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IS CHRISTIANITY FROM GOD ?-WHAT DOES CHRISTIANITY
TEACH ?-WHAT CAN CHRISTIANITY EFFECT?
Is Christianity true? What does Christianity teach? What can Christianity effect? These inquiries, the following record of the closing scenes of the life of a learned and accomplished physician is designed to illustrate. His ardent love of truth, wherever it could be found, and his successful labours to attain it in almost every branch of science, fully entitle him to the epithet—“Philosopher.” After many years of anxious investigation of the claims of the religion revealed in the New Testament, and the most fearless and candid examination of every scheme of scepticism, especially the materialistic, he confessed that the only true philosophy was the reception of the Gospel as
a little child. It was this which,—though he was called away in the very prime of life, in the matured vigour of his faculties, and in the midst of his usefulness, from all that can make this world desirable and dear,-imparted to him that unbroken peace and indescribable joy, in the immediate prospect of dissolution, which gave to those around him the edifying and consoling spectacle of
CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHER TRIUMPHING OVER DEATH.”
Reader! have you ever known the inward battle which doubts and difficulties wage with a secret conviction of the truth ; at one time leading you to the very verge of the dreary regions of scepticism, at another time associating your tenacious grasp of religion with deep distress and painful anxiety? In the following pages may you receive instruction! They contain the testimony of one who could fully sympathize with you, but who was enabled to fight his way from the midst of the conflict, to the peace of victorious faith.
Reader! with perhaps never a doubt of the divine authority of the Bible, have you often doubted your own participation of the blessings which it reveals; and have the thoughts of your guilt, frailty, and temptations, of the wrath of God, of death and eternity, cast a gloom over your spirit, and filled you with sad forebodings? From the following pages may you derive consolation! They contain the testimony of one who, while deeply conscious of his unworthiness in the sight of God, and fully alive to the infinitely momentous consequences of death, found an answer to every doubt, and an antidote to every fear, in the pardoning love of God, manifested in the perfect atonement of Jesus Christ. May the fulfilment of the promise, which he so amply realized, be the happy experience of all who peruse this volume—“Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”
Whatever opinion he held respecting its divine authority and distinguishing doctrines, Christianity itself is unquestionably a great fact in the history of the human race. In its initial form, Judaism, it has existed from the very earliest ages; and in its more complete development, it has been acknowledged in a greater or less degree by the most civilized nations of the earth. Minds of the highest cultivation have bowed before it, and the mightiest intellects have done it homage. The poor have professed that it has made them wealthier than if all the riches of the universe were in their possession; while the broken-hearted have declared, that it has afforded them consolation, when all other sources of comfort were dried up. In connexion with a cordial reception of it, the most extraordinary transformations of character have taken place; and savage tribes, beneath its potent influence, have, with marvellous rapidity, lost their ferocity, and manifested an advanced civilization. Christianity, therefore, is a great fact; and, as such, unquestionably demands from every thoughtful mind a candid examination of its claims. Is it from God? If so, what does it teach ? None can neglect these inquiries as unworthy their attention, and claim for themselves, at the same time, the character of philosophers.
How can satisfaction be obtained in reference to the first of these questions? We may point to prophecies fulfilled, and miracles performed, in connexion with an unimpeachable testimony, and an indisputable chain of historical evidence, and say—Behold the proof! Or we may take up the authoritative standard of the religion, and referring to its elevating sentiments, its pure morality, its benevolent precepts, its adaptation to human wants and human woes; looking at the religion itself, so unlike anything else which man ever devised, so unlikely to have originated with man, we might say—Behold our proof! Or an individual might be selected as an example of its operation-one who had candidly investigated its claims; who had profoundly studied the objections brought against it; whose deliberate conclusion, after such a course of inquiry, was, that it possessed divine authority, and on whose spiritual nature a change was produced by the hearty recertion of its truths, such as he declared no system of human reason, and no influence, less than divine, could have effected, and again we might say-Behold our proof!
Such is the nature of the evidence furnished by the case of Dr. Gordon. And though such evidence may not be regarded as conclusive when taken alone, yet, in connexion with, and in corroboration of other proof, it is a legitimate argument. The actual production of a certain effect must be one of the best evidences that the cause was adequate to its production. The human soul has been so constituted by its Creator, as to require for its complete satisfaction something which Christianity professes to be alone able to supply. Man has, by sin, brought on himself a spiritual disease, and exposed himself to spiritual sorrows and fears, which Christianity professes to be alone able to cure and to remove. In connexion with the satisfying these demands of human nature, it claims to be acknowledged as possessing a divine origin. If those pretensions fail to be verified, that claim must of course be disallowed. But if, while all other appliances are inadequate to supply the deep cravings of the human soul, Christianity is found to be more than sufficient for all its wants, this is surely some argument in favour of its claims.