« PreviousContinue »
the same time guilty of a detestable fraud, | printed and circulated among the operaand were imposing upon those who should live classes of society, and they have read their writings the idea that this mo- been taught to regard it in that light, that rality had come from God, when they the Bible is the most immoral book in gathered it we know not where. the world. And the way in which it is
You may be ready to say, “ Yes, these proved is this: they cite the different good men might have a consciousness texts which contain accounts of grossly that they were under divine influence, immoral actions, and then they say, “See but how are we to know it? We cannot what an immoral book the Bible is !" see them; we cannot enter into their because it records these immoral actions. state of mind; and therefore, though But the question is, Could the Scriptures they have stated that their writings are have given a faithful portraiture of human the word of God, how shall we attest to nature without having recorded such acour own satisfaction that such was the tions? Do you say that the mirror is case?" Now, friends, our text supplies impure and false, because it faithfully us not only with the high authority of exhibits the distorted features and the these books, but
crooked frame of some unhappy cripple 2dly. With their inherent sanctity: for who may gaze upon it? The mirror is the text says, “ 'The words of the Lord pure, the glass is true, but the object reare pure words.” They possess an in- flected happens to be ugly and deformed ; herent worth ; and it has justly been said and thus the deformity is not in the glass, that every word of God is pure—that as but in the subject of which it treats. metals are made free from the alloy by Now let me entreat you to remember the action of fire, so the Scriptures are that the slander to which I have referred free from all insincerity, all error, all de- is put down at once by asking the quesceit, all defilement. And, my friends, I tion, In what style are these acts record. may appeal to you. Are not all their ed, and for what purpose are they writrequirements just ?—are not all their pre- ten ? Are these unholy transactions that cepts holy ?-are not all their statements are recorded in this book written in a reasonable? May we not say that the flowing, ample, descriptive style—in the Scriptures are indeed "holy, just, and style of a Scott or a Byron, with finely good ?" And when we remember that, enriched and glowing terms, to impress from the last book of Moses to the last the facts upon the imagination, and to book of John, a period of fifteen hundred make them lay hold of the feelings of the years rolled on-so that from the time heart? Are they not detailed in plain, that Moses laid down his pen, to the time short sentences—things called by their that John laid down his pen, fifteen hun- right names—and so called and stated dred years had elapsed—that they were that the reader, instead of loving the written in different countries, under dif- thing, hates it? Oh! if a man sit down ferent circumstances, in different lan- to write a book which is to contain narguages; and yet, now that the writings ratives of depravity, and these are to be are brought together in one book, if you wrought up till they are made palatable compare spiritual things with spiritual to our corrupt nature, it is one thing; but things, studying one book with another, if a man describe the depravity of human you will find such harmony of sentiment, nature to deter men from practising that such a blessed and luminous harmony of depravity, it is another; and let any man doctrine, and of precept, and of promise, look at the word of God, and see whether as must show you that there is no alloy those records are not intended to make here of error, no alloy here of insincerity, such as peruse them, not in love with no alloy here of ungodliness.
vice, but with virtue, and not to practise But I know, friends, it has been de- iniquity, but to aspire to holiness. We clared by some unblushing infidels, in may appeal to the fact, to prove the purity this city, that the Bible is the most im- of the sacred volume—that those who moral book in the world. It has been have studied it most, those who are most
familiar with it, the most completely | punishments—the pardon of sin by a under its influence, are the very class of Mediator—the means of grace by which society whom we find most to exemplify our fallen nature may be restored to recall the social and public virtues; and to titude and holiness. These are things such an appeal there can be no contradic- about which natural religion has never tion.
been able to supply us with satisfactory Oh, my friends! our modern infidels information. Philosophers may speak of are not so candid as those who lived in godliness, and speak of what man's duty the eighteenth century. Rousseau could is; but, as we have often had occasion say, “ I will confess that the majesty of to observe, they are like individuals who the Scriptures strikes me with admira- turn their backs on the rising sun, and tion, as the purity of the gospel hath its say, “See what a light our philosophy influence on my heart. Peruse the works gives !" whereas all the light spread on of our philosophers, with all their pomp the landscape is borrowed from the luof diction; how mean, how contempti, minary on which they have turned their ble are they, compared with the Scrip- backs. But natural religion never was tures! Is it possible that a book at once able to teach man, with certainty, that so simple and sublime should be merely there was a future state of rewards and puthe work of man ?" Oh, that he had nishments; natural religion never taught been enabled to answer the inquiry to the man that he might expect, with certainty, saving of his soul!
the pardon of sin through a Mediator; naHaving thus noticed the high authority tural religion never taught man that there and inherent purity of the Scriptures, I were spiritual influences with God by would notice,
which he could restore to rectitude and 3dly. Their intrinsic worth: for our holiness our fallen nature. If you feel text says, “ The words of the Lord are the stirrings of immortality within youpure words: as silver tried in a furnace if you be led to ask yourself, What is to of earth, purified seven times.” The late become of me when my body dies and celebrated Bishop Horsley read the pas- spirit departs ?—who can answer that sage thus :–The words of Jehovah are question but he who believes the Bible ? pure words, silver essayed in a cruci. When you feel that you are a sinner beble of earth, gold purified seven times." fore God, and ask yourselves, How can Thus the Scriptures are compared to the your sins be forgiven ?—who can answer finest silver and gold; and this opinion that question but he who believes in the of their intrinsic worth has been enter- Bible? When you feel teinptations wartained by some of the most distinguished ring against your characters, and against servants of God. David says concerning your interests, and against your souls, the Scriptures, “ More to be desired are and you ask, How can we be delivered they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: from the power of temptation ?-who can sweeter also than honey, and the honey- answer that question but one who believes comb." And in the one hundred and in the Bible? And those who read, nineteenth psalm, and seventy-second mark, learn, and inwardly digest the verse, we find him saying, “The law of truths of the Bible, are those who can thy mouth is better unto me than thou- answer these questions to the joy and sands of gold and silver."
rejoicing of your heart. Now, why do we see the sacred writ Now, I hope I have shown some reaings spoken of as being as precious even sons for asserting the high authority, and as gold and silver ? Because they speak the inherent sanctity, and the intrinsic of God in a way most reasonable, and worth, of the sacred Scriptures; and I they describe the state of man in harmony proceed to notice, with our own experience of its truth. II. THE STRIKING ILLUSTRATIONS OF They speak of religion in a way that sa- THE tisfies man upon the most anxious ques. WHICH
6 The tions - a future state of rewards and words of the Lord are pure words : as
SCRUTINY THEY HAVE ENDURED
OUR TEXT SUPPLIES,
silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified | made for their use. Thus two hundred seven times.”
and eighty-seven years before our Lord Here you perceive that there is a refer- and Saviour came into the world the Old ence to the searching process of a refiner, Testament was translated into Greek ; by which the presence of an alloy of cop- and what is called by the learned the per, or any other metal, is detected in Septuagint—that is, the translation made the gold or silver; and all the copper, or by the seventy, which is a Greek translead, or any other baser metal, is searched lation-existed between two and three out and extracted from the pure ore. hundred years before our Lord appeared And as the precious metals are thus on earth. Now, this book is extant to searched by the action of fire, and the art the present day; it is to be found in all of the refiner, so the word of God has the libraries of the learned throughout been searched. For allow me to say that Europe; and this historical fact at least though you may hear those who declaim shows that the Old Testament existed against the Bible say that it is the book nearly three hundred years before Jesus of priests—and people have been led by Christ came into our world. But, then, priestcraft all their days, and take the in reference to the five books of Moses, Bible because they are told it is a good there happens to be other proof. The book-yet I will show you, before I close five books of Moses, or what we call the these remarks, that the word of God has Pentateuch, were translated, or rather expassed under a scrutiny like that of fire, isted, in what is called the Samaritan, and that it has come forth as gold seven which is supposed to be the original times purified. And this part of the sub- Hebrew tongue. When Judah and Israel ject will lead me to talk on matters separated, in the reign of Rehoboam, the which are not ordinarily introduced into Israelites went to Samaria, and took with pulpit discussion, but which are interest- them what they call the Samaritan Pening and valuable, because they inform tateuch, while the tribe of Judah kept the the minds of those who are inquiring book also. By their going into Babylon upon such topics. Now, I will say, the character was altered; but the Sama
1st. The sacred writings have been the ritans kept their Pentateuch in its origisubject of scrutiny and investigation. nal state. Thus you perceive that there There have been men in this city who have been two distinct copies of the Pen. have possessed impudence enough-I do tateuch ; and as the Samaritans on the not qualify the term—to stand up before one hand, and the Jews on the other, an audience of the inhabitants of London, were very bitter the one against the other, and assert that the Bible was a book ma- and the Jews had no dealings with the nufactured by priests in the rk ages, Samaritans, it was like two angry clients, and at some time—they know not ex- each of whom was keeping the counteractly the name, the date, or the place— part of a bond, the one not allowing the but at some period this book was intro- other to have any thing to do with it ; duced into circulation, and imposed upon and, when both these documents come the public.
into court, they are found to agree with a Now, it is very providential for the harmony which proves their value and Christian cause that there is abundant truth. When we come to compare the evidence to put this down. In the first Pentateuch of the Samaritans with the place, it is known by profane history that five books of Moses which the Jews posthere was such a man as Alexander the sess, the variations are unimportant; and Great, who built the city of Alexandria the one thus confirms the other in the in Egypt, and who was anxious to en- most interesting way. And there hapcourage the learning of the known world. pened to live such a man as Josephus, He was anxious that the Jews who dwelt who was a very learned Jew. This Join Alexandria, as well as the Greeks, and sephus was acquainted with the Roman who spoke the Greek language, should emperor Titus Vespasian, and wrote, for have a translation of the Old Testament the use of the Romans, a history of his
own country in Greek. In this work were so unimportant as scarcely to affect there is a catalogue of the books which the sense. This shows that the word of the Jews regarded to be sacred books; God has been tried, as silver tried in a and there we have the list of those books furnace of earth, so far as the Old Testathat are found in the Old Testament. ment is concerned, and nothing faulty has The list was circulated in this book been found in it. within eighty years of the Lord's death, Then let us look at the New Testa. and circulated, as far as manuscripts ment. How do I know that the books could be circulated, throughout the Ro- of the New Testament have existed from man empire. Hence the Old Testament the time they profess? Why it happens, evidently is not a book of yesterday. as I have said, very providentially, that The Jews have been scattered all over there are writings called the writings of the world during the last eighteen hun- the Christian fathers, writings both in dred
you have only to step to Greek and Latin, which exist to the prethe neighbouring synagogue, and ask the sent day, and which were composed by chief rabbi how long the parchments and pastors and bishops of churches at a very documents they have have existed, and early period, in which they quote the he will laugh to scorn the foolish quib. New Testament, both the gospels and blings of those who desire to invalidate epistles; so that those who have read the antiquity of the Old Testament. and consulted the Greek and Latin faThese facts condemn them.
thers have declared that the whole body After the Christian religion was esta of the gospels and epistles might be gablished, the Old Testament became the thered from them, if the New Testament property of the Christians as well as the were to be destroyed. Now it is most Jews. Now you know that the Chris- important to think that there is so much tians and the Jews did not agree, and of the Scriptures mixed up with the writ. consequently there was a mutual jealousy ings of those great men who wrote in the between them—just as I have shown you second, third, and fourth centuries that existed between the Jews and the Sama- there is to be found imbodied in their ritans. In consequence of this jealousy writings, as insects in amber, preserved the Christian doctors locked sharply after from age to age, the substance of thie the Jewish rabbies, that they did not New Testanient. This might be said in alter the text; and the Jewish rabbies reference to more recently published looked sharply after the Christian doc- works. If all the puritan and noncontors, that they did not alter the text; be- formist works that were ever written cause, if the Jewish rabbies had altered were collated, I have no doubt that you the prophecies respecting Christ, the might gather out of them a large portion Christians would have said, “ You are of the New Testament. As they intercorrupting God's word, to show that the wove a large part of the New Testameni, Messiah has not come;" and if, on the so these fathers did the same; and thus other hand, the Christian doctors had we see that the writings must have esbeen meddling with the text, to make it isted at that time, or else they could not appear that the advent of Christ had have been quoted. Then there are things taken place, the Jews would have said, which are called ancient versions, that is, “ You have altered the text-it is not so in translations of the New Testament made our books.” Thus you see that, by the at a very early period. There was the mutual jealousies of Jews and Christians, Syriac translation, made in the second the Old Testament Scriptures have been century; then the Coptic, supposed to be preserved to the present time in an un- made in the third or fourth century; then corrupted state; so that, when efforts there is the Armenian, which is supwere made, a few years ago, to get a posed to have been made about the same new edition of the Hebrew Scriptures, time. Now these are so many proofs eleven hundred and fifty Jewish manu- that the word of God has been preserved scripts were compared, and the variations | as a genuine document; and, when you
think of that fact, you have a clear proof | not inconsistent with our theories of the that it is not a forgery. And, my dear earth. There are, indeed, many physifriends, I cannot resist the feeling which cal considerations which render it probaat this moment comes over me, to remind ble that the motions of the earth may have you that in this very place there preach- been slower during the time of its formaed, for many years, that man who, under tion, than after it was formed, and, conGod, was made the instrument of settling sequently, that the day, or period between this question, by his most laborious re- morning and evening, may have been insearches -I mean the venerable Dr. definitely longer than it is at present. Lardner, whose writings contain a store- If such a hypothesis is at all admissible, house of evidence in favour of the credi- it will go far in supporting the opinion bility and genuineness of the Christian which has long been maintained on this Scriptures.
subject, by many of the ablest and most But there is another order of scrutiny learned Scripture critics. The deluge, through which the sacred Scriptures have one of the grandest natural events depassed ; and that is,
scribed in the Bible, is equally confirmed, 2dly. Antiquarian and scientific research. with regard to its extent and the period The Bible, as you know, contains much of its occurrence, by a careful study of that relates to the creation of the world, the various phenomena observed on and and the changes which have passed upon near the earth's surface. The age of the our globe; and there are multitudes of human race, also a most important inindividuals who have affected to be very quiry, is satisfactorily determined by an profound on these matters, and have sup- appeal to natural appearances; and the posed that they have found, by the dis- pretended great antiquity of some nations, coveries of science, that the books of so much insisted on by certain philosoMoses were only old wives' fables, and phers, is thereby shown to be entirely deserved no credit. I am anxious, there- unfounded.” These are the opinions of fore, to quote to you the words of an a distinguished naturalist, occupying a eminent scientific gentleman - I mean professor's chair in Edinburgh, and editProfessor Jameson, of Edinburgh. He ing one of the works of one of the most is not a clergyman, but a layman. He distinguished naturalists in Europe, who undertook the editing of an edition of is recently dead. Here is the scrutiny Cuvier's Theory of the Earth ; and he of God's word—a scrutiny of science, makes these remarks in the preface, on and science doing homage to the testithe subject of the scriptural account of mony of revelation. the creation :- " Although the Mosaic And so we may say, not only in referaccount of the creation of the world is an ence to scientific pursuits, such as geoloinspired writing, and consequently rests gy, but in respect to geography, and the on evidence independent of human ob- customs of the East. The Bible deservation and experience, still it is inte- scribes many of the usages and customs resting, and in many respects important, which have existed among the people to know that it coincides with the various where the book was written. Now, our phenomena observable in the mineral countrymen, and other Europeans, have kingdom. The structure of the earthi, visited those countries, they have exand the mode of distribution of extrane-plored those regions; and we have some ous fossils or petrifactions, are so many of the most respectable testimonies—the direct evidences of the truth of the Scrip- testimonies of laymen, and some of them ture account of the formation of the earth ; not believers in revelation-who have and they might be used as proofs of its declared that they found the Bible, espeauthor having been inspired, because the cially the New Testament, the best guide mineralogical facts discovered by modern to Palestine; and that, by the statements naturalists were unknown to the sacred therein contained, they found better dihistorian. Even the periods of time, the rections than they derived from any other six days of the Mosaic description, are source. And so we may speak in refer