Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

history. Our Saviour, in the course of his conversation with the woman of Samaria, achieved upon her a work of divination. He read to her a passage out of her present and her by-gone history; and she was so far impressed with the circumstance, as to say, “ Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." She repeated the circumstance to her countrymen; and it is recorded, that some of them bore such respect to her testimony, that they believed on Jesus, " for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.” But though some, not all; for it is further said, that "many more believed because of his own word.” True, it is not said that this word carried the same kind of evidence to them, that it did to the woman of Samaria. It is not said, that, disbelieving her testimony, they were at length made to believe, by means of a similar divination practised upon themselves. But we may, at least, gather from the passage, that the evidence on which their faith rested did not lie in any external miracle. This is not what they alleged as the ground of their faith. But they “ said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."

But any deficiency of information in this passage, is amply made up in other passages. The miracle of tongues, for instance, held out to the notice of the world, by the first teachers of Christianity, should have compelled the attention of all whom they addressed, to the subject-matter of their testimony. A few moments of serious and candid examination, would have convinced them of such a reality in this

exhibition, as entitled the first preachers of the Gospel to a further and a respectful hearing. But there were many in those days who wanted this seriousness and this candour; and they passed a rejection so summary upon the message that was proposed, that they would not even listen to the terms of it; and they put it away from them at the very threshold of its earliest intimations; and we are, accordingly, told by the Apostle, that the gift of tongues, instead of exciting their inquiry, excited their ridicule, insomuch, that they pronounced those who exercised it, to be mad; and we also read of certain despisers, who, upon the very same exhibition, said, mocking, that “these men are full of new wine;" and thus it is that they persisted in their unbelief, and wondered, and perished. Now, the way in which we understand the gift of tongues to have been a sign unto them, is, that it sealed their condemnation. It convicted them of a dishonest partiality on the side of falsehood. It made the Gospel the savour of death unto death unto them. The sign of tongues was a sign which they spake against; and this wilful, perverse, unfair, and, at all hazards, determined opposition, drew upon them the fulfilment of such say-, ings, as, that unless those works had been done among them which had never been done before, they had not had sin ; and that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for those who witnessed such miracles, but who so loved the darkness rather than the light, as to resist the impression of them.

Thus much for those who believed not. to those who believed, it does not appear to us that

And as

it was the miracle of tongues, or indeed any external miracle whatever, which wrought in them the saving faith of the New Testament. A previous miracle might, in many cases, have been the instrument by which their attention was gained: but we think that the evidence upon which their conversion hinged, beamed upon their minds from the subjectmatter of the testimony. It was in the act of listening to what is called the prophecy, or, (taking this term according to its undoubted sense in many passages of Scripture,) it was in the act of listening to the exposition of Christian doctrine, that they felt the impression of that evidence which we have already insisted on--even the evidence of such a divination as was beyond all that could be accomplished by the sagacity of man. The truth of what the Apostles told them was made manifest to their consciences. What their Christian teachers said they were, they felt themselves to be ; and they recognized the coincidence, and they were arrested by it. They gave them credit for a supernatural commission, when they discerned such a reach of penetration into the secrecy of their bosoms, as they judged to be supernatural. And the evidence they thus obtained, was not diluted by its transmission upon a vehicle of testimony, from the experience of one man to the hearing of another man. All who believed shared in the same experience. Each of them was made the subject of a separate divination. Each carried home the word spoken, and found it to tally with all that he perceived of his own character. The evidence came with the whole force of its powerful and primitive impression upon every conscience.

a

And we think that nothing more needs to be said, in order to understand the kind of influence by which, when the first teachers prophesied, or expounded their message and their doctrine, "and there came in one that believed not, or one unlearned, he was convinced of all, he was judged of all: and thus were the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he worshipped God, and reported that God was in them of a truth."

But these gifted teachers of our faith not only spoke to the men of their own age, they also wrote for the men of other ages. They have left behind them an enduring memorial of their doctrine and their testimony. They have graven it on an imperishable record ; and we know not a more deeply interesting question, within the whole compass of Theology, than-Whether, while the word of the Apostles is thus transmitted by writing, the evidence which lay in that word at its first and its oral delivery, is transmitted along with it to succeeding generations ? May we, in the reading of that word, gather the same evidence for its truth, which the unbelievers, and the unlearned in the apostolic age, did in the hearing of it? In one short sentence, Has this evidence descended ? Has it been actually translated into the pages of the Bible ? Does this book stand to us in the place of its human composers, who have long ere now been consigned to the silence of the grave? Can it do by itself now, what they personally, and of themselves, did then ? Can it evince such a power of divination into the secrecies of the heart, as to bear, upon its own forehead, the attestation of God being in it of a truth?

An un

lettered man of the present day, knows nothing of its external evidence. He is an utter stranger to the erudition and the history of the eighteen hundred years which have elapsed, since the first promulgation of Christianity in the world. It is all a dark and an unknown interval to him. Nor can he fetch a single argument, for the establishment of his faith, from across an abyss which looks so obscure and so fathomless. Now the question is—May he fetch any such argument from the book itself? When, in the act of reading it, the word is brought nigh unto him, is there any thing within it by which it can announce its own authority, and hold out, to a simple and untaught reader, the light of its own evidence ? Does the word written inherit all the powers of the word spoken? Does there emanate from the doctrine, as recorded by the Apostles, that virtue to arrest, and to carry the conviction, which actually did emanate from the same doctrine, as told by the Apostles? Insomuch, that the Bible shall be not merely the messenger of its own contents, but shall also be the messenger of its own credentials; that wherever it goes, it shall bear abroad with it the legible and the satisfying inscription of its own truth; that by the light which beams from its pages, it shall make known the celestial character which it wears, and the celestial origin from which it sprung; that it shall emit, upon every side of it, the lesson of its rightful authority; and that, though it borrow not one particle of aid from the skill and the scholarship of its controversial defenders, it shall be able to speak for itself, to find its way even among the humblest of our cottages, to

« AnteriorContinuar »