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It is remarkable that the Lord, though he complied with the unreasonable demand for evidence in the case of Thomas, yet he would not listen to the request of the rich man in hell, for the conviction of his relations on earth. “ Then he said, I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house : for I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” Did Abraham yield to the proposal, and admire the plan? No. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets ; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." Our sceptics are still calling for more or better evidence. If the gospel is true, they allege it should have evidence against which no man could find objection. Let them alone. Press on them the evidence that God has given of the truth of his gospel. If they believe not this, it will be found, in the day of judgment, that they have not rejected it from its insufficiency, but from their own enmity to the truth. Testimony is a sufficient ground of evidence; and if they reject the testimony of God by his apostles, they will justly perish.
And the same thing will hold true with respect to the denial of the testimony of God with regard to any particular doctrine, and any particular part. The enemies of the doctrine, or fact recorded, will
allege a want of proof; and, on the authority of philosophical doctrines, will take on them to modify the testimony of God. They make the dogmas of human science an authority paramount to the testimony of God in the Scriptures. This is the boldness, the blasphemy of infidelity. If God has given his testimony on any part, it is evidence paramount in authority to every other. To prove the truth alleged on such authority, nothing is necessary but to show that it is the result of the fair exposition of the laws of language. Let God be true, and let all men be liars. Against the testimony of God the philosopher is not to be heard more than a convicted perjurer. Our Lord, even though, for his own wise purposes, he indulged Thomas, yet did not approve of his unbelief, nor of his demand. He did not ascribe his incredulity to greater talents, or greater caution, or greater concern about the truth, than were discovered by his brethren. On the contrary, he shows that they rather are blessed who will believe without such evidence as Thomas demanded. There are two extremes, equally to be avoided, into which men are prone to fall. Some believe without evidence, believe against all evidence, believe what all evidence, capable of being submitted to the mind of man, shows to be absurd and impossible. On the other hand, there are some who unreasonably refuse evidence that is sufficient, evidence which God has pronounced sufficient, and look on themselves as manifesting greater intellect, or greater wisdom, in demanding evidence of another kind, which God has not appointed. “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
THE MANNER OF THE DEATH OF CHRISTIANS ADAPT
ED TO GLORIFY GOD.—John xxi. 19.
Christians are often exposed to death or the denial of their Lord. They are always liable to innumerable dangers, and accidents, and diseases, that may take away their lives. Had they no security in the Divine protection, they could never be at peace. How gloomy would be the thought that chance would be the disposer of their lot; and that Divine Providence is not concerned in the manner and time of their death! What comfort is derived from the truth here presented to our view! The manner of the death of Christ is adapted to glorify God. When the inspired historian relates what Jesus said with respect to the manner of Peter's death, he adds, “ This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” It was a cruel death that was appointed to Peter. But was it not consolation, day triumph, for him to hear that God was to be glorified by this cruel death of his servant ? It is very natural for a Christian to turn his thoughts to the end of life, and to be concerned about the manner in which he may leave this world. It is not pleasant to think of the last struggles of life, and the agonies of death. We know not whether our exit shall be comparatively without pain, or whether it shall please God that we should writhe under the pangs of some terrible disease; and breathe out our souls amidst the torments of our bodies. We know not whether our death shall be sudden, or our tabernacle shall be taken down gradually by the process of a slow disease. We know not whether we shall meet death with the full possession of our faculties, and expire while we address our beloved relatives, or die in the delirium of fever, and know nothing of death till we awake in the life of the eternal world. We know not whether we shall die in peace under the protection of law, or perish under the hand of the persecutor. We know not whether, in the last scene of life, we shall have a full view of heavenly glory, or whether Satan may be permitted to pursue us to the very banks of Jordan, and attempt to frighten us with the waters that are ready to overwhelm us. But this we know, and let it be enough for us to know this, that our death shall be for the glory of God; and that the time, and the manner, and all the circumstances of it, will be arranged by wisdom and love, as well as by Sovereign power. When we pass through the valley and shadow of death let us fear no evil. Jesus, the Shepherd of his flock, will be with us, and his rod and staff will comfort us. If Satan is permitted to annoy, we shall be enabled to quench his fiery darts with the shield of faith.
POPULATION REGULATED BY PROVIDENCE.
Acts vii. 17.
It is remarkable that the beginning of the history of Abraham's family by Isaac was distinguished by providential delays and hindrances to the increase of their numbers, while the other descendants were exceedingly multiplied and prosperous. The fathers of the promised numerous seed for a long time had no issue ; and, at last, like the house of Ulysses, were confined to a single heir. Abraham was an old man before he was the father of Isaac, Isaac was a man of forty when he thought of a wife, and Jacob, though at last he was teased with the perplexities of a numerous polygamy, was upwards of seventy before he married. All this appears very strange to the carnal eye, looking at the fact in the same view with the for
But it is quite consistent with the ways of Providence, and manifests more clearly that the thing promised, when effected, has been effected by God. Till the term appointed for the seed of Abraham to enter into the possession of Canaan, there was no need of a very numerous progeny. Provi. dence, therefore, did not increase the population. But when the time of putting them in possession of the promised land drew nigh, God altered his procedure, and Israel increased with great rapidity: “ But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt.”