Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

it evidently does, the truth and divine authority of the Cbristian revelation.

I have dwelt more particularly upon the miraculous and extraordinary manifestation of divine power, which accompanied the labours of the first preachers of the gospel, because being more astonishing, it strikes the mind with greater force. The manifestation of this power, however, in the most ordinary way, were it but in the conversion of a single sinner, establishes, if not so clearly, yet in point of reality as certainly, the truth of the afore stated conclusion. It sufficiently proves, without any other evidence, that the Bible, the truths of which are the instrumental means of that sinner's conversion, is undoubtedly from God, and the exclusive revelation which he has given to effect the salvation of a world of guilty fallen creatures.

SECTION 2.

of the Spread of Mahomudanism. Perhaps it may be said, in reply to what has been advanced in the preceding section in support of the truth of Christianity, that if the extensive spread of a religion is to be considered as a proof that its authority is divine, then the Koran of Mahomud, on account of the multitudes who have embraced his religion, is on this ground as well authenticated as the Christian revelation. In answer to this objection, I reply, that the simple fact of a religion spreading, is not (as has already been observed) in itself to be considered as a proof that it is of divine aus thority. It is the nature of the religion, and the circumstances under which it spreads, which are principally to be considered, in our endeavours to come to a conclusion on this important and interesting point. The extension which the religion of Mahomud has obtained; was not accomplished under the peculiar circumstances in which Christianity was placed on its first publication; and it is not the bare fact of the triuinphs which it has obtains

P

ed, but the accumulated difficulties under which these triumphs were obtained, to which we appeal, and from which the argument in support of its divine authority is principally derived. I shall, therefore, proceed to answer this objection by endeavouring to shew, that if a comparison be instituted, and a due attention paid to the opposite nature of the two religions, and the different circumstances under which they obtained their respective triumphs, there is nothing in it detrimental to the truth of Christianity ; neither can any weight on this ground possibly be attached to Mahomudanism, or any reasonable argument for its truth drawn from the achievements which it has effected in the world.

1. If we contemplate the nature of the religion of Mahomud, and compare it with that which is revealed in the Scriptures of the New Testament, we shall observe a striking difference between the immoral tendency of the former, and the exalted purity of the latter. Mahomudanism allows in the present world, and promises in the future, the enjoyment of various kinds of sensual indulgence. On this account, therefore, it is exactly adapted to the depraved and vitiated desires of the human heart, and calculated by this indulgence of the passions to meet the reception, and obtain the approbation of fallen sensual man. But Christianity, instead of thus falling in with the natural and pleasing propensities of mankind, is in direct opposition to them. It admits of no sinful indulgence whatever: every man who receives it is commanded to abstain from all appearance of evil, (1 Thess. v. 22 ;) and it solemnly and imperatively declares, that the soul which sinneth, it shall die, (Ezek. xviii. 4.) Whilst, therefore, the strict requirements of the Christian religion, being entirely opposed to the natural inclination of mankind, would undoubtedly be a weighty obstacle in the way of its progress, the reverse being the case with the religion of Mahomud, must necessarily have had a mighty influence in accelerating its triumphs, and procuring its establishment in the countries where its claims, its promises, and its nature were made known. It is true there are in this (and also in various other countries,) many persons who call themselves Christians, and are yet living in every kind of wicked and sensual gratification; but this is no objection to Christianity, any more than the laws of a wise and excellent king can be objected to, because a multitude of persons residing in his dominions, and professing to be his subjects, live in the breach of them. The fault is in the people, not in the laws by which they pretend to be governed. The laws are good, and excellent, and wise; and it is the sin and wickedness of these people, which prevents them from regulating their conduct according to the royal statute of the sovereign whom they profess to obey. So it is with the requirements of Christianity: its laws are perfect, and its precepts pure, and admirably calculated in their moral tendency to make men wise, and holy, and happy. Every one who names the name of Christ is, as a test of allegiance to him, commanded to depart from iniquity, (2 Tim, ii. 19.) And although men may call themselves Christians, and regulate their external conduct according to the precepts which the gospel inculcates, yet if they do not act in entire conformity to this command, and watch as they ought against the rovings of a wicked imagination, they are mere hypocrites, in the sight of him who searcheth the heart, and tryeth the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings, (Jer. xvii. 10.) The profession which such characters assume, and the name which they bear, instead of availing them any thing, only adds to the measure of their guilt, and will proportionably increase the weight of that future misery which inevitably awaits them. God, we are told, hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, (Acts xvii. 31.) Their folly on that day will be made manifest unto all men, (2 Tim. iii. 9.) when, being numbered, as they then will, with the wicked, they will be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God.

2. The greatest difficulty which a new religion uşually has to encounter, arises from the attachment of the people to whom it is proposed to the previously established and prevailing system, especially if it be sancționed by authority, and has (which is frequently the case) been reverenced and adhered to by their ancestors, from time immemorial. Men are usually prejudiced in favour of the religion in which they have been educated; and consequently have an aversion to listen with candour to the claims of a new one. Mahomud, however, had no difficulties of this kind to encounter, when he commenced his endeavours to proselyte his countrymen to the faith of the Koran. There was no previously established system of religion in the country in which he was born, either to thwart his efforts, impede his progress with its counter claims, or excite a sus perstitious people, a bigotted priesthood, and an intolerant government to resist him with the sword of persecution. But the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ had, at its outset, the most appalling difficulties of this nature to overcome. It was opposed to every established system of religion in the world; it coalesced with none of them, but required, on the contrary, the destruction of them all: consequently, wherever it went it was looked upon as an adversary, and its claims universally denied, Cruelty, bigotry, and malice for a long series of years rose up as its daily opponents, and called forth the most vigorous and unremitting efforts of its enemies, to effect its destruction, and blot out the name and the memory of its Author from the face of the earth.

3. Mahomud descended from a great and noble family, and had therefore wealth, and honour, and power, and secular influence engaged on his side. All these united their efforts to aid his undertaking, and promote his ambitious designs. With Christ, however, it was quite the reverse. He was born in obscurity. He possessed no influence of this kind; and instead of being supported by temporal power, like Mahomud, the religion which he came to establish, (as I have previously observ: ed,) had to contend with all that this power, influenced by pride, and prejudice, and malice could do to ruin its interests, and prevent the people to whom it was addressed from receiving it.

4. Mahomud, at the outset of his career, tried what could be accomplished by exhortation and address; and yet, with all the secular influence which he possessed, he scarcely effected any thing by these means : indeed, it was not until he took to his sword, that his religion began generally to spread. But whilst Mahomud with all his influence could effect nothing by verbal exhortation, Christ, in this way, without any similar influence, effected every thing. The Christian religion admits of nothing like compulsion : with its propagation the sword has nothing to do; and it was not by the force of temporal power, but by the force of sound arguments and plain statements, which the judgment of those to whom it was addressed acknowledged to be true, that its triumphs were effected.

5. Wherever the religion of Christ went, the people who heard it were, as to compulsion, (as they now are in this country,) at liberty either to receive or reject it. But it was not so, where the claims of Mahomud were made known. The people to whom he addressed his message, must either receive his Koran or part with their heads. Multitudes lost their lives for not receiving it. But, on the other hand, multitudes lost their lives, and others their reputation, their property, and their all, and became outcasts upon the face of the earth, despised, afflicted, tormented, for receiving and adhering to the universally despised and persecuted gospel of Jesus Christ.

6. The propagation of the Christian religion was entirely the work of persuasion and conviction ; but Mahomud's was entirely the work of the sword. It went not a whit beyond the point of his murderous weapon; nor is it known that he made a single convert in the face of

« AnteriorContinuar »