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titled the History of the Acts of the Apostles, by the Evangelist Luke. Both of these performances carry on the very face of them the appearance of unsuspicious and well-authenticated documents. But there are several circumstances, in which the testimony of Luke possesses a decided advantage over the testimony of Tacitus. He was the companion of these very apostles. He was an eye-witness to many of the events recorded by him. He had the advantage over the Roman historian in time and in place, and in personal knowledge of many of the circumstances in his history. The genuineness of his publications, too, and the time of its appearance, are far better established, and by precisely that kind of argument which is held decisive in every other question of erudition. Besides all this, we have the testimony of at least five of the Christian fathers, all of whom had the same, or a greater, advantage in point of time than Tacitus, and who had a much nearer and readier access to original sources of information. Now, how comes it that the testimony of Tacitus, a distant and later historian, should yield such delight and satisfaction to the inquirer, while all the antecedent testimony (which by every principle of approved criticism, is much stronger than the other,) should produce an impression that is comparatively languid and ineffectual ? It is owing, in a great measure, to the principle which we have already alluded to. There is a sacredness annexed to the subject, so long as it is under the pen of fathers and evangelists, and this very sacredness takes away from the freedom and confidence of the argument. The moment that it is taken up by a profane author, the spell which held the understanding in some degree of restraint is dissipated. We now tread on the more familiar ground of ordinary history; and the evidence for the truth of the gospel appears more assimilated 10 that evidence, which brings home to our conviction the particulars of the Greek and Roman story.
21. To say that Tacitus was upon this subject a disinterested historian, is not enough to explain the preference which you give "to his testimony. There is no subject in which the triumph of the Christian argument is more conspicuous, than the moral qual. ifications which give credit to the testimony of its witnesses. We have every possible evidence, that there could be neither mistake nor falsehood in their testimony; a much greater quan. tity of evidence, indeed, than can actually be produced to established the credibility of any other historian. Now all we ask is,
that where an exception to the veracity to any historian is removed, you restore him to that degree of credit and influence which he ought to have possessed, had no such exception been made. In no case has an exception to the credibility of an author been more triumphantly removed, than with the early Christian writers; and yet, as a proof that there really exists some such delusion as we have been labouring to establish, though our eyes are perfectly open to the integrity of the Christian witnesses, there is still a disposition to give the preference to the secular historian. When Tacitus is placed by the side of the evangelist Luke, even after the decisive argument which establishes the credit of the latter historian has convinced the understanding, there remains a tendency in the mind to annex a confidence to the account of the Roman writer, which is altogether disproportioned to the relative merits of his testimony.
To be continued.)
DESCRIPTION OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
Extracted from Paley's Works. TERRIBLE and alarming prospect! here the powers of eloquence lose all their effect; and the most elevated genius is by far too languid, lifeless, and insipid, to describe a scene so solemn and tremendous. Who, though he spoke with a voice melodious as that of an angel,—though all the graces of celestial eloquence flowed from his lips,-could do justice to a subject so awful and amazing ? A scene which so far transcends every picture which the most sublime imagination can form, must certainly baffle every
effort of description : but though it is impossible to convey any but a faint idea, after all our labour, let us, nevertheless, attempt the task, as it must be highly edifying, and leave a lasting impression on the heart susceptible of good dispositions. Imagine the day arrived, and all nature waiting, in silent expectation, to receive its last doom; the tutelary and destroying angels to have their instructions, and every thing to be ready for the fatal hour; and then, as upon a signal given, the trumpet sounds; the universe groans at the terrific blast: monuments burst asunder; the tomb surrenders up the dust which has slept there from immemorial time :-the illustrious and the obscure,
the virtuous and the bad : Christians, infidels, multitudes of every tribe people and language; all who have ever existed from Adam down to the present moment,--all, all arise! How, every moment, the mighty concourse swells ! they pour around like gathering torrents, and overflow the earth numerous as the drops of rain or stars of heaven ; millions crowding on millions ; stupendous tumult! it is all inconceivable alarm and consternation. But, who is that sublime and beauteous form descending from the skies, encompassed with unnumbered hosts of angels ? Jesus, the Son of God! the Judge of man! And is this the despised Nazarene, the persecuted wanderer; who, while on earth, had not where to recline his weary head? Is this the man of sorrow, who was barbarously crucified on Calvary, and expired between two thieves, loaded with disgrace, and exhausted with agonies ? Yes, it is the same! But what a change! what majesty! what inconceivable magnificence! Behold those temples, which were once so cruelly torn with thorns, now crowned with a diadem of glory, too dazzling for mortal sense to bear! Behold that hand, into which his murdering foes once put the reed in derision, now holding the sceptre of the universe! Yet, amidst that blaze of grandeur that surrounds him, the amiable meekness which dignified the man of sorrow still appears, while traces of complacency and benevolence conspicuously mark his divine lineaments. He separates the promiscuous multitude as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats; the good are ranged on his right hand, the wicked on his left: all, even the just themselves, wait in trembling expectation at the dread tribunal,--but how different are their sensations from those of the guilty! Pious confidence, hope, and joy, arising from a consciousness of their integrity; and the thought of their Redeemer's atoning blood, are mingled with their fears; but what imagination can conceive the horrors of the latter! they already hear the dire sentence thundering in
ears; they anticipate the doom which must soon await them : what would they give now for a few of those moments, which they so imprudently squandered away in gaiety and sensual pleasures, to make their peace with heaven!—the opportunity is gone for ever! And now, behold the eternal King of Glory turning towards the assembly on his right hand, with smiles that inspire inconceivable delight,--dignity, blended with mildness, in his brow, he addresses them with a voice that breathes immortal love, and invites them to the enjoyment of those beatific scenes
which had been prepared for them before the foundation of the world. What language can describe the effect of these reviving accents on the minds of the just! what gratitude! what triumph! what ecstacy overflow their hearts, and sparkle in their eyes! Ten thousand brilliant convoys from above attend them, and angels congratulate them on their happy destiny, and waft them on their soaring wings to the mansions of eternal day. Oh, what inimitable prospects are here! Whatever ancient poets have feigned of the Elysian fields; whatever the imagination has formed in her boldest flights, is here more than realized. But how dire a contrast is exhibited in the looks of those at the left hand of their offended Judge, when darting at them, from his lowering and indignant brow, the lightning of his vengeance, he pronounces in their ears the decisive and irrevocable sentence, which consigns them to the regions of endless night: they cast one farewell look on the beatific regions, and see the heavenly Jerusalem extending her jasper walls far and wide ; her sun, the glory of the Deity, shining forth with a degree of lustre which exceeds every thing that the most brilliant fancy can conceive of the astonishing and sublime. This scene of brightness, more than stupendous, compared with which, the splendour of ten thousand suns were darkness, but augments their anguish. These are the abodes of infinite delight; but, alas! not for them. They deeply feel and lament their loss,—but, ah! too late! 'tis irreparable! They depart, with inexpressible reluctance, to begin their dire fate in a ruinous world. Now the scene begins! all the treasures of fire in heaven and earth are open! thy final dissolution, O world, is begun! Tremendous thunders roll! Piercing lightnings dart from every quarter, blaze crowding on blaze, in rapid succession; the mighty pillars of creation tremble; it is all astonishment, confusion, and terror! Dissolved by the overpowering flame, the solid mountains run down in streams; and, contrary to the sacred laws of nature, the rivers reverse their course, and hurry back to their fountain-head. Every promontory and island is moved out of its place. What a scene does the face of the earth display! Towers, palaces, and temples, all sinking in the dire conflagration! Where are now those mighty cities, the seats of luxury, pomp, and magnificence, whose stately domes and aspiring turrets seemed to threaten heaven? The melody of the harper and musician, and the enchanting voice of the singer are heard in them no more. But it is not cities only,
the works of men's hands, but the hills, the mountains, and the rocks are melted, as wax before the sun, and their place is no where found. Here stood the Alps, a prodigious range, the load of the earth; this huge mass is dissolved, like a tender cloud into rain : here stood Atlas, whose lofty top reached the clouds ;-all these are vanished, and swallowed up in one general destruction; and heaven and earth are mingled together in one prodigious puin !
Thus have I endeavoured, as far as my feeble talents will permit to represent to your imagination the awful appearance of the day of judgment, which will sooner or later arrive. And since it is certain, let us fix our affections on those eternal things which will recommend us in that awful crisis, and not the transient things of this world, which may be suddenly taken from us, or we from them; or however long we may retain them, or peaceably enjoy them, we cannot keep them always. Let us take a view of the greatest metropolis, the most favoured by nature, guarded by law, and enlightened by policy; the plague in a week may desolate, a conflagration in a day consume, an earthquake in an hour swallow it up. But why recur, to the bodings of fear, or the suggestions of fancy, for events so specifically recorded by the historian? Kingdoms have been broken, cities buried, nations extirpated. Where are Troy, Babylon, Athens, Lacedemon, Thebes, Jerusalem, Persepolis, and Palmyra ? Fallen! fallen! Their very ruins sepulchred; some of their places unknown; their glory a shadow; their names remaining only a reproach to their former greatness. Palmyra, the seat of kings, the emporium of science,-the envy of her neighbours,-is no more! Her wreck may form a picture, her fame may paint a moral, but her prosperity is no longer dreaded: there the arm of power is levelled wtth the hand of industry; the pomp of tria umph ceases to dazzle, and the song of festivity withdraws its enchantment. Faded are the beautiful,---withered the strong, humbled the haughty. If a funeral inscription remains, the language is grown unintelligible, the hero forgotten! He hoped to shine on the pinnacle of renown, but is shrouded in oblivion for ever! All terrestrial glory is as a flower that fades as we praise it; it is fanned by the zephyrs of the morning ; brightened by the noon-tide sun; and sinks with the dew of the evening. Who would write on water? build on sand? or trust for happiness to sublunary shadowy ambition ?