« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
and two hundred and ninety-two years before the advent of Christ. And the extraordinary character that is given of him, in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Ecclesiasticus, by some learned Jew, corresponds with what might have been expected in the man who was chosen to complete the ancient Oracles of God.
MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE and John, the four GOSPELS, containing memoirs of the incarnation, ministry and death of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, were written by the evangelists whose names they bear. Matthew and John were chosen by Christ, and ordained as his apostles. They were his personal attendants during the whole of his public ministry, and, therefore, acquainted with the things about which they have written. Mark and Luke were favoured with intimate acquaintance with some of the apostles; the former was a chosen companion of the Apostle Peter, and the latter a personal friend and companion of the Apostle Paul. They were, therefore, eminently qualified for their duty in writing the Gospels, by their personal knowledge of many of the facts stated, and especially by the inspiration of God.
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.—The invaluable book bearing this title was written by Luke, the author of the third of the gospels. This book records the facts and details the manner of the planting of Christianity in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Galilee, and in different countries and cities for about thirty years after the ascension of Christ.
These five books, forming the historical portion of
the New Testament, are inestimably precious to us, as revealing to us the method and plan of redemption by the perfect obedience and meritorious death of our Lord Jesus Christ. And every reader of the Acts of the Apostles must perceive the abundant and satisfactory evidences which this book affords of the truth and divinity of Christianity. The details of the progress and triumphs of the gospel, among both Jews and Gentiles, prove that its establishment on the earth was the result, not of human policy and skill, but of the power and grace of God accompanying the ministration of the holiest, the most benevolent, and most self-denying preachers, that ever professed to seek the welfare of mankind. Their miraculous endowments and their singleness of purpose, their perseverance against the greatest difficulties, and the fruit of their labours, in the conversion of multitudes from ignorance, superstition and sin, to holiness, in obedience to the laws of Christ, demonstrate their commission as the servants of God. The whole contents of these five books, as exhibiting the origin, perfection and planting of Christianity in the world, prove them to form the most precious portion of the Holy Scriptures.
ROMANS, CORINTHIANS I. and II., GALATIANS, EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS, COLOSSIANS, THESSALONIANS I. and II., TIMOTHY I. and II., Titus, PhiLEMON and HEBREWS, were written by the Apostle Paul. They were sent on different occasions to churches or to individuals, in the course of his apos tolic ministry, and they form inestimable treasures to the churches of Christ.
“ The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in certain points of view, is the most valuable of all. It has been considered by some as a kind of appendix to the Epistle to the Romans, inculcating the same divine doctrines, but proving and illustrating them upon principles peculiarly suited to the Jews, with their acquaintance with the Old Testament institutions; while that to the Romans was designed especially for the converted Gentiles, who had gained but a little knowledge of the Scriptures. This Epistle to the Hebrews contains a kind of epitome of God's dispensations to man until the appearance of Christ. It is an inspired commentary on the Levitical laws. It contrasts the grandeur, the efficacy and the perpetuity of the new covenant privileges, worship and promises under the gospel, with the worldly character and temporary nature of the typical institutions established by Moses. It was designed to reconcile the believing Jew to the destruction of his temple—the loss of his priesthood —the abolition of his sacrifices—and even the extinction of his name; because it exhibits to him a nobler priesthood, and the only perfect sacrifice of atonement by Jesus Christ—with a far more magnificent temple in a heavenly country, and an eternal memorial under a new name in the kingdom of God.
James, Peter I. and II., John I., II. and III., and Jude, were Epistles written by the apostles whose names they bear. They are very valuable documents, adapted to edify believers, and worthy of the inspiration of God.
REVELATION.—This mysterious book, written by the Apostle John, is so called from the signification
of its Greek name, Apocalypsis, as it reveals many things regarding the future condition of the church and the world. It was given in a series of visions to John, to lead him to exhibit the prophetic history of the church to the end of the world. This book is regarded by many as the most sublime of all that are contained in the New Testament. “It is worthy of justice, in respect of the Revelation,” says Mr. Scott, “that the views given in it of God and heavenly things, of the kingdom of providence and grace, of the Redeemer's glory, and the happiness and character of his people, with the wickedness and ruin of his enemies, are set forth in so striking and peculiar a manner, that even those who do not at all understand the prophetical meaning, are interested and edified by reading it, in proportion to the degree of their humility, faith and piety.”
These divine books having been written to different parties, and in distant places, were a considerable time before they could be collected by any individual, or by any church, into a complete volume. But this was done, in a great measure, during the lifetime of the apostles; as it is evident from the Apostle Peter referring to what, he says, “our beloved brother Paul hath written in all his epistles," and to “ the other scriptures.” (2 Peter . 15, 16.) This collection was soon made, however, by many churches and individuals, prompted by the Spirit of God; so that many of them in the second century possessed nearly the whole or the entire collection of the books of the New Testament.
DIVINE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES.
Divine Inspiration defined by Dr. Henderson-Dr. Stow-Dr. A
Clarke-Dr. Robinson-Dr. Gill-Mr. Boyle-Dr. Doddridge-
Holy SCRIPTURE, originating as we have seen, must have been given by divine inspiration. The sacred books could not have been the devices of men, however ingenious and learned. They bear the character of truth, and the manifest impress of God. A celebrated poet has justly asked, therefore,
Whence, but from heaven, could men, unskilled in arts,
-DRYDEN. Divine revelation must necessarily be the gift of heavenly wisdom. An apostle, therefore, declares, concerning the books of the Old Testament; “ Allscripture is given by inspiration of God.” (2 Tim. iii. 16.) The Apostle Peter, also, in perfect agreement with his great fellow-labourer, Paul, states; “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came