Page images

our race.

which has, by the humblest instruments, revolutionized the mind, the manners, and the polity of

And “what had the first teachers of Christianity to induce them to undertake such a task? Did they not behold their master subjected to an ignominious death? Of mean extraction, unlearned, and unassuming, how shall they analyze the argument, and expose the sophistry, of paganism, priestcraft, and false philosophy? They fled when they saw their master in difficulty, even while they believed that he should establish them in temporal felicity, and now, after he has plainly declared, that in his service they shall find incessant labour; and receive from those they benefit, only reproach, insult, and inhuman treatment; what can induce them to inculcate his doctrines ? Hear them :-"unto this present hour we hunger and thirst; and are naked ; and are buffeted; and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands. ' Being reviled, we bless ; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we intreat.' 1 Cor. iv. ii. Such were the Apostles of Christ, and such their ministry !" And this ministry, within its first hundred years, extended over the whole Roman empire!


How hypothetical, verbose, or vapid, the most elaborate treatise of human effort, when compared with the Divine Records! The pride of intellect and acquirement; the prejudice of habit, circumstance, and connexion; or the schemes of dissembled avarice and aggrandisement, taint and characterise our best performances; but the mosaic history—the revelations of the prophets—and the doctrines and narrations of the inspired writers in general, constitute a simple and divine philosophy, which is at once explanatory of universal nature, * and appropriate to every condition and necessity of man.t

* “Without the History contained in Genesis, the world would be in comparative darkness; not knowing whence it came, nor whither it goeth. In the first page, a child may learn more in an hour, than all the philosophers in the world learned without it, in a thousand years."--Greenfield.

+ The Bible is from God, and every man is interested in the meaning of it.-- Bishop Horsley.

The Scriptures contain, independently of a DIVINE ORIGIN, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality,

Could we observe the human heart, and read its sorrows, and its felicities, how many should we find deriving their entire consolation from the Holy Scriptures :--anxiously meditating upon the doctrines, sufferings, and example,* of the divine Redeemer ; upon the moral administration of God; and upon the solace, and fortitude, and energy, which He affords to all who conform to His blessed will.

“As a father pitieth his children, even so the LORD pitieth those who love and fear Him.” What condes

more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and eloquence than could be collected within the same compass from all other books that were ever composed in any age, or in any idiom. The two parts of which the Scriptures consist are connected by a chain of compositions, which bear no re. semblance in form or style to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Indian, Persian, or even Arabian learning; the antiquity of those compositions no man doubts, and the unstrained application of them to events long subsequent to their publication, is a solid ground of belief.-Sir William Jones.

Mr. Locke, when on his death-bed, was requested for his advice upon “the shortest and surest way for a young gentleman to attain a true knowledge of the Christian religion, in its full and just extent;" the philosopher's reply is imperisha. ble: " Let him study the Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament, therein are contained the words of eternal life. It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter."--See Scripture Evidence, page xxvi.

*“There is an independent proof of our Saviour's mission to be derived from the applicability of His example. It is impossible for one man implicitly to follow in the footsteps of another, without some unnecessary and unnatural devia.

cension in the ETERNAL-how sure the reward of dutiful obedience! The 37th Psalm is a sweet and salutary lesson : a heavenly exhortation to patience, holiness, and hope. Through what a vista of ages has it stayed, and cheered, and fortified, the injured

tions from that line which the order of Providence has as. signed him. But Christ is not, if I may so speak, an individual character: all characters of excellence unite in Him.

“In imitating Christ, no man is led out of his natural sphere, or thrown into a forced or affected attitude ;-every movement after Him is performed with freedom, and His likeness sits easily and becomingly upon all that bear it. The higb and low-the rich and poor--the talented and untalented, the contemplative and the active-all classes and all dispositions find, in the example of Jesus, the teaching which they want; and all are led, by looking unto Him, precisely in the path most suitable for them to walk in. We see, at once, in that comprehensive model, the bright contrast of whatever we should shun, and the most attractive exhibition of all that we should aim at in our Christiau course.

“Whatever our besetting sins, whether ofexcess or of defect, they stand condemned by a comparison with Him. Thus the restless and over active spirit is calmed by the contemplation of his nights of solitary prayer ; and the indolent are stimulated to exertion by His ceaseless labours of love; the high and lofty are brought low when they behold their Lord and Master washing his disciples' feet; and the poor in this world's goods, are taught contentment by Him who had not where to lay his head. This subject could indeed be endlessly pursued. Enough bas, I trust, been said to prove the point assumed-namely, that a character which can thus adapt itself, in the way of example, to every possible variety of man; which can pour forth a healing virtue, equally applicable to the most opposite extremes; and can thus spread its influence over the wide extent of the whole human race ;-that such a character cannot be bounded within the narrow circle of our nature, but must partake of the infinitude of God.”- Wood. nard.


and oppressed; and in every generation to come it will prove a balm for the wounded and disconsolate :

“ Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity: for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself, also, in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon day.

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.-Cease from anger, and forsake wrath : fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evil doers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth: For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

“The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken; but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.

« PreviousContinue »