Page images
PDF
EPUB

ferent languages spoken on the earth are so immensely numerous, and so widely distinct, as to give the lie to the account in Genesis, as to the confusion of tongues. This subject has been investigated anew, and investigated with great care and labor. The result will be presented in the language of a learned archaeologist of the present day. After having expressed the opinion that the radically distinct languages spoken on the face of the earth are few, Dr. Wiseman adds, “We are driven to the conclusion that, on the one hand, these languages must have been primarily united in one, whence they drew the common elements essential to them all; and on the other, that the separation between them, which destroyed no less important resemblances, could not have been caused by any gradual departure, or individual development, but must have been occasioned by some violent, unusual, and active force, sufficient alone to reconcile these conflicting appearances, and to account both for the resemblances and the differences."* Such is the conclusion of mere scientific research, in regard to the different languages of men. It must be evident, at a glance, how exactly it accords with the representation given in the Bible.

Within the last two hundred years, the friends of revelation have been often assailed with the pretensions of some of the nations of the East_to a prodigious antiquity. The Chinese and Japanese, the Egyptians and Hindoos, we have been told, possess unquestionable historical records, and astronomical observations which carry back their origin to thousands and perhaps millions of years previous to the Mosaic account of the creation of man. The taunts and sneers, the boastings and exultations of infidel writers and talkers on this subject, have been loud, and confident, and long. But with persons of information, of whatever religious sentiments, they have come to a final end now. The whole matter has been investigated ; and the result is, that after every allowance which can reasonably be made, the Chinese, Japanese, and Hindoos have no claims to an antiquity higher than the days of Abraham. Egypt was settled at a very early period ; but there are no traces of Egyptian history until about iwo centuries after the deluge. It would be impossible here to go into particulars on the interesting subject of antiquities; and yet there are a few incidents too amusing and instructive to be altogether passed over.

• Lectures, etc. p. 67.

Less than fifty years ago, an Egyptian relic called the zodiac of Dendera, was transported into France. It was covered with unintelligible figures and hieroglyphics, and was declared by the infidel savans to be of a very remote antiquity: They did not doubt that it had existed long anterior to the Mosaic account of the deluge, or even of the creation. But at length the hieroglyphics are deciphered, and the hand writing on the zodiac of Dendera is read ; when it appears, that it dates back only to the time of the Roman emperors, somewhat later than the commencement of the christian era !

In the last century, there was a Hindoo work, strongly resembling, in many points, the christian Scriptures, translated from the Sanscrit, and published. It was called the Ezour Veda. Voltaire pounced upon it at once, declared it a work of great antiquity, and had no doubt that the leading facts of the New Testament were borrowed from it. What then is the history of the Ezour Veda ? The matter has been fully investigated, so that there is no longer any doubt or uncertainty respecting it. The Ezour Veda was written by a Jesuit missionary, in the year of our Lord 1621, and with a view to promote Christianity among the Brahmins of India.

It used to be said that the account given in Exodus of the building of the tabernacle could not be true; because the materials composing it could not have been furnished at that early period. The arts were not sufficiently understood.

But it has been recently discovered that the arts were at their greatest perfection in Egypt, at the time when the Israelites sojourned there, and became “ skilled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.”

It used to be said, on the authority of Herodotus, that the ancient Egyptians drank no wine ; and of course that the story of Pharaoh's butler, recorded in Genesis, could not be true. But the researches of Champollion and others have settled the question, that ancient Egypt abounded in vineyards, and that its inhabitants were in the constant use of wine.

It has been said a thousand tiines that, admitting the Scriptures to have been originally inspired, they may have been essentially corrupted. The copies have been tampered with ; they have been interpolated. Passages have been foisted in, and foisted out, to suit the convenience of interested individuals, till we can have no confidence in the accuracy of what remains. To this, it need only be said in reply, that the subject has been Vol. XII. No. 31.

3

[ocr errors]

laboriously and critically examined, and it has been ascertained, to a demonstration, that the various readings are of no essential moment. They are somewhat numerous, as might be expected, the books having passed through the hands of thousands of transcribers; but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, they consist in the mere accidental change of a letter, or a point, which makes no essential variation in the sense.

These instances have been introduced for the purpose of showing, that the disappointment of infidels, in regard to the results of geological inquiry, has not been their only disappointment. It is but one among a great many others of a similar character. Defeated in one course of inquiry, they have fed to another; and foiled here, they have resorted to a third. They have appealed to the heavens for a confutation of our sacred books. They have cried to the sun, and moon, and stars, 'Come, curse ye them from thence.' They have uttered the same cry to the rocks and caverns of the earth, Come, curse ye these hated books from thence.' They have looked to hoary legends, and crumbling monuments, and the catacombs of ancient kings, and have said in despair, Come, curse ye them from thence.' But the curse, in every instance, has been turned into a blessing. And so it always will be. Scientific investigations, fairly and thoroughly conducted, must always turn to the furtherance of Christianity. For what is science, but a knowledge of nature's laws? And what are nature's laws, but rules which the Supreme Being—the God of the Bible, has prescribed to himself, in carrying into effect bis vast designs? The God of nature and the God of the Bible are identical; and hence a consistent and thorough investigation of nature—the more thorough the better-must always tend, as in the case of_geology, to illustrate the nature and support the evidence of Bible truth. None but smatterers, dabblers in the study of nature, as a general thing, become infidels, or are in any particular danger of becoming such. Was Newton an infidel ? Were Boyle, and Bacon, and Leibnitz infidels ? Were Cuvier, and Davy, and Bentley infidels? Yet before these hierophants in nature's temple, the puny infidels of modern times may well retire abashed, and “ hide their diminished heads."

“ No system ever laid itself open more completely to detection, if it contained any error, than that of Christianity. No book ever gave so many clues to discovery, if it tell an untruth, as the sacred volume. In it we have recorded the earliest and the latest physical revolutions of our globe; the dispersion of the human race; the succession of monarchs in the surrounding countries, from the time of Sesostris, to the Syrian kings; the habits, manpers, and languages of various nations ; the great religious traditions of the human race; and the recital of many marvellous and miraculous events, not to be found in the annals of any other people.” Add to this, that it is the work, not of one hand, but of many, between whoin there could have been no collusion or design ; and I appeal to the considerate reader, if there ever was a book which, if untrue, if an imposition, presented so many chances for detection and exposure. And yet its leaves were thrown fearlessly open, from two to three thousand years ago, to the investigation of philosophers and critics—to the scrutiny of friends and foes. Its leaves have lain unfolded from that time to the present, inviting discussion -inviting research ; saying virtually, like its great author, Testify against me, if you can;' and it has passed the ordeal; it has stood the test. Its evidences, so far from being weakened by the labors of critics, the researches of philosophers, and the lapse of time, are becoming continually strengthened. Dark passages are brought out into light. Seeming discrepancies are reconciled. What were regarded as difficulties two hundred years ago are found such no longer. “Every science, every pursuit, as it makes a step in its own natural, onward progress, increases the mass of our confirmatory evidence." The very efforts of infidels are made to recoil on their own heads and are over-ruled for the establishment and advancement of the gospel. And shall Christians tremble now, for the safety of their precious ark? Shall they fear now, that the progress of any real science can shake the foundation of their hopes ?

There are many Christians, it may be feared, who have no practical conception of the unmoveable security of that foundation on which it is their privilege to stand. They are easily terrified at appearances. The boastful pretensions of some infidel hypothesis, some misnamed science, alarms them. Or what is worse, they are drawn away, it may be, for a time, from the clear shining of the light of heaven, to follow in the glare of some meteor, or mock sun. The subject here discussed is calculated to impress upon all Christians the folly of such terrorsthe guilt and danger of such aberrations. In the faith of the gospel, we have a rock beneath our feet; and it is our own fault if we leave it, and become lost and buried in the sands. “We have a sure word of prophecy, to which we do well to take heed, as to a light shining in a dark place ;” and it is our own fault, if we turn from it, in the pursuit of wandering stars.

There will be dreams and visions, plausible theories and lying vanities, in days to come, as there have been in days past. There will be false pretenders to science, speaking great swelling words, and leading unwary souls astray. But let the Christian possess himself in perfect peace, as most assuredly he is in a situation of perfect security. The storm may rage around him for a season, but it will pass over. The lightnings may flash and the thunders roar, but they will ere long be hushed. And Christianity will come out of every new trial, as it has out of every previous one, strengthened in its evidences, and not weakened-victorious, and not vanquished.

But in speaking thus confidently of the truth of Christianityof its eternal, inflexible truth, are those who profess it aware, in all cases, of what they affirm? What is Christianity? What does the sacred volume teach? Its conclusions, in many points, are coincident, as we have seen, with those of science; but in various other points, it discloses what no mere science ever taught, or ever can. It publishes truths—and this is the reason why it has been so violently assailed-truths, humbling to the pride of man, startling to his fears, wounding to his carnal peace, and fatal to bis unfounded hopes. It tells of guilt-awful guilt; and of impending judgment—awful judgment. It tells of a Deliverer, who saves all that embrace and follow him, but who punishes all others with an aggravated condemnation. It tells, not only (like geology) of melting elements and burning worlds, but of a great white throne, and of him who is to sit upon it, before whom the earth and the heavens are to flee away. It shows us the rising dead, the assembled worlds, the opened books, the final awards. It shows us heaven-and it shows us hell. It calls us to look upward, and behold the unmingled joys and glories of the saved. It permits us to look downward, and listen to the wailings of the lost.

There are truths (and they are truths, if Christianity is true) which, for solemn interest and impression, cast all others into the shade. Here are truths, on the heights of which the Christian may plant himself, and look far down upon mere questions of science, as manhood looks upon the baubles of infancy, or as angels may be supposed to look upon the trifling pursuits of men.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »