Obrázky na stránke

mouth of Jesus Christ. Speaking of himself, he said : The Son of Man shall be betrayed to the chief priests, and to the scribes and ancients, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles; and they shall mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him ; and the third day he shall rise again. Mark x, 33, 34. But, AFTER I SHALL BE RISEN AGAIN, I will go before you into Galilee. Mark, xiv, 28. His very enemies bore testimony that his prediction was uttered before his death, and took their precautions against any false pretence of its accomplishment. After he was dead, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate, saying, Sir, we have remembered, that that seducer said, while he was yet alive, AFTER THREE DAYS I WILL RISE AGAIN; command, therefore, the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day. Mat. xxvii, 62, 63, 64.

Jesus was put to death under the very circumstances he had foretold. On the third day he raised himself to life again, as he bad predicted. Here are three facts, all absolutely certain, and collectively, bearing the most evident testimony both to the humanity and to the divinity of Jesus Christ. The certainty of these facts is supported by the testimonies cited from the Gospels, which must be admitted, at least, as an authentic history.

It is then a certain fact that he foretold his death, with its circumstances, and also his resurrection on the third day.

It is a certain fact that he was put to death, amidst the circumstantial indignities which he had foretold.

It is a certain fact that he rose to life on the third day.

Of this fact, and of his having been seen living by many persons, on many occasions, during forty days, we have the most undeniable testimonies. On the third day after his death he presented himself living to his eleven apostles, and to the two disciples returned from Emaus, all assembled together. They were at first incredulous. He convinced them of the reality of his resuscitated body, by exbibiting himself palpably, and by conversing and eating with them; and of its identity, by shewing them the wounds in his hands and feet. After eight days he came into their assembly again, when Thomas was present, who had declared that he wouid not believe him to be risen, till he had seen the print of the nails in his hands, till he had put his finger into the place of the nails, and his kand into his side. He then told Thomas to satisfa baireself: and Tuomas, orerpowered by the evidence beiare Lin, exclaimed - My Lord and ur God!" He was seen by seren disciples on the lake of Tiberias; and by more than five undred bretines at ovet, in Gaute. He was seen bx his Apostles on the day of this ascensius, when be gave then their kubine cunumissive 200 bis beareal proteise; be was seen by them ascending to this beatens kiagdom. Tbe sincerity of the conviction, and of the testimony of those bo had seen him, and conversed with tim, after his resurrection, was sealed with their blood

By the evidence and virtue of the fact of his resurrection, the world was converted to the faith, and brought under obedience to the autbority of Jesus, tbe son of God. This undeniable feet of his resurrection, was an evident proof of omniperence in him who raised himself from death to life. It stamped tise character of disine truth on his doctrines; of divine veracity on his promises; and of divine authority on his precepte. It gave efficacy to his sacred institutions. His power is therefore the power of God; his law is the law of God; his kingdom is the kingdom of God. This fact affords an evident demonstration of the divine revelation and institution of the Christian religion, and consequently of the truth of the doctrines and mysteries, which were taught by Christ

[ocr errors]





WHAT ARE THE DOCTRINES OF FAITH, THE MORAL PRECEPTS, AND THE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES, WHICH WERE DELIVERED BY CHRIST IN THE REVELATION AND INSTITUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.-Previous Observations.Two Methods proposed : of authoritative Testimony ; and of private Judgment, and private Interpretation of Scripture.

The present question does not regard the truth of the doctrines revealed, the sanctity of the precepts delivered, or the religious nature of the rites instituted by Christ. It is evident that these qualifications are inherent in all the doctrines, precepts, and institutions, which are taught and commanded by the God of Truth and Justice.

The question relates only to the means, by which men may be able to ascertain with certitude, what are the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of the Christian law. Did Christ teach the doctrine of the Trinity, or did he not? Did he command the virtues of faith, of penance, and of supernatural charity, or did he not? Did he institute the sacraments of baptism and penance for the remission of sins, or did he not? How are such questions to be determined ? How is it to be known for certain what Christ really taught, what he really commanded, what he really ordained ?

In the Christian law. there is no contradiction. Christ did not teach that there are and are not three persons in one God; that penance is and is not a requisite disposition for salvation; that baptism is and is not necessary for all; that the confession of sins is and is not an ordinance of his law.

If the method employed, for ascertaining what Christ really did teach and ordain, be found to lead sincere inquirers to adopt sometimes one doctrine on the subject in question, and sometimes its contradictory; it surely cannot be reasonably considered as a certain rule of truth, but must be a fallible and deceitful guide, often conducting to error.

Whoever feels the immense importance of knowing with certainty what are the doctrines which Christ really taught and commanded all to believe; what are the supernatural precepts of morality which Christ really delivered, and commanded all to follow in practice; what are the sacred ordinances which Christ really instituted and commanded to be observed; what are the dispositions and conditions of salvavation which Christ really prescribed for all; he will at the same time feel that it is equally important to his salvation to know by what means he can ascertain the truth on these points of fact, on which bis eternal happiness or misery depends. "

It is an historical fact, that before the period of the revolution in religion, often called the Reformation, which took place in the sixteenth century, the ancient and universal testimony, or the authoritative teaching of the pastors of the church of Christ, was generally followed, as the divinely estạblished means, by which all men were to be brought to the true and certain knowledge of the law and religion of Christ. · It is also an historical fact, that the bold reformer, who, in the sixteenth century, was the first and chief leader in this revolution, setting aside the ancient method, laid down the rule of determining by each man's private judgment, or by his private interpretation of Scripture, what are the doctrines, precepts, and institutions of Christ, and what the conditions of eternal salvation.

Whether this last rule, which is the principle of Protestantism, or the ancient rule, which is the principle of Catholicism, is the true and sure means of learning and determining with certitude, what are the doctrines, precepts, and institutions which were really taught and ordained by Christ, is the important subject of this present discussion. '.



PRETATION OF SCRIPTURE EXAMINED.—Private Judgment leads to Uncertainty and Error, whether it be used to determine the Question by intrinsic or extrinsic Evidence.Private Interpretation of Scripture also leads to Uncertainty and Error.

By private judgment, we understand the solitary opinion and judgment of every individual, uninfluenced by authority, or by the opinions or judgments of others. !

Whether we consider the objects of inquiry, or the ordinary results of individual research, we must admit that pri.. vate judgment, or the individual opinion which each one may form on the subject in question, is not a sure means of determining with truth and certitude, what in fact Christ did or did not teach and command.

Taking some particular doctrine; for example, that of the Trinity, as the object of inquiry : how is it to be determined with truth and certitude, by private reasoning or private judgment, whether this doctrine was or was not taught by Christ? Is it by examining the intrinsic nature of the object of this doctrine, viz. of the mystery of the existence of three persons in one God; and by concluding, from arguments drawn from natural principles, that the doctrine is or is not TRUE, and consequently that it is or is not REVEALED? It has been shewn (Part i, chap. iii) that the truth or falsehood of revealed doctrines cannot be ascertained by intrinsic evi, dence. If, therefore, from the private judgment which an individual may form “ that the doctrine is not true,” he should argue that it is not revealed, he would argue from a false principle and from a fallacious judgment. If the doctrine is in fact revealed, it is true, and its truth is grounded in the judgment and revelation of Christ : and hence, in the supposition of its being in fact revealed, the private judgmenti

t it is not fallacious lits truth is s

« PredošláPokračovať »