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simple, upright, holy men: but, if in this they deceived, the world never yet produced a company of such artful and wicked impostors; whose schemes were so deeply laid, so admirably conducted, and so extensively and permanently successful. For they spent all the rest of their lives in promoting the religion of Jesus, renouncing every earthly interest, facing all kinds of opposition and persecution, bearing contempt and ignominy, prepared habitually to seal their testimony with their blood; and most of them actually dying martyrs in the cause, recommending it with their latest breath as worthy of universal acceptation. It is likewise observable, that, when they went forth to preach Christ as risen from the dead, they were manifestly changed, in almost every respect, from what they had before been : their timidity gave place to the most undaunted courage; their carnal prejudices vanished; their ambitious contests ceased; their narrow views were immensely expanded; and zeal for the honour of their Lord, with love to the souls of men, seem to have engrossed and elevated all the powers of their minds.—There were also many other competent witnesses to the same great event, even to the number of “ five hundred;"l these too concurred in the same testimony to the end of their lives; and neither fear, nor hope, nor dissension among themselves, induced so much as one of them to vary from the testimony of the rest ;

very apostates from Christianity, however malignant, never openly charged the apostles with an imposition in this respect. A more complete human testimony to any event cannot be imagined: for, if our Lord had shewn himself“ openly to all “ the people” of the Jews, and their rulers had still persisted in rejecting him; it would rather have weakened than confirmed the evidence: and, if they had unanimously received him as the Messiah, it might have excited in others a suspicion, that it was a plan concerted for aggrandizing the nation.

nay, the

1 Cor. xv. 6.

But God himself was also pleased to add his own testimony to that of his servants; conferring on them the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and enabling them to impart the same miraculous powers to others, by the laying on of their hands. Thus the number of witnesses continually increased; the testimony was more widely diffused; and no enemy could deny that they, who attested Christ's resurrection, performed most stupendous miracles. In consequence of this, the unlettered, unarmed, and despised preachers of a crucified and risen Saviour prevailed against all the combined power, learning, wealth, superstition, and wickedness of the world; till Christianity was completely established upon the ruins of Judaism and pagan idolatry !-Here again it may be demanded, when could the belief of such transactions have been obtruded on mankind, if they had never happened ? Surely not in the age when they were said to have been witnessed by tens of thousands, who were publicly challenged to deny them if they could! Not in any subsequent age; for the origin of Christianity was ascribed to them, and millions must have been persuaded, that they had always believed those things, of which they had never till that time so much as heard! We may then venture to assert, that no past event was ever so fully proved as our Lord's resurrection; and that it would not be half so preposterous to doubt, whether such a man as Julius Cæsar ever existed, as it would be to question, whether Jesus actually arose from the dead. What then do they mean, who oppose some little apparent variations, in the accounts given of this event by the four evangelists, (which have repeatedly been shewn capable of an easy reconciliation,) to such an unparalleled complication of evidence that it did actually take place?

1 Acts iv. 13-16.

IV. The prophecies contained in the sacred scriptures, and fulfilling to this day, prove them to be divinely inspired. These form a species of perpetual miracle, which challenges the investigation of men in every age; and which, though overlooked by the careless and prejudiced, cannot fail of producing conviction proportioned to the attention paid to them. The prophecies of the Messiah, which are found in almost all the books of the Old Testament, when compared with the exact accomplishment of them, as recorded in the authentic writings of the evangelists, abundantly prove them to have been written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit: while the existence of the Jews, as a people differing from all others upon the face of the earth, and their, regard to these writings as the sacred oracles handed down from their progenitors, sufficiently vouch for their antiquity; though further proof in abundance is at hand, did brevity allow us to insist upon it.

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According to the predictions of these books, Nineveh has been desolated ;1 Babylon“ swept with “ the besom of destruction ;"2 Tyre is become a place for the drying of fishing nets ;3 and Egypt “ the basest of the kingdoms,” which has never since been able to exalt itself among the na“tions."4 These and many other events, fulfilling ancient prophecies so many ages after they were delivered, can never be accounted for, except by allowing, that He, who sees “ the end “ from the beginning,” thus revealed his secret purposes, that the accomplishment of them might prove the scriptures to be his word of instruction to mankind.

In like manner, there are evident predictions interwoven with the writings of almost every penman of the New Testament, as a divine attestation to the doctrine contained in them. The destruction of Jerusalem, with all the circumstances predicted in the evangelists; (an account of which may be seen in Josephus's History of the Jewish wars ;) the series of ages, during which that city has been “ trodden under foot of the gentiles ;” the long-continued dispersion of the Jews, and the conversion of the nations to Christianity; the many antichristian corruptions of the gospel; the superstition, uncommanded austerities, idolatry, tyranny, and persecution of the Roman hierarchy; the division of the empire into ten kingdoms; their concurrence during many ages to support the usurpations of the church of Rome; and the existence of Christianity to this day amidst so Nahum, i. ii. iii.

3 Ezek. xxvi. 4, 5, Isaiah, xiii. xiv.

4 Ezek. xxix. 14. 15.

2

many enemies, who have used every possible method to destroy it ; when diligently compared with the predictions of the New Testament, do not come short of the fullest demonstration which the case will admit of, that the books containing them are the unerring word of God.

V. Only the scriptures, and such books as make them their basis, introduce the infinite God speaking in a manner worthy of himself, with simplicity, majesty, and authority. His character, as there delineated, comprises all possible excellence without any intermixture; his laws and ordinances accord to his perfections ; his works and dispensations exhibit them ; and all his dealings with his creatures bear the stamp of infinite wisdom, power, justice, purity, truth, goodness, and

harmoniously displayed. The description there given of the state of the world, and of human nature, widely differs from our ideas of them; yet facts unanswerably prove it to be exactly true. The records of every nation, the events of every age, and the history of every individual, confute men's self-flattery in this respect; and prove that the writers of the Bible knew the human character better than any philosopher, ancient or modern, ever did. Their account teaches us what men are actually doing, and what may be expected from them: whilst all who form a different estimate of human nature find their principles inapplicable to facts, their theories incapable of being reduced to practice, and their expectations strangely disappointed. The Bible, well understood, enables us tò account for those events which have appeared inexplicable to men in every age: and the more

mercy,

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