« ForrigeFortsæt »
accents—" This is a solemn scene; we must now part; but the season of separation will be as a speck of time, and I trust we shall be reunited in a world of eternal blessedness and glory. Good bye !” He uttered at intervals a few more sentences, and about midnight breathed his last ! His spirit is before the throne !
This tract may meet the eye of some one who, busily occupied with the concerns of time, and conscious of general integrity and honourableness of sentiment and character, has hitherto found little opportunity, and has thought there was little need, for a more earnest attention to religion. Here was such a man, gradually convinced that salvation was the great object of solicitude, persuaded that all his righteousnesses were utterly worthless in the sight of God, made deeply sensible of his sinfulness, and led to trust with all humility in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a change of views, and such an exercise of faith, are in every instance indispensable. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
The manner in which Mr. Bwas sustained in the hour of death affords a striking testimony to the value of the gospel. There is nothing which can minister true peace at that hour, but a firm faith in Christ. It is only the believer who can say, “ Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ;" for it is only through the exercise of faith in Him that guilt is cancelled and the soul made meet for heaven.
We are sometimes apt to be discouraged respecting those for whose conversion we have long laboured, and long prayed, and are disposed to give up the work in despair. We may learn from the case of Mr. B- a lesson of patient perseverance. The heart of his beloved wife would often perhaps be sick with deferred hope; and the rest of his family would share in the feeling of disappointment. The pastor might sometimes be inclined to reckon him amongst those to whom his message was in vain. But still they continued their efforts, and still urged their prayers; and at length they had the unspeakable joy of seeing him a partaker with them of “like precious faith." “ In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.'
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
It is the design of this tract to sketch very briefly a few of the principal reasons why the Bible should be regarded as true. There can, of course, in so limited a space, be little more than a mere statement of those reasons. Enough, however, may be advanced to stimulate those who may peruse it to a thorough investigation of the subject; an investigation for which it need scarcely be said there are ample facilities within the reach of all.
I. THE BOOKS WHICH COMPRISE THE BIBLE WERE RECEIVED
AS DIVINE BY THOSE WHO HAD THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES OF ASCERTAINING WHETHER THEY WERE SO OR NOT.
accustomed to speak of the Bible as one book; we call it, in token of its pre-eminence over all other books, The Bible, that is, the book. But it is in reality a collection of books, written at different times, and by different men. These books are in existence, and are regarded by multitudes as the word of God. There must then have been a time when they were first published, and first received as of divine authority; and the men who received them must have been satisfied that they were
Let any one write a book, purporting to be the production of some writer in a distant age, and let him try to make men believe that it has been received ever since that age, and he will find that he has undertaken, if not an impossibility, something very like it. There have been attempts of the kind, but they have been speedily detected, and the men who made them have been covered with the contempt they deserved. The history of the Old Testament is briefly this: A nation, the Israelites, were called into existence, that there might be committed to them the oracles of God. The first prophet of that people was Moses ; and he not only spoke to them in the name of Jehovah, but also committed to writing the intimations of the divine will. These were entrusted to the priests and elders of Israel, and deposited with great care in the Most Holy Place, Deut. xxxi. 9, 26. Other inspired men arose, affording ample credentials of their authority; and their writings were successively added. A well-authenticated tradition ascribes the completion of the canon to Ezra, and others who were associated with him, after the Babylonish captivity. There were then living some of the last of the prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi-men qualified, because inspired, to point out the books which should be regarded as of divine authority. Josephus gives the number of the books of the Old Testament as we have them now, distinctly alleging the inferior authority of the apocryphal writings. A translation of the Old Testament, the version of the Septuagint, is extant, which was completed, at the very latest, more than a century before the christian era, and it contains all the books of the Hebrew scriptures. Our Lord alluded to those scriptures, as of unquestionable authority; and whilst the inspiration of the whole is affirmed in the epistles, quotations are made from the greater number of them. To all this we may add, that we have now the living Jew, the most virulent enemy of Christianity, with his Hebrew scriptures coinciding with the Old Testament as in the hands of Chris-, tians. As to the New Testament, there is abundant reason to know that its different books were received as of inspired authority, some of them with greater unanimity than others, but the whole of them by the vast majority of Christians throughout the world. For few, if indeed for any, ancient books is there the same amount of unimpeachable testimony, tracing them up to the times in which they were written, and to the men who wrote them, as for the books of the Bible. It may be objected, “But, granting that these books were written by the men whose names they bear, and that they were originally inspired, how do we know that we have them as they were written? They may, for aught we can tell, be so interpolated and altered, that there may remain nothing beyond the remotest resemblance to what they were at first." It is replied, that on the part of the Jews there was always exercised the most scrúpulous care in the transcription of their sacred books; and to such an extent was this carried, that if there were any peculiarity in the form of any character--if it were greater or smaller than the rest—it was exactly copied. With regard to the New Testament, it may be observed, that besides the natural anxiety of good men to have its records in their perfect integrity, there have always been conflicting sects, who would. have speedily detected any important alterations. It is however admitted that, notwithstanding all this care, many errors crept into the sacred text; yet, on examination, it has been found that they are comparatively unimportant, and that they leave the great principles of revelation unaffected. So that we may rest satisfied that we have substantially the words which fell from the lips of inspired prophets, and which were addressed by inspired evangelists and apostles to the early churches.
II. THERE ARE IN THE BIBLE PREDICTIONS, RELATING TO A GREAT VARIETY OF SUBJECTS, WHICH HAVE BEEN LITERALLY
If prophecies be uttered and recorded centuries before the time appointed for their accomplishment, and they be
literally fulfilled, there is the strongest presumption that they must have been inspired from heaven, and that the books in which they are incorporated must be of divine authority. There are, indeed, accomplished predictions which are not an evidence of divinity. Events may sometimes be anticipated by a sagacious mind from present appearances ; oracular announcements may be made, like the oracles of the heathen, that, happen what may, the prophecy is sure to be fulfilled. It is possible for a prediction to secure its own fulfilment, its terms being so plain that they might be clearly understood beforehand ; the event being one in whose accomplishment certain parties were interested, and the agency required for its fulfilment being simple and direct. Predictions have been made to suit the event after it has occurred; and perhaps it would not be difficult to find cases in which the whole story, both of prediction and fulfilment, is an imposture. But it is impossible to explain away the prophecies of the Bible on any of these principles. Many of them were recorded ages before their fulfilment, when there was nothing to warrant the slightest expectation of the events which they foretold ; many were clothed in a degree of obscurity which could only be cleared away by their fulfilment ; and there was needed for the accomplishment of others such a multitude of conflicting agencies, that the idea of their fulfilment, otherwise than by the exercise of the divine power, is absurd. It was predicted, for instance, in the law of Moses, that if the Israelites rebelled against God, their land should be desolated, and they themselves carried into captivity. Many eenturies after the threat was fulfilled ; and they pined in exile, by the rivers of Babylon, whilst their temple was in ruins, and their country lay waste. The recently disinterred cities of the East are the striking memorials of prophecy accomplished. But, passing by all others, there was a continued series of predictions relating to one great subject, extending over thousands of years, but the last of them uttered four centuries before the advent of the Being to whom they referred, all of which have been fulfilled. The great hope of Israel was the Messiah. Its first ray relieved the gloom of Eden ; and in each succeeding age, till the spirit of prophecy was restrained, it shone with gradually increasing brightness. The race from which he was to spring, the tribe of that race, and the family of that tribe, were all specified. Micah foretold the city in which he should be born, and Daniel fixed the time of his coming. So definite were their predictions, that universal expectations were entertained of his appearance at the very time of his advent. Isaiah depicted his sufferings in terms 'so graphic, that they might stand for the records of history itself; and other prophets spake as clearly of the circumstances attendant on his death. So interwoven were these prophecies with the substance of the Old Testament, that the idea of their being interpolated is coma pletely out of the question ; to say nothing of the fact that their integrity is vindicated by the very men who are most interested in disproving the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, take the New Testament, and you will find everything fulfilled to the very letter; his birth, his character, his sufferings, his death. Remember that there were needed for the accomplishment of these predictions the predominance of the Roman power in Judea, the rage of his countrymen, the plot-' ting of the Sanhedrim, the treason of Judas, and the desertion of the rest of his followers, with innumerable other circumstances, over which neither He nor his disciples could exert the slightest control. Is it possible for all these things to have been literally fulfilled, unless there had been first the exercise of infinite foreknowledge in their announcement, and then the exercise of omnipotent power in their accomplishment ? The study of fulfilled prophecy in regard to other points is scarcely less confirmatory of the truth of revelation; but we can safely rest the argument from that source on the great facts which have just been adduced. If there were no instances besides, they ought to carry conviction to every reflecting mind.
III. THE MOST WONDERFUL MIRACLES HAVE BEEN WROUGHT IN ATTESTATION OF THE CLAIMS OF THE BIBLE Fulfilled prophecy may convince those who have the opportunity of witnessing its fulfilment; but till it is fulfilled, as an evidence, it is powerless. There must be something which shall produce the conviction at the time when a message from heaven is delivered, that it is indeed divine; something tangible, something which appeals to men's senses, something calculated to produce a powerful impression. The only way in which this can be done is by miracle ; that is, by some striking deviation from the established order of nature to which we can conceive no power adequate, save that of Omnipotence. We need scarcely argue the possibility of miracle ; for He who called the material universe into existence may surely, if he please, suspend its order. Nor is it unlikely that He will do so, if by so doing He can restore the disturbed order and harmony of his moral uni
And of such an event we hold that men are fully competent to take cognizance. There is no reason why they should not be as fully persuaded of the accomplishment of a miracle as of anything else which appeals to their senses ; nor is there any reason why the testimony of competent, impartial
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.