Imatges de pÓgina
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their Master.

But we do not

find that the apostle ever considers either his own situation or that of others to be on this account worse on the whole, than that of other men. They had the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, as well as joy unspeakable and full of glory. As divine consolations are usually apportioned to the day and the occasion, it is not to be doubted but they usually possessed enjoyments, which rendered their present situation more comfortable than that of their persecu tors, or than that of any one, who is a stranger to the peace and pleasantness of wisdom's ways.

It is, therefore, still necessary to search for a different meaning of the passage; and by comparing it with the preceding verses, and with the scope of the apostle's argument, which was to prove the doctrine of the resur

Christian sometimes has in the contemplation of the perfections of God, not only these, but many other considerations might be mentioned to show that godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. While on the other hand, the vanity which providence has stamped on all worldly enjoyments; the lashes of an accusing conscience, sufferings from the prevalence of malignant passions, connected with the misery and distress, and even contempt from the world itself, which is frequently the consequence of vice; painful fears lest those principles of religion should eventually prove true, which none has ever been able to demonstrate to be false; all these things combine to show, that the way of transgressors is hard, even should there be no hereafter. We cannot therefore suppose that the apostle as-rection, the words are not only serts religion to be disadvantageous on the whole, even in this life. Nor will it come up to the full extent of the meaning of the passage, to limit it to the apostles and primitive Christians, as if it asserted that they, who were so severely harassed and persecuted were, as it respected their situation and enjoyments in this world, more miserable than other men. It must be allowed that if we confine our views to temporal things alone, we shall find that Christ's apostles and the primitive preachers of the gospel were exposed to many and grievous sufferings. They were liable to be killed all the day long, and were ever accounted as sheep for the slaughter; and many of them actually lost their lives for their adherence to the cause of

easily understood, but the argument is also forcible and conclusive in favour of the apostle's doctrine. By attending particularly to the chapter we observe, that the great argument by which the apostle proves the resurrection of the dead, is the resurrection of Christ. This fundamental article of the Christian faith he had before informed us was attested by a large number of unexceptionable witnesses, to whom he had appeared, at different times, after his resurrection. But if the dead rise not, then all this story about the resurrection of Christ, which is pretended to be proved by so many witnesses, is a mere fabrication, and he is not risen. But if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain, Yea,

and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God, that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised. And if Christ be not raised your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If then these things are so, if that gospel which we have been preaching to you is a fable, and that future state, which we have been leading you to expect, nothing better than a dream, and we are in reality nothing but false witnesses, then it follows that, as we can promise ourselves no temporal rewards for our deception, but on the other hand, are every day exposed to the most cruel sufferings, and as these sufferings can be alleviated by no inward peace of mind, or consciousness, that we are suffering in a good cause, while we are persisting in the publication of a deliberate falsehood, we must be of all men tl:e most miserable in this life; and if there is an hereafter, as we can promise ourselves no future reward, but have reason to expect the punishment of the vilest impostors for endeavouring to impose such an infamous lie upon mankind, therefore we must be, on the whole, of all men the most miserable.

In this view of the subject the text is plain, and the apostle's argument forcible, not only in favour of the precise point which he undertook to illustrate, viz. the certainty of a resurrection, but also in favour of the truth of the Christian system in general; for no man in his right mind will engage in any important, ardu

ous, or dangerous undertaking, much less persist in it until death, without some adequate motive, such as wealth, honour or fame here, or the prospect of future and eternal rewards in a better world. But as the apostles had no encouragement to expect temporal rewards, so, if what they published concerning Christ was a fable, they could neither derive any present, internal peace of mind from their proceedings, to console them in their sufferings, nor hope for any future reward. Unless, therefore, we suppose the apostles voluntarily to embrace present pain without any motive, or any other prospect than eternal misery; if they believed a future state at all, the testimony they gave could not be considered as a cunningly devised fable.

The apostles undoubtedly knew whether the facts which they published, as such, were true or not. They knew whether there was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth; whether they lived and conversed with him, and received his instructions, and were commissioned, as his disciples. They knew whether the doctrines they published as his, were really his doctrines. They knew all the circumstances which took place concerning his death and sufferings, consequently whether what they published was true or false. They knew whether the mira-, cles said to be wrought by him were really wrought or not. They knew whether what they asserted concerning his resurrection was true or false, as whether they saw and conversed with him freely, and whether they ate and drank with him after his resur

rection; and they knew whether they themselves were enabled to speak with tongues and work miracles in his name. Many of the facts related were of a public nature. Christ's preaching, miracles, sufferings, death, &c. were all facts of public notoriety. The accounts of these facts, which are now on record, were published in the same age, and in the same place in which the transactions were alleged to have taken place. They were of such a nature that they might have been easily disproved had they not been true.

Others, not strictly of a public nature, must have been perfectly known to the apostles. This was the case of the resurrection. He shewed himself alive by many infallible signs and proofs to all the disciples in a body, to numbers of them at different times, and to above five hundred brethren at once. The fact was obvious to their senses. They not only saw and conversed with him, but did eat and drink with him, and even proceeded to handle him to satisfy themselves that it was a real body and no apparition. They were not disposed credulously to admit the fact, but examined it with the most critical exactness; and in their manner of relating these facts, there is every indication of plain sense, and sound understanding, without any symptoms of an overheated imagination, or of their being under the influence of enthusiastic impulses, without any pomp of words or affected eloquence, but in a style plain, simple, unaffected and dispassionate, the argument of a composed spirit, an evidence irresistible, that they could not be deceived. As therefore the

apostles could not be deceived in their knowledge of the fact of Christ's resurrection, which they related; so, that they should in such a resolute and undaunted manner, engage in the cause of an impostor, knowing him to be such; one who had not only deceived others, but had also deceived them; that they should persevere in asserting a known falsehood even unto death, knowing that they should thereby incur the hatred of their own nation, that bonds and imprison. ments would await them in every city, and that they would probably suffer not only violent, but the most painful and ignor minious deaths, without one consoling reflection, without the least self approbation, and without a single ray of hope, derived from the contemplation of futurity; with no other prospect before them but the gloomy alternative of annihilation at death, or everlasting misery; this would indeed be to make them of all men the most miserable.

Thus the apostle's argument is not only of peculiar force to establish the doctrine of the resurrection, but also places the truth of Christianity itself upon an immoveable basis. The Christian religion is either true and of divine authority, or it is a forgery invented by men actuated by the vilest motives, and aiming at the worst of purposes. Indeed no other motive can be given for the forgery, than the most disinterested malevolence, even something in direct opposi tion to all the motives, which ever have been found to influence the conduct of either good or bad men. But to suppose that the best and most benevo

lent system of religion, which the world ever beheld, a system to the excellency of which its enemies have often subscribed, a system so well calculated to advance the glory of God, and promote the temporal and eternal happiness of men, should be a cunning fable, invented by such men for such purposes, with no other prospect before them but that of rendering themselves of all men the most miserable, is such an extravagant hypothesis, as could enter into the mind of no man, unless of one who, disbelieving his Bible, was condemned by the just judgment of God to believe every thing else, however absurd and ridiculous. Great is the truth and will prevail.

T.

The following Letter is from a respectable Layman in one of the Middle States, to his friend in Massachusetts, dated Oct. 28,

1807. DEAR SIR,

KNOWING your situation in the church, and the opposition too successfully made by many able men in the Eastern States, against the precious doctrines of the gospel, I am led to take the freedom of communicating to you, the late republication of a small 12mo. volume of about 150 pages in Philadelphia, written by Greenville Sharp, Esq. of London, which, in my opinion, is a great acquisition to the Christian world. You perhaps have seen it, and if so, this letter, though vain, as to you, will yet show my desire of disseminating the knowledge of this important, little work.

It contains remarks on the use of the definite article in the

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Greek text of the New Testament, and I think is one of the most valuable additions in support of the important doctrine of the divinity of Christ, that has appeared for many years.

He establishes six important rules of construction, which, though heretofore often hinted at by former divines, yet have never been SO completely brought, to a point, and applied so effectually to this essential doctrine, as by Mr. Sharp. Added to this, is the substance of Six Letters, addressed to the author by a very able hand, (the learned and Rev. C. Wordsworth) proving the truth of the conclusions from the writings of the fathers, and even from those of the Arians and other opposers of this doctrine, as early as the 4th and 5th centuries.

The first rule is of the most importance: "That when two personal nouns of the same case are connected by the copulative xal, if the former has the definite article, and the latter has not, they both relate to the same person." I would willingly give you an abstract of this useful work, were I assured that you had not seen it. But at all events the substance of the review of it, in the Orthodox Churchman's Magazine and Review for February, 1803, cannot be disagreeable. It follows:

"The principal object of Mr. Sharp is to deduce from the New Testament, an important rule, with regard to the structure of the Greek language, and afterwards to apply that rule to the correction of the translation of several passages in our established English version of the scriptures; which passages will

be found, when rendered according to Mr. Sharp's ideas, to contain the most express testimonies to the divinity of our Saviour. The rule in question is as above stated. A large collection of passages from the New Testament is here exhibited to afford sufficient and satisfactory instances of the rule thus laid down. The texts referred to by Mr. Sharp, and which bring with them, according to his system, the very important doctrinal conclusions, which we have briefly mentioned, are the following Acts xx. 28. (if we follow the reading, Tov Orov xai Kugiov.) Ephesians v. 5. 2 Thes. i. 12. 1 Tim. v. 21. 2 Tim. iv. 1. (if we read, του Θεου και Κυρίου.) Tit. ii. 13. 2 Pet. i. 1. and Jude 4. All of which are therefore to be rendered severally in these significations: 1st. The church of him, who is Lord and God. 2d. In the kingdom of Christ our God. 3d. According to the grace of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord. 4th and 5th. Before Jesus Christ our God and Lord. 6th. The glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, our great God and Saviour. 7th. Of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 8th. Our only Master, Jesus Christ, both God and Lord.

The importance of this rule, especially on account of the very striking conclusions to which it thus leads us, will, we trust, sufficiently recommend it to the strictest investigation and scrutihy of the learned world. For ourselves we freely declare, that having given the subject a considerable portion of our attention, we find daily fresh instances and exemplifications of the rule, and as yet have met with

nothing, which in any respect tends to impeach its certainty and universality.

Let the thousands of readers of Greek, produce a few instances to contradict the rule, and then will be the proper time to consider, whether or not it must be given up forever. The conclusions however seem in general to be secured within a second wall, by the interesting, and we will say, surprising result of the investigation of the laborious author of the Six Letters, the general object of which is, to arrive at those same conclusions by another road; to establish the same truths by a second, perfectly distinct train of reasoning. "It occurred to me," says the author, "that I should probably find some, at least, of those texts, the vulgar interpretation which you have called in question, cited and explained by the ancient fathers; not indeed as instances of any particular rule, but expounded by them naturally, as men would understand any other form of expression in their native language.

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If these interpretations, thus discovered, should differ from Mr. S. it would seem to follow, that his rule would not be true; if they accorded with his, it would then seem that those conclusions must now, for a second reason, be admitted. This inference, however, would be still further secured, if we should discover from our investigation that those heretics, who were most pressed by these passages of scripture, while Greek was understood as a living language, never devised so ready an expedient of eluding their force, as modern ages have perpetually

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