxiii. 5; that he should be born miraculously of a virgin, Isa. vii. 14: that his birth-place should be Bethlehem, Micah v. 2; that his outward situation should be of a very humble description, Isa. liii. 2; that he should be engaged in proclaiming glad tidings, and in relieving the sufferings of mortality, Isa. Ixi. 1; that his character should be distinguished for gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and all righteousness, Isa. xi. 4, 5, 6, xliii. 1-3; that nevertheless the Jews would refuse to believe in him, Isa. liii. 1; that he should be despised, rejected, and persecuted of men, Isa. liii. 8, 4, Ps. xxii.; that he should be betrayed by one of his familiar friends, and that his followers should be scattered from him, Ps. xli. 9, Zech. xiii. 7; that he should be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and be as a sheep dumb before his shearers, Isa. liii. 7; that he should be cut off, yet not for himself, Dan. ix. 26; that his body should not see corruption, nor his life be left in the grave, Ps. xvi. 10;2 finally, that he should

2 The words in Psalm xvi. 10, translated in our common English version, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," may with greater propriety be rendered, "Thou wilt not leave my life or person in the grave." The great majority of the prophecies quoted above, relate immediately to the Messiah. In the Psalms,

« 上一頁繼續 »