Графични страници
PDF файл

establishment of a true religion, or the introduction of a new moral creation among men.

We have supposed an imaginary case. Let us now describe a real one. The world, by wisdom, knew not God. The leading nations had outgrown their pagan creeds, but could not replace them with a higher and purer faith. They were departing farther and farther from truth and duty. Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. New forms of scepticism, or of superstition, were eating into their hearts, yet they were longing madly and vainly for some heavenly light. An obvious crisis or turningpoint had arrived in the history of the world. The nations were expectant. All nature was prepared for the advent of God. It had been predicted in certain ancient books, that at such a time a Redeemer should come, in lowliness and meekness, yet with transcendent wisdom and mighty power, to regenerate souls.

In these circumstances, a personage, claiming the character and function referred to, makes his appearance in the Holy Land. His aspect and manners correspond to the idea of a divine teacher. He speaks on the subject of religion and morals, of life and immortality, as man has never before spoken. His purity is unquestioned, his benevolence expansive and wonderful. He penetrates the secrets of nature, of man, and of

God, as by an intuition, and develops in language of amazing simplicity and force a system of absolute religion and morals. In every respect, he transcends his age, and indeed all ages. Simple and august, gentle, yet severe and commanding, he goes forth to do and to suffer the will of God, supplying not only in his creed, butin his person, a splendid illustration of the power of goodness, infinite and immortal. He performs many wonderful works, and suffers much from the persecution of the ungodly. He predicts his own death, looking forward to it as a great spiritual necessity, with a sublime and mysterious confidence. At last he dies by the hand of the public executioner, praying for his enemies, and exclaiming, “ It is finished!” But previous to this, he had predicted not only his death, but also his resurrection, as the necessary completion of bis career on earth and the crowning proof of his divinity. His disciples, indeed, are incredulous of the fact, and give up all for lost. Their hopes are buried in his tomb. His enemies, aware of his predictions, secure his sepulchre by the government seal and a guard of Roman soldiers. But on the third day the sepulchre is empty; the body of Jesus is gone. He appears, however, to some of his disciples, not once, but again and again, and in circuinstances admitting of no delusion. At first, some of them doubt, but subse

quently obtain ocular, nay, more tangible demonstration of the fact; so that all are entirely satisfied as to the fact of his resurrection. Such, at least, is their testimony- a testimony which they bear before the judicial tribunals and people of the Jews, and which they repeat in all conceive able circumstances to their dying day, in spite, too, of persecution, contumely, and wrong. At last they behold him ascend from the earth; in other words, pass into the spiritual and immortal sphere; in parting, they receive his blessing, filling them with unutterable peace. His spirit of might and love takes possession of their hearts, and they go forth in his name, to found among men a kingdom of righteousness and love.

Here every thing is natural and becoming. The testimony is ample and satisfactory. It is uniform and uncontradicted. The occasion is the most august and thrilling in the history of the world. The result is stupendous and beautiful. Life and immortality are brought to Jight, —

“The gates of paradise Stand open wide on Calvary."

We have spoken of miracles. After all, Christ and his gospel may be represented as but one miracle, the miracle of eternal love, first embodied in Christ, and then embodied among men. He brought heaven to earth ; and it is this which is now struggling for supremacy in the world. The miracle stands before us now, modifying the interior spirit and the historic life of man, transforming individual hearts, and penetrating, as a leaven of regeneration, into the great mass of fallen humanity. God has smitten the rock in the far wilderness, and the streams are flowing yet to refresh the weary millions.



As a system, Christianity had not assumed a complete form till after the resurrection of Christ. Then all things were prepared for its full development and progress in the world. Rejected by the mass of the Jews, it was lodged as a hidden leaven in a few simple hearts, who, all at once, show themselves bold, resolute, resistless, as if inspired, as indeed they were, by a supernatural power. Fifty days after the crucifixion, the apostles began, with a commanding earnestness to which previously they were strangers, to execute the commission of their divine Teacher “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." This they did, first at Jeru

” salem, the very scene of our Savior's degradation, and the last on earth, one would suppose, in which such a commission could be executed with success. But they claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word with lifegiving eloquence. Fearlessly they charged home upon their countrymen the guilt of crucifying the Son of God, "the Lord of glory," at the

« ПредишнаНапред »