« PredošláPokračovať »
Mohammedanism and Mormonism,-impostures which the morality of the gospel from its history, and to say, enlist disciples by promising free license to lust, robbery, “We are willing to receive the Christian code of morals and murder, and retain them by the terror of the scymitar as a very excellent rule of life, and to regard Jesus as a and the rifle-ball—which reduce mankind to the most rare example of almost superhuman virtue; but we must abject servitude, and womankind to the most debasing consider the narrative of supernatural events interwoven concubinage--which have turned the fairest regions of with it as mythological,” —that is, false. Which is much the earth to a wilderness, and under whose blighting the same as to say, “ We will be very happy to receive influence commerce, arts, science, industry, confort, and your friend if he will only cut his head off.” Of what the human race itself, have withered away,-he simply possible use would the Christian code of morals be withinsults our common sense, by ignoring the difference out the authority of Christ, the lawgiver? If he posbetween backgoing vice and ongoing virtue; or acknow- sessed no divine authority, what right has he to control ledges that he knows as little about Mohammedanism your inclination or mine? And if he will never return as he does about Christianity. The gospel stands alone to inquire whether men obey or disobey his law, who in its doctrines, singular in its operation, unequalled in will regard it? Do you suppose the world will be turned its success.
upside down, and reformed, by a little good advice ? 2. The next important point for consideration is, that Nay, verily, the world has had trial of that vanity long the Christianity preached by Christ and his apostles is enough. “We must all appear before the judgment
“ a whole, a single system, which we must either take or seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things leave-believe entirely, or entirely reject as an impos- done in his body, according to that he hath done, ture. There is no middle ground for you to occupy. whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the It is all true, or all false. For instance, you cannot terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” take one of Paul's Epistles, and say, “This is true," and Take
away the miraculous and supernatural from the take another of the sanje man's letters, containing the gospel history, and there is nothing left for you to acvery same religion, and say, “ This is false.” If you cept. There is no natural history nor worldly code of accept the very briefest of Paul's letters—that to Phile- morality in it. It is wholly the history of a supernatural nion--containing only thirteen sentences on private busi- person, and every precept of his morality comes with a ness, you accept eleven distinct assertions of the authority, divine sanction. Further, you know nothing of either grace, love, and divinity of our Lord. Nor can you say his life or his morality but from the gospel history, and you will accept Peter's letters and reject Paul's : for if the record of the miracles which occupy three-fourths you will find the very same facts asserted by the one as of the Gospels be false, what reason have you to give by the other; and, moreover, Peter endorses “all the any credit to the remainder? For, as the German conEpistles of our beloved brother Paul,” as on the same mentator, De Wette, well says, “The only means of pedestal of authority with the other Scriptures. You acquaintance with a bistory is the narrative we possess cannot say, “I will accept the letters and reject the concerning it, and beyond that narrative the interpreter history,” for the letters have no meaning without the cannot go. In these Bible records, the narrative reports history. They are founded upon it, and assume or allege to us only a supernatural course of events, which we its facts on every page. Were the Gospels lost, we could must either receive or reject. If we reject the narrative, collect a good account of the birth, teaching, death, re- we know nothing at all about the event, and we are not surrection, ascension, and almighty power of the Lord justified in allowing ourselves to invent a natural course Cbrist from Paul's Epistles; and these letters are just as of events of which the narrative is totally silent.” So, confident in alleging the miraculous part of the history you see, you cannot make a Christ to suit your taste, but as the Gospels themselves. Neither can you gain any must just take the Christ of the gospel, or reject him. advantage by saying, “I accept the Gospels, but reject If you reject the testimony of Christ and his apostles the letters,” for there is not a doctrine of the New as false, and say you cannot believe them in matters of Testament which is not taught in the very first of them, fact, how can you respect their morality? Of all the the Gospel by Matthew. Further, the Gospels contain absurdities of modern infidelity, the respectful language the most solenın authentication of the commissions of generally used by its advocates in speaking of Christ the apostles, so that whosoever rejects their teaching, and his apostles, is the most inconsistent. He claimed brings upon himself guilt equal to that of rejecting to be a divine person, and professed to work miracles. Christ himself. "Lo, I am with you alway”_"He The infidel says he was not a divine person, and wrought that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth no miracles. The consequence is unavoidable-such a me, receiveth him that sent me”—“Whosoever shall not pretender is a blasphemons impostor. And yet they receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out speak of him as a “nrodel man,” an “exemplar of every of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. virtue." What! an impostor a model man! A blasVerily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the phemer and liar an exemplar of every virtue! Is that land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, the infidel's notion of virtue? Why, the devils were than for that city."
more consistent in their commendations of his character, It is, if possible, more absurd to attenipt to dissect “We know thee who thou art, THE HOLY ONE of God."
Let our modern enemies of Christ learn consistency from the Messiah would do wonders when he came, and the their ancient allies. We have also learned from our powerful impressions produced by the teaching of Jesus Master to refuse all hypocritical, half-way professions on their minds. We are not talking about impressions of respect for his character and teachings from those on their minds, but about impressions produced on their whose business is to prove him a deceiver, and whose eyes, and ears, and hands. Did these men tell the object in speaking respectfully of such a one can only truth when they told the world that they did eat and be to gain a larger audience, and a readier entrance for drink with Jesus after he rose from the dead, or did their blasphemy anong his professeu disciples. From they lie? That is the question. every man who professes respect for Christ's character, 3. It is a hard matter to lie well. A liar has need of and for the morality which he and his apostles taught, a good memory, else he will contradict himself before le we demand a straightforward answer to the questions : | writes far. And he needs to be very well posted up in
і When he declared himself the Son of God, the Judge the matters of names, dates, places, manners, and cusof the living and the dead, did he tell the truth, or did toms, else he will contradict some well-known facts, and he lie? When he promised to attest his divine com- so expose his forgery to the world. Therefore writers mission by rising from the dead on the third day, had of forgeries avoid all such things as much as possible ; he any such power, or did he only mean to play a jug. | and as surely as they venture on specifications of that gling imposture? Is Jesus the Christ the Son of the sort, they are detected. A man who is conscious of writliving God, or a deceiver? There is no middle ground. ing a book of falsehoods, does not begin on this wise:He that is not with him is against him.
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius The case is just the same with regard to the witnesses Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, ani of his miracles, death, and resurrection. They either Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip give a true relation of these things, or they have manu- tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and factured a series of falsehoods. How can we believe Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas beanything from persons so habituated to lying as the ing the high priests, the word of God came unto John the narrators of the mighty works of Jesiis must be, if those son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” Here, in one senmighty works were never performed ? How can we tence, are twenty historical, geographical, political, and accept their code of morals, if we refuse to believe them genealogical references, every one of which we can conwhen they speak of matters of fact? Is it possible to firm by references to secular historians. The enemies of respect men as moral teachers, whom we have convicted the Lord have utterly failed in their attempts to disprove of forging stories of miracles that never occurred, and one out of the hundreds of such statements in the New confederating together to impose a lying superstition on Testament. The only instance of any public politica! the world? For this is plainly the very point and centre event recorded in the gospel, said not to be confirmed of the question about the truth of the Bible, and I am by the fragments of secular history we possess, is Luke's anxious you should see it clearly. A fair statement of account of a census of the Roman Empire, ordered by this question is half the argument. The question then Augustus Cæsar. Were it so that Luke stood alone in is simply this, Was Jesus really the divine Person be his mention of this, surely his credit as a historian would claimed to be, or was he a blasphemous impostor? be as good for this fact as the credit of Tacitus, when When the apostles unitedly and solemnly testified that he states matters of which Suetonius makes no mention; they had seen him after he was risen from the dead, or of Pliny, when he relates things not recorded hy that they ate and drank with him, that their hands had Tacitus. But we can account for the want of corroborahandled his body, that they conversed with him for tive history in this instance, when we know that all the forty days, and saw him go up to heaven, did they tell history of Dion Cassius, from the consulships of Antistius the truth, or were they a confederated band of liars ? and Balbus to those of Messala and Cinna-that is, for There is no reason for any other supposition. They five years before and five years after the birth of Christ could not possibly be deceived themselves in the matters - is lost ; as also Livy's history of the same period. It they relate. They knew perfectly whether they were is certain that some one did record the fact; for Suidas, true or not. We are not talking about matters of in his lexicon upon the word apographe, says “ that dogma, about which there might be room for difference Augustus sent twenty select men into all the provinces of opinion, but about matters of fact-about what men of the empire to take a census, both of men and prosay they saw, and heard, and felt_about which no man perty, and commanded that a just proportion of the latter of common sense could possibly be mistaken. “That should be brought into the imperial treasury. And this which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, was the first census." which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, To object to the gospel history, that everything conof the Word of life; that which we have seen and heard tained in it of the doings of Christ and his apostles in declare we unto you.” Such is their language. We Judea is not recorded by the historians of Greece and must either take it as trutlı, or reject it as falsehood. Italy, is much the same as to say that there are a mulIt is utter nonsense to talk of the intense subjectivity titude of facts recorded in D'Aubigne's “History of the of the Jewish mind, and the belief of the apostles, that Reformation in Germany," of which Hume and Macanlay
make no mention in their histories of England. How seen and heard Christ after his resurrection. These should they-treating of different countries, and, for the eight persons give us their separate and independent most part, of different periods, and writing civil, and not statements of those things they deemed worthy of record Church history? Does anybody go to Macaulay to look in the life and death of Christ, and of the sayings and for the history of the Westminster Assembly? or to doings of several of his friends and enemies. Now, every Bancroft for an account of the Great Revival in New person knows that it is impossible to make two crooked England ? Or is the veracity of Baillie or Edwards sus- boughs tally, or two false witnesses agree. You never pected, because political history does not concern itself saw two lying reports of any considerable number of much about religion? It is enough, that not a single transactions agree, unless the one was copied from the statement of the gospel history has ever been disproved. other.
I might give you quotations from the enemies of the It is evident that the Gospels were not copied from Christian faith-froni Josephus the Jew, and Celsus and each other, for they often relate different events; and Porphyry, heathen philosophers, and from the Emperor when they relate the same occurrence, each man relates Julian, the apostate, who, having been educated a those parts of it which he saw himself, and which imChristian, became a heathen, and used all his ingenuity pressed hiin most. Yet the utmost ingenuity of infito overturn the religion of Christ-expressly admitting delity has utterly failed to make them contradict each the principal miracles recorded in the gospel. But I other in any particular. Here are eight witnesses to the attach no such importance to the testimony of this class truth of the same story, four of whom in their letters of persons as to suppose that it should be placed, for one make occasional allusions to the facts of the history as moment, on a level with the testimony of the apostles, being perfectly well known, and therefore needing only or that their testimony to the facts of the life and death to be alluded to; yet these cursory references fit into the of Christ needs any confirmation from such witnesses. history with every mark of truthfulness. Does the hisWe have such overwhelming evidence of the sincerity tory of Matthew, written at Jerusalem, tell us that Jesus and truth of the witnesses chosen by God to bear testi- took Peter and James and John up into a high mounmony to the resurrection of Christ, as we never can have tain apart, and was transfigured before them? Peter, of the credibility of any secular historian whatever. in his letter, written from Babylon, says, “We were eye
You will remember that these are the writers whose witnesses of his majesty...... We were with him in the accounts of the existence, the faith and worship, the holy mount” (2 Pet. i. 16, 18). If the history tells hoi numbers and morals of the Christian Church, we bave Paul was beaten and cast into prison at Philippi, and seen so strikingly confirmed by their enemies; and we his feet made fast in the stocks, and that, nevertheless, now inquire, Can we believe the other part of their his- he manfully defended his birthright as a Roman citizen, tory to be as true? These are the men who taught the and made the tyrannical magistrates humble themselves heathen a pure Christian morality, one principal article and apologize for their illegal conduct,-we find Paul of which was, “Lie not one to another, seeing ye have himself, in a letter to a neighbouring Church, appealing put off the old man with his deeds"_“All liars shall to their knowledge of the facts, “that after we had sufhave their portion in the lake that burneth with fire fered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, and brimstone"-and we are to inquire if they them- at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you selves lied-lied publicly, lied repeatedly--if the very the gospel of God with much contention. For our exbusiness of their lives was to propagate falsehood, and hortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in if they died with a lie in their right hands. You will guile...... For neither at any time used we flattering remember that we proved conclusively that the belief of words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness” the death and resurrection of Jesus did turn immense (1 Thess. ii. 2, 3, 5). IIundreds of such undesigned comultitudes of wicked men to a life of virtue; and now incidences may be found in the New Testament, conwe are to inquire if the belief of a lie produced this firming the veracity of the several historians and letterblessed result; and whether, if so, there be any such writers, and giving that impression of the naturalness thing as truth in the world, or any use in it.
and truth of the story which can neither be described 4. Of no other series of events of ancient history do nor disputed. The reader who desires to prosecute this we possess the same number of records by contemporary interesting branch of the evidences of Christianity, will historians, as of the life, death, and resurrection of the find an ample collection of these coincidences in Paley's Lord Jesus. We have four direct systematic memoirs “Hora Paulina." of him by four of his companions; and we have a collec- This agreement of independent writers is the more tion of letters by four others, in which the events of the remarkable, as the writers were persons of very various memoirs are continually referred to. At the mouth of degrees of education, of different professions and ranks two or three witnesses, any man's property and life will of life, born in different countries, and writing from be disposed of in a court of justice; but here we have various places in Italy, Greece, Palestine, and Assyria, the testimony of eight eye-witnesses of the facts they re- without any communication with each other. Matthew late, and they refer to five hundred other persons-the was an officer of customs in Galilee; Mark, a Hebrew greater part of whom were then alive-who had also citizen of Jerusalem; Luke, a Greek physician of An
tioch; James and John owned and sailed a fishing. | Nineveh and the sepulchres of Egypt we receive unsmack on Lake Tiberias ; Jude left his thirty-nine acres looked-for testimonies to the minute accuracy of the of land, worth nine thousand denarii, to be farmed by penmen of the Bible. his children when he went forth to preach the gospel ; 5. The manner in which the apostles published their and college-bred Paul carried bis sturdy independence testimony to the world bears every mark of truthfulness. in his breast, and his sail-needles in his pocket, and Deception and forgery skulk and try to spread themdictated epistles, and cut out marquees and lug-sails in selves at first in holes and corners; but he that doeth the tent factory of Aquila, Paul, and Co., at Corinth. truth coweth to the light. Had the apostles been conSeveral of his letters were written in a dungeon in Rome; scious of falsehood, would they have dared to assert that the last of Peter's is dated at Babylon : Matthew's Jesus was risen from the dead in the very streets of the Gospel was penned at Jerusalem; and John's Gospel and city where he was crucified—in the temple, the most Epistles were written at Ephesus. The agreement of public place of resort of the Jews who saw him crucified eight such witnesses, of such different pursuits, and so —and to the teeth of the very men who put him to scattered over the world, in the relation of the same death? If conscious of falsehood, would they have story, in all its leading particulars, together with their dared, before the chief priests, and the council, and all variety of style and manner, and their various relations the senate of Israel, to assert that “ the God of our of minor incidents, yet without a single contradiction, fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and banged on a are most convincing proofs that they all tell truth. tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be Nothing but truth could be thus told without contradic- a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, tion.
and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of The fact that some considerable difficulties and many these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God minor obscurities in these brief though pregnant narra- hath given to them that obey him" ? (Acts v. 30-32). tives prevent the combination of eight accounts, so in- Would Paul, had he been conscious that he was relating dependent in their sources, and various in their style falsehood, have dared to appeal to the judge, before and design and auditors, into a flowing historical novel whom he was on trial for his life, as one who knew the - a homogeneous mass, rounded and squared to our notoriety of these facts: “For the king knoweth of ideas of mathematical precision-is only an additional these things, before whom also I speak freely : for I am proof of their truth to nature, which abhors mathemati-persuaded that none of these things are hidden from cal as much as truth does rhetorical figures. Like the him ; for this thing was not done in a corner” ? (Acts variety of expression used by American, German, French, xxvi. 26). Would such appeals have been suffered to and Polish witnesses in our courts of justice-testifying pass uncontradicted had the statements of the apostles the same facts in their native idioms, though in English | been false? words—the apparent discrepancy, but actual harmony, The boldness of their manner, however, of telling becomes the most decisive test of the absence of any their story is little, compared with the boldness of the collusion, and, consequently, of the verity of the facts design which they had in view in telling it; which was which such various witnesses unite in testifying. Especi- nothing less than to convert the world. Now the idea ally will any such apparent discrepancy resolve itself of proselyting other nations to a new religion was into our own unskilfulness and ignorance, when we re- absolutely unknown to the world at that time. The member that the mists of ages, and the drapery of a heathens never dreamed of any such thing. They strange language, and world-wide removal of residence, would sometimes add a new god to their old Pantheon, and the turning of the world upside-down by the pro- but the idea of turning a nation to the worship of new gress of Christian civilization, and our consequent igno-deities was never before heard of. The Jews were so rance of the thousand little details of every-day life-well indignant at the project, that when Paul hinted it to known to the writer and his immediate readers--and of them, they cried, “Away with such a fellow from the the force of expressive idionis, perfectly familiar to them earth, for it is not fit that he should live." And this -have rendered us not near so capable of detecting in- new and strange idea, of conquering the world for a accuracies as those contemporary writers and opponents crucified man, is taken up by a few private citizens, who allowed them—if they existed—to pass unchal- who resolve to overturn the craft hy which priests have lenged. Like those antique coins, whose rust-dimmed their wealth, and to bring the kingdoms of the world and abbreviated inscriptions exercise the patience and to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. historic lore of the antiquarian-though neither are Inpostors would never have appealed to their power needed to declare the precious material--this very rust of working niracles as the apostles did ; nor could of antiquity, through which his patience has penetrated, enthusiasts have done so without instant exposure. It becomes one of the inimitable marks of historic verity. is remarkable, that while in addressing those who Every year throws some new light on texts difficult believed their divine commission, they rarely allude to to us froin our ignorance of se manners, customs, (fourteen of the Epistles make no allusion to apostolic names, and places, which infidel malice and Christian miracles), but dwell on a subject of far greater inportpiety have combined to explore; and from the ruins of ance-a holy life-they never hesitate to confront a
Simon Magus, or a schismatical Church at Corinth, or a they do not believe in either—but they follow as nearly persecuting high priest and Sanhedrim, with this power in the footsteps of their fathers as possible, when they of the Holy Ghost. “ Tongues,” says Paul," are for a tell us that multitudes of men, in every age and in sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe every land, have been turned from falsehood to truth by not ;” and this is true of all other miracles. This marks the belief of a lie, and from vice to virtue by the exthe difference between real miracles and those of pre- anuple of an impostor! tenders, who have never attempted to establish a new 6. But the strongest proof of the truth of the facts of religion by them, or to convert unbelievers hostile to the gospel, is the existence, the labours and sufferings, their claims and able to examine them, without imme- of the apostles themselves. Nobody denies that such diate exposure. But you never heard of an impostor nen lived, and preached, and were persecuted on standing up before the tribunal of his judges and account of their preaching that Jesus died and rose alleging the miraculous cure of a well-known public again. Now, if this was a falsehood, what motive had beggar, lame from his mother's womb, whom they had they to tell it ? It was very displeasing to their rulers seen at the church gate every Sabbath for forty years, who had crucified Him, and who had every inclination and bringing the man into court after such a fashion to give them the same treatment. To preach another as this,—“If we this day be examined of the good deed king, one Jesus, to the Romans, was to bring down the done to the impotent man, by what means he is power of the empire upon them. Nothing could be made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the more absurd in the eyes of the Grecian philosophers people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of than to speak of the resurrection of the body. Nor Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the could any plan be devised more certain to arouse the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you fury of the pagan priesthood, than to denounce the whole.” Such an appeal was unanswerable.“ Behold- craft by which they had their wealth, and to preach ing the man which was healed standing with them, that there are no gods which are made by hands. The they could say nothing against it.” Nay, they were most degraded wretch who perishes by the hand of the compelled to acknowledge “that indeed a notable mi- hangman, is not so contemptible in our eyes, as the racle hath been done by them is manifest to all them crucified malefactor was in the eyes of the Roman that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it." people ; nor could anything more disagreeable to the (Acts iv.)
Jewish nation be invented, than the declaration that The denial of the miracles of the gospel is a modern the Gentiles should become partakers of the kingdom invention of the enemy. The scribes and priests, of God. What then should induce any man in his senses emperors and philosophers, of the first centuries, who to provoke such an opposition to a new religion, and had the best opportunity of proving their falsehood, to make it so contemptible and disagreeable to those were unable to do so. The persecutors and apostates, whom he sought to convert, if he were manufacturing whose malice against the Church knew no bounds, a lie to gain power and popularity ? never dared to utter a charge of deception against the The religion they preached was not adapted to please apostles. Why, then, you ask, did they not all become sensual men. “Our exhortation,” says Paul-and Christians ? Because miracles cannot convert any every reader of the New Testament knows that he says man against his will. Christianity is not merely a truth—“Our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of unbelief in miracles, but the love of Christ and a life of cleanness, nor of guile.” Infidels admit that they holiness. There are many readers of this paper who preached a pure morality. But it is a long time since would not turn from their sins if all the dead in men learned the proverb, “Physician heal thyself.” Spring Grove Cemetery should rise to-morrow to warn “ Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost them. God does not intend to force any man to be- thou steal ? Thou that sayest a man should not comcome a Christian. He just gives evidence enough mit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that to try you, whether you will deal honestly and fairly abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?" It could with your own sonl and your God; and if you are deter- not, then, be to obtain license for lust that these men mined to hate Christ and his holy religion, you shall preached holiness. never want a plausible excuse for unbelief: as it is There is only one other conceivable motive which written, “Unto them which are disobedient, Christ is a should induce men to confederate together for the stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.” These propagation of falsehood—the design of making money ancient enemies of Christ acknowledged the reality of by it. But their new religion made no provision for his miracles, but attributed them to magical power, or any such thing. One of their first acts was to desire the help of Satan. The Jews said that he had acquired the Church to elect deacons who might manage its the power of miracles by learning to pronounce the money matters, and allow them to give themselves incommunicable name of God. Modern infidels deny wholly to prayer and to the ministry of the word. all his miracles save the greatest-the turning of men Twenty-five years after that they could appeal to the from their sins. They cannot deny that, they can- world that even to this present hour we [the not ascribe it to the power of Satan or of magic, for apostles] both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and