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and which stand as monuments recording them to this day: when I behold the present state of the Jews, and mark their still obstinate adherence to that very record which has so long and so expressly foretold the state in which I see them I say whenever I contemplate these particulars, I feel overwhelmed with evidence: I say to myself, “ The word of the Lord is tried: a cunningly devised fable will stand no such test.” And I am, by necessity, brought to the following dilemma:-. Either that this record is true; or, that it must be strangely determined, in providence, that the sincere and diligent seeker of truth shall inevitably be deceived.
But I cannot for a moment admit the latter supposition: for I dare not think of God but as holy, just, and good; and as a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. But to suppose that He, who foresees, directs, and governs every event, would concur in the propagation of a plausible lie; that this lie should be attended with strong and various evidences; that it should be so like a ray from heaven, a light shining in a dark place, a balm to the wounded, a direction to the humble inquirer, and a way of holiness to the ungodly— to suppose, I say, that God would permit all this, in full view of its deceiving the seeker of truth, and mocking and disappointing those who desire above all things to serve and glorify Him! verily, such a supposition tends to blasphemy! it supposes the Most Holy to act like a demon! and it implies that infidels and profligates are the only children of light and liberty! Some object to mysteries: but what mystery in the Bible is to be compared with that, which must follow on such a supposition ?
I see, at this day, the very opposers of the Gospel stand among the proofs of it. The vagrant and stumbling Jew—the supercilious Greek- the disputatious Heretic--the sneering Infidel—the loose Professor-all these become involuntary witnesses that the Author of this Book is a searcher of hearts. He has expressly written their history, and accurately drawn their characters, before they were born; and, were not such characters afterwards to appear, the Scriptures would be unintelligible.
I find some simple believers in danger of being overborne by the insolence, with which the men of this world treat the counsel of God, and those who fear him: a blind majority alarms them. They are not aware, also, how plausibly an artful sophist can darken and confound the clearest evidence. For my part, I see only what might naturally be expected. Would it not be strange if these birds of night did not hate the morning ?--if they did not endeavour to shut out its beams ? Was I not one of them? Am I not in their secret? Did I not once speak as they do now? and, do I not know the reason?
“ Whatsoever is received,” says the old maxim, “ will be received according to the nature of the recipient.” He, that feels his guilt and danger, will be ready to say, “ This Gospel is what I needed, but could not have contrived; but, being revealed, it exactly suits my case. Thus the hungry will be filled with good things, while the rich will be sent empty away. This pillar of fire and cloud, which brings light and shade to an Israelite, occasions darkness and destruction to an Egyptian. The Gospel becomes a trial of men's spirits; and, by it, the thoughts of many hearts are revealed. The man, who loathes his dungeon, will gladly take this Lamp, and explore his way to liberty; while another, who loves his bondage, will only dispute or slumber by it.
It is as impossible for me to doubt that light is come into the world, as to doubt that of which I have daily proof, namely, that men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. I plainly see the reason why the Bible is not universally received with joy. How mean a revelation, compared with the Scriptures, would that be, which could teach men how their present propensities might be gratified! and yet a book that could point out this, would soon be translated into all languages, and find its way over the whole earth.
The confined reception of truth is the natural result of the extent of human depravity. I have
a clear conviction, that spiritual Food, Medicine, and durable Riches are freely proposed to a multitude wherever the Gospel comes : but some of them will not so much as hearken to the proposal : some just venture to touch and taste it, as if they suspected it would poison them. I see this continually. And yet while I see this, do I not also see this very same multitude ready to flock round every vile mountebank who solicits their attention? They will not only hearken to his rant, but throw up their shillings for his packets, and swallow them, nothing doubting. Who hath believed our report? complains a prophet: or, in other words, Who will not believe any one-except his true and only infallible Physician?
But, notwithstanding the prevalence of this kingdom of darkness, I see also a kingdom of heaven, not only foretold, but actually set up, in this world. Time, which has swept away in their turn other ancient governments, has, from the days of Abel the righteous to this day, witnessed a righteous and permanent Kingdom established in the hearts of the faithful ;-one, exactly of the same nature, and producing the same holy effects, in whatever age or nation it has been set up. Nothing fundamental has ever been changed in it; and its new form,' under Christ, is but the flower or perfection of the whole dispensation. Even now may we say, Go and tell every serious inquirer, that, in this Kingdom, the morally blind
receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them; and blessed is he who shall not be offended at the Author and the Means. Nor does it need a moment's consideration, to determine whether these moral miracles, wrought on the immortal spirit of man, be not far more important than those physical ones, which were once wrought on his perishing body.
I feel no disposition to stumble at the mysteries of Revelation till I forget myself. He, who ventures beyond his depth, must be drowned. There are some truths in my own affairs, which, however I state them to my children, must
to them strange and incredible: could they be presented to the intellect of a fly, they must appear much more so.
There is, however, some proportion, between the intellect of a man and that of a fly; but no proportion at all, between that which is finite and that which is infinite. In viewing, therefore, the scheme of redemption, I seem like one viewing a vast and complicated machine of exquisite contrivance: what I comprehend of it is wonderful; what I do not, is perhaps more so stiļi.
I have repeated proof, that, in venturing into the presumptuous path of the first Adam, I soon lose myself in disorder and darkness; but, in following the lowly footsteps of the Second Adam, I find the Way, the Truth, and the Life.