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SUMMARY EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY.
HEN we consider the deplorable ignorance and
inconceivable depravity of the heathen world, before the birth of Christ, which rendered a divine interposition essentially necessary, and therefore highly probable; the appearance of Christ upon earth, at the very time when his presence was much wanted, and when there was a general expectation throughout the east, that some great and extraordinary personage was soon to come into the world; the transcendent excellence of our Lord's character, so infinitely beyond that of every other moral teacher; the calmness, the composure, the dignity, the integrity, the spotless sanctity of his manners, so utterly inconsistent with every idea of enthusiasm or imposture; the sublimity and importance of his doctrines; the consummate wisdom and perfect purity of his moral precepts, far exceeding the natural powers of man born in the humble situation, and in a remote and obscure corner of the world, without learning, education, languages, or books; the rapid and astonishing propagation of his religion, in a very short space of time, through almost every region of the east, by the sole efort of himself and a few illiterate fishermen, in direct opposition to all the power, the authority, the learning, the philosophy, the reigning vices, prejudices, and superstitions of the world; the complete and marked opposition in every essential point, between the character and religion of Christ, and the character and religion of Mahomet, exactly such as Inight be expected between truth and falsehood; the minute description of all the most material circumstances of his birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection, given by the ancient prophets many hundred
years before he was born, and exactly fulfilled in him, and him only, pointing, him out as the Messiah of the Jews, and the Redeemer of mankind; thé various prophecies delivered by Christ himself, which were all punctually accomplished, more especially the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; the many astonishing miracles wrought by Jesus, in the open face of day, before thousands of spectators, the reality of which is proved by multitudes of the most unexceptionable witnesses, who sealed their testimony with their blood, and was even acknowledged by the earliest and most inveterate enemies of the gospel ; and, lastly, that most astonishing and well-authenticated miracle of our Lord's resurrection, which was the seal and confirmation of his own divine origin, and that of his religion : when all these various evidences are brought together, and impartially weighed, it seems hardly possible, within the power of a fair and ingenuous mind, to resist the impression of their united force. If such a combination of evidence as this is not sufficient to satisfy an honest enquirer into truth, it is utterly impossible that any event, which passed in former times, and which we did not see with our own eyes, can ever be proved to have happened, by any degree of testimony whatever. It may safely be affirmed, that no instance can be produced of any one fact or event, said to have taken place in past ages, and established by such evidence as that on which the Christian religion rests, that afterwards turned out to be false. We challenge the enemies of our faith to bring forward, if they can, any such instance. If they cannot (and we know it to be impossible) we have a right to say, that a religion, supported by such an extraordinary accumulation of evidence, must be true; and that all men, who pretend to be guided by argument and by proof, are bound, by the most sacred obligations, to receive the religion of Christ, as a real revelation from God.
ARLEY set out on foot, having first put a spare
shirt in his pocket, and given directions for the forwarding of his portmanteau. This was a method of travelling which he was accustomed to take; it saved the trouble of provision for any animal but himself, and left him at liberty to chuse his quarters, either at an inn, or at the first cottage in which he saw a face he liked: náy, when he was not peculiarly attracted by the reasonable creation, he would sometimes consort with a species of inferior rank, and lay himself down to sleep by the side of a rock, or on the banks of a rivulet. "He did few things without a motive, but his motives were rather eccentric; and the useful and expedient were terms which he held to be very indefinite, and which therefore he did not always apply to the sense in which they are commonly understood.
The sun was in his decline, and the evening remarkably serene, when he entered a hollow part of the road, which winded between the surrounding banks, and seemed the sward in different lines, as the choice of travellers had directed them to tread it. It seemed now to be little frequented, for some of those had partly recovered their former verdure. The scene was such as induced Harley to stand and examine it; when, turning round, his notice was attracted by a different object.
An old man, 'who from his dress seemed to have been a soldier, lay fast asleep on the ground; a knapsack rested on a stone at his right hand, while his staff and brass-hilted sword were crossed at his left.
Harley looked on him with the most earnest attention. He was one of those figures which Salvator would have drawn; nor was the surrounding scenery unlike the
wildness of that painter's back-grounds. The banks on each side were covered with fantastic shrub-wood, and at a little distance, on the top of one of them, stood a finger-post, to mark the directions of two roads which diverged from the point where it was placed. A rock, with some dangling wild-flowers, jutted out above where the soldier lay; on which grew the stump of a large tree, white with age, and a single twisted branch shaded his face as he slept. His face had the marks of manly comeliness impaired by time; his forehead was not altogether bald, but its hairs might have been numbered; while a few white locks behind crossed the brown of his neck with a contrast, to a mind like Harley's the most venerable. “ Thou art old,” said he to himself;
“ but age has not brought thee rest for its infirmities : I fear those silver hairs have not found shelter from thy country, though that neck has been bronzed in its service.'
The stranger waked. He looked at Harley with the appearance of some confusion : it was a pain the latter knew too well to think of causing in another; he turned and went on. The old man re-adjusted his knapsack, and followed in one of the tracks on the opposite side of the road.
When Harley heard the tread of his feet behind him, he could not help stealing back a glance at his fellow-traveller. He seemed to bend under the weight of his knapsack; he halted on his walk, and one of his arms was supported by a sling, and lay motionless across his breast. He had that steady look of sorrow, which indicates that its owner has gazed upon his griefs till he has forgotten to lament them; yet not without those streaks of complacency, which a good mind will sometimes throw into the countenance, through all the incumbent load of its depression.
He had now advanced nearer to Harley, and, with an uncertain sort of voice, begged to know what it was o'clock; “ I fear," said he, “sleep has beguiled me of my time, and I shall hardly have light enough left to
carry me to the end of my journey.” “Father !" said Harley (who by this time found the romantic enthusiasm rising within him), “ how far do you mean to
“ But a little way, sir," returned the other; s and indeed it is but a little way I can manage now: it is just four miles from the height to the village, whither I am going.” “I am going there too,” said Harley;
we may make the road shorter to each other. You seem to have served your country, sir, to have served it hardly too; it is a character I have the highest esteem for.— I would not be impertinently in. quisitive; but there is that in your appearance which excites my curiosity to know something more of you: in the mean time, suffer me to carry that knapsack."
The old man gazed on him; a tear stood in his eye! “Young gentleman,” said he, “ good; may heaven bless you for an old man's sake, who has nothing but his blessing to give! but my knapsack is so familiar to my shoulders, that I should walk the worse for wanting it; and it would be troublesome to you, who have not been used to its weight." “ Far from it," answered Harley, “ I should tread the lighter; it would be the most honourable badge I
you are too
Sir,” said the stranger, who had looked earnestly in Harley's face during the last part of his discourse, " is not your name Harley ?". * It is,” replied he; “ I am ashamed to say I have forgotten yours." “ You may well have forgotten my face,” said the stranger ;“ it is a long time since you saw it;
but possibly you may remember something of old Edwards.”—“Edwards!” cried Harley, “oh! heavens!" and sprung to embrace him; “ let me clasp those knees on which I have sat so often : Edwards !--I shall never forget that fire-side, round which I have been so happy! But where, where have you been? where is Jack? where is your daughter? How has it fared with them, when fortune, I fear, has been so