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RECENT DISCOVERIES NEW EVIDENCES OF RELIGION. It is a thing very much to be remarked, how rapidly, at the present time, new evidences of the truth of the Bible are coming in from many different quarters.
Those which are derived from argument and reasoning have long been set before the world, and may be said to be almost complete. They are, at least, unanswerable and sufficient. But the character of these present times is, that “many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased;" that is, we are a travelling people, searching out every quarter of the globe for the purpose of knowledge and discovery. And this peculiar tendency of the age we live in has been made, by Divine Providence, most fruitful in additional evidences to the truth of his holy word. Every new discovery, whether of ancient cities and towns, of inscriptions, or of sepulchres, in the lands of the East and of the Bible, has thrown new and unexpected light upon the truth of some portion or other of the word of God. While one most laborious and talented countryman of our own, Mr. Layard, has been digging up the buried city of Nineveh, in Assyria, another learned man has been making out the wonderful inscriptions in Arabia, near Mount Sinai, written on the rocks by the twelve tribes of Israel in their sojourn in the wilderness; and a third, a foreign traveller, has discovered the actual spot where the cities of the plain were consumed by fire from heaven, by means of remains which are thought to prove satisfactorily that they belonged to Sodom and Gomorrah. The first discoveries here mentioned are as wonderful as they are satisfactory. The vast city of Nineveh, the capital of the kings mentioned in Scripture as Tiglath-pileser, Sennacherib, and Shalmaneser, has been found buried without being entirely destroyed, and some long inscriptions have been read which mention the names and victories of those monarchs, the conquest of Judæa and the city of Lachish, the taking captives of the Jews, who are, moreover, very plainly seen in the sculptures, as distinguished from the captives of other nations. There can remain no
doubt on the mind of even an unbeliever that the Scripture
history of these times is true, because these testimonies, dug up out of the earth after being buried for much more than 2000 years, are such as cannot possibly deceive; and the tale they tell is an independent evidence of that history which is no where else written but in the Holy Scriptures.
The inscriptions of Mount Sinai, some of which, in a future number, shall be extracted from Mr. Forster's most interesting work, form another wonderful testimony to the truth of the books of Moses. They have been seen, and known to exist, for hundreds of years past, but only lately have learned men been able to read their meaning. It now appears that they were the works of the Israelites for forty years--and nothing less than a nation could have engraven them, for they cover the face of rocks of immense height for some miles at the foot of Mount Sinai. Now it is evident that in the desert of Arabia, where nothing grows which is capable of sustaining the lives of a large multitude of persons for a month together, such a nation could not have remained unless they were sustained and fed by a continual miracle, such as that of the manna from heaven which was sent during forty years to the people of Israel. But when these inscriptions are read, it is found that they mention and describe many of the miracles recorded in the books of Exodus and Numbers, such as the healing of the bitter waters of Marah, the striking of the rock, the miraculous flight of quails, the fiery serpents and the serpent of brass. There are even some rude and simple drawings of the forms of living animals, (some of which are believed to be the quails,) to assist the written words in describing the events intended to be recorded. The stubbornness and obstinacy of Israel are often positively mentioned, as if these inscriptions were the work of some who were more faithful and obedient than the rest, or were even done under the orders of the inspired leader and prophet himself.
Much more will probably be made out before long of these wonderful inscriptions, and they ought to be received with great thankfulness by the Church of Christ as a new argument for the conviction and instruction of the unbeliever. With regard to the last-mentioned discoveries of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, more time will be required to ascertain with certainty the truth of the opinions so lately formed, and especially as there is less positive proof from the nature of the remains themselves; but there can be little doubt that fresh knowledge will be obtained from that quarter in illustration of the sacred Scriptures and in vindication of the truth of God.
It seems, indeed, a remarkable act of Divine Providence, that, at a time when many are unhappily disposed to place more value upon human knowledge than on Divine truth, and to set up the intellect and powers of man higher than they ought to be esteemed, every thing should still be forced to bear testimony to the word of God. Human knowledge seems unable to advance without contributing, whether it intended to do so or not, to the proof of that which has been inspired ; and as fast as man enlarges his acquaintance with earthly subjects, he is compelled to give a still greater impulse forwards to the mighty evidences of the Scriptures. While he thinks to build up the human understanding, he is, sometimes in spite of himself, building up the temple of religion, and enlarging the province of faith. At the same time let it be admitted with thankfulness, with regard to the noble instruments of these great discoveries, whose names have been mentioned in this article, that they have shown in their own writings and observations the most humble and enlightened belief in the truth of the word of God. They are men of no common knowledge and research in the Scriptures of truth. As faithful and good men, they have travelled and laboured with the Bible in their hands, comparing what they saw with what they read, and bringing the light of discovery to the interpretation of Scripture, and the light of the Scripture to the interpretation of their discoveries. With an handmaid and guide so infallible at their side, they have been able to accomplish much more than they otherwise would, and in a much shorter time to make a wonderful advance in the most valuable branch of all knowledge. At the same time they have reaped
their rich reward, in the unspeakable enjoyment of transporting discoveries, all tending to increase their comfort in the Scripture, to strengthen their faith and their hope of eternal life. They have been enabled to make themselves a name which never will be forgotten, in a field whose fruit will be for the nourishing of the Church, for the satisfaction of the believer, and for the confusion of the infidel, in all time to come. E.
SELECTIONS FROM DIFFERENT AUTHORS. What is unfading.—There is one only unfading beauty, one undecaying ornament, which is infinitely more worth than all the rest : and that is the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.—Seed.
Foreign Testimony.—No Church in the world doth come nearer the primitive Church, than the Church of England; having followed the middle path between excess and defect, so that those who envied it were constrained to praise it. ..
O Lord Jesus ! preserve this Church, and give them also, who scoff at it, a sound mind.Casaubon.
What the sun is to the world, that Christ is to his Church. As the sun gives not only light to the world, but heat, motion, and activity to all things in it, and invigorates the earth and makes it fruitful; so does Christ, “The Sun of righteousness” (Mal. iv. 2), cause righteousness to spring up in his Church, and, being long since risen, Hie shines continually upon it, with healing in his wings or rays, even the wholesome benign influences of his Holy Spirit, whereby He heals us of our unfruitfulness, and all our spiritual distempers.—Bp. Beveridge.
Marks which cannot deceice. ---Our Saviour hath told us that the tree is known by its fruits. And the fruits of the Spirit are the virtues of a holy life. If we experience these, we have a mark of our acceptance with God, which cannot deceive; all other marks, all other feelings, be they ever so lively, ever so pleasing, may.Abp. Secker.
Retirement and Prayer.- We learn of our Saviour to be fervent and earnest in prayer, in order to draw down the blessing of heaven upon us ; to retire with Him, as often as we can, to our private devotions, from the noise and distractions of the world. Recollection, solitude, and the solemn silence of the night, are great helps to devotion. Alas! what ought we not to do to secure the salvation of souls, since the Son of God has passed even whole nights in prayer for love of us? He stood in no need of prayer for Himself; but has set us an example, to teach us how earnest we should be on all occasions, in the exercise of fervent prayer.
Something to think about.—Think often how near you stand to another world, and what an account you must give to God of all your deeds done in the body'; and so live now, as will be most for your comfort at Death and Judgment. When the profits and pleasures of sin entice you, compare them with the eternal joys which they will deprive you of, and with the eternal torments they lead to. Think whether any man, by sinning against God, did gain somewhat that is better than heaven, or that is worth going to hell for. Let eternity be very much in your thoughts; and the fading vanities of this world will have little esteem with you.—The Christian Monitor, 1744.
Be just and upright. Let me exhort you, whatever interests you have to serve, whatever dealings you are engaged in, to be always strictly just and upright in your conversation. Use no tricks, practise no ill arts for the serving your ends; but, in all your transactions, deal with that simplicity, and integrity, and good conscience, that becomes those who would be accounted the disciples of Christ. Assure yourselves no dishonesty can prosper long. Whatever turns you may serve by it at present, yet you will bitterly repent of it some time or other. But righteousness and justice doth establish a man's ways. And the upright man, though he is not always the richest, yet always walketh most surely – Abp. Sharpe.
Hear, while it is the day of address and treaty.— There is a time coming on, when we shall be very willing that God should hear us, and that is, at the hour of death ; and there will be a time when we must and shall hear