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were unchanged, divine messengers were still sent for nearly one hundred years after their return from Babylon, and a final promise given that the glory of this second temple, dimmed though it was in material splendour, should yet exceed the brightest glory of the former, when the Lord himself should come to his own house, and appear as the angel of the covenant to accomplish all its promises.
It is evident that space has allowed us only to give a hasty sketch, from the ample materials that lie through the whole volume of inspiration, for bringing out the truth
of the topic of this chapter. The whole of the sacred history, indeed, is a proof that God was ever over his people to protect, and to punish them, in a way very different from that in which he dealt with the other nations of the earth.
Had not that promise and that threat been made good to the national conviction and experience—had it been merely the political stratagem of a cunning legislator to gain immediate acceptance of his laws—had these, we say, remained a dead letter in the practical operation of these laws, it transcends all belief, that, age after age, they should have stood in awe of the threats, or put any confidence in the promises, while these were contradicted and nullified by universal experience. It is altogether inconceivable that such a people, as we have seen the Jews to be, could have been so imposed upon. Taking them, then, as facts of mighty import, completely substantiated to their own experience, and that of the nations around, as we have seen that they were, they afford the most indubitable proof that God was the head of their law and of their religion, that all was given by the dictate of his unerring truth, and sanctioned by the authority of his almighty power; in other words, the Old Testament is the Book of God, the revelation of his will, the record of his truth.
On the review of such a subject as this, the mind cannot help looking back, in conscious satisfaction, to consider the predicted destinies of the human race, to contemplate that high rank which the feeble and sinful children of the dust were predestined to hold in the scale of the intellectual and moral universe. The more we ponder the contents of this divine book, the more reason have we to conclude that it is by the display of his character and attributes, which is given in the divine history of his moral government of our world, that he is made fully known, as far as finite intelligences can comprehend what is infinite, to all the cherubic and seraphic principalities of heaven. The rebel angels fell from presumptuous confidence in, as they seem to have imagined, their own uncreated and divine energy. Their hopeless scheme of ambitious folly was defeated, and the supreme Lord of the universe was proved to be infinite in power, and unsuffering in holiness. But in his moral government of the sinning children of this earth, a new element of his character is brought into consideration. In this exhibition of deity, holiness and justice are blended with mercy and long-suffering patience. Good and evil are shown in contrast—wickedness and holiness are shown in fierce antagonism, and through the whole eventful and long struggle, God appears working out the perfection of his government as the holy ruler of an intelligent and moral universe. Without a previous knowledge of the grand issue of that demonstration, it must have been a study of intense interest and earnestness to the highest created intelligences to solve the moral problem involved in the government of such a race of accountable beings as the inhabitants of this rebellious and alienated earth. We know that these ministering spirits of divine knowledge and love, in their visits to and from this earth on missions of high service, did delight to study the profound mystery of that government, and found subject for their deepest meditation. Now, in these latter days of completed prophecy, this scheme, in all its ascending and opening steps, is shown to bear directly and unerringly upon a system of eternal and infinite principles of holiness. There is a unity of omniscience and power throughout the whole, which nothing but the infinite Creator could contrive or execute. We witness all the attributes of deity combined in operation to carry on and fulfil one great design, all bearing onward with undeviating and clearer aim, through a countless multitude of subordinate details, toward one point; and this one object, however lost sight of by the folly or defection of man, still held up to his faith amid all the change of human character and human creeds—amid all the rapid or slow, partial or universal, changes and revolutions of the governments of earth. We have seen that every great manifestation of deity to inculcate anew and take measures for preserving the great remedial truth upon which the salvation of the world depended, took place at a time when, if left to themselves, men would have for ever foregone, or perverted that truth, which they could not yet comprehend in all its extent and spirituality: And when a permanent establishment was erected for upholding and inculcating and gradually developing that system of saving truth, though wisdom and holiness, justice and goodness, per
yaded it all, and recommended it to the best reason of man, we have seen that it was only by a display of terrible majesty and irresistible power that it was imposed upon a reluctant and incredulous people, and by the constant superintendence and administration of its divine author that it could be maintained in authority among them. If any one can think that such a history is the account of doings competent to man, his conviction must be beyond the power of almost any kind or degree of conceivable evidence.
UNITY OF THE PLAN.
Under this head we must introduce a number of topics which we had intended to illustrate as separate topics of argument for the divine authority of the Old Testament. The great moral truths upon which the religion of man depends, must be as eternal and unchangeable as the character and attributes of the eternal and unchangeable Jehovah himself. All systems of morals and philosophy invented by man have stamped upon them the endless diversity and inconsistency of human error and weakness. None can claim exemption from this charge of inconsistency and absurdity, either by contrasting different parts of the same with each other, or in their adaptation to the human character. Change of times, of circumstances, of the character of nations, the advancement of mankind in knowledge and civilization, have changed or remodelled, have antiquated or destroyed all other forms and systems of human belief. The most venerated of them have grown old, and fallen into universal discredit and contempt among nations where it would have been a capital crime to have doubted or dissented. On the contrary, the great truths which the Bible reveals to the faith of man, and authenticates by divine authority, have never grown old, are never inconsistent with each other, are not dependent upon the changeable caprice of man for their authority and efficiency. Time which has falsified and swept away all other systems of ancient days, has been continually adding more enduring strength and clearer proof to the doctrines of the Bible. No circumstances of society in the wide earth, and during the long lapse of the six thousand years of its continuance and experience, have been found, to which these truths do not adapt themselves, as the only satisfactory religion which can give confidence to the mind of man as a sinful and helpless being. The acute philosophy, and profound science, and expanded knowledge of modern times, have occasionally arrayed all their powers against the truth, especially of the old preparatory system, and have tried in vain all their ingenuity to prove that it is inconsistent with itself, with the character of God, or with the condition and character of man. All these, indeed, when applied without prejudice to the research, have only shown more clearly that the religion of the Bible, like all the other works of God, is possessed of an unfathomed and unexhausted richness, which is more and more showing its suitableness to the unlimited expansive capability of the human intellect, and the boundless field of progression that is opening before us. There is this gradual progress, we may even say necessary and destined advance, appointed for mankind as a race of intellectual and moral beings; and man has been regularly or periodically taking the steps of this advance, in the various great revolutions of human society that have at different times shaken and changed all parts of the earth. In this universal and illimitable march of the race, man has outgrown almost all the elementary knowledge of the more childish years of his experience, and has thrown aside, as inefficient and inept, opinions and systems of all kinds, that were the productions of the profoundest wisdom and most lengthened experience of ancient days. But he has never overtaken, much less outgrown, the wisdom of the Bible: in his profoundest researches in the study of mental science, he has never found its truths elementary, which he could correct, or improve, or generalize, to the seen and felt deficiencies of which his natural knowledge could add. Judging from the past, even should we suppose that the field of knowledge, in all departments of nature, that invites the ardent inquiry of man is without limit, as far as finite research is concerned, and suppose the progress already made, the conquests already gained are narrow and poor in comparison of those which yet await ages of a far distant futurity; the religion of revelation possesses a wideness and grandeur of mysterious sublimity, which will afford an ever new and more energetic exercise to the expanding and yet untried and untired faculties of the human soul.
Now, when we say that there is a consistent and observable, and ascending unity, in a system of such infinite expansion and prospect as this, from the very first of time, which points onward with unhesitating aim, and unfaltering voice, toward this lofty and still dimly descried perfection of humanity-the mark for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus; and when we take this circumstance in connexion with the known feebleness and poorly limited range of the faculties and knowledge of