Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

even opposed the evidence furnished by the miracles of Moses ; till, as the punishment of their obstinacy and opposition, they themselves became so afflicted with the evils which the man of God had brought upon all the people, as to be unable to stand before him. How is this fact to be reconciled with the idea of their being able to work miracles? With such a power at their command, would they have done nothing to save themselves from these afflictive distempers ? or when afflicted with them, to have removed them? If by any process they could have warded off these calamities, or when induced upon them, to have taken them away, they would not have been slow to have made the attempt. But they never pretended to any miraculous power, and these effects were not within the compass of their art.

Another argument in proof of these extraordinary feats being nothing more than enchantment, is derived from the very limited and diminitive scale on which they were performed. They were confined to the court of Pharaoh, and perhaps done in the presence of the sovereign alone. Nor is it to be overlooked, that they were successful only in those instances, in which a deception might easily be practised. Even to this day, the Chinese are said to be able, by mere juggling, to turn rods into serpents; while by a very simple process, water might be made to assume the appearance of blood. But the fact that these things were done in private, that they were not subjected to the senses of the people in general ; that in performing them, the magicians themselves made no appeal to any superior power; that the only end they had in view, was to invalidate the authority of Moses, or rather the authority of Him in whose name Moses acted; and that where their success would have been most signal, they utterly failed, is sufficient to settle the question now under review. And their failure only renders the deeds of Moses more signal and illustrious,-more convincing and demonstrative. No man could have done such things, had not God been with him. Nor were they restricted to one locality, or seen only by a few :—they extended over the land, and were palpable to the senses of all.

Having thus shown that the magicians were indebted to their magic art for what they did effect, it follows that the hypothesis, which admits the presence of Satanic influence, is not for a moment to be entertained. We have indeed no means of determining the extent of power possessed by the devil, neither in what

[ocr errors]

manner nor to what degree he can operate on men, but certain it is, that with him is not “ the fountain of life;" that he cannot communicate life to any creature, even in the very lowest degree, much less call that into being which did not before exist. Either the feats of the magicians were nothing better than the more happy efforts of their profession, by which the senses were deceived, or they must resolve themselves immediately into the power of God. This is the only alternative. Either they were miraculous, or they were mere tricks of designing men.

The decision we leave to the candid and the intelligent.

And yet, in addition to all that we have advanced, we have the inspired and infallible testimony of an apostle against the miraculous character of these performances:-“As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; but their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was. These two men, as we learn from the Jewish Rabbins, whose testimony is confirmed by Pliny and other classical authorities, were magicians at the court of Pharaoh, and opposed their slight of hand to the miracles of Moses. Such conduct, the apostle here asserts, indicated a want of understanding—a species of madness characterised by wickedness,-a folly, pregnant with presumption and impiety. They could not but feel persuaded that Moses acted under the influence of a supernatural, divine power; and, consequently, their opposition was as if they had challenged Omnipotence, and were determined to maintain the contest till the last. But their folly was soon manifested. Not only had they to acknowledge their utter inability to proceed, but in the presence of their sovereign to resolve the miracles of the servant of God into a DIVINE CAUSE : not only tacitly to admit the imposition they had themselves practised, but also the genuineness and reality of what Moses performed.

It is easy for infidelity and scepticism to object to the relations of the Bible, and on apparently plausible grounds to endeavour to invalidate their authority. But let their objections be thoroughly sifted, or let the relations themselves be but fairly examined, with the amount of evidence with which they are accompanied, and it will be found, that the latter can suffer nothing from the former. All such objections are founded either in misconception or misrepresentation, while the histories are confirmed by such a weight

* 2 Timothy iii. 8, 9.

of testimony, as to render their falsehood impossible. The believer in Revelation has nothing to fear from investigation. The more severely that the evidence in favour of the Bible is scrutinized and sifted, the more satisfactory and conclusive must it appear. And however some may scoff and deride the book, with its doctrines and its miracles, this can do the book itself no damage; it can neither disprove its contents, nor impair its evidence. It is the infidel or sceptic, and not the believer, that shall suffer from such a line of conduct. For if the Bible be true, it secures for him whose faith has embraced its great discoveries, all that he can possibly anticipate or desire; but involves the man who disbelieves and rejects it, in misery which neither language can express, nor thought conceive. Such was the conviction of even Byron's mind, with all his deadly enmity to the truth and purity of Revelation, when he wrote, as he has said to have done :

“ Better had they ne'er been born,
Who lead to doubt, or read to scorn !”

The Bible is a book of facts; with these facts are incorporated the most vital doctrines and discoveries; and no one can participate in the promises it contains, the hopes it inspires, or the joys it dispenses, but he who receives it in the simplicity and confidence of faith. And he that believeth shall not be confounded, world without end. It is a peculiarity in his faith, that he has no suspicion of his own principles; no fear that they will fail or prove defective, when brought to the last and most decisive trial. No such apprehensions haunt his spirit; no such reflections sting his conscience. Christianity enables him, not only to overcome the sorrows of life, but also to challenge the horrors of death, and to anticipate another and an eternal state, as a grand reality. But infidelity grows pale at the mere idea of futurity, and when she cannot reason she contemns,-reduces the soul into a finer materialism,-death into an everlasting sleep, and eternity into one vast, bleak, desolate, lifeless waste! Fatal delusion! It is the testimony of nature, reason, and philosophy, as well as of Revelation, that there is an ETERNITY OF BEING ; and it is for those who reject the discoveries of christianity to determine, how otherwise it may be an ETERNITY OF WELL-BEING.

GEOLOGY AND REVELATION.

[Concluded from page 45.]

Tlie time is within the recollection of many now living, when infidel writers were confident in their anticipations that the discoveries of the geologist would ovethrow utterly the system of revealed truth. Brydone, Voltaire, and the French infidels generally exulted in the belief, that a light was beaming from the bowels of the earth, which would confound the advocates of Scripture, and explode utterly the christian revelation. The issue of these high and boastful expectations, is now before us. The investigations of geologists have been prosecuted, as they should have been, with the utmost ardour. Every accessible point, whether of mountain height, or of ocean depth, of mine or cavern, of island, shore, or volcanic steep, has been explored; and the conclusions of all respectable geologists, are now decidedly in favour of christianity. The more distinguished geologists, both of our own country and of Europe, are professed christians. Several of them are christian ministers. Instances might be mentioned, in which geological investigations have served to remove doubts, in regard to the divine authority of our sacred books, and confirm the unsettled faith of the sceptical inquirer. And why should they not? The coincidences which we have traced between the teachings of geology and those of revelation, are sufficient to convince any one, that the consistent geologist must be a christian ;---that the unbelieving and undevout geologist is mad.

The disappointment of infidels, in regard to the results of geological inquiry, is not a solitary one. A great many of like nature have been inflicted on them, in the progress of investigation on other subjects. A few of these it may not be inappropriate very cursorily to notice.

Within less than a century, it has been confidently pretended, that human beings are of different races. They are not all the descendants of a common father. God hath not “ made of one blood all the nations of men, that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” The representations of the Bible on this subject are false. 66 None but a blind man,” says Voltaire, doubt that the whites, the negroes, the Hottentots, Laplanders, Chinese, and American Indians, are distinct races.” This assertion of the sage of Ferney, like most of his other impious assertions, was echoed and re-echoed by his numerous satellites. But in the present stage of scientific inquiry, in regard to the natural history of our race, the man who should utter such a sentiment would be scouted. It has been satisfactorily ascertained, after the most careful metaphysical and anatomical research, that the human family are unquestionably a single family, and that the declarations of Scripture on this subject are true.

It has been pretended, within the last century, that the different languages spoken on the earth, are so immensely numerous and widely distinct, as to give the lie to the account in Genesis, as to the confusion of tongues. This subject has been investigated anew, and investigated with

60

can

great care and labour. The result will be presented in the language of a learned archæologist of the present day. After having expressed the opinion, that the radically distinct languages spoken on the face of the earth are few, Dr. Wiseman adds, “ We are driven to the conclusion that, on the one hand, these languages must have been primarily united in one, whence they drew the common elements essential to them all; and on the other, that the separation between them, which destroyed no less important resemblances, could not have been caused by any gradual departure, or individual development, but must have been occasioned by some violent, unusual, and active force, sufficient alone to reconcile these conflicting appearances, and to account both for the resemblances and the differences.” Such is the conclusion of mere scientific research, in regard to the different languages of men. It must be evident, at a glance, how exactly it accords with the representation given in the Bible.

Within the last two hundred years, the friends of revelation have been often assailed with the pretensions of some of the nations of the East to a prodigious antiquity. The Chinese and Japanese, the Egyptians and Hindoos, we have been told, possess unquestionable historical records, and astronomical observations, which carry back their origin to thousands and perhaps millions of years previous to the Mosaic account of the creation of man. The taunts and sneers, the boastings and exultations of infidel writers and talkers on this subject, have been loud, and confident, and long. But with persons of information, of whatever religious sentiments, they have come to a final end now. The whole matter has been investigated; and the result is, that after every allowance which can reasonably be made, the Chinese, Japanese, and Hindoos have no claims to an antiquity higher than the days of Abraham. Egypt was settled at a very early period ; but there are no traces of Egyptian history until about two centuries after the deluge. It would be impossible here to go into particulars on the interesting subject of antiquities; and yet there are a few incidents too amusing and instructive to be altogether passed over.

Less than fifty years ago, an Egyptian relic, called the zodiac of Dendera, was transported into France. It was covered with unintelligible figures and hieroglyphics, and was declared by the infidel savans, to be of a very remote antiquity. They did not doubt that it had existed long anterior to the Mosaic account of the deluge, or even of the creation. But at length the hieroglyphics are deciphered, and the hand-writing on the zodiac of Dendera is read ; when it appears,

that it dates back only to the time of the Roman emperors, somewhat later than the commencement of the christian era !

In the last century, there was a Hindoo work, strongly resembling in many points the christian Scriptures, translated from the Sanscrit, and published. It was called, the Ezour Veda. Voltaire pounced upon it at once, declared it a work of great antiquity, and had no doubt that the leading facts of the New Testament were borrowed from it. What then is the history of the Ezour Veda ? The matter has been fully investigated, so that there is no longer any doubt or uncertainty respecting

« VorigeDoorgaan »