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exlvii.); so, with regard to the rain, He restrains (2 Chron. vii. 13), He increases (Jer. V. 24), He prescribes the proportion (Joel ji. 23, 24), appoints the place where it should fall (Ezek. xxxiv. 26; Amos iv. 7,8): not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him (Matt. x. 29).
(3.) Do they speak of the revolutions of empires ? God alone is exalted.
As clay in the hand of the potter, so are all the kingdoms of the earth in God's hand. At what instant he shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and pull down and destroy it, or to build and plant it ; so is it according to his will (Jer. xviii. 7; Dan. iv. 35). Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah xxv. 9) and Cyrus (Isaiah xliv. 28; xlv. 5), the one in destroying, the other in restoring Jerusalem and her temple, are but performing God's plea
(4.) The great historical subject of the Old Testament is the Jewish people ; and in their history how remarkably is God alone exalted !
The instruments used for their deliverance from Egypt and possession of Canaan seem purposely selected with this object. Moses's rod bringing the plagues, dividing the Red Sea; Moses's arm uplifted in prayer, defeating the Amalekites ; the ark borne of the priests dividing the waters of Jordan (Joshua iv.); the blowing of rams' horns causing the walls of Jericho to fall down (Joshua vi.); the various deliverances by the Judges ; Shamgar's ox-goad (Judges ii.); Gideon's empty pitchers (Judges vii.); Samson's hair the seat of his power (Judges xvi. 17-20); and, again, David's sling and stone destroying Goliath (1 Sam. xvii. 45). Throughout it is made to appear that the prosperity of the Jews depended, not on their forming a military spirit (they were forbidden the use of cavalry, Deut. xvii. 16,) or acquiring commercial wealth, (Levit. xxv.) or strengthening themselves by powerful alliances (these were forbidden them, Isa. xxx. 2, 3; Hosea xiv. 3), but simply on their trust in God.
(5.) Throughout the Bible, faith is the great principle that accomplishes every thing. (Heb. xi.) And why? That all boasting may be excluded (Rom. iii. 27; Eph. ii. 8): that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord (i Cor. i. 29, 31).
(6.) If the writers of the Bible speak of sin, they represent the great evil of it to be, that it dishonours God.
This brought upon the Amalekites (Exod. xvii. 16), upon Sennacherib (2 Kings xix. 22), and Belshazzar, their destruction : “ the God in whose hand their breath was, and whose were all their ways, had they not glorified” (Dan. v. 23). Hence was the Gentile world given over to a reprobate mind, because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God (Roin. i. 21). Hence God's controversy with the Jews (Heb. iii. 19); and even Moses, the most eminent of prophets (Deut. xxxiv. 10), neglecting in one instance to sanctify God in the eyes of the children of Israel (Numb. xx. 12), was denied his fondest earthly desire (Deut. iii. 23, 27).
Éli's punishment, for neglecting to restrain his sons (1 Sam. ii. 29, 30); Hezekiah's, for displaying his treasures (2 Chron. xxxii. 25—31), and particularly David's punishment for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. xii. 9. with Ps. li. 4), illustrate the same great truth, that the evil of sin is, that it dishonours God. Hence the death of Uzzah (2 Sam. vi.), and of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts v.), and of Herod (Acts xii. 23), and the solemn sanction of the Third Commandment.
The same principle of disregard to God's honour is represented by the writers of the Bible as having raised up adversaries against Solomon (1 Kings xi. 14), and leading to the division of Israel and Judah. To this cause is attributed the captivity of the Ten Tribes, and afterwards of Judah (2 Kings xvii. 14), and their last terrible destruction by the Romans (Luke xix. 42—44). “ Therefore God hid his face from them, because they were children in whom was no faith” (Deut. xxxii. 20; Acts iii. 23). “ Because of unbelief they were broken off” (Rom. xi. 20).
(7.) It is declared that the glory of God ought to be the great motive and end of all human action (1 Cor. x. 31); “whether, therefore, ye eat or drink," &c. (1 Pet. iv. 11.) Our Lord prays (John xii. 28), “Father, glorify thy Name.". In the prayer he has taught us this is its chief subject; it begins and ends with it. In fact, the great end of the incarnation of Christ, (John xvii.) and of the creation of all things, is declared to be the glory of God, the display of the Divine perfections (Rev. iv. 11).
Does not such a book, which breathes throughout such a spirit of truth, love, holiness, supreme regard to God's glory; which makes us feel as no other book does, that “ of God, and through God, and to God, are all things" (Rom. xi. 36) does not such a book contain within itself the proof that it is the word of God?
But, that we may be led the more to admire the condescension of God in the abundant evidence he has given us that the Bible is his word, some notice must be taken of
$ v. Miracles and Prophecy.
There are two things especially which man, with the ordinary powers which God has given him, cannot do: : 1. He cannot alter the established course of nature. 2. He cannot certainly know things to come.
I. He cannot alter the established course of nature.
By the course of nature, is meant that course according to which it is observed from experience God usually acts; and which, from its regularity, is called the laws, or established course, of nature.
This course, so established, man of himself cannot alter.
For instance: he cannot feed two millions of people in a wilderness, and that for forty years, by ordering the clouds to drop down a substance which shall be a substitute for bread; and so ordering it, that on a particular day in the week, if they gathered a double quantity, it would not corrupt, whereas on every other day it would. Again ; no man, with the ordinary powers which God has given him, can raise the dead; still less can he raise himself from the dead. When individuals can thus act (and when they do, we call it a miracle), we know that they are endowed with more than human power. The proof of that power being immediately from God is complete, when the miracle is expressly wrought to promote truth, love, holiness, and a supreme regard to God's glory.
But Moses and our blessed Lord wrought such miracles. Moses (who, as the writer of the Pentateuch, laid the foundation-stone of the Old Testament, and who claimed to be the servant of God) fed such a multitude in such a manner; and our blessed Lord (who claimed to be the Son of God, John v. 23, and on whose resurrection the writers of the New Testament laid the chief claim to his being considered so, Rom. i. 4, and therefore to their inspiration, as acting by his authority) raised himself from the dead. Both Moses, as the servant, and our Lord, as the Son of God (Heb. iii, 5, 6), performed many miracles, all expressive of and calculated to promote truth, love, and holiness, forming parts of a plan which was to display in brightest colours the glory of God. (2 Cor. iv. 6.)
Leslie, in his excellent work entitled “ Short Method with the Deists,” has given the four following infallible marks of the reality of a miracle
First, Were the facts open to men's senses ?-i. e, were they of such a nature as that men’s senses can clearly judge of them?
Secondly, Were they public?
Thirdly, Were public monuments kept up, and some outward actions constantly performed, in memory of the fact thus publicly wrought?
Fourthly, Were such monuments set up, and such actions and observances instituted, at the very time when those events took place; and afterwards continued without interruption ?
The first two render it impossible for men at the time to be deceived ; the last two, for deception to be practised in after-ages.
Let the reader apply these to the miracles of Moses and our Lord ; particularly bearing in mind the Passover and the Lord's Supper, both commemorated to this day.
The Miracles of Moses.
There are two considerations connected with the miracles of Moses well worthy of attention.
1. That he could not have any worldly motive for deceiving either himself or others with respect to them.
The attachment of Moses to the people of Israel, on whose behalf he wrought his miracles, had cost him the loss of every thing dear to worldly ambition. In refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (choosing rather to suffer affliction with them,) he had renounced honour, wealth, pleasure: and such was his anxiety and danger, as leader of the Israelites, that nothing short of the fullest conviction of his acting by a Divine authority could have led him to bear the weight of such a charge. Even under the influence of this solemn obligation, there were times when, in the bitterness of his soul, he entreated to be released from his painful pre-eminence. (Numb. xi. 15.)
2. Again ; as Moses had no motive for deception, so was it impossible that those among whom he wrought his miracles could be deceived by them.
Nothing short of the fullest conviction that his miracles were wrought by God, could have induced the Jews to obey Moses. The laws he imposed were very burthensome ; purposely opposed to the dictates of their corrupt nature, and the idolatrous habits they had contracted in Egypt: and (as we might have supposed under the circumstances) they were constantly rebelling against him, shewing a disposition to return to Egypt whenever disasters overtook them (Exod. xiv. 11 ; Numb. xi. 5. xiv. 3. xx. 5). The most formidable conspiracies were raised against him (Numb. xvi.); nor had he any human means, any standing army, any large party on his side, to enforce obedience. (See, Numb. xi. 2, an instance of the sedition of his own brother and sister.) He sometimes stood alone. A most striking instance of this is seen in the eircumstance of his denouncing punishment on the whole nation for murmuring at the report of the spies*. On the very borders of the promised land, and when in a state of rebellion against him, Moses commands them never to attempt to enter Canaan. He declares he will march and counter-march them for forty years in the Wilderness (that waste howling wilderness! see Deut. viii. 15); and that all those then in arms should perish. For forty years he does thus march and counter-march them. Two-and-forty of
* See Graves on the Pentateuch.