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pose on such foundations of evidence. Let every proof of a genuine and credible history, lead them to a deeper persuasion of their own concern in the events, and their own obligation to obey the doctrines, thus attested. Let them not believe the Bible, as they do the history of civil and national transactions, which pretend not to affect the heart nor change the conduct. But let the credibility of the gospel sink deeply into the soul, affect the practical judgment, overcome the power of temptation, vanquish the resistance of the world, conquer every lust, and bring the whole man into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
To admit speculatively, coldly, the authenticity and credibility of the gospel, is nothingI want your hearts-the penitence and faith which the gospel demands—the subjection of a ruined and fallen creature to the sacrifice of the Son of God.
It is in this docile and practical temper of mind that the Evidences of Christianity are to be studied. To the mere scholar, the mere disputer of this world, truth falls weak and inefficacious, even if it be theoretically admitted. The humble and practical student alone pleases God, and understands fully the force of the divine argument. He may not be able to reason with the gainsayer. He may not be
skilled in human learning. He may not be competent to follow me in all the external testimonies which I have been detailing in the present and the former lectures. He may not be accustomed to weigh conflicting testimonies. But he feels the value of the scriptures. He understands the practical part of the testimonies drawn from its style, its contents, and the character and circumstances of the apostles. Such a man knows the use and worth of the Bible, as the mariner knows the use and worth of the compass. A mariner, if illiterate, has neither opportunity nor learning enough to enquire why his needle takes a polar direction, or what the scientific have to say upon its variations in different parts of the globe; he knows nothing of the laws of magnetism, or the dependence of theṁ on electricity, when or by whom they were laid down, and who adapted the compass to the purposes of navigation. But he knows, unlearned as he is, that it is by this needle only that he can find his way through a trackless deep; he knows that by this alone he can escape the dangers of his voyage and proceed safely to his destined haven; he knows that this only will bring him to his home, his family, his friends.
In like manner the humble Christian feels the value of the scriptures; he feels that they are
the only guide through a trackless ocean; that they are the only means of safety in his perilous voyage, that if he would escape the making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, and would avoid the rocks and quicksands on which thousands, trusting madly to their own guidance, and neglecting the heavenly direction, perish, he must follow his inspired guide-his sacred compass. He does so; and passing “ safely through the troublesome waves of this present world,” he arrives at length at his destined haven, where are his family, his friends, his home, his Saviour, his eternal rest, his end, his ALL.
DIVINE AUTHORITY OF CHRISTIANITY,
MARK ii. 10–12.
But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath
power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, we never saw it on this fashion.
The arguments in our former Lectures have been directed to prove the authenticity and credibility of the books of the New Testament. In order to ascertain these points, we have examined them by the strictest rules of historical testimony and we have found them to be established by far stronger proofs than men uniformly consider as satisfactory on similar subjects.
During this enquiry we have deferred the consideration of the divine authority of the religion of which they treat.
It is now, however, the time to enter upon this topic. We open the sacred books with the fullest confidence and repose of mind, as having been really written by the persons whose names they bear, and as entitled beyond all other writings, to credit, upon the ground of veracity and trust-worthiness.
On reading them with attention, we learn that their chief design is to communicate a revelation from Almighty God to man. This is their main scope, to which all other matters are subordinate. Such being the case, we proceed to examine, with seriousness and humility of mind, the marks and evidences by which we are assured that they really contain a revelation of the divine will.
These credentials we soon discover, were, in the first instance, the miracles which our Lord performed, the prophecies which were accomplished in him, the nature of his doctrine, the holiness of his character, and the beneficial effects produced in the hearts and lives of those who received his message.
These credentials remain in substance the same in every age. They have, however, been