« PreviousContinue »
tention of Paul and Barnabas, the opposition made to the Apostles by the pharisaic bigots, the abuse of spiritual gifts, the disorderly and immoral conduct of the Corinthians and others,' These facts, so discreditable to the early disciples and first preachers of Christianity, are, with the greatest candour, recorded. The unbeliever has not failed to adduce them in his charges against Christianity: they are, nevertheless, unanswerable proofs that the Christian writers were regardless of appearances in these respects, and were actuated herein by a consciousness of truth.
Thus have we pointed out a few particulars which, as it seems to me, present strong internal evidence of the truth of our holy religion, They are, indeed, but a small portion of what might be adduced upon this branch of our subject: nevertheless they are some of the more important, and, if our remarks thereupon be just, we have adduced sufficient for our purpose. We have endeavoured to show, that, independently of the entire originality of the character of Jesus, he manifested the most exalted piety, the most disinterested benevolence, the purest morality, the utmost dignity and consistency of conduct; in fact, that, according to the testimony of an eminent unbeliever, he exhibited a beautiful picture of human nature, when in its native purity and simplicity; and showed, at once, what excellent creatures men would be, when under the influence and power of that gospel
* Mr. Belsham's Summary View.
which he preached to them.' We remarked, that a character so transcendently excellent cannot reasonably be charged with imposture. We moreover endeavoured to show, that the friends and Apostles of Jesus were men eminent for goodness, piety, and virtue; and that they sacrificed every worldly good, and endured every evil, in behalf of the cause they had espoused. I ask, then, is it in the nature of things, that such men should be connected with an impious fraud? is it consistent with reason to suppose, that men of any description should have acted the part which Jesus and his Apostles acted, and have endured what they endured, for an unprofitable lie? Is it, in fact, consistent with reason or propriety, to charge men who were the very best specimens of human nature, with originating, upholding, and propagating a monstrous delusion? But, independently of the internal evidence of the truth of Christianity, arising from the character of Jesus and the Apostles, we remarked, that Christianity is admirably adapted to the circumstances of human nature-that it is eminently calculated to be a universal religion-that the language and style of the several books are characteristic of the authors of each that the writers display the utmost candour and impartiality in narrating facts seemingly injurious to their cause, which together form powerful internal evidence of the truth of the scriptural assertion-'Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of the
nation of the Jews, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, was taken, and by wicked hands was crucified and slain. This Jesus hath God raised up.' Therefore should our hearts rejoice, and our tongues be glad, and our souls be enlivened with hope, because we shall not be abandoned in the dreary grave: knowing that he who raised up Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and thall present us, if we be worthy, before the throne of God with exceeding joy.
Definition.—Great and sudden change which Christianity effected in the minds and manners of men. Obstacles which it had to encounter. -The systems which it overthrew were upheld by worldly power-by the prejudices of education.-Rites and ceremonies of idolatry capti→ vating to the imagination and indulgent, to the senses.---Christianity propagated by seemingly insignificant means:-Testimony respecting its progress from the scriptures.-Unbelievers. Early Christians.Testimony respecting its influence over the minds and manners of men. -Apostles.-Early Christian writers. Unbelievers. These effects to be accounted for only in the divine mission of Jesus.—Objection that Christianity no longer exerts its ancient influence considered.Objection arising from the laxity of modern Christian professors compared with those of primitive times considered. The religion of Jesus not the cause of the anomalies which the Christian world presents.— Excellence of Christianity in the formation of character.-Notice of -eminent men formed after the Christian model.-Influence of Christianity upon private persous and upon domestic life.-Christianity not accountable for the bad practices, of nominal Christians, nor for the vices of countries denominated Christian.—Influence of Christianity apon national manuers and institutions.—Objectious considered. Doctrines of Christianity superior to those of any other system. Destined to accomplish future most extensive reformations in the manners and condition of man.-Conclusion.
THE subject of this lecture, the last of our course, is what is denominated the collateral evi
dence of Christianity. The term is usually employ ed with reference to such circumstances as have occurred since the first promulgation of the Christian religion, indirectly confirming the divine commission of its authors. Our limits for such a review are, indeed, narrow, and our sketch must necessarily be slight. The important events which have resulted from the planting of Christianity in the world, the changes that it has wrought in the minds, habits, and institutions of men, cannot be fully discussed in a small space, nor largely discoursed of in the limits of a lecture. Nevertheless, we may perhaps seize upon a few of the more prominent points of the subject, and show, in some respects, wherein Christianity has benefitted mankind.
No one can even glance at the page of history, without being struck with man's improved condition, since the promulgation of Christianity. It cannot justly be denied that such improved condition has resulted from the influence of the Christian religion; and herein we have a collateral evidence of the truth of that religion. But why do I limit myself to the phrase man's improved condition?' Truly this is a weak, an inexpressive term, when used as descriptive of the great change which Christianity suddenly effected in the world. When God, said, Let there be light; and there was light when out of confusion, distortion, and hideousness, a system arose, in which appeared order, and symmetry, and
Rev J. Grundy on the Evidences.