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Seek this evidence, reader. If you have it not, seek this evidence. Seek it on your knees before God. Seek it, as one seeketh for hidden treasures; for having found it, you will not part with it, though one should give you mountains of silver and gold.
We have not yet done with this subject. In the manifest insufficiency of all historic evidence, to produce such a persuasion of the truth of the Bible as shall interest the heart and move the will, and in the known resting of our own hearts on evidence of another kind, it seems worth while to enquire more particularly into the nature of that evidence which the practical believer so highly values, and on which he so firmly rests. What is it that so fortifies the soul of the simple minded Christian, who has never heard of Paley, Horne, Newton, Leslie, nor any of their kind, that an infidel may come with his learned sophistries and specious objections, and not be able to produce the slightest impression upon his strong and steadfast faith. Like Noah amidst the scoffing host before the flood, he will persist in trusting God and in doing his will. It may be that he cannot answer a single argument, nor expose the boldest fallacy, his mouth may be stopped, but he is the same unflinching believer still. He has a persuasion that is as firm as the deep foundations of the earth. You may as well try to prove that there is no light in the sun, whose rising and setting he has from childhood watched, and in the bright shining of which he daily walks and works-or to convince him that its glorious light is the work of man, as to persuade him that the Bible is not the word of God.
Or, if you say in your heart, this is a poor, ignorant, superstitious creature, then go to the most intelligent man, whose faith in God and his word manifests itself in his life, and you will find his soul established upon the same ground. He may be familiar with historic evidence, but ask him, Sir, what is the ground of your personal conviction of the truth of the Bible, and his eye will be on the book, and his hand on his heart.
Now if this is not a mere delusion of the fancy, it will bear analysis and examination. It will answer our questions. It is no dumb spirit. It has its reasons, and though with meekness and fear, with humble mien and stammering tongue, it can give them on just occasion. It is a matter of interest to know precisely what that evidence is, if there be any, the perception of which will not only remove the difficulties of a doubting mind, but satisfy a skeptical or indifferent heart. Volumes, and even libraries may be devoured, and yet we seem as far as ever from such an end. We want some evidence by which the inmost soul of man shall be brought to see God in his own word, and be induced to grasp as a prize of value, whatever good the Gospel offers.
The experimental evidence of religion must have its own chapter, which shall be the next.
faith in the Bible-Experimental Evidence.
The interesting and important question is now before us, whether there is not in the Gospel itself an evidence of its Divine origin, the discovery of which will not only convince the understanding, but subdue and captivate the heart,—an evidence which every man ought to see and acknowledge, and which is sufficient to leave him without excuse in his unbelief.
To distinguish it from that evidence which relates only to the historic truth of Christianity, we have already called it experimental evidence. It consists principally in the exhibition of the glory of infinite holiness, wisdom, truth, and grace in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the plan of salvation through his atoning blood, the discovery or perception of which is the beginning of experimental, or true personal religion in the soul. It ought to be clearly understood at the outset, that this evidence does not strictly reside in the person who apprehends it, and is convinced by it—that it is not something which God has given to one and withheld from another, but that it is in the book itself, and equally open to all if they will receive it. “What is this evidence,” one may ask, “which you have, and I have not, so that one of us regards so reverently and affectionately, and the other wholly disregards the same Bible? Has God given you a second revelation to confirm and explain the first? Surely then, I am not to blame for not having such faith as yours. Let him reveal the same to me, and I too will believe.” No, my friend, we might as well talk of a second sun to prove the existence and to show the light of the first. “If you believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will you be persuaded, though one rise from the dead.” There is no new evidence imparted in faith, but in the very doctrine and truth of the Gospel, if anywhere, there is an evidence which should carry immediate persuasion to every mind and heart that it is truly Divine, and if ever you receive it at all, it must be simply on the ground ofthat evidence and on no other. This is the crying sin of man, this the very guilt and essence of his unbelief, that his heart will not perceive the glory of God—will not hear the voice of God—will not honor the authority of God—will not assent to the truth of God—will not tremble before the majesty of God—will not admire the holiness of God will not adore the wisdom of God will not yield itself in affectionate and wondering gratitude to the grace of God, as they are exhibited in the person of Jesus Christ, “GOD MANIFEST IN THE
Does it not seem evident, that a revelation from God cannot in the nature of things be without such evidence of its Divine origin. When God speaks he will surely speak like himself. It seems indeed to be assumed in the utterances of the Bible, that it needs no confirmation of its authority by the creature, that its claim to our faith and obedience is inherent and selfevident. So we might expect that God would speak, but it would be the highest presumption in one whose authority is questionable, and in need of confirmatory proof. If the Gospel is a counterfeit, it is a very cunning one. There is a peculiar and startling tone of self-reliance in the style of its address. There is no attempt to excite sympathy and disarm prejudice, by honeyed plausibilities and the concealment of unpalatable truths, but it speaks boldly and authoritatively. It asks not for our countenance except upon the basis of its truth. Not like one who comes cringing and fawning to your door, with an eye that anticipates opposition, and implores forbearance, as in consciousness of unwarrantable intrusion, but with the erect and commanding attitude and independent bearing of one who has a right to entrance and submission, and who