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which is good?" Is not the Lord of hosts with us? Are not the armies of the living God stationed around us like a munition of rocks? If legions of wily fiends oppose us, "cannot we pray to our Father, and will he not presently give us more than twelve legions of angels for our defence?" Matt. xxvi, 53. We have strong consolations and a sure support.
Angels were, probably, seen as they came down upon the mountain, when the law was given by their "disposition;" but the Israelites could not come nigh unto them because of the terrors of Sinai. "But we are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel," Heb. xii, 22, &c.
"Therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name,'evermore praising thee and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts! heaven and earth are full of thy glory! Glory be to thee, O Lord most high! Amen."
"Bless the Lord, ye, his angels."-Psalms.
“And let all the angels of God worship him.”—Hebrews.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
"O how love I thy law !”—Psa. cxix, 97.
BY REV. R. W. ALLEN, OF THE NEW-ENGLAND CONFERENCE.
[Continued from page 215.]
II. This law claims our increasing attachment.
This is more than intimated in the text: "O how love I thy law !" His attachment to this law had become exceedingly great; so great, that he said "I do not forget thy law." "Thy law is my delight." "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word." Of every Christian it may be affirmed, "In his law doth he meditate day and night." That this law claims our increasing attachment is evident
From its divine origin. That the Scriptures containing this law are from God, the Christian fully believes. This truth is one of the fundamental articles of his religion. But, though unnecessary to prove to the Christian that the Scriptures are divine, still it may not be amiss to notice some of those arguments by which this doctrine is supported. It may serve to increase his attachment to the sacred volume. As it respects the infidel and skeptic, we do not enter upon the subject with much expectation of convincing them of their error; for if what has been said on the subject in the multiplicity of elaborate and able works now before the public fails to convince them, but little can reasonably be hoped from what we may offer. We hope, however, all will candidly, seriously, and prayerfully, consider the subject.
We shall, in the first place, attempt to prove the divine origin of the Scriptures from the character of the writers themselves. That the Scriptures were written by men is admitted on all hands, infidels not excepted. It then remains to be shown what kind of men the writers were. They must, of course, have been either good or bad men. That they were good men-men of strict integrity and deep piety— (and we shall show, in the sequel, that they were inspired men)appears from the following considerations :—
1. The religion which they inculcated and urged upon the minds of their readers and hearers, was directly opposed to the principles and practice of mankind in all ages. The religion of Moses was opposed to that of the Egyptians. He nobly and voluntarily relinquished all right to the regal crown, divested himself of all the pomp, glories, emolument, and aggrandizement of Egypt; for he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; identified himself with the cause of God's suffering people: His people shall be my people, and with unshaken fortitude exposed the sins and vicious practices of the people. Now, what could have influenced Moses to such unconquerable courage and faithfulness in exposing the popular vices and corruptions of the age, had he not been a man of God, having respect unto the recompense of reward? Obloquy, reproach, calumny, and exquisite suffering were all that he could reasonably expect from the people, while, at the same time, he relinquished all hope of secular interest and worldly preferment. Such a course must be inexplicable on the ground that he was an impostor. What could have induced the patriarchs and prophets to seek the entire overthrow of the systems of wickedness of their day, had they not possessed the character which they claimed? And would the evangelists and apostles have fearlessly met the unholy prejudices and sins of the people, had they not possessed unshaken confidence in the promises of Jehovah ? Would they have inculcated a religion, and urged its universal reception by motives drawn from heaven and hell, diametrically opposed to the principles and conduct of their hearers and readers, had they only aimed at deception? Were impostors ever known to act in this way? But, if they had confederated to impose upon mankind, it is incredible that none of their associates should not have confessed it. They had nothing to gain by obtruding falsehoods; but, on the contrary, they were exposed to the loss of every thing, even life itself, for preaching the doctrine of the cross, and bearing witness to the truth of Christianity. It is also utterly incredible that so many precepts of piety and virtue should have been delivered by men of such abandoned principles as they must have been, had they really been impostors. If the apostles and evangelists had designed to impose upon mankind, they would have accommodated themselves to the humors of the people whom they addressed, and would carefully have avoided whatever might shock or offend them; whereas they acted in quite a different manner. Now, who can for a moment believe, that the sacred writers, considering the doctrines and precepts which they taught and enforced, could have been impostors, or even wished to deceive? None, we think, with proper reflection on the subject, would believe it. If their whole tenor of life demonstrates that they were good men-men of integrity and piety-then certainly they would not present a system of religion, furnishing the only way and ground of salvation for the world, unless it was from God. That it was from God they had abundant means of ascertaining. The conclusion then is, that they have presented mankind with a system of truths divine in their origin. This, in our view, is the inevitable conclusion.
2. The sacred writers taught and propagated the truths of Christianity in view of the most exquisite sufferings. At this fact we have before hinted, but it seems to require farther examination. We shall
more particularly notice the writers of the New Testament and the first teachers of Christianity: for what is true of them in this respect is equally true of the writers of the Old Testament.
Whoever is at all acquainted with the Christian religion must admit that it would be likely to meet with opposition, it being altogether opposed to the principles and feelings of the human heart. Whoever therefore would engage in propagating this religion, cannot reasonably expect to go unassailed. Now, on the supposition that the first propagators of Christianity were impostors, what could they possibly have had in view in prosecuting their work with nothing but suffering and death before them? For they must have seen that they exposed themselves to these. But it may be said, "that men will face the greatest suffering and danger for emolument and worldly applause." True; but the whole course and conduct of the apostles evince that they neither sought nor desired these things: they renounced all worldly glory, gain, honor, or aggrandizement. Now one of these two conclusions must follow, and be admitted:-Either that the apostles were impostors, and wished to deceive mankind; and that, to carry out this deception, they were willing to suffer all that the ingenuity and malevolence of a wicked world could inflict upon them, when there was no way in which they could be the least gainers by it ;-or, that they were men of God, counting not their own lives near and dear unto them, so that they might finish the work given them of their Master to do. Who would not embrace the latter conclusion?
But Christ foretold the sufferings which his followers would be called to endure. Both sacred and profane history agree on this point. Their persecutions were all in prospect before them :
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."
"When affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended."
"They shall lay hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake."
"The time cometh that he that killeth you will think that he doeth God service."
We are not at liberty to argue from these passages, that Christ actually foretold all these events, and that they did accordingly come to pass-for this would be assuming what we are trying to prove; viz., that the Bible is divine in its origin. But we shall attempt to prove that these predictions did come to pass by other unquestionable evidence; or, at least, that the first propagators of Christianity did suffer almost beyond a parallel for their religion. But let those who profess to believe that the sacred writers were impostors inform us what it is supposed that they could possibly have had in view in penning such predictions as the above?
What the epistles of the apostles declare of the sufferings of the writers and first abettors of the Bible, the writings which remain of their companions and immediate followers expressly confirm.
Clement, who is honorably noticed by St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians, has left us evidence to this point, in the following words:"Let us take (says he) the examples of our own age. Through zeal
and envy, the most faithful and righteous pillars of the church have been persecuted even to the most grievous deaths. Let us set before our eyes the holy apostles. Peter, by unjust envy, underwent, not one or two, but many sufferings; till, at last, being martyred, he went to the place of glory that was due unto him. For the same cause did Paul, in like manner, receive the reward of his patience. Seven times he was in bonds; he was whipped and stoned; he preached both in the east and in the west, leaving behind him the glorious report of his faith; and so having taught the whole world righteousness, and for that end traveled even unto the utmost bounds of the west, he at last suffered martyrdom by the command of the governors, and departed out of the world and went unto his holy place, being become a most eminent pattern of patience unto all ages. To these holy apostles were joined a very great number of others, who, having through envy undergone, in like manner, many pains and torments, have left a glo. rious example to us."
Hermas, saluted by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, speaks thus:"Such as have believed and suffered for the name of Christ, and have endured with a ready mind, and have given up their lives with all their hearts."
Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, says, in his only and short epistle:"I exhort all of you, that ye obey the word of righteousness, and exercise all patience, which ye have set forth before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Lorimus, and Rufus, but in others among yourselves, and in Paul himself, and the rest of the apostles; being confident in this, that all these have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and are gone to the place that was due to them from the Lord."
Ignatius, the contemporary of Polycarp, says, "Peter, and those who were with him at Christ's appearance, despised death, and were found to be above it." Other ancient Christian writers might be quoted, but the above are sufficient. Now, whether the first followers of Christ actually suffered as foretold by him, we leave the reader to judge.
That impostors should prosecute their labors in view of such sufferings is incredible; and that they should maintain their allegiance to their Master when called to experience such sufferings is still more incredible. Indeed, does not the above evidence of their suffering, under such circumstances, furnish sufficient proof that they were men of God?
3. The time, style, and manner of the sacred writers, clearly show that they were men of the strictest integrity and sincerity.
(1.) When were the facts and transactions recorded by the sacred historians first made public? Were they first made known in an after age, when there were none to witness to the truth or falsity of the narrations? No; they were first published among the people who witnessed the events related by the historians; and consequently they could (and doubtless would) have easily detected the falsehood in these accounts, if there had been any to detect. But nothing has ever been shown to be false in the writings, either of Moses and the prophets, or of the apostles, by the witnesses of the events which they recorded, or by the keenest opponents of Christianity.