Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

In further illustration, take an incident from the life of our Saviour. On going, as was his custom, to the Synagogue on a Sabbath day, he saw an object of compassion, in a man whose right hand was withered and useless. Having bidden him to stand forth in the midst, he said, "Stretch forth thy hand." He is commanded to do what seems utterly impracticable, what he probably has not done for many years. Shall he hesitate until he has examined the medical records, and ascertained whether one in his condition has ever been known to succeed in such an effort ? Shall be plead that his arm is perfectly powerless, and not subject to his will? Shall he demand proof of the power of him whose word of authority he hears? What folly, when the command is a simple one, and its virtue so easily tested. He is guilty of no such folly. He makes the effort. The shrunken flesh expands—astrange thrill of life and vigor passes through the withered member. It obeys the will, and is made whole, even as the other. He was disposed to do the Saviour's will, and now he knows his word, that Divine wisdom and goodness prompted it, because Divine power accompanied it.

Or, suppose that one falls into the water, and is in imminent danger of drowning. You throw him a plank, and cry out to him to lay hold of it, and he will be safe. But he continues to struggle, and beseeches you to prove that what you say is true; and

though he knows that his strength must soon become exhausted, he will run all risks, rather than lay hold of it, till you have proved, and nothing but mathematical demonstration will satisfy him, that the specific gravity of that plank is so much less than that of water, that it will support his weight. You would think he had lost his reason, when the means of knowing the truth are within an arm's length. If the experiment fails, he can but sink.

The evidence of experience is more certain, more reliable than mathematical demonstration. Will all the arguments which the united wisdom of the world can produce, convince the man who was drowning, but by your assistance and advice was brought safely to the shore, that you had deceived him ? Will they not all seem intolerable foolishness? Or will any one succeed in proving, by whatever display of science, that the instrument which you have personally tried, and the admirable operation of which your own eyes have witnessed, is not capable of producing the effects which its inventor proposed ? “Why, my dear sir,” you will say, “I know but little of mechanism; here are wheels and cogs, of whose use and efficiency I cản give no very clear account; some of your questions puzzle me; I am but a plain, practical man, but I have tried this instrument, and here are its results never was such work so well and satisfactorily done." The man whose hand has been withered and restored, can put to silence those who endeavor to disprove the power of Jesús, by simply stretching it forth, and, convicted of their folly, they will go their way abashed and confounded. This is no place for the trial of their wicked devices against the Lord and his anointed.

Can we not now understand what St. John means by saying, “He that believeth hath the witness in himself?” Can we not perceive that a firm persuasion of the truth of the Gospel will be the natural result of one's own experience-a persuasion which all the learning in the world cannot shake. The poor man whose faith is assailed, may scarcely be able to recall a single one of the ordinary historic proofs of the inspiration of the Scriptures, but his eye brightens as he tells you how precious that blessed volume has been to him; what a miracle of grace it has wrought in his soul; how it has spoken peace to his troubled conscience, and transformed his character, so that he now hates what he once loved, and loves what he hated. It has been a light to him in darkness, and a comfort in sorrow, and he knows that it is true, because he has felt its power in his heart. He cannot be mistaken. He will venture all, yes, he has confidently ventured all upon its truth. He knows by the correspondence between that which he sees on the sacred page, and that which exists in his own heart, by the change produced in himself, that it is God's own truth. He has already in possession and enjoyment, the very thing to which the Gospel testimony relates. “And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and that life is in his Son.” It is not a gift that he hopes to receive, but God has already given it to him, even to himeternal life through the Son of God, already commenced, and the principle of which, in a peaceful conscience and a renewed heart, exists in himself. He knows it, just as he knows that his heart throbsby his own consciousness.

CHAPTER V.

faity in the Bible—the Testimony of Wnbelief.

WE are fully aware that many of our thoughts in the last chapter, however familiar and delightful to some of us, are deep mysteries to others, who have never doubted the historic truth of the Bible. Though it may commend itself to reason, that a revelation from God must give such evidence of its high origin, they have never enjoyed a clear perception of this evidence. Their minds have never been enlightened to comprehend the wonders of Divine wisdom and grace in redemption; their hearts have never been charmed and attracted by the peculiar loveliness and glory of Christ; nor have they experienced any transformation of character through the effectual working of the truth.

Such an one is ready to ask, What strange faculty of the soul is that by which this Divine knowledge

« IndietroContinua »