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concubines and his wives;' and let her hear him allege revelation and
a divine commission to justify his adultery and lust. When she is
tired with this prospect, then show her the blessed Lord, humble
and meek, doing good to all the sons of men. Let her see him in his
most retired privacies: let her follow him to the mount, and hear his
devotions and supplications to God. Carry her to his table, to view
his poor fare, and hear his heavenly discourse. Let her attend him
to the tribunal, and consider the patience with which he endured the
scoffs and reproaches of his enemies. Lead her to his cross; let her
view him in the agony of death, and hear his last prayer for his per-
secutors: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they doF
When natural religion has thus viewed both, ask her which is the
Prophet of God. But her answer we have already had, when she
saw part of this scene, through the eyes of the centurion, who at-
tended at the cross. By him she spoke and said, 'Truly, tJiis man was
the Son of God!'

But such comparisons are the less necessai'y, from the considera-
tion that infidels themselves do readily concede, that Christianity has
the best claims of any religion whatever, to be considered a divine

Herbert says, "Christianity is the best religion. It has manifestly
the advantage of all other pretenders to revelation, as in respect of
the intrinsic excellency of the matter, so likewise in respect of the


reasons that may be pleaded for its truth." Hobbes says, "The Scrip-
tures are the voice of God." Shaftesbury says, "Christianity ought
to be more highly prized." Collins says, "Christianity ought to be
respected." Woolston says, "Jesus is worthy of glory forever." Tin-
dal says, "Pure Christianity is a most holy religion, and all the
doctrines of Christianity plainly speak themselves to be the will of
an infinitely wise and holy God." Chubb says, "Christ's mission was
probably divine, and he was sent into the world tx) communicate tx>
mankind the will of God. The New Testament contains excellent
cautions and instructions for our right conduct, and yields much
clearer light than any otlier traditionary revelation." Bolingbroke
says, "Such moral perfections are in God as Christians ascribe to
him. I will not presume to deny, that there have been particular
providences; that Christianity is a re-publication of the religion of
nature; and that its morals are pure." Gibbon says, "Christianity
contains a pure, benevolent, and universal system of etliics, adapted
to every duty and condition of life." Paine says, "Jesus Christ was
a virtuous and an amiable man; that the morality he preached and
practiced was of the most benevolent kind; and that it has not been
exceeded by any." Rousseau (again to quote him) says, "If all were
perfect Christians, individuals would do their duty; the people would
be obedient to the laws; the chiefs just; the magistrates incorrupt;
the soldiers would despise death; and there would. l>e neither vanity
nor luxury in such a state." And finally, to conclude this species of
testimony, we can not do better than to give the admirable character
of Christ, as drawn by the same individual.

"I will confess to you," says he, "that the majesty of the Scriptures
strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel has its influ-
ence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all
their pomp of diction: how mean, how contemptible are they, com-
pared with the Scripture! Is it possible that a book at once so sim-
ple and sublime, should be merely the work of man? Is it possible
that the sacred personage whose history it contains, should be himself
a mere man? Do we find that he assumed the tone of an enthusiast
or an ambitious sectan,-? What sweetness, what purity in his man-
ners! What an affecting gracefulness in his delivery! What sublim-
ity in his maxims! What profound wisdom in his discx)urses! \Miat
presence of mind in his replies! How great the command over his
passions! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so
live, and so die, without weakness, and without ostentation? When
Plato described his imaginary good man with all the shame of guilt,
yet meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he describes exactly the
character of Jesus Christ: the resemblance was so stinking that all the
Christian fathers perceived it. What prepossession, what blindneea


must it be to compare (Socrates) the son of Sophroniscus to (Jesus)
the son of Mary! What an infinite disproportion is there between
them! Socrates, dying without pain or ignominy, easily supported
his character to the last; and if his death, however easy, had not
crowned his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with
all his wisdom, was anything more than a vain sophist. He invented,
it is said, the theory of morals. Others, however, had before put
them in practice; he had only to say, therefore, what they had done,
and to reduce their examples to precept. But where could Jesus
learn among his competitors, that pure and sublime morality, of which
he only has given us both precept and example? The death of Soc-
rates, peaceably philosophizing with his friends, appears the most
agreeable that could be wished for; that of Jesus, expiring in the
midst of agonizing pains, abused, insulted, and accused by a whole
nation, is the most horrible that could be feared. Socrates, in receiv-
ing the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who adminis-
tered it; but Jesus, in the midst of excruciating pains, prayed for
his merciless tormentoirs. Yes; if the life and death of Socrates
were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God.
Shall we suppose the evangelical history a mere fiction? Indeed, my
friend, it bears not the marks of fiction; on the contrary, the history
of Socrates, which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well attested
as that of Jesus ^hrist. Such a supposition, in fact, only shifts the
difiiculty, without obviating it: it is more inconceivable, that a num-
ber of persons should write such a history, than that one should fur-
nish the subject of it. The Jewish authors were incapable of the
diction and strangers to the morality contained in the gospel, the
marks of whose truth are so striking and inimitable, that the inventor
would be a more astonishing character than the hero."

After the presentation of such testimony as the foregoing, from the
writings of the most distinguished infidels, it can not be necessary to
say more in proof of the position, that Christianity has the best claim
to a divine origin of all religions whatever.

We have, then, as we conceive, established, beyond all controversy,
the three following positions: — 1st. That revelation is necessary.
2nd. That God would probably meet that necessity by a Revelation.
3rd. That Christianity has the best claim, among all religions, of be-
ing the revelation from God.

In 1845, Mr. Campbell issued one of his famous tracts for the peo-
ple, as follows:



That the Bible contains a revelation from God, is susceptible of
every variety and degree of evidence which guides man in the affairs
of this lite. We have no species of moral evidence that affords to
mankind a higher degree of assurance than that on which Prophets
and Apostles demand our unwavering confidence. If we admit that
there is truth in history, sincerity in martyrdom, value in learning,
advantage in talent, excellency in truth, reason in the universe, or a
Creator in the heavens; then must we admit that the Bible is inspired
by infinite wisdom, and presented to man by his Almighty Father and
Benefactor. But as we have given a specimen of the indirect evidence
in proof of its divine authorship in our "Tract Xo. /," we shall now
exhibit a sample or two of the divine proof which it offers in support
of its claims uiK>n the assent of our understanding and tlie consent
of our hearts.

The grand climax of moral evidence consists in the possibility, the
probability, the absolute certainty of any fact, event, or proposition.
When we can show that the fact presented in any proposition is possi-
ble, that it is probable, that it is absolutely certain, we have gone
through all the forms of argument upon which the truth of any propo-
sition is admitted. Beyond these reason asks no more, because she
can give no more. True, the last implies the former two; yet there
is an advantage to most minds in ascending, step by step, to any com-
manding eminence.

Now, the grand proposition is, that God has spoken to man in the
Bible. That it is possible is evident from the fact, that God thunders
in the clouds, murmurs in the tempests, whispers in the breeze. Still
more evident from the fact, that he has taught the lion to roar for
his prey, the beasts of the forest to commune with their companions,
and the birds of the air to sooithe the human ear with their melodies.
But most evident from the fact, that he has given to man a tongue
to speak and an ear to listen to the voice of his brother. The infer-
ence, then, is, that God possesses the power which he has imparted to
man; that he who taught man to reveal his mind and will to his com-
panions, and even to some domestic animals that wait upon his word,
has power to reveal his own mind and will to his creature man.

But we advance a step further, and assume that it is probable that
God has spoken to man. This we argue from the fact that God can
speak, that man desires to hear him speak, and that he has created no
rational desire in man for which he has not made a proper provision,
either in himself or in his works. I need not ask the question, as if
any one doubted it, whether there is any desire in man comparable to
his desire of life? Nor need I attempt to prove to any one, that of


all knowledge imaginable there is none so desirable to man as the
knowledge of his own origin and of his ultimate destiny. Now, as
God has created these desires, and as he is supremely kind and boun-
tiful in all his original creations, and in his constant providence for
all the reasonable and lawful wants of man, is it not probable that
at some time or other he has made a verbal or oral revelation of him-
self in some way intelligible to man?

But in the second place, I argue the probability that God has spoken
to man from the indisputable fact, that man himself speaks. Some, I
know, assume that language is natural to man, because he has organs
.of pronunciation; but in good sense, and in good logic, one might as
reasonably argue that Greek or Hebrew is natural to man, because he
has the power of understanding or of pronouncing those languages.
But who ever spoke a language that he did not first learn from an-
other? We all have our vernacular — our mother tongue. We could
as easily conceive of one born without a mother, as of one speaking
Greek that did not first hear it. But as there certainly was one man
who never had a mother or a father, that man could have no mother
tongue — no vernacular. God, then, must have taught man to speak,
viva voce; inasmuch as language is only an imitation of distinct in-
telligible sounds; and as all language comes by hearing, and hear-
ing by the word of another (for the deaf have no words, though they
have organs of pronunciation,) we must, in all reason, conclude that
the first human speaker had heard God himself speak.

So Moses, in accordance with our reasoning, teaches that God
talked with Adam, and first gave names to things. Moses also informs
us that he left one class of objects for Adam to name, and that "what-
ever Adam called every living creature, that became the name of it."

No class of linguists, rhetoricians, or philosophers, has ever been
able to explain the origin of language on the principles of human
nature. They agree in one point; viz.: that it was not originally a
conventional thing; that no company of men could assemble to discuss
or decide upon it; which is, if properly comprehended, an unanswer-
able proof of a superhuman origin. So, with the immortal Newton,
we conclude, that "God gave to man reason and religion by giving
him the use of words."

That all mankind had at first one language, and one and the same
religious faith, is very clearly and logically inferrible from the most
ancient traditions, and from the structure of three great dialects of
speech from which the modern gibberish of nations has descended. —
This, however, is a task not to be imposed upon us, nor undertaken
by us, in order to the consummation of our present argument. The
stiong probability that God has spoken to man is, we presume, already
established from the simple fact that man himself speaks, and that no


man can give himself iatelligible language, but must receive it from

But we shall ascend from the possible and probable to the abso-
lutely certain evidence which the Bible itself furnishes, that God has,
in that volume, spoken to The evidences which that mysterious
and oublime book tenders to those who approach its sacred pages with
a candid temper and a becoming reverence, are its doctrines, its pre-
cepts, its promises, its miracles, and its prophecies. To these are
added the testimonies of unbelieving Jews and Pagans, living contem-
poraneously with the periods of its development and establishment
in the world.

Now, as the miracles and prophecies are matters of record in Uie
book itself, as much as its doctrine, its precepts, or its promises, they
are equally matters of faith, because alike matters of sacred history.
Still, portions of the prophecies, not fulfilled when the last of the
Prophets and Apostles died, being yet in progress of fulfillment, afford
good authority lor classifying the evidence of the divine origin of the
Bible under three distinct heads — the intrinsic, the extrinsic, and the

The intrinsic evidences consist in the doctrine, the precepts, the
promises, the miracles, and the prophecies, published and fulfilled in
the records of the book itself. The extrinsic are the testimonies of
unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, given to the facts reported in the Old
and New Testament records. The mixed are, its prophecies fulfilled
since the book was completed, those now fulfilling, and those hereafter
to be fulfilled, together with those monumental institutions appointed
in the Holy Book and observed ever since its publication, down to the
present day.

Now of all these classes of argument and evidence, we shall select
but one, or a part of one of them, in demonstration of what we mean
by the absolute certainly which the enlighten.^d Christian enjoys, that
God has, in very deed, spoken to man. That shall be a portion of the
class of mixed evidences.

Nothing, it is alleged by some, produces absolute certainty but the
evidence of sense. But even our senses sometimes deceive us. —
The doctrine and the miracle combined, or the thing seen by the
outward eye corresponding with the promise of it, is better than either
apart. They are, indeed, two witnesses instead of one. The doctrine
speaks for God, and so does the miracle. A prophecy written in a
book a thousand years ago, fulfilled before our eyes, is the highest
demonstration that can be given to man of the authenticity and inspi-
ration of the book in which it is written. The proposition and the
miracle must agree. They must be equally worthy of having God
for their author.


But under the name miracle we include more than is sometimes
designated by that very indefinite term. Tlie raising of a dead man
to life by a word, and the foretelling of a complex event, not depend-
ing on the laws of nature, a hundred or a thousand years before it
happens, are equally demonstrations of the divine presence and power
in the person professing to be sent by the Creator of the universe.

With us a miracle is a display of supernatural power in attestation
of some proposition presented by God to man for his acceptance. Mir-
acles are, therefore, signs manual attached to commissions to authentic
messengers from God. They were always vouchsafed t^ special me^s-
sengers to gain special credit to their messages.

By a supernatural power we understand a power that holds in obe-
dience to laws of nature, according to the will of him that possesses
it. It is a power that suspends, governs, ot directs the laws of nature
according to the pleasure of its possessor, but with reference to public
advantage. Such was the power vouchsafed to Moses, to Jesus, to
many of the Prophets, to all the Apostles, and to some of the Evan-
gelists of Jesus Christ.

Of this supernatural power there are two sorts — one that extends
beyond the physical laws of nature; and one that extends beyond the
intellectual power of man. The foretelling of some complex future
event, not depending upon any human knowledge of the operations
of matter or of mind, is as clear a proof of supernatural intellectual
power, as the removal of a mountain, by a word, would be of a super-
natural physical power. A man that could now predict the fortunes
of a city, a family, or a nation, for one, or five hundred years to come,
would give as clear indications that he possessed the Spirit of God
and was divinely commissioned, as if he raised the dead.

But they are not always proofs to the same persons. Sensible and
outward displays of physical power — such as the miracles of our
Lord and his Apostles, were addressed to the senses of living men, in
support of their pretensions to a divine call and mission. But the
foretelling of an event, long distant, is not a proof to any contempo-
rary auditor of the divine mission of the Prophet. The miracle is
developed in the accomplishment, and not in the uttering, of the pre-

When Jesus foretold that within that generation the temple would
be so razed to its foundation, that "not one stone would be left upon
another," not the prediction, but the accomplishment of it, was a
miracle to those who witnessed that awful catastrophe. But who
will not admit that those who had heard him utter the prediction, or
those who had often heard it or read it, before the siege of Jerusalem,
and who afterwards saw the city and the temple in ruins, according
to the prediction, had just as ample proof and as full assurance that


he Bpoke the truth, and was sent by God, as they had who heard him
call hazarus of Bethany out of his grave, and who witnessed his res-
urrection in obedience to the call? The fulfillment cf prophecies long
since uttered, written, and published, is, therefore, we argue, a perfect
assurance of the divine mission and inspiration of the Prophet to all
who live contemporai-y with the accomplishment, or even after the
accomplishment, provided only that the document containing the
prophecy was certainly extant before the consummation.

The way is now open to a full development of the assumption, viz.:
that we who now live have just as perfect an assurance of the truth
of the sayings and doings of Prophets and Apostles as they had who
lived in their times; or, in other words, that it is not only possible
and probable, but absolutely certain that God has spoken to man.

An induction of fulfilled prophecies, equal to a volume, might t>e
exhibited from the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. The Bible is
the only book in the world, now or at any former period, whose proph-
ecies are almost as numerous as its pages. No other volume presumes
te give the whole history of time and of man but the Bible. The book,
as before shown, contains the history of one family for seventy gen-
erations, and foretells its future fortunes to the end of time. The
Ishmaelites, the Idumeans, the Israelites, (descended from Ishmael,
Esau, and Jacob,) and their countries, together with Egypt, Syria,
Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Nineveh, as well as
the Chaldean, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman Empires, with
all the fortunes of the Christian church, are written out on the living
pages of the sacred books of Prophets and Apostles. Persons, places,
and events, ages before their appearance, are foretold with the accu-
racy of history, by Him who speaketh of "the things that are not"
yet in existence "as though they were." I shall, however, only illus-
trate and exemplify in two or three particulars.

Had we room for a display of singular items occurring in the fulfill-
ment of ancient prophecy, as a specimen of the unerring precision
between the prediction and its accomplishment, we would quote and
comment upon Deuteronomy, Chap, xxviii., from the 48th to the 58th
verse inclusive. In this passage Moses predicts the final catastrophe
and ruin of his own nation by the Romans, fifteen hundred and twenty
years before it happened.

He specifies various particular characteristics of that calamity. We
shall notice but ten of them: — 1. The people or nation by whom they
should be destroyed, were to come from a remote country. 2. Their
armies were to come as an eogle to its prey. 3. They were to speak
a language unknown to the Jews. 4. They are described to be a fierce
and savage people, not respecting age, sex, or condition. 5. They
were first to station themselves among them, and then to devour their


provisions. 6. They should besiege them in all their high walled
towns and fortresses throughout their whole country. 7. They were
to be reduced to such distress and famine as to eat their own offspring.
8. The most affectionate brothers would become evil disposed and
cruel to one another; as also husbands and wives, parents and chil-
dren. 9. The most delicate and tender-hearted ladies would devour
their own offspring. 10. They should perpetrate these awful deeds
secretly through fear of being robbed of their repast.

Let any one now read the account which Josephus gives of the fall
of Jerusalem and the final calamities of that devoted nation, and see
whether these ten items were not accomplished to the letter! Let
him read to the close of his narrative of the delicate and elegant lady,
who, in every circumstance, verified the prediction, in killing, roast-
ing, and devouring secretly her own innocent and beloved infant, and
say whether Moses did not speak by the inspiration of God.*

To those who witnessed these events, and who had in their hands
the book of Deuteronomy then extant, in Hebrew and Greek, may we
not say, that a miracle was exhibited, as indisputable as any miracle
performed by Moses or Jesus in the presence of living thousands of
spectators? But to us, both the prophecy and the accomplishment
are matters of record, and therefore matters of faith and not of

We shall, therefore, advance one step farther, and show a miracle —
a display of supernatural intellectual power — by presenting a Jew at
the proper angle of vision. Had any man now living the power of
raising the dead, unless we accompanied him to the grave and looked
on at the proper distance, we could not witness a miracle. So, unless
we open the eyes oif our understanding, and look with attention and
discrimination m this case, we can not see a miracle. Behold this
Jew! Whose son is he?

His father Abraham was born three thousand eight hundred and
forty-one years ago! His father circumcised himself and his long-
promised son Isaac some three thousand seven hundred and forty
years ago. From Isaac sprang Jacob, Judah, — the Jews. That nation,
counting from the birth of its founder, was contemporary with the
Assyrian Empire almost fourteen centuries. It was also contempo-
rary with the Medes and the Persians, with the Greeks and the Ro-
mans, during their entire continuance, and now survives the last of
them some thirteen centuries! But in all this so strange, so unprec-
edented an occurrence, where is the miracle? The Romans, under
their General Titus, saw no miracle in the destruction of the nation,
the city, and the temple, because they had not the prediction in their
eye. Nor can any one see a miracle in this Jew unless he have the

• Josephus— Wars of the Jews, book 6, chap. 3, page 553.


prediction in his eye. We siiall now read the prediction while this
circumcised Jew stands before us.

Jeremiah was carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar and flourished

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 46 of 70)