Page images

because we shall then wholly acquiesce in the justice of God. The veil of passion and prejudice will be removed from our sight; for in that world, where all will be harmony, no disturbed reflections can arise.


On the Authenticity of the Scriptures.

The seas shall waste, the skies in smoke decay,
Rocks fall to dust, and mountains melt away}
But fix'd his word,-


As a belief in a future state is essentially necessary to the happiness of man, it is of infinite importance, that the authenticity of those writings which deliver this truth, should be established on the firmest foundation. And blessed be God! evidence of the most conclusive nature is every where to be found. The deplorable scepticism of the present age has produced writers of the first abilities, who have arranged every argument on this subject in the most perspicuous point of view. A modern of much eminence has received, on this account, the


praise which he deserves*. May his pious labours be productive of good fruit! May the scripture which he so ably elucidates, and whose authority he vindicates with so powerful a pen, be "received, not as the "word of man, but (as it is in truth) the "word of God, which effectually worketh " in them that believe."

The study of nature, considered abstractedly, however it might have raised the mind of man a few degrees above brutality, never would have arrived at the knowledge of those sublime truths which result from revelation. A thousand instances may be produced to prove it. A stronger perhaps we cannot give, than that of the modern Chinese, as represented in the authentic history of the late embassy t. Ingenious in some mechanic arts, which could not but be the case from the extreme population of the country, and the continually occurring wants of the inhabitants; expert, from the same cause, in the prosecution of trade

* Paley's Evidences of Christianity.

+ Sir Geo. Staunton's account of Earl Macartney's Voyage to China.


and commerce-what is the real state of their minds?" Darkness, as in the days of

[ocr errors]

old, hath covered the earth, and gross "darkness the people." Desirous, they appear to be, of instruction; and from the public degrees of honour which they confer, and from the annual examination of their youth, we might have expected correspondent advantages. But centuries have rolled on after centuries, and still they remain immersed in the same idolatries, still the slaves of the most inveterate prejudices. The high degree of national pride which they possess, and jealousy of every surrounding, and even of every distant country, offer an impenetrable barrier against the introduction of useful knowledge. A few christians, small indeed in number compared with the bulk of the inhabitants*, are to be found among the refuse of the people, and even these are clogged with superstitious ceremonies and mortifying corruptions. It is impossible for the human eye to search out the secrets of Providence. To the

About 200,000.

See Sir Geo. Staunton's Account, &c.


Almighty Ruler of the universe, let us, with all humility of mind, leave the direction of his own works. In his own time he will collect his flock, and feed them in green pastures. It is our duty to improve the knowledge which we possess; and if the scriptures, which are shut to others, be open to us, it will be our fault, it will be our condemnation if we do not use them as we ought.

The history of christianity is supported by a greater weight of evidence than any other ancient history. And no wonder; for the truths which it inculcates have been reckoned among the most important interests of mankind. It is beyond my purpose to recount all the arguments which learned men have produced, in support of the authenticity of the scriptures. They are of various kinds, and derived from sources remote from each other. The partiality of friends, and even the hostile attacks of enemies, have contributed to establish their authority. In the early history of the christian church, we are told of apologies written, and addressed to heathen emperors,


« PreviousContinue »