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told Jeroboam that a child should be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name, who should defile the altars by buming the bones out of the sepulchres, &c. which was literally fulfilled after 350 years. i Kings, 13:2. 2 Kings, 23 : 16. In like manner, the variety of circumstances foretold in Dan. ch. 9. to be fulfilled within 70 weeks, or 49C years, have all come to pass. But that which is the most remarkable of all the predictions is the minu e description of the dispersion and preservation of our beloved nation; and the numerous predictions concerning the Messiah. The serious and candid consideration of the former has heen the means of convincing infidels of the truth of divine revelation; and the latter has convinced me, and
of our brethren, that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah
97. But I will proceed to notice the reception which the Bible hath met with, both from the bad and the good, as another proof of its divine origin. It is a remarkable fact, that the more self-conceited, worldly-minded, and wicked people are, the more they neglect, despise, and asperse the sacred Scriptures; and, on the contrary, the more humble and holy, the more they read, admire, and value them. What my blessed Lord said of his disciples is equally true of the Bible. If it were of the world, the world would love its own; but because it is not of the world, therefore the world hateth it." No book, however, hath had as many friends as the Bible. Vast numbers of wise and good men, through many generations and distant countries, have agreed in receiving the Bible as a divine revelation; many of them have been noticed for seriousness, erudition, penetration, and impartiality in judging of men and things; living and dying they recommended it to all others, as the source of hope, wisdom, and consolation. - “Reason itself," says a judicious writer, " dictates that Rothing but the plainest matter of fact could induce so many thousands of perse. cuted and prejudiced Jews to embrace the humbling, self
denying doctrine of the cross, which they so much despised and abhorred. Nothing but the clearest evidence, arising from undoubted truth, could make multitudes of lawless, luxurious heathens receive, follow, and transmit to posterity the doctrines and writings of the apostles; especially at a time when the vanity of their pretensions to miracles and the gift of tongues could be so easily discovered, had they been impostors, and when the profession of Christianity exposed persons of all ranks to the greatest contempt and most imminent danger."
§ 8. The next thing which merits our attention is the wonderful efficacy of the Bible. The sacred Scriptures, like godliness itself, are profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, i. e. both temporal and spiritual. " In proportion as the Bible has been known, arts and sciences have been cultivated, peace and liberty have been diffused, civil and moral obligation have been attended to. Nations have 'emerged from ignorance and barbarity; whole communities have been morally reformed; unnatural practices abolished, and wise laws instituted. The spiritual effects of the Scriptures are still more wonderful. They wound and heal, they kill and make alive, they alarm the careless, direct the lost, support the tempted, strengthen the weak, comfort mourners, and nourish pious souls. Kings and peasants, conquerors and philosophers, the wise and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, have been brought to the foot of the cross; yea, millions have been enlightened, improved, reformed, and made happy by its influence.”
89. I shall close this subject by noticing the remarkable antiquity and wonderful preservation of the Scriptures. The Bible is the most ancient book in the world. It is made venerable by antiquity. No human histories extant reach further than the flood of Noah. But the holy Scriptures relate matter of facts that have been from the beginning of the world; yea, they reveal transactions which have taken place in the eternal counsels of Jehovah. The oracles of God, like the Messiah, are the unspeakable gift of God, and the peculiar care of his providence. The Bible has never wanted its enemies to hate and oppose it; and, if possible, to banish it from the face of the earth. But as the children of Israel in Egypt, the more they were oppressed the more they increased and multiplied; so the sacred Scriptures, the more they have been opposed the more they have prevailed. No British and Foreign Bible Society, the mother of innume. rable and useful children, was in existence till the close of the last century, when infidels had publicly and triumphantly declared that, after a few years, no Bible would be found in the world. It is equally certain that the Bible has been preserved in its purity, without being either mutilated or corrupted. God, whose prerogative it is to bring good out of evil, hath overruled the enmity which hath existed between Jews and Christians, to produce this important effect. Whilst our people keep, with amazing care, the Old Testament, full of the prophetic history of Jesus Christ, and by that means afford the world a striking proof that the New Testament is true; the Christians, in their turn, show that the Old Testament is abundantly confirmed and explained by the New. My dear Benjamin, I have now endeavored to lay before you, in as brief a manner as possible, the evidence of the Old and New Testament, which has led me to the conclusion, that, if ever there was a divine revelation, the Bible is such; and the only true revelation now in the world. Oh, how thankful ought we to be to have such an inexhaustible treasure put into our hands! And oh, my brother, how shall we escape if we neglect it?
10. Being now fully convinced by the preceding evidence, that the Old Testament is the word of God, and finding, by strict examination, that the New Testament contained still clearer and stronger evidences of a divine revelation, I found myself compelled to receive it as such, and shall, therefore, make no apology for referring to it, in succeeding letters, for proofs of the Messiahship of Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. And may the Lord “.
open our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of his law.” Ps. 119: 18. Farewell.
ON READING THE SCRIPTURES.
Hoping that your mind is firmly established in the belief of the Bible as a divine revelation, suffer me now to suggest a few thoughts, to enforce the duty of reading it, and to direct in the performance of that duty.
§ 1. Consider the source from whence the Bible comes. It is a communication from God. With what eagerness and pleasure do men peruse the letters of a beloved friend; and shall we not, with still greater pleasure, read the sacred Scriptures, which are a series of letters coming from our best Friend, who has loved us with an infinite, eternal, and unchangeable love? "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:7, 8. It is the character of the good and the blessed man, that his delight is in the law of the Lord, and that he meditates therein day and night. Should a person receive a letter, and on recognizing the author by its signature, refuse to read it, would it not be considered a high insult and contempt? how much greater, then, is the contempt of God, if we neglect to read the Bible! Such was the conduct of Ephraim, of which God complains, saying, “ I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing." Hosea, 8: 12.
2. Reflect, in the next place, on its rich and glorious contents, and
say whether the Bible does not deserve to be read. It is the “ Magna Charta" of heaven, and shall we be ignorant of our charter? Should the information reach a company of persons, that a certain rich man had just died, and that he had left his whole estate to an individual in that company, would it not be the anxious inquiry of every one, “ Is it I ?” and if a sight of the will could be obtained; would any one spare
either expense or trouble to ascertain whether he was the heir ? But the Bible is called a Teslament, as I mentioned in a former letter; it contains the will of the testator, the nature of the inheritance, and the cha: raeters of the heirs of salvation. Ought not we then to "give all diligence to make our calling sure ?'' to find out whether we have been "begotten again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven ?" How eagerly, diligently, and perseveringly do men dig and search into the bowels of the earth for precious metals, such as silver and gold; and shall not we "search the Scriptures,” which contain treasures infinitely greater and better f. Here are brought to light the hidden treasures of divine knowledge, of redeeming love, of pardoning mercy, of sanctifying grace, of consola: tion and support, and of eternal glory beyond the grave, Hence the royal Psalmist and his son Solomon, the wisest of men, although they had but a small portion of the Scriptures, yet valued it as a greater treasure than all the riches of the world; “more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.” Ps. 19 : 10. “ The merchan, dise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” Prov. 3 : 14. " Wisdom is better than rubies." Prov. 8:11.