Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

world can afford: and what is more than all, I have got the peace of God in my heart—Christ in me the hope of glory. The best of all, the Lord is with all our meetings, and I know that I have not followed a cunningly devised fable." To a young man, a class-mate, who visited him upon one occasion, he said, "Thomas, do you not see that angel standing there?" pointing to the foot of the bed on which he was lying. '' O! my soul longeth to leave this clay tenement; for I am now come to the brink of Jordan, but his rod and his staff they comfort me." He then requested those that were present to sing. They asked him what hymn he wished for, he replied,

"The opening heavens around me shine," &c.

He listened with great attention and apparent pleasure, and then exclaimed, "Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,—sweet fields, I shall soon be there." Calling his friends to his bed side, he desired they would all meet in glory. On the Sunday night he seemed to alter much for the worse, and his leader and several of his class-mates sung and prayed with him. His leader remained till twelve o'clock, and then shook hands with him, not expecting to see him alive any more. In the morning, as his leader was going to make enquiry after him, he met with his uncle, who informed him that he was still alive, and as happy as ever. He went forward and found him very weak. Asking him how he felt, with a feeble tone he replied, " No cloud has darkened the presence of Jesus, he still cheers me through the valley, and I fear no evil." Believing him to be in a dying state, he continued with him through the day. At a quarter to ten o'clock at night, he said to his leader, "Joseph Cutter, help me up." On taking him into his arms he gave a shout, "Glory be to God, the dead's alive, the lost is found." He then breathed his last in his leader's arms, on the 23rd of August, 1841, in the twenty-sixth year of his age.

His happy spirit thus took its flight to join the hosts above in ascribing salvation to Him who loved him and washed him from his sins in his own blood. His funeral sermon was preached by brother Woolstinholme, to an attentive congregation, from Ecclesiastes ix. 5. "For the living know that they shall die."

THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE.

Continued from paye 276.

The Substance of a Sermon, delivered by Mr. ROBERT ECKETT, August the 2nd, 1841, in Pleasant Street Chapel, Liverpool, before the ANNUAL ASSEMBLY of the Wesleyan Methodist Association; and printed at its request.

"The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation."—

Tim. iii. 5.

VI. We now proceed to prove that, The Divine Authoritt of the Bible is attested by the Miracles, wrought by those through whom the truths contained in the sacred writings were made known.

A Miracle, may be defined, as, an extraordinary exercise of Divine power, designed to confirm the Divine authority of a person professing, to act or speak by the command of God. As, however, imposters practising deceptive tricks and acts of jugglery, have attempted'to pass them off, as acts performed by the immediate power of God, and have caused credulous persons to believe those acts to have been miraculous; it is therefore most important to be able to distinguish between a lying wonder and a miracle. There are several criteria by which they may be distinguished.

First.—A Miracle, to be satisfactory, must be an act known to surpass the power, contrivance, and art of man to effect, and which could be judged of by the outward senses of men.—It should be effected in such a manner, that the spectators may know, that it is not done by any natural or physical agent, or machinery, or other means controllable by man.

Secondly.—\t should be done at the instance of the person whose testimony it is designed to establish; and when the miracle is wrought, the person at whose instance it is wrought, should be surrounded by witnesses, who have no interest in supporting an attempt to deceive; but who are desirous of detecting imposition if any should be attempted.

Thirdly.— If some memorial or periodical commemoration service, has been instituted by those who witnessed the event, and if such commemoration service has been continued to the present time, the evidence will thereby be confirmed, and be indubitable. The most important miracles which evidence the Divine authority of the Bible are thus distinguishable, from all false miracles by which imposters have attempted to deceive. We now direct attention to some of the miracles wrought by Moses and by Jesus Christ.

The Miracles wrought by Moses and by Jesus Christ, are such as cannot possibly be suspected of having been effected by any trick of jugglery, or by any mere natural agency. For example the Miracles wrought in Egypt—as when Moses stretched out his hand, "and the water that was in the river was turned into blood, and the fish that was in the river died, and the river stank''—the plagues of the frogslice—flies—boils upon man and beast—of thunderings and lightnings and hail—the destruction of the first-born of man and beast in the land of Egypt—the passage of the Red Sea, when at the command of Moses the waters divided, and contrary to the laws of fluid bodies, stood as walls on either side, until the Israelites had passed over, and then returned back into their channel, destroying Pharoah and his army. Beside these, many other miracles are said to have been wrought by Moses in the presence of great multitudes of spectators.

If the Miracles recorded in the writings of Moses were accomplished, then it must be admitted, that God was with Moses affixing His own seal to the commission of Moses, as a divinely inspired prophet and legislator. But an inquirer may ask, how do ice know that those Miracles were wrought? This is a question which demands consideration. We answer,—we know that they were wrought by historical evidence, as strong and conclusive as can be adduced in support of any historical fact. We know that at the present time, the Jews hold the writings of Moses as of divine authority, and we know that they have been so held by their ancestors for more than two thousand years. We know also that they have always regarded themselves as required to govern their private and national affairs by the laws which are contained in the writings of Moses; which impose upon them many observances both painful and expensive; and that those writings contain the record of the perverse wickedness and idolatry of their nation. It is also obvious, that there must have been a time when those writings were first made known ; and from the nature of those writings it is certain, that unless they had been first published to those who had witnessed the miracles, which the writings affirm to have been wrought by Moses, they never could afterwards have been believed when published. Let it be remembered, that in those books it is professed that Moses addressed the contents of his books to the Jews of that age who had witnessed the miracles he records; and he appeals to them as knowing the truth of the astonishing events to which he refers. Now, supposing any person were to write a fictitious history of England, and to record the occurrence of similar events—declaring that our fathers had been bondsmen under oppression in France, and that some great commander, prophet, and legislator, had delivered them in the way Moses is said to have brought the Israelites out of Egypt; suppose also, that this fictitious history should declare, that all the first-born in the land of the oppressors had been destroyed in one night—that permission had been given to our forefathers to leave France, that they all came in a body to Calais, but that when they arrived there the king of France with his army was coming fast after them to prevent their departure, and that they were in consequence filled with dread, having no other prospect, but either that of being destroyed by the sword, or to be forced back into a state of captivity—that in this extremity the man who was their leader, standing towards the sea, commanded the waters to make a way for the people to pass over to the opposite coast; and that the waters obeyed, and opened a passage, so that our forefathers with their wives and little ones, passed through the sea as on dry land; and then, that the king of France with his army pressing after them, followed them in the passage in the sea; but that as soon as the last of our countrymen had got across the sea, immediately the sea filled up the passage, and destroyed the king of France and all his army;—and that to commemorate this deliverance a solemn festival had been instituted, and kept annually by all the inhabitants of the country, ever since the event occurred. We ask how would it be possible, for any man writing such a statement, as a grave piece of history, to obtain any credit—would such a statement ever be received, could it by any possibility be received as truth? Every person would say, this is all fiction, we have never kept any festival in commemoration of such an event! But again, suppose the author was to proceed further, and to say, that these events had all occurred within the last thirty or forty years; and that they were well known to every person in the kingdom. I ask, could a book containing such statements be received as divinely true? Again, supposing it to profess to contain a code of laws civil and religious, for the government of the nation, would there be any probability of those laws being received and obeyed? And again we ask, could such a book, under such circumstances, ever obtain credence and submission to its requirements? It must however be admitted, that there was a time when the books of Moses were first made known to the Jews; and at whatever period they were first given to the Jews, we conceive, that it is absurd to suppose, that the Jews ever could have believed in them, unless they were first published to and received by those persons who had witnessed the miracles they record, and who had personal knowledge of Moses, by whom these miracles were wrought; and who had from the time of passing the Red Sea, continued to commemorate this event by a yearly festival. To suppose that, otherwise, the writings of Moses could ever have been received as authentic and of divine authority, is contrary to all probability, is most ridiculous and absurd. We therefore conclude, that as the Miracles said to have been wrought by Moses, were of that kind which excludes all possibility of imposture, and as the contents of the books of Moses never could have been received as authentic if they had not been made known, as they profess to have been, to those who knew that the Miracles had been wrought; and as the Jews have ever received those books as authentic, and have ever kept several annual festivals in commemoration of some of the principal Miracles recorded in those books, we are compelled to believe that the Miracles recorded were wrought; and as they could only be produced by the power of God; the Divine Being must have attested, that Moses was authorised by Him to make known His will. And consequently the writings of Moses are proved to possess Divine authority.

Let us now glance at the Miracles of Jesus Christ. Upon referring to them it will be found that there is abundant evidence to prove, that they were the results of immediate and extraordinary interpositions of Divine power, designed to prove the divinity of his mission. It is said, that he gave eye-sight to a man who was born blind, and who was well known as sitting in a place of public resort soliciting alms —that He fed thousands of persons, creating the food by which they were fed—many who were sick and paralytic by His word were restored to health, and to the perfect use of their limbs;—He restored life to the dead—He raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus—He raised the son of a widow at Nain, whom He met in the street, when they were carrying him to his burial—He raised Lazarus after he had been buried—and after his own crucifixion raised Himself from the dead, and took His body up to heaven. Whether these Miracles were ever wrought, or not, they are recorded in the New Testament, as having been wrought by Jesus Christ. And if they were wrought, then they most unquestionably establish His Divine authority, and of consequence the Divine authenticity of Christianity. The question, however, here arises, how can we be assured, that these Miracles were wrought? This enquiry, also, can be most satisfactorily answered.

The remarks we have already made on the antiquity of the Scriptures sufficiently prove, that the books, in which those miracles arc recorded, have been in existence from within a short period of the time when those miracles are said to have been wrought; that when they were first published, many persons were alive who witnessed the transactions to which they refer,—that Roman historians, who were not Christians, mention Christ and his disciples—and that there is abundant evidence to prove, that there have been persons who have been called disciples of Christ, from the period at which, according to the New Testament history, Christ dwelt upon earth and wrought the miracles to which we have referred. The miracles of Christ are related by his disciples, and they testify that they were present and saw the miracles wrought, and that they were wrought in the presence of many witnesses, some of whom were enemies of Christ. If they saw these miracles wrought, the authority of the revelation given by Christ is indisputably confirmed—as none but God—nothing less than Omnipotence could have done such acts. If they did not see those miracles wrought, then we must admit, that the apostles were lying witnesses and gross imposters—Christ also must have been an imposter, and Christianity is an awful delusion— which it is equally absurd and impious to aver. The apostles could not possibly have been deceived; the miracles said to have been wrought by Christ were not of a dubious character;—there could be no delusion about giving by a word, eye sight to a man known from his birth to have been blind—no trick of jugglery—no human art, power, or contrivance could instantaneously restore withered limbs—stop a funeral procession and give life to the dead—or cause a dead man already committed to his sepulchre, and whose legs and arms were bound together in folds of linen, to come forth from his grave and return home to his house; nor could any power, but that which is Omnipoteut, produce from five small loaves and two fishes much more than sufficient food to feed assembled thousands. There could be no delusion practised upon those of the disciples of Christ who were his constant companions. If there had been any imposition they must have been in the secret. There could not possibly have been any delusion as to his crucifixion and death, as to whether he was nailed to the cross, and pierced with the soldier's spear, and died upon the cross;—there could not be any delusion as to whether he was raised from the dead—whether he eat and drank and talked with them after his death and resurrection, and as to whether they saw him ascend into heaven. The disciples of Christ imposed upon! It is utterly impossible!! Perhaps, however, an objecter may urge, that although they were not imposed upon, they might attempt to impose upon others! Let us now examine the probabilities of this supposition. We ask, by what motive could. they be actuated—what could induce them thus to attempt to deceive? could they expect to enrich themselves by this means—and were they actuated by desires for wealth, power, ease or honour? If they were actuated by such motives, what Jools they must have been, to expect to accomplish tbeif desires by avowing themselves to be disciples of Christ whom they affirmed had just been crucified by the Jews at Jerusalem, and' to publish in the streets of Jerusalem that Christ was raised from the dead! Again we ask, is. it not notori

« AnteriorContinuar »