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sidering first, God's benevolent conduct towards men to promote their present happiness; the plentiful provision he hath made in nature to supply all our wants in health and in sickness, and his constant care and protection over us. Hence, all nations have not only desired, but also pretended to divine revelations, and have received them on very slender proofs. In the next place, he will be delivered from his fears, when he examines the characters or evidences of that revelation which God has graciously given unto us. This shall be the subject of our next letter.
EVIDENCES OF A DIVINE REVELATION.
§ 1. Since writing to you my last letter, I remembered to have made use of the expression, the "Scriptures of the Old and New Testament." Now it is probable you may be as much at a loss to know the reason why the Scriptures are called a Testament, as I was when first I began to investigate the truth of Christianity. Indeed, there are many other religious expressions used among Christians which a Jew seldom hears, and which even many among Christians themselves use frequently in an improper sense. Thus in your very question you use the expression why I believe in the Christian religion;" as if that was a new religion; or as if, by believing what Christians believe, I must necessarily have departed from the religion which God gave to our fathers. Now I shall have occasion to show hereafter that, strictly speaking, the Christian religion
and the Jewish religion are the same in doctrines, &c. though different in dispensations. The difference of my creed from that of Abraham, Moses, David, &c. consists only in this: they looked for the coming of a promised Messiah I believe that the Messiah hath come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. I shall, therefore, briefly explain all such technical terms as may come in my way, and begin now, by showing the reason why the Scriptures are called the Old and New Testament.
§ 2. The revelation which God gave unto men, and which hath been preserved unto our day, is contained in one book, called, by way of distinction, the "Bible." This Bible is divided into two general parts; the first is called the Old Testament, and comprises the books which our people call Tenach, that is, Torah, the Law, Neviim, the Prophets; uchesarim, the Psalms or Hagiography; and the other part is called the New Testament, containing the Gospels, or history of Christ; the Acts and Epistles of his apostles, and the Revelation to St. John. A Testament supposes a testator who has made known his will, and directed what is to be done after his death; and his will or testament is of no force, until both his death hath taken place, and his will proved to be genuine and true. Such a testator is the Messiah, who, immediately after the fall of Adam, made known the way and method in which sinners were to be saved. The whole of which was comprised in the promise made to our first parents, "that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent," Gen. 3: 15, and was confirmed "typically" by the death of a sacrifice. This promise contained the whole substance and essence of the covenant of grace. All those promises given afterwards, on various occasions, were but explanations and confirmations of it. And though the death of the Messiah did not take place till the fullness of time, yet its efficacy, as the procuring cause of the remission of sins and eternal life, extends back to the entrance of sin, as well as forward to
the end of time. Now all that was written before the birth of Messiah is called Old, and all that was written after his ascension to glory is called New Testament. Such is the reason generally assigned for calling the Bible a testament. Perhaps it would have been more correct to have used the word covenant, instead of testament. Immediately after the fall, the Messiah made known the gracious covenant by which sinners were to be saved. But the covenant required a sacrifice to ratify and confirm it. No other sacrifice was sufficient but that of the Messiah. Sacrifices were then instituted and offered typically, until Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, took away the sin of the world by the sacrifice of himself. But this subject must be stated more fully hereafter.
§ 3. We return to the subject in hand, to ascertain whether the Bible be a divine revelation. This may be done, first, by examining the Bible itself; and secondly, by the character and circumstances of those who professed to have received it from God, and to have written it by his direction and assistance. The former we will call internal, and the latter external evidence.
I have, my dear Benjamin, carefully and prayerfully examined the matter, the style, the harmony, and the design of the Bible, and am perfectly satisfied that they are such as might reasonably be expected from a book sent from God to men. The sacred Scriptures bear the image of their divine Author. As the writings of mere men, in their present state, often partake of their ignorance, errors, and corruption; and as the streams partake of the nature of their fountains, so does the Holy Bible partake of the perfection of its Author, and the purity of its sources. It is the offspring of the "only wise God," and came down from the "Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
§ 4. The more I read the Bible, the more I am led to admire the matter it contains. Here is every thing revealed
that might be expected, and nothing to the contrary. Every thing relative to the character, the law, and the government of God, is described in perfect harmony with the ideas we derive from the light of nature, and the defects of the latter are abundantly supplied in the Bible. Man's original glorious and happy state, his present miserable and helpless condition; the circumstances which produced this awful change, and the remedy provided, able to restore us to felicity far exceeding our primitive estate, are here made known, perfectly consistent with reason, though far above its comprehension. All the doubts and difficulties respecting the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the general judgment, are removed by the light of divine revelation. The providence of God is asserted, and its apparent difficulties are reconciled. The duties which the Bible enjoins, both towards God and man, are a reasonable service, and are accompanied by suitable rewards and punishments. The histories of the Bible are abundantly con firmed by other historians.
§ 5. The Bible further differs from all other books, in its remarkable style. The majesty, the authority, the sublimity, the imagery, &c. of the Holy Scriptures, exceed all that ever hath been admired in the style of mere human composition. The language of the Scriptures is pure and holy, chaste and clear; free from all levity and obscenity, and from every thing that might be offensive to the ear of the chaste and pious. Some things are plain and easy, others hard and difficult to be understood. Some places are so shallow that a "lamb may wade, others so deep that an elephant must swim." Here is milk for babes, and meat for the strong. Here are plain truths to instruct and encourage the humble inquirer; and mysteries to humble and mortify the proud and self-conceited.
6. The harmony of the things revealed in the Bible is another of its peculiar excellencies. The doctrines, though delivered at sundry times, and in divers manners,
yet are all of a piece; not yea and nay, no discord or disagreement. The two Testaments are like the two cherubims over the mercy-seat, which were of one beaten piece, were exactly alike, and looked to one another, and both to the mercy-seat, a type of the Messiah, who is the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The apostles of Christ said no other things than what Moses and the prophets had foretold should come to pass. The end and design for which the Bible was made known, shows it worthy of its divine Author.
§ 7. The Holy Scriptures are able to make men wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. They were given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.' Such was the sentiment of the apostles of Christ, of the design and influence of the Scriptures. Nor did the royal Psalmist set a less value upon them, though he had but a small portion of them. How beautiful and just is his description of the superior excellency and usefulness of divine revelation over the light of nature. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes: the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." Ps. 19 : 7–11. Much more might be said on the internal evidences; but I will close the subject in the words of an eminent writer: "The sacred Scriptures open to us the mysteries of the creation; the nature of God, angels, and man; the immortality of the soul; the end for which he is made; the origin and