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tifies the truth of the prophecy, and the truth of the prophecy justifies the divinity of the Christian religion. For by the apostles, and their successors, the heathens were turned from idols, to the service of one God, the Creator of the world : which was foretold by the prophets, not only as a thing that should arrive, but to be performed by the power of God. To ascribe, then, this glorious work to human artifice, as if his providence had been prevented by others, from doing that which he promised should be done by his own power, is so directly contrary to his wisdom and his truth, that common reason abhors the thoughts of it. Therefore, the Christian religion is divine, baving God for its Author. Thus the truth of the Gospel is victorious over the Jewish, or the profave infidel.
It may be argued against the Jews, that their God foretold his Messiah should convert the nations. No other but one authorised from above could do it. Jesus Christ has done it, therefore he is the Messiah. And, consequently, they are either blind with prejudice, or maliciously deny the known truth. To profane infidels, it may be urged, none but the divine providence could foretell so great and marvellous a change of the world, none but the divine power could effect it, therefore it ,was the true God that made the prediction and event so exactly to correspond in all things.
Add further, that by comparing the prophecies of Christ and his kingdom with their accomplishment, the two sorts of enemies against the Gospel are made useful to convince one another. The Pagans by the Jews, that these things were foretold; the Jews by the Pagans, that these things were fulfilled.
St. Austin relates, that the heathens, seeing the exact agreement between the prophecies in the Old Testament, so clear in words, and their accomplishment in the New, so clear in the effects, had nothing to reply, but that they were written after the things were done, and feigned to be predictions of ancient date. In answer to this pretence, he breaks out with wonder and joy, The cause is gained ! and the victory of truth could not be more glorious. For, whereas the many nations in Europe, Asia, Africa, subdued by the arms of the Romans, were compelled to observe the rites of their religion, the Jews only were permitted to enjoy their sacred books, and their own worship, and were dispersed into all countries. And thus, by the admirable counsel of God, they give credit to the Gospel among the Gentiles. For if we consider the reverence they bore to the writings of the Prophets, that, with the greatest care, they have preserved them as the most precious inheritance left by their fathers, and their mortal hatred of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, that willingly they would spend their blood to deface the memorials of it, it is an invincible argument that the predictions concerning the state of the Christian church, recorded in their Scriptures, are sincerely delivered, and of divine authority. This their malice is an advantage to the faith of the Gospel, and by constraint they are the great confirmers of it. This is sufficient to reduce the heathens to silence and confusion. And the Pagan being convinced by the books of the Jews, the Jew may be convinced by the testimony of the Pagans: for if the records so jealously kept by that nation were from divine inspiration, if they contain ancient prophecies, which the heathens see verified in the Gospel and the Christian church, why do not the Jews acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the promised Messiah ? If the veil were not taken from Moses' face, and laid on their hearts, they must clearly see that the “light of the Gentiles is the glory of Israel.” It is equally unreasonable to doubt, with the Atheist, that the Messiah was ever promised, or to believe with the Jews, he is yet to come.
Proofs of Christianity from the New Testament.
The Gospel so proved, deserves our firmest assent and adherence to its Doctrines.
The sum of all that has been said, is comprised in the testimony that St. John produces to prove that “ Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the Redeemer of the world." This I will briefly open: “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one." All the Divinity gave testimony of this important truth. The Father, not only by the miracles wrought by his power to confirm the mission of Christ, but (which is here principally intended,) by a voice from heaven: first at his baptism, “ This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And at his transfiguration before some of his disciples, a shining cloud, the sign of the divine presence, encompassed them, and a voice came forth of the cloud, “ This is my well-beloved Son, hear ye him.” Upon this glorious voice, they were struck with such an impression of fear, that they fell on their faces.
And when our Saviour, near his passion, prayed, “ Father, glorify thy pame; a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it.” Now, can there remain any doubt, after such a high attestation from the most Sovereign authority ?
The Son also, besides the perfect holiness of his life, the exquisite wisdom of his doctrine, the wonders of his works, his resurrection from the dead, that were authentic proofs of his celestial person and calling, after his ascension gloriously appeared from heaven, in divers visions, to the preachers of his Gospel. To Saul, in his journey to Damascus, calling to him, “ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." -This is an unexceptionable testimony that he is the Son of God, being risen from the dead, and returned to heaven from whence he thus discovered himself. Now, that this was real, and no fantastic illusion, is evident by the marvellous effects of it. Those who were companions in the journey were seized with great terror, and himself struck blind by the overpowering splendour of the apparition. But especially the effects of it upon his soul are convincing, who it was that spake to him. For Saul was by sect a
Pharisee, that of all others most passionately adhered to the Jewish religion ; by temper, hot and violent; by profession, a persecutor of the Christians. One that breathed forth threatening and slaughter, that excited the fury of the high-priests, solicited their cruelty. In short, a fierce spirit that envied Nero the title of the first persecutor of the church. Yet this man, by this vision and voice from heaven, from a furious persecutor, in an instant became a zealous apostle; from a wolf, became a pastor. He presently expressed his entire submission, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” There is nothing so hard
” to do, nothing so dreadful to suffer, but I will readily undertake for thine honour, and the propagating of thy truth. Now, from whence came this change, so strange, so new, in a person confirmed in the opposite party? From whence this resignation of will, so entire and perfect, so unexpected and sudden ? What gave him
courage to contradict to their faces the high-priests, whose instrument he was, and declare that Jesus, whom they called a deceiver, was the Son of God, and their judge? What animated him to appear before kings and emperors, to testify this dangerous truth? What made him with unparalleled activity, with the most ardent affections, propagate the Gospel; and, after a thousand perils by sea and land, a thousand disgraces and injuries, at last to confirm the faith of Christ with his blood ? It is, therefore, past all contradiction, that he had the greatest assurance that the Son of God spake to him.
Another vision of the Word from heaven was to St. John, when he was pleased to reveal to him the future state of his church, its combats and victories: