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Without the revelation of such knowledge, in some way commensurate to the faculties, and capable of instructing mankind; we should still have wandered in the most lamentable obscurity.
But what shall we say to those who wrest these sacred writings to their own destruction? who pervert their meanings to the very worst purposes, and deny the advantages which even they receive? Let us leave them to the mercy of God, who affords to all men an opportunity of repentance. The charity of the gospel requires this prayer for them. May their prejudices be removed by a strenuous exertion of their reason! and may the same spirit which dictated the words of scripture, take possession of their hearts, and lead them into all the truth.
Evidences that Jesus came from God.
Lo! earth receives him from the bending skies!
THAT the evidences of christianity may be familiar to the eye, and impress themselves on the understanding at every turn, I shall not hesitate to recite such arguments on this subject as offer themselves to my mind, however trite or common they may be to the reflecting christian. It is of importance to the world, to ascertain the truth of the christian revelation; and never was it of more importance than in these latter days, when whole nations, not only appear willing to break down the strong
holds of religion, but have, in many places, erected a triumphant banner
1. That Jesus came from God may be proved by his possessing the gift of prophecy; since no one can foretel future events unless he be influenced by the spirit of an all-seeing God. The instances in which he displayed this power are these. He foretold the treachery of Judas; the denial of Peter; his own crucifixion; his resurrection from the dead on the third day; the descent of the Holy Ghost upon his disciples; the wonderful propagation of the gospel throughout the world; the rise of heresies; the dreadful persecution of his servants; the destruction of Jerusalem, &c. However some of these might be ascribed by the unbeliever to an intuitive knowledge of human nature, and a greater portion of that faculty which we call foresight, others could not possibly fall under that description. Had his disciples been possessed of more penetration than they were (and on the contrary it is certain that they were: for the most part ignorant and unlearned
men) they never would have ventured the truth of the religion, that they were endeavouring to establish, on the uncertainty of prophecies, which a few years, nay a few days, would develope. The propagation of the gospel was an event which they could believe only on the word of him who had foretold it and the destruction of their then flourishing metropolis was as far from the expectation of the Jews, or even of the Romans, who were the immediate authors of the calamity, as any event, yet in the womb of time, could be. But besides this general observation, if we consider the particular circumstances which attended the accomplishment of these prophecies, and which could not possibly be foreseen, we cannot but adopt this argument as one infallible proof of the truth of christianity. Of these minute circumstances I must restrain myself to a few; and these, respecting the destruction of Jerusalem; namely, the earthquakes in divers places; the great signs and fearful sights; the safety of Christ's faithful servants who removed from the city before the siege, relying on the
faith of this prophecy; the false christs and false prophets who should appear; the entire overthrow of the temple; the order of Titus to dig up the city; the immense slaughter of the Jews;-all these circumstances, however appearing to arise from the momentary impulse of the conqueror, or the actions of the day, which our Lord foretold about forty years before they happened, and which are proved to have been publickly inculcated both among Jews and Christians, were distinctly and accurately fulfilled.
2. That Jesus came from God may be proved from the accomplishment of all the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah, in his person. To the Old Testament I must refer for these prophecies; to 'the New Testament for their accomplishment. An attentive comparison must produce a conclusion favourable to christianity: for, to no other person since the world began, can they with equal, or any, propriety be applied. It was this argument which made so strong an impression, even to conviction, on the sceptical and dissipated Earl of Rochester;