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particulars predicted, and the harmony of all the details. The undeniable fact was asserted, that between the least prediction of the Bible and any event of history, there is not the smallest evidence of contradiction. We then demanded whether it were credible that imposture would ever have dared to commit its cause to a venture which could terminate successfully only by such a hopeless series of miraculous coincidences.
With all this presumptive evidence on our side, we took up a brief selection of important prophecies, and showed their minute and wonderful fulfilment from sources of testimony to which there could be no exception. Your attention was specially directed to a great variety of predictions, by different writers and in all ages of Bible history, all centring in Jesus, and determining the time and circumstances of his advent, the character of his life, the particulars of his sufferings and death; foretelling his resurrection, and the increase of his kingdom. After having thus showed the fulfilment of prophecies of which Jesus was the subject, we proceeded to others of which Jesus was the author.
In the destruction of Jerusalem, and its subsequent history, we had, prepared to our hands by the writings of unbelievers, a most impressive accomplishment of a series of predictions on the part of our Lord, in which the utmost plainness of meaning is united with singular minuteness of detail. The agreement between the predictions and the events. admitted of no denial. The supposition of chance
was the only explanation to which unbelief could flee. But it was stated, on the authority of strict arithmetical calculation, that according to the principles employed in the computation of what are called chances, the probability against the occurrence, at the predicted time, of all the particulars embraced in the prophecies of which we had spoken, exceeded the power of numbers to express, even without the consideration of the providence of One who hateth iniquity, and especially when it is practised under pretence of his authority. The conclusion was inevitable, that the Bible, in thus containing so many genuine prophecies scattered through its several books, contains a revelation from God, and exhibits satisfactory evidences of divine authority; and that Jesus Christ, being in his character and office as the Saviour of sinners, the great theme of this system of prophecy, and being himself endued with the spirit of prophecy, was, and is to come, no other than what he claimed to be considered, the Son of God, the Redeemer of men, King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Here, again, we might have rested our cause. But unwilling to withhold the interesting evidence remaining, we commenced the main question anew, and set out to prove the divine origin from the history of THE PROPAGATION OF CHRISTIANITY. The difficulties in the way of its extensive progress were manifest from considering that the enterprise of propagating a new religion, to the exclusion of every other, was perfectly novel, and universally offensive; that the whole character of the gospel, as a system of doc
trine and a rule of life, erected a barrier against its progress, which to human force would have proved insurmountable; that it necessarily arrayed against itself all the influence of every priesthood, all the powers of every government, all the prejudices, habits, and passions of every people, and all the pride, wit, and influence of every school of philosophy in the world. Add to this, that the character of the age was peculiarly adapted to increase the difficulties abovementioned, and to put the truth of such a religion as that of the gospel to the very closest and strongest trial. The agents intrusted with the propagation of Christianity were of all men the most unfitted for their work, on the supposition that it was one of imposture. They set up their banner when every thing visible on their side only tended to inspire them with despair, and every thing on the side of their enemies was considered as triumphant. The mode they adopted was directly calculated, on human principles, to increase and multiply all their difficulties. They were encountered everywhere by the fiercest persecution that the malignant ingenuity of enemies could invent, and the principalities and powers of the earth could execute. In spite of all these enormous combinations of resistance, such was the rapid and mighty progress of the gospel, that in thirty years the Roman empire was everywhere pervaded with its influence, and even haughty Rome could yield a great multitude as her first-fruits for the fires of persecution. The conversions which ensued in such numbers, were changes not merely of opinion, but of heart and life; they in
volved individuals of all classes of mind, of learning, of rank, and of opulence. Nothing in any degree corresponding to this work had ever been known before, or has ever been witnessed since; even though efforts have frequently been made, in circumstances and with means much more advantageous than theirs, on the supposition that the apostles were not specially favored of God. All these particulars combined demonstrate, that in the labors of the apostles, none but "God gave the increase," because none but God could give such increase. They present a miracle as unquestionable as if, at the bidding of man, a rock should become a fountain of water.
Thus, a third time did we finish our proof. Here again might the argument have been safely terminated. But the FRUITS OF CHRISTIANITY presented a source of additional evidence too important to be omitted. We began, in this department, with the effects of Christianity on society in general. We surveyed the moral condition of mankind when the gospel era commenced. The most polished, literary, and admired nations of the ancient world were selected, as at least favorable specimens of all others. Their personal, domestic, and social virtues were placed in compar.son with those of civilized nations of the present age, and especially with those which Christian influence has most thoroughly pervaded. The contrast was exceedingly impressive. The moral improvements effected in society have been immense and inestimable. We found nothing in the philosophy, or the religion, or the fluctuations, or any other ingredient of
the heathen or infidel world, to effect such a change. No heathen nation left to itself has ever reformed. The history of the world demonstrates that the whole work must be charged to Christianity. And the history of Christian effort among heathen nations of the present age, demonstrates that Christianity was capable, and ever will be capable of accomplishing such blessed results.
From the fruits of Christianity on society in general, we turned to those exhibited in the character and happiness of its genuine disciples. Undeniable and innumerable transformations in moral character and habits were pointed out, which are utterly incapable of explanation but on the supposition of a divine power accompanying the gospel. A comparison was drawn between the lives of genuine disciples of Christ, and those for which unbelievers are notorious. Another was instituted between the deathbed scenes and testimonies of real Christians, and such as have been witnessed in connection with infidelity. It appeared, that with a few exceptions, individuals are the slaves of sin in proportion as they are devoted to infidelity; while it was equally evident, that without any exception, they become servants of righteousness in proportion as their hearts are surrendered to the influence of the gospel. It appeared that while no unbeliever, under the trial of death, ever advanced beyond the negative and comfortless composure of a Stoic, and multitudes, and the very chief of their profession, have in that extremity abandoned their sentiments with horror; it was never heard, on