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Furthermore, monuments were erected, and institutions were established, in memory of some of the transactions recorded by the sacred writers, which would not have been done had they been an imposition. Now if the transactions were done openly, in view of a host of witnesses; if monuments were erected in remembrance of what had recently taken place; and if institutions were observed from the time in which they were said to be done, then they must be true. For example: it is recorded that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt; that the king refused to let them go; that God threatened, and actually brought, many judgments on Egypt, on account of which Pharaoh let them go; that the king still hardened his heart, and pursued the Hebrews with the military strength of Egypt, until he and his host were drowned in the Red sea ; that Israel passed through the sea safely, and were delivered from the deadly hate of their pursuers; that Israel were forty years in the wilderness, fed on manna, and led by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; during which time their history is signalized by the miraculous interposition of Divine Provi. dence in their preservation and in the destruction of their enemies.
Now Moses did not pretend that these things were done in secret, but appeals to the outward senses of the people as witnesses of them: “ Your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord, which he did.” Does this look like the conduct of an impostor? Could Moses possi. bly make the people believe that they had seen all those mighty events and transactions, if they had not seen them? The institution of the passover was observed in commemoration of Israel's coming out of Egypt, and was sacredly kept by all from generation to generation. The annual observance of this institution is a standing proof that the event of which it was commemorative is true. Neither could the monuments or ordinances of great celebrity that existed among the Jews and Christians from the very time when they took place, and which exist to the present day in every country where either Jews or Christians are to be found, * receive the credence of the people unless the events of which they are commemorative did actually take place. Is it possible that the monuments of Lexington and of Bunker Hill could obtain credence, if those impressive events which they are de. signed to commemorate were not true? The fraud would be quickly seen, and the monuments razed to the ground. Nor is it possible to suppose that the monument at Gilgal, commemorative of the passage of Jordan by the Israelites, could be imposed on that generation ; and no easier on any succeeding generations, for the same impossibility would exist.
But let us briefly examine some of those events recorded in the New Testament. We will particularly notice the miracles which were said to be wrought by Christ. It is said, that he gave sight to those born blind ; that he healed the obstinate leprosy ; that he made those who wanted a limb, perfect—those who were bowed down, straight—those who shook with palsy, robust ; that he nerved the withered arm with strength; that he restored demoniacs to reason;
Among the Jews there is the ordinance of circumcision, the feast of the passover, of tabernacles, and of pentecost : among Christians there are the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the sabbath, observed on the first day of the week, in honor of Christ's resurrection from the dead.
Vol. X.-July, 1839. 37
and that he “ raised the dead to life.” Now these miracles were wrought in open day, before a mixed multitude—friends and enemies ; and before those, too, who were unwilling to believe any thing miraculous without the strongest evidence. Now, if Christ did not work the miracles which the evangelists positively declare that he did, why did not the enemies of Christianity expose the imposition? They certainly had a good opportunity to detect whatever was false, and there is no doubt but they would have done it. But no individual living at the time these miracles were said to be wrought, and who must have known their narration, has ever questioned that they did actually take place, as recorded by the evangelists. Can we possibly need more evidence to prove that the sacred writers have given us a faithful narration of facts?
(2.) The style of the sacred writers was pure, chaste, plain, simple, comprehensive, sublime, and dignified. Though they taught the most grand and sublime truths, doctrines, and precepts ever revealed to man, yet their style is characterized by uncommon plainness, simpli. eity, and dignity. In all their writings we behold a candor, frankness, gentleness, sweetness, sincerity, boldness, and energy, which clearly mark their desire to communicate the truth. There is nothing which appears like superstitious scrupulosity, fanatical zeal, impassioned, vehement, or violent tones and expressions, or enthusiasm. They could not have been enthusiasts, for there is not the least resemblance to enthusiasm in any thing which they have said, or in the style or manner in which they have said it. Says Horne, “ Throughout their writings the utmost impartiality, sobriety, and modesty prevail; and, contrary to the practice of enthusiasts, they record their own mistakes, follies, and faults.” Who can believe that such men were enthusiasts, or that they wished to impose on mankind a series of base falsehoods?
(3.) The manner in which the sacred writers communicated their truths is marked with uncommon honesty and impartiality. There is something on the very face of their productions which stamps them as containing a faithful narration of facts. Their honesty is at once discovered in noticing those passages and circumstances which no writer would have been likely to forge; and which no writer would choose to have appear in his book, who had been careful to present the story so as to please the world, or who had considered himself at liberty to carve and mold the particulars of that story according to his own choice, or according to what he supposed would be the effect upon mankind. Says the writer before quoted, “ There is in them no preparation of events ; there are no artful transitions or connections ; no set characters or persons to be introduced; no reflecting on past transactions, or the authors of them; no excuses or apologies for what might probably disturb their readers; no specious artifices ; no plausible arguments to set off a doubtful action, and to reconcile it to some other, or to the character of the person who did it. They do not dissemble certain circumstances in the life and sufferings of their Master, which have no tendency to advance his glory in the eyes of the world. They announce the miracles of Jesus Christ with the same dispassionate coolness as if they had been common transactions ; nor, after the recital, do they break out into exclamations.” Such
candor, honesty, and artlessness were never exhibited in the produc. tions of deceivers or impostors.
The most rigid impartiality is observed throughout the sacred writ. ings. In history the sacred writers are impartial and just. In giving the births, labors, sufferings, and deaths of many individuals named in the sacred records, the same impartiality is discovered. They do not eulogize their particular favorites; while others, who do not fall in with their view of things, meet with unsparing reprehension. They labor to give a true and faithful picture of the characters they repre. sent, without any effort or design to exaggerate or detract. The apostles, although they followed the most extraordinary leader ever known in the world, have written the history of his life without a single panegyric! In the history of distinguished characters, their failings and improprieties are equally noticed with their virtues and good deeds. The writers, instead of speaking of their own excellence, have candidly and faithfully recorded their own prejudices, weak nesses, want of faith, foibles, and mistakes. Does this look like the work of fanatics, enthusiasts, or impostors? Are the writings of such marked with strict impartiality ? and were they ever known to pass by what they considered their virtues, and record their own follies and faults? Let the reader judge, and then say if we have not sufficient evidence here that the sacred writers were what they professed to be.
4. The sacred writers were inspired men; and, if inspired, they were good men. By inspired, we mean, directed by the Holy Ghost. “ But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” It is not presumed that all the words and phrases used by the sacred writers were directed by God, though this was probably the case in some instances—for St. Paul declares that they “spake the things which were given them of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth ;" but simply, that God gave the whole matter, leaving the writers, as a general thing, to use their own language; and hence the great variety of style and different mode of expression. That the sa. cred writers were inspired is demonstrated,
(1.) From the harmony and agreement apparent throughout their writings. That the Bible was written at different times, in different places, and by different men, must be admitted by all who credit the statements of profane history. On this point sacred and profane history agree. From Moses to Isaiah were 700 years; from Isaiah to Malachi, 300; from Malachi to John, whose writings close the book, 400. Hence from Moses to the death of John were 1,500 years. Through this whole period there is no jar, but perfect harmony and agreement through all their writings, leading the mind to the same great objects and results. Does this bear the appearance of forgery ? “ Wicked men could not if they would, and would not if they could, write such a book. It prophesies evil against them. Good men (as we have already shown) would not, if they could, impose upon the world a book of fables and falsehoods for divine revelation.” But, if they were capable of forging such a collection of lies as the Bible is said to be by infidels, we can see no motive which could possibly in. fluence them to do it. Dryden is very explicit on this point :
“ Whence but from Heaven could men, unskill'd in arts,
In different nations born, in different parts,
In the language of another, we may inquire, “How can it be ac. counted for, that, during the long period of fifteen hundred years, which the Bible was in writing by princes, priests, shepherds, and fishermen, (and without comparing notes, and who wrote laws, his. tory, prophecy, odes, devotional exercises, proverbs, parables, doctrines, and controversy, and yet all exactly coincide in the exhibition they give us of the perfections, works, truths, and will of God; of the nature, situation, and obligations of man; of sin and of salvation; of this world and the next; and, in short, in all things connected with our duty, interest, and comfort; and yet no disagreement, but harmony among them all ?" Can this agreement be accounted for on any other ground, except that the writers were divinely inspired? We consider it impossible.” Says another writer, “ Apparent inconsistencies may indeed perplex the superficial reader, but they will all vanish after a more accurate investigation. The exact coincidence that is perceived among those by whom the Bible was written, by the diligent student, is most astonishing, and cannot be accounted for on any mere rational principles without admitting that they wrote by divine inspiration." Let those who embrace the opposite opinion remember the unsupported assertions, abusive epithets, illiberal sarcasms, &c., which have been brought forward, instead of arguments, to support their theory, by Voltaire, Bolingbroke, Thomas Paine, and nearly all infidel wri. ters. If they had arguments, they would unquestionably have adduced them. We consider, therefore, their ground untenable. The only right conclusion, then, is, in view of what has been said respecting the perfect harmony observable throughout the sacred writings, that they must have been dictated and directed by the Holy Ghost.” If, then, they were written by inspiration, the writers must have been inspired.
(2.) By the fulfilment of numerous prophecies recorded by them. That God can reveal future things to man, no one will question who believes in the existence of God. That he has revealed future things thus, we shall attempt to show.
All will admit, that there are many professed predictions of future events recorded in the Scriptures. But are those predictions true? Were they recorded at the time they are said to have been recorded ? and have they been fulfilled as recorded? Some of them have been thus fulfilled, while others undoubtedly yet remain to be fulfilled. We shall only now notice some of those which have, we believe, been accu. rately fulfilled.
Perhaps it will be unnecessary to tax the attention of the reader with the prophecies respecting the condition and the destruction of Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, &c. That these prophecies were fulfilled, the celebrated Greek and Roman historians, Xenophon, Strabo, Herodotus, Pliny and others bear ample testimony.
The prophecy of Jacob concerning Judah will first claim our parti. cular attention. Gen. xlix, 10: "The sceptre shall not depart from
Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Judah, according to this prophecy, is to retain its authority, its rulers, judges, elders, &c., until the coming of the Messiah. But was this the case ? In 1 Kings, chap. xvii, we read that the king of Assyria subjected the ten tribes to himself. This subjugation took place about nine hundred years after this prophecy was uttered. But though the ten tribes were now no longer a distinct people, but scattered among other nations, yet the tribe of Judah remained distinct; and during the seventy years' captivity in Babylon no intermarriages were allowed with other nations, and they were permitted to choose their own elders, governors, judges, &c.; plant their own vineyards and gardens, build houses, &c., (Jer. xxix ;) and this they did as a distinct people, having rule, until Shiloh appeared. Hence the truth of that saying of the Jews, “ We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man.' Suetonius and Tacitus confirm the fulfilment of the prediction. The conclusion is, therefore, that Jacob was inspired to prophesy as he did, for he could not have foretold the events which were fulfilled in this prophecy without divine inspiration.
The sceptre departed from Judah, and their power was taken away, soon after the coming of the true Shiloh, and the nation was dispersed.
The twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy contains many striking predictions respecting the Jews, the besieging of their cities, grievous famines, &c.; that they should be few in number, and scattered among all nations. The length of the chapter forbids our quoting it entire. A few particulars must therefore suffice.
First. Moses foretold in the 52d verse that their cities would be besieged and taken. This prophecy was fulfilled by Shishak, king of Egypt, (2 Chron. xii, 2,) by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, (2 Kings xvii, 2, &c.,) by Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus Epiphanes, and finally by Titus.
Secondly. Grievous famines during those sieges were foretold, and also that their distress would be so great that they would eat the fruit of their own bodies; see ver. 53, &c. This was accurately fulfilled when Samaria was besieged, when Jerusalem was besieged before the Babylonish captivity, and finally during the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. Particularly in the last instance, authentic history informs us that the distress was beyond expression. Josephus' Wars of the Jews, book vii, chap. 2, gives us a striking instance, in dreadful detail, of a
a woman named Mary, who, in the extremity of the famine, during the siege, killed her sucking child, roasted, and had eaten part of it, when discovered by the soldiers ! See this predicted Jer. xix, 9.
Again : It was foretold that they should be few in number. This is now literally true. Ninety-nine thousand were taken prisoners, and more than twelve hundred thousand were put to death by Vespasian and Titus. Vast multitudes died by famine: they killed each other; and thousands were sold; and those for whom purchasers could not be found (Moses had foretold that no man would buy them, ver. 68) were transported into Egypt, where many perished by shipwreck, famine, &c. See an account of the siege of Jerusalem by Titus in Josephus' Antiq., book xii, chap. 1, 2; and also Newton's Dissertations on the Prophecies.