Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]





1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25.

[ocr errors]

But if all prophesy, and there come in one that

believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all : and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Having considered in our former Lectures the first great division of the Evidences of Christianity, those which establish the Authenticity, Credibility, Divine Authority, and Inspiration of our sacred books; we come now to the second division of them, those arising from the excellency of the contents of the religion itself.

The first division is termed THE EXTERNAL EVIdences, because they attend the religion from without, and attest its divine origin; the second are called THE INTERNAL, because they come from within, and



arise from those characters of truth which are wrought into the very nature and composition of the revelation.

External evidences are the credentials of the messenger who comes to us from the Lord of heaven and earth ; the internal are derived from the excellency of the message

which he delivers. The latter evidences, therefore, follow the former, and are subsidiary to them.

Our Lord and his apostles placed Christianity on this footing. They came with the most undoubted miraculous works, and claimed at once the obedience of mankind; and afterwards, they appealed to those unnumbered indications of a divine excellency which the matter of their doctrine contained.

The external evidences now raise us as nearly as possible to the same situation with the Jews and Heathen at the promulgation of the gospel. By means of them, we still see, as it were, the miracles, and witness the divine works, of our Lord and his apostles. We do more; we trace a surprising accomplishment of a series of prophecies, in the person of Christ and the events of his church ;? we read the accounts of the supernatural propagation of his religion ;' we behold the manifest good effects produced on mankind.“ On this ground we are bound to believe the doctrine; and doing this, we shall be in a situation to follow out, with the first Christians, the numberless proofs of a divine excellency in the matter of revelation itself.

But here it is important to remark, that the converts of our Lord and his apostles would never have been permitted to examine, in the first place, the doctrines of Christianity on the footing of their own reasoning, and of suspending their obedience on the agreement or non-agreement of its instructions, with their preconceived notions of what it was fit for God to reveal: this would have been monstrous and absurd; it would

! Lect. VII. vol. l. 3 Lect. X

2 Lectures VIII. and IX.
4 Lect. XI,

have been to sit in judgment on the Almighty, and would have raised the most impenetrable barrier against any perception of the internal evidences at all.

In like manner, men can never be allowed now to investigate, in the first place, the matter of revelation by the pretended fitness of things and the light of their own reason, and to suspend their obedience on the agreement or non-agreement of the doctrine with their pre-conceived notions. This would suppose a previous acquaintance with what a divine revelation should contain ; and, if true, would altogether supersede the necessity of it. It is hard to say whether the pride or folly of such a notion be the greater. But sure it is, that such a mind would never discover any internal evidence of the truth of Christianity.

And yet this is the course pursued almost uniformly by unbelievers. They pass over the immense body of external evidences; they begin with inquiring into what they term the reasonableness of the things revealed; they plunge into metaphysics ;' they then, of course, misunderstand or pervert almost every article of the faith which they profess to exarnine; and, lastly, reject Christianity as not according with their notions of wisdom and expediency.

Not so the sincere inquirer. He receives Christi. anity with humble gratitude, on the ground of the external credentials with which Almighty God has been pleased to accompany it; and then he traces out, as he is able, those intrinsic excellencies of the matter revealed, which may confirm his faith and ani. mate him in his obedience. He is so far from thinking that a revelation cannot come from God, because he sees not in every respect the fitness and reasonableliess of its contents, that, on the contrary, he con. cludes that the revelation is wise, good, just, and fit to be received, because he has every reason to believe,

$ See the remarks on this practice in Bishop Van Mildert's History of Infidelity.

« AnteriorContinuar »