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refuge. They did not, and they could not destroy them. selves in that age by the unbelief of idolatry. This avenue to ruin was barred; but to ascribe the works of God to demoniac influence, the genius of the age permitted, and this was their resort.
THE SUBJECT COTINUED.
Shall men continue, age after age, to destroy them. selves by the persuasion, or by the hope, that the Lord and his apostles acted through the agency of evil spirits ? No: that kind of infidelity cannot last always. As sure as the copies of that New Testament are multiplied, or much read in the churches, men will cease to attribute works of love and mercy to Satan. Preach that gospel extensively, and men will not believe in this creed of magic more readily than they now do. You cannot prevail on the most wicked, or the most ignorant blasphemer in any of our streets, to believe that Christ heal. ed those who touched his garments, with the aid of fallen spirits. What is the reason that his enemies of the present day never think of accusing him of any connec. tion with Beelzebub ? It is not because of any affection they have for him; it is not because of their love, or their reverence, that they do not believe, and cannot believe he learned the magic art in Egypt, where he certainly was in early life. No; the lamp of knowledge has been held too near to them. No thanks to the wicked now, that the Lord has made that kind of infidelity inconsis.
tent with the genius of the age; there is enough of hatred to Christ and his precepts; enough of wickedness, ignorance and pollution, to insure the rejection of offered mercy. His grace will be scorned, and his Messiahship denied; but not under the old pretext. New expedients will be devised, and other channels sought. Any thing rather than look at the light. Centuries have rolled away. The original witnesses have fallen asleep, and their children, and their children's children, for many generations. During the first three hundred years and more, after our Saviour's ascension, had any one at. tempted to deny facts of the gospel history, some would have looked him in the face with the remark, “my fa. ther, or my grandfather saw it, or conversed with a man who saw it.” Ages have passed away. The latter days are here. An inspired apostle was directed to announce, that in after days there should come scoffers, mocking at the promise of his coming, and casting away the whole record. We have noticed three of the most prominent and conspicuous kinds of infidelity, or of the forms in which unbelief has exhibited itself. It is true, that other intervening kinds have existed, such as the infidelity of superstition, priest-craft, &c. but we have not time and space to write minutely of its every shape. The infidelity of the last day is here. The scoffing un. belief, as foretold, is come; and it was to be accompanied with wilful ignorance, the offspring of a secret love for darkness. We must continue to observe other indica. tions of this strange disrelish for truth, and we search after it more faithfully, because those who possess it, are unconscious of its existence. This preference for darkness may be detected from the fact that men in support
of their own systems of infidelity, are more credulous than ordinary, and believe that which is much harder to believe than simply to receive the truth.
INCONSISTENCY AND CREDULITY OF THE REJECTERS
OF THE GOSPEL.
REJECTERS of the gospel are exceedingly credulous, and in support of a false system, receive that which is harder to believe than the truth.
Case of a Schoolmaster.-An aged man, who had spent much of his life in teaching a Latin school, had read at times fractions of history, until he had become somewhat acquainted with a few of the facts we have named. This knowledge seemed to detract somewhat from that quietude which he had once possessed in scorning holy things. His restlessness evinced itself occasionally by his impatience and fretfulness under preaching; but he thought himself entirely tranquil, and hated the word Christianity. It so happened that from his intercourse with his books, and with his acquaintances, he learned something of the moral character of the early Christians.-We will pause here long enough to inform the young reader how he may get the same knowledge if he wishes it. As to what kind of persons they were who were baptized in the apostolic age, it is not hard to get an idea, because he may gather the account from friends and enemies. If we hear the character of a noted individual from those who love him, and are not entirely satisfied, we may ask further. Should we
receive the same account from a number of those who cordially hate him, we feel that this is all the testimony we could have on such a point. It is now (for the point before us) necessary that we should have some correct estimate of what kind of men and women those were who have been called primitive Christians. It may be that if I should refer the reader to the acts of the Apostles, to the writings (or to extracts from the writings) of Clement, Irenæus, Justin, Barnabas, Polycarp, or others, there are some who might enquire after other evidence, saying, that although these had been either Jews or Pagans, yet they were Christians at the time they wrote, and who knows but their partialities blinded them, or induced them to say things of their brethren more favourable than were deserved. If so, then the reader can seek elsewhere for testimony. Let him take the word of those who hated them and put them to the torture. We may gather from the brief remarks of Pagan adversaries, the same facts, more circumstantially related by friends to Christ. For example: If we consult the cele. brated letter of the younger Pliny to the emperor Tra. jan, we shall find his statement sufficiently decisive. This Pliny became governor of Pontus and Bithynia, not far from the time of St. John's death, but he had been in public life elsewhere long before. Pliny informs the emperor that he sometimes made the Christians confess under the torture. (Two young females thus tried, he mentions particularly.) He speaks of threaten. ing with death, and ordering away to punishment for their inflexible obstinacy, until we begin to wish for the confession of those who were tortured. We begin to desire an account of their characters and their actions thus obtained. Reader, if you will consult the narra.
tive given by Pliny, you will find that the Christians were brought to confess :
1. That they were wont to meet together, on a stated day, before it was light, and sing among themselves, alternately, a hymn to Christ, as God;
2. And bind themselves by an oath (the word sacrament meant oath in the Roman tongue) not to the com. mission of any wickedness;
3.-And not to be guilty of theft; 4.—Not to be guilty of robbery ; 5.-Not to be guilty of adultery ; 6.--Never to falsify their word,
7.-Nor to deny a pledge committed to them when called upon to return it.
The dullest reader, we suppose, has mind enough to see that if it is an enemy's testimony, collected from tortures and laborious research, that the aggregate of their criminal practices amounted to the following, viz. repeated and solemn engagements never to speak falsely, to act dishonestly, or to commit any manner of wickedness, foc., it is certainly praise as loud as though a friend had written, that they were honest and upright
in their ways.
Once more, we may gather from the writings of a hearty adversary just the same. Lucian was born a few years after the death of the oldest apostle.
“ Lucian, the cotemporary of Celsus, was a bitter enemy of the Christians. In his account of the death of the philosopher Peregrinus, he bears authentic testimony to the principal facts and principles of Christianity; that its founder was crucified in Palestine, and wor. shipped by the Christians, who entertained peculiarly strong hopes of immortal life, and great contempt for