« PreviousContinue »
after a thousand anxieties and afflictions chearfully and triumphantly laid down his life for the sake of it..-But to proceed to a new objection.
THE DEATH OF Herod likewise, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, is another difficulty that perverse men have frequently cavilled at ; for which reason, we cannot forbear observing, that a more particular account of that awful fact has been transmitted by Josephus than by St. Luke himself. “ Herod, says he, attended “ in person at the celebration of the sports in Cæsarea, and on " the second day of the solemnity, early in the morning, entered « the theatre drest in a robe of silver of most curious workman“ ship. The rays of the rising sun, reflected from so splendid a
garb, gave him a majestic and awful appearance; upon which, “ some fawning parasites began to dignify him with the title of a “ God, and paid him divine homage and adoration : but his
proud heart accepting, at least not rejecting such sordid adu“ lation, he presently espied an owl perching over his head, « felt himself all on a sudden wrecked with unusual and inex
pressible torments; and, after he had languished for some few days, expired in a most deplorable condition, having first openly
acknowledged to those impious fycophants, that he justly de• served the judgment which the Almighty God had inflicted
him for his boundless pride and ambition.” Now, this particular accident is only just touched upon by St. Luke.
upon a set day, Herod arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his “ throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave “ a fhout, saying, it is the voice of a God, and not of a man, “ And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because “ he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and
gave up the ghost.”
These are the principal difficulties, the most exceptionable palsages which are objected against our New Testament—and yet
these were so far from being private transactions, that St. Paul, in his defence before King Agrippa, asserts, that his life, behaviour, and miraculous conversion, were things well-known at Jerusalem, and that he declared nothing but what Moses and the prophets had foretold ;-—" Namely, that Christ should suffer, and 66 that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and “ Mould Thew light unto the people and to the gentiles.” And as a further demonstration how public these were, he concludes in the manner following ;-" the king knoweth of these things,
before whom I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of “ these things are hidden from him ; for this thing was not done or in a corner.” The king's answer thereupon was very remarkable, and plainly shewed, that St. Paul had not asserted an idle fable.-" Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest
me to be a christian.”
Moreover the greater part of the transactions recorded in the New Testament are confirmed by the writings both of Jews and Gentiles, who mention them with the utmost surprise and admiration, and dress them up in the most pompous descriptions ; whereas our Evangelists relate them with an air of plainness and simplicity peculiar to themselves.--Now, since in these transactions, which are supernatural, they have proved very just and impartial historians, what reasonable grounds have we to suspect their fidelity, in transmitting to us the doctrines of the blessed Jesus? Especially, since as we have Thewn already, they were miraculously assisted by the special influence of the holy spirit, according to the promises made unto them; and fince they underwent the forest torments, that the cruelty of man could possibly devise, and death itself to justify the truth of what they wrote. What better proof can we desire of the validity of the christian religion ?-Or, indeed, can any facts be better supported, or any cause produce stronger and more substantial evidence ?
To conclude, if the New Testament contains the true doctrine of Christ Jesus, as sure we are you have good reason to be convinced that it does, and that it was wrote by the immediate aid and influence of his Holy Spirit, with what grateful acknowledgments ought we to embrace those sacred books, as containing the words of life and eternal salvation; as being the will of the Father, signified to us by his Son, and live up to the divine prea cepts contained in them ?-How readily ought we, if occasion should require to lay down our lives, as the holy apostles and blessed martyrs did, in vindication of the truth of our most holy religion, through a firm and lively hope, that we shall one day rise again in glory, and inherit those ineffable joys which are promised in the Gospel.