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phraseology refers to the immediate happiness of the souls of the righteous at death. The judicious Lowman thinks, that it is most applicable to the church in a glorified state; and that it is to give us an idea of the honour, purity, and dignity of the saints in heaven. As the book of Revelation is a prophetic history of the church, from the days of the apostles to the end of time; and as this scene was previous to the resurrection, and as the bodies of the saints will not be revived till the resurrection; so it is evident, that what is said of them here, refers to their souls between death and the resurrection. They are before the throne of God, not in a state of sleep and insensibility, but, "serving him day and night in his temple."
"And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps, and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders, and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth," Rev. xiv. 2, 3. Without attempting to explain who are meant by the four beasts, (wa, living creatures,) and the elders-we may venture to affirm, that by those redeemed from the earth, are to be understood those souls which have been redeemed, and shall be redeemed, from their sin by the blood of Christ, and received into the heavenly state, when separated from their bodies by death. As this vision, in point of time, was also previous to the resurrection, so those souls must, in a separate state, be enjoying heavenly bliss, while their bodies are mouldering in the dust. Those who object to visions being produced as auxilaries in establishing any doctrine, ought to bear in mind, that He who taught as never man taught, and is the great exemplar of theological teaching, thought it no breach of any critical canon, to call in the aid of a vision to establish the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. T. R.
Huggate, May, 5, 1831.
HOURS OF MEDITATION. ON THE AUTHO
RITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."2 Tim. iii. 16.
THE importance of revelation to man, that he might be informed of his nature and destinies, of his situation with regard to his Maker, and of those duties devolving on him to perform, is sufficiently obvious. In
revelation only, certainty can take the place of philosophical speculations; here alone can we find a guide which will never deceive. Here should we expect to find that glorious Being, whom we see unfolded in the works of creation and providence more distinctly declared, and his moral perfection unveiled. This is that never-dimmed lamp, which shall shine upon the path of erring man till he shall reach the gates of eternity, shining with rays that
"Divinely beam on his exalted soul."
In considering then the authority of the Scriptures, we will, in the first place, make some remarks on their credibility as a history, beginning with the Old Testament.
The writings of Moses, having a prominent feature as regards their subject and connexion, solicit our most serious attention. This celebrated lawgiver was brought up at the court of the most civilized nation of that time, and was educated by those whose attainments in science and knowledge exceeded perhaps the attainments of any other people in the world. His character he has himself impartially displayed in his own writings, and it has never, from any authentic source, been contradicted. We find his name and office have been mentioned by many pagan writers, who cannot be suspected of endeavouring to support the worship of the true God. Among others, we may mention Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, and Tacitus. Strabo, who obtained his knowledge from Egyptian writers, as appears in Josephus, describes his manner of worship as the most reasonable. The celebrated Longinus, who was a favourite of Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, in his book of the Sublime, gives this honourable testimony: "Thus does he who gave laws to the Jews, who was an extraordinary man, who conceived and spoke worthy of the power of God, when he writes in the beginning of his laws, God spake :' what?
Let there be light, and there was light: Let there be earth, and it was so !'" cidius, who was a follower of Plato, and is supposed to have borrowed many of his ideas from this Hebrew writer, speaks thus: "Moses was the wisest of men, who, as they say, was enlivened not by human eloquence, but by divine inspiration." Pliny likewise mentions Jannes and Jambres, the chief of Pharaoh's magicians, who were chosen to contend with Moses.
From such testimonies as these, we are prepared to credit whatever so extraordinary a personage may advance, which is not of itself contradictory. We are prepared to believe that there was such a person as Moses, and that the writings ascribed to
HOURS OF MEDITATION.
him were his. We see the character of Jehovah unfolded; we read of the most astonishing miracles, and find it distinctly stated that Moses held intercourse with his Maker. Moreover, we may observe, that so many of these miracles and wonderful transactions took place in the presence of a multitude of witnesses, that their assertion could easily have been contradicted had they been in any respect destitute of foundation. But, no; these extraordinary facts have remained unimpeached by the descendants of those witnesses, from one generation to another, even to the present day.
If we are to place any reliance upon the veracity of Moses, while reading the book of Genesis, we must see that it would have been impossible for him to have described past transactions so minutely and unhesitatingly, without correct information. Tradition might have supplied him with some leading facts, but the rest must have been conjecture. But, can we believe that the lawgiver of the people of Israel, in distinctly describing their origin and peculiarity, should have rested on tradition and conjecture? His knowledge of the divine law and of the legal ceremonies, are declared to be derived from God, and we have no reason, seeing that the Almighty condescended to hold continual intercourse with Moses, to suppose that the whole of his writings were not divinely inspired.
In turning over the other books of the Old Testament, we find the historic evidence in their favour most satisfactory. And, according to Grotius, "they, whose names they bear, were either prophets, or men worthy to be credited; such as Esdras, who is supposed to have collected them into one volume, at that time when the prophets Haggai, Malachi, and Zecharias, were yet alive." Josephus brings forward passages from many heathen historians, that confirm the veracity of scripture history. We may likewise add, that these sacred writers were all holy men, and such as to whom the arguments adduced, with respect to the books of Moses, may apply. of the inspired penmen, who, as
"Prophets from Zion, darted a keen glance
bear their own testimony in their writings, the only comment on which we need dwell being the history of after ages.
There are also other evidences in favour of the inspiration of the Old Testament, which are by no means foreign to the purpose. There is not a single contradiction to the character of God, as before ascertained, from a contemplation of his works,
Likewise, the sacred writers, though recording their testimonies at such different periods of time, and under such different circumstances, agree most correctly with each other. We may likewise mention the miraculous fact, that, amidst all the revolutions of empires, more especially those of the Jewish nation, the Scriptures were ever, and still are, preserved with the most anxious care. And to these, as Josephus declares, "after so many ages past, no one has presumed to add, take away, or exchange any thing." Moreover, lest any false version might be given, respecting the promised Messiah, Philadelphus, king of Egypt, son of Ptolemy Lagus, three hundred years before Christ, employed seventytwo learned Jews to give a translation of their Hebrew scriptures, to enrich his magnificent library, leaving the Septuagint as an independent reference for Christians, when the Jewish manuscripts might have been withheld or corrupted.
But it is objected, that in these writings, transactions are recorded which seem almost impossible, such as the miracles of Moses in Egypt, the passage of the Israelites over the Red Sea, their supply of food and raiment, the gushing of water from a rock, &c. The answer to such objections is obvious. If we are convinced of the omnipotence of God by a survey of his works, we are prepared to believe, that any thing short of contradiction may be performed by the Almighty. Besides, we are too apt to imagine, that it is easier to regulate what we call the laws of nature, than, on important occasions, to dispense with them. Now, we shall find, by reasoning correctly, that the power of God is no more displayed in the relation which he has established between cause and effect, than when that relation momentarily ceases to exist; so that, upon the whole, miracles serve to increase our conceptions of the omnipotence of the mighty God.
Objections have likewise been made to the character of the Supreme Being, as revealed in the Scriptures; but we think His attributes are there described perfectly in consonance to that knowledge which we might obtain of Him, from a survey of creation and providence. Does the benevolence of Jehovah beam forth in all his works, the scriptures likewise testify the unbounded love of God to man. Do the sacred writings describe the terrible wrath and anger of God, and his visitings upon the children of men for their iniquities; so we behold the same wrath displayed by God upon the human race, in all the misery and woe that is poured upon the earth. In both cases we may trace the same source,
viz. the holiness of God, and the wickedness of man. Neither can we see any cause for the impeachment of divine justice, but must rather admire the astonishing for bearance and mercy visible in both in
With respect to the New Testament, many of the arguments before adduced will still apply. The transactions recorded therein, are such as we might have reasonably expected, if we had placed any confidence in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jewish prophets continually foretold a Messiah, the time and place of his birth, the manner of his death, and other attendant circumstances; and the character of God, as described therein, completely agrees with the information received beforehand. We need scarcely argue for the antiquity of the writings of the New Testament, since manuscripts are now in the possession of many learned bodies and individuals, as a sufficient testimony; and of some of these the language has for a long time ceased to be spoken.
The Alexandrian manuscript, in the British Museum, was written probably in the fourth or fifth century. Pliny, Tacitus, and others, occasionally mention circumstances concerning Jesus Christ and his religion, which indicate that it is of no modern invention. Ignatius and Polycarp, who lived in the days of the apostles, with others who immediately succeeded them, have preserved many passages of the New Testament, which shew their great antiquity. Dr. Lardner asserts, "That in the remaining works of Ireneus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, who all lived in the first two centuries, there are more and larger quotations of the small volume of the New Testament than of all the works of Cicero, by writers of all characters, for several ages." And in addition to these we might add, that Celsus, who lived in the second, and Porphyry, who lived in the third century, celebrated as opponents to Christianity, both cited passages from the New Testament. This is gathered from the writings of those who refuted them, as their own are not now extant.
Now, if the Gospels are histories written by men of unblemished reputation, who were eye-witnesses of the facts therein stated, or received them from those who were; and if we find nothing contradicted in any independent history, but rather confirmed, we have some reason for crediting the Evangelists. Let us likewise reflect, that the gospels were written at a time when most of the Jewish nation were living witnesses of facts they did not attempt to contradict;
and that the sacred writers had embraced a cause which was most strikingly open to persecution and death, with not the least prospect of worldly advantage. Their credit as historians then cannot be justly impeached.
Several arguments in favour of the inspiration of the New Testament might be adduced. We may mention, the necessity of a correct knowledge of facts the most important, and of the discourses, actions, and even thoughts, of our Saviour. These could uot be known, or at least but doubtfully asserted, without a knowledge obtained by inspiration. Likewise, the profound veneration paid to them by the most pious and learned Christians from the primitive times, in supporting doctrines and ceremonies, which would have been trifling, if the writers were only considered as illiterate men, instead of inspired apostles. The preservation of the New Testament during the most violent and exterminating persecutions, while all spurious Christian writings were utterly lost, is wonderful. With respect also to its repeated transcription, we may mention Dr. Bentley's observation: "there never was any writing, in the preservation and purity of which the world was so interested or careful." In these arguments we see no mean evidence of the protecting hand of Providence stretched over the revelation made to man.
Finally, we have the authority of St. Paul himself, in saying, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God," whether our assent is yielded to the Old or New Testament. If the New Testament is inspired, the Jewish scriptures must necessarily be so, for we find them continually quoted as prophecy afterwards fulfilled, and as evidence in favour of the religion of Christ. Should we believe in the inspiration of the Old Testament, we must be prepared, by the prophecies written therein, to believe in the inspiration of the New. St. Paul was an extraordinary man, converted from the blindest obstinacy to the Christian religion, and sent forth as its most ardent teacher. His attainments in holiness have never been contradicted, and his life of piety adds an irresisitble force to what he wrote. We are constrained to confess, that his conversion was attended with the most astonishing circumstances-circumstances, whose credibility has never been impeached by valid contradictions. We are constrained to believe, that he voluntarily gave himself up to poverty, persecution, and death, in order to support the cause of Christianity. In perusing his epistles, we cannot but acknowledge that his piety was extraor
dinary that something superior to enthusiasm had thus directed his mind, and supported him for years under the greatest persecutions. Yes::-we feel convinced, that he must have been under the influence of the Spirit of the Most High; and thus we place unshaken confidence in his knowledge and veracity, when he asserted, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." J. A. B.
ELOHIM having created the materials, and brooded over them, maturing the whole mass in the operation of creation, proceeds to the formation of spheres, atmospheres, ethers, &c. &c. and to the erection of this universe.
It was the second day, " And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day," Gen. i. 6, 7, 8. Or, as it may be rendered: Elohim pronounced, Amidst the terraqueous fluids, let there be an ex. pansion, and let it divide fluids from fluids! And Elohim formed the expansion, dividing the fluids below in the expansion, from the fluids above in the expansion: and it was done. And Elohim denominated the expanse heaven. And Elohim surveyed the expanse, and, behold, it was beautifully perfect. The evening was, and the morning was, the second day.
In Number III. of these essays, (p. 163.) we left the created materials of the universe in one huge mass, occupying the centre of the system, in the state of individual atoms or fluidity, while the broodings of the Spirit of God were in action, inducing a genial disposition therein, to receive and nourish the seeds destined to vegetate and adorn the spheres. Light, also, being created, was thereby diffused throughout the uni
All the materials already created are on this day brought into use, and every portion thereof has its post assigned, in due order. That powerful agent, light, called into exercise, in the hands of the Creator performs wonders; while affinity, attraction, repulsion, gravitation, with all the progeny of light, co-operate, and, under the wisdom and power of the great Operator, produce an expansion of the atoms, and form a fir2D. SERIES, NO. 6.-VOL. I.
mament as indurable as time itself. The huge mass of atoms becomes many masses, each assorted and disposed, by infinite wisdom, into a sphere, and placed each in an orbit, at such distances from the central orb, and from each other, as would form due balances, each to each, and a perfect equipoise to the whole system. A word is a work with God: He pronounces, "Let there be an expansion!" It is formedthe vast fabric is erected-this universe is furnished with orbs. He surveys the whole, and pronounces it beautifully perfect!
We must stop for a moment, in order to consider the firmament or expansion thus brought into existence. Prior to the creation of the solar system, that portion or space assigned for its reception, was void or empty space. It afforded room for the reception of this universe, but it did not furnish any suitable substance for the accommodation thereof: all things, therefore, genial thereto, must be provided by the Omnipotent; and these he produced, each in its order, during the progress of creation. Using the materials, already created, with light, a fine and pure ether is distributed throughout this space, in which the orbs, now called into existence by the Creator, and imbued with attraction, float securely and unimpeded, surrounded each by its own atmosphere, along its orbit, in serenity.
This expanse, or ethereal, is a perfect firmament. Adamant itself, piled up to heaven, could not sustain the ponderous orbs which roll therein, around their central sun, with greater security than these ethers, fine and subtile as they are, have sustained nearly six thousand years, and continue to sustain them to the present hour. If,
"In the thin air, without a prop, Hang fruitful showers around," in these yet thinner ethers, needing no foreign aid, the stupendous orbs hang and move, each in its orbit, with exactness, amidst sublime serenity, far from the wreck
All the created atoms were, up to this moment, individual, and in a state resembling fluidity, which afforded every facility to these immense operations. Had solidity taken place previous to this great work, what an increase of labour must have ensued, in order first to separate, as well as afterwards to compound, these materials, in proportions meet to construct the spheres. Distinct atoms or fluids are compounded with the greatest ease, in chemical and other operations of art, but, in order to compound solid bodies, they must either be reduced to powder, or dissolved in liquids, with great labour;
and, after all, must be rendered solid again, at a great expense of time and pains.
The economy of the Creator, whether He creates, or operates upon created matter, is equally obvious. If the materials for each orb in the solar system had been separately and distinctly created, in the very orbit in which it was destined to move, then must there have been as many creations as there are primary and secondary planets in this universe, besides one upon a larger scale for the central sun. If these spheres had been formed from solid masses, then it would have required great labour to fashion them into the precise form intended; and the power required, in the first instance, to render the atoms into a solid, would have been wasted. In the sacred volume we read, "If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct," Eccles. x. 10. To whet the edge, is an act of wisdom, in this quotation, because thereby labour is economised; and thus it is, that wisdom becomes power. Surely, He who inspired this advice into the bosom of the sacred penman, could avail Himself of the advice which He gives. That He did avail Himself thereof, and that the wisdom of the Creator is throughout His work as obvious as His power, is so clear to my mind, that I must bear my unequivocal testimony to that solemn truth. The greatest care imaginable is taken to remind the reader, that the materials on which the Creator was then operating, were fluid; for the word occurs no less than five times in the sixth and seventh verses.
There are errors also on the opposite side. Fluids are so frequently named, and, in the authorized English version of the Bible, rendered waters, that the outcry is, "Nothing but waters were created in the first instance." Then, in order to account for the solids which now appear, vegetation and animation of fish and amphibious animals, upon a large scale, and of enormous size, are resorted to; and out of the solids of these, soils and strata are formed, in the imaginations of geologists, of all dimensions. Wonderful indeed! But the Bible does not need the help of such men: it is clear enough, without such scientific romances as these. Water is not an element, as it was long supposed to be; it is a compound substance, and itself needed the forming hand of Elohim, after the atoms of the creation were matured, to call it into existence, in the use of His active agent, light, upon the elementary substances, hydrogen and oxygen; and this day it was called into existence, amidst those combi
nations which resulted from the operations of light.
The created atoms were destined to become the bases of all the solids in the universe; yea, even the atoms of the gases, as well as the rest. Every gas with which we have become acquainted, may be found in a solid state. Hydrogen is solid in coal, ice, &c. &c. Oxygen in ice, and the countless oxides which every where abound around us. Carbon is solid in coal, limestone, diamond, timber, &c. &c., and so on of all the rest. All the other atoms become solid by crystallization, cohesion, combination, &c. &c., although, in the state of individual atoms, they are fluid. The atoms, therefore, are the bases of all solids. Light is itself a fluid, incapable of concretion, and all the atoms owe to its operations the modifications which we behold in them, in a nearer or more remote degree: it may, therefore, be denominated the base of the fluids.
The aggregate of this day's operations, by rarefaction and consequent expansion, completely filled the space allotted to the universe; for the firmament is said to be in the midst of the fluids, viz., in the midst of the orbs and atmospheres, (which were on this day in a fluid state,) filling up every where all the spaces. But if all the spaces were filled up, then must the spheres revolve in ether. When we take into the account the revolutions of that immense central orb, the sun, and, around this centre, the revolutions of all the planets, primary as well as secondary, with their diurnal and menstrual, as well as annual motions, and contemplate the wide and lofty orbits assigned to these, vast as is the expanse, the whole universe, from the unceasing rush of these fleet and stupendous spheres and atmospheres, must be the seat of universal and incessant motion. What a scene do we behold-a scene enough to dazzle the most steadfast eye, could it discern the minute of this vast action!
Space is infinite in extent; no lack, therefore, exists of room wherein to place the most extensive system: of this the Cre ator availed Himself, and took ample room for this universe. Had the orbs therein been crowded into a smaller space, the attractions of each with each, and the rush of others from passing spheres, must have induced disorder; while the rapidity of their motions, too near the human eye, would have disturbed, and perhaps distracted, human kind, as well as the remainder of animation, and even vegetation.
It is no disparagement to the great Creator, after having created light, to use this,