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Gentiles. Then comes the query, why not others, as well as Paul? Can we suppose he was the only one that persecuted the church ignorantly through unbelief? He is the only converted persecutor of this description, that has ever come to our knowledge; and yet we believe the account. Nor do we dispute, but others, like him, may have been converted, the news of which have never reached us.
To weaken the force of this passage, it is sometimes observed, these ideas are like the Papists. Respecting the truth of this remark, I am not now able exactly to determine. Not acquainted with their ideas on this particular subject, I am not able to tell how near it is like, nor how much it is unlike; but I conclude there is a difference. Whether there be a difference or not,* is not a subject of anxious concern. A truth should not be denied because a corrupted church holds it, any more than an error is made valuable because
*Mr. Winchester says, "The Romish purgatory is only intended for the better sort of their own members, who do not die under the guilt of any mortal sin; but all others are condemned to hell, from whence they declare there never was one delivered, nor never will be to all eternity, or so long as God exists. And as for those spirits in prison mentioned by St. Peter, they suppose them to be the spirits of the righteous which were kept in Limbo, until the coming of Christ to preach to them, and release them, which false notion is expressly contrary to the very words of the Apostle, for he declares that those to whom Christ preached, were the spirits of those who were disobedient in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing. Thus it may be easily made to appear that both the exposition of this passage, and the general doctrine which I would deduce therefrom, are entirely opposite to the decisions of the Church of Rome," See Lectures, Vol. 2, page 371.
it is popular. The testimony of scripture speaks its own language; and those that would be instructed by it, should hearken to its voice. Should we admit curious and ingenious questions to weaken the plain import of scriptural declaration, we shall find revelation to be but a very scanty source of intelligence. Care should be taken not to sell truth for error, however plausibly communicated. "Prove all things," says an apostle : "hold fast that which is good."
1 IF God our heav'nly Father be,
2 Would ever Christ the lost regard
3 To say there's nothing good in man,
4 But since he came the lost to save,
It proves they must some value have,
5 Now let our souls our Maker praise
Delivered August 21.1
ON THE EVIDENCES OF CHRIST'S RESUR-'
ST. JOHN Xx. 29.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast helieved: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
THE doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus may be considered the strength of the christian faith. If proved true, revelation and christianity cannot fall; if false, no friendly hand can support it. A subject, therefore, of greater concern and more interesting importance, can no where be found, than the one which is now the subject of our contemplation.
This doctrine as a matter of faith is addressed to our consciences or reasoning powers, first, through the medium of external testimony by those, who by their sensitive · faculties, were eye and ear witnesses: and, secondly, by an internal testimony, arising from experience in the fruits of that faith in the doctrine, which teaches its propriety, con»
gruity, and benevolence. The resurrection of Jesus is not to us an object of sight, but a subject of faith. We are, therefore, dependent for its truth, on the honesty and skill of faithful witnesses; and as these witnesses live not in our age, we are again dependent on the genuineness and faithful transmitting: of the histories that contain the account which those witnesses testified. These considerations open to us, that it is needful, in the pursuance of this subject, to consider the following statements:
1st. Many circumstances render it evident, that our histories of this event are substantially correct, and were written in the apostolic age.
2d. The resurrection of Jesus was of such a nature, that the original witnesses were able to judge whether it was true or false.
3d. There was a sufficient number to authenticate the relation.
4th. In relating the resurrection they either exercised the part of enthusiasts or impostors ; or else they were true and honest men.
Respecting the first of these statements, let us first attend to the manner in which the Evangelists would have us understand, they give the histo y of Christ. St. Luke informs us in his fisrt chapter, 1st, 2d, and 3d verses, in the following manner; "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order: a declaration of those things which are most. surely believed among us, even as they de
livered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had . perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus." We find, St. Luke here does not state, that an infallible inspiration dictated the language of his history, but he wrote as one, "having had perfect understanding from the very first," as the transactions were delivered by those "which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word." No person can reasonably suppose this account of the Evangelist's incredible; for he pretends to nothing remarkable or unusual, respecting his receiving the history, and writing it; yet he assures us as one that is interested in what he wrote, that he was acquainted with his subject.
St. John says; "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands haye handled, of the word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us ;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may: have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” 4 John i. 1, 2, 3. This testi- mony of St. John's well accords with St...