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the gospel, as enabled them to silence the wisdom of philosophers, and to triumph over the jealousies of prejudice, and the menaces of power.
The principal advantage, which the first teachers of the christian faith exclusively enjoyed, was the preternatural illumination of their understandings by the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost. This gave the apostles a complete insight into all the peculiarities of the christian dispensation, and produced that transcendent superiority which they uniformly displayed over the theology of the Jew, and the erudition of the Gentile. Hence we find them possessed of an accurate acquaintance with the ecclesiastical history of their own nation, and a knowledge of what was closely connected with it, the universal antiquities of religion. We find that the striking events of ancient story, which were the most directly adapted to the purpose of the argument in which they were engaged, were always so presented to their minds, that they formed the most accurate and interesting conceptions of them. We find them happy in the interpretation of the prophesies, able expositors of those types, and symbolical representations of the Messiah, which were contained in the ceremonial rites of the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations. We find them learned in the jurisprudence of their country, and in their reasonings upon the most abstruse subjects, we find a self-evidence of the principles assumed, a coherence of the arguments pursued, a solidity of the conclusion deduced, and a perspicuity of language not surpassed by the most celebrated writers of Greece and Rome. Thus by the ministry of those chosen instruments of heaven, the face of empires was changed, Jews were converted into christians, and idolaters to saints.
So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed, notwithstanding the severity with which its credentials were tried. The christian religion, says a fine writer, made its way through Paganism, with an amazing progress and activity.
Its victories were the victories of reason, unassisted by the force of human power, and as gentle as the triumphs of light over darkness. And though the powers of hell had been successively let loose against the church of Christ in the terrible shapes of Jewish and Gentile persecution, yet did they not prevail against this sacred structure, founded on a rock, guarded as we believe by heaven itself, and therefore destined to be eternal.
The extraordinary and miraculous endowments conferred upon the apostles, till the evidences of christianity were sufficiently established, and Jesus known to be the true Messiah, being no longer necessary, are no longer continued to the church ; like the scaffolding of a palace made complete, they are taken down and removed. A diligent perusal of the scriptures is therefore to us the best substitute for the want of inspiration. The bible is emphatically styled the word of God : and the truths contained in it are infallible, and of divine authority. The sacred penmen spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and wrote under his immediate guidance and direction. So far as their natural faculties could be useful in the work, these faculties were no doubt properly employed ; but the eye of God was constantly upon them; wherever their judgment was erroneous, he corrected them; wherever the subject was above the reach of their understandings, he enlightened them; and wherever their recollection failed, or their knowledge was defective, the Spirit brought all things to their remembrance, and guided them into all truth.
Such is the divine origin of those authentic records from which we derive our knowledge of the Deity; and no person can examine the whole of the evidence of the truth of the old and new testaments, without finding it to be conclusive: modest men who have not considered the arguments for and against revelation, will be silent. If they cannot believe in Jesus, they will be extremely cautious on what ground they reject him. They will remember that Newton, whose mind burst forth from the fetters cast by nature upon our finite conceptions, examined the proofs of his divine mission, and was satisfied; that Locke, whose office it was to detect the errors of thinking, and direct into a proper train of reasoning, the devious mind of man, was in the highest sense of devotion and adoration a christian. That Milton, our immortal bard, made the mysterious incarnation of his blessed Saviour, the grand conclusion of Paradise lost, the rest from his finished labours, and the ultimate hope, expectation, and glory of the world.
“ A Virgin is his Mother, but his Sire “ The Power of the most high-He shall ascend “ The Throne Hereditary, and bound his reign “ With Earth's wide bounds, his glory with the Heav'ns."
Nothing less than demonstration on the side of infidelity should induce any man to resist the weight that these venerable authors give in favor of the gospel. They were the ornaments of human nature, illustrious characters and enlightened scholars, whose lives were a transcript of piety, and whose works will remain till the last fire shall consume all learning. They investigated the pretensions of the gospel critically and minutely, the authenticity of its records, the completion of its prophecies, the sublimity of its doctrines, the purity of its precepts, and the arguments of its adversaries, and they were not only convinced of the justice of its claims, but they gloried in it as a most benevolent and Godlike scheme. It was their study in life, and