A Compendium of Christian Theology

By William Burt Pope, D.D.,

Volume One

Chapter 2

Revelation or the Faith





                   Its Definitions


                   Its Purpose and Sphere





            Preparations in Human Nature;

            Correction of Natural Religion;

            Perfecting of Former Revelations


            The Supernatural Order


            Nature of Evidence;





            Value as Credential


            The Divine Hand in Scripture








            Early Spread;

            Conflict with Judaism;


            Natural Religions;

            Scientific Thought;

            Gradual Victory;



CHRISTIAN Theology, as the science of Christianity, the one, perfect, and only Religion, is based upon the documentary records of God's revelation of Himself and of His will in Christ Jesus. Of necessity, therefore, its first inquiry should be directed to the nature and authority of its Sacred Writings, which contain at once the historical development and the finished result of the Divine revelations to mankind. One proposition gives here the summary of the whole truth. The Holy Scriptures are the Divine Rule of Faith: a statement which, unfolded, opens three departments of investigation. First, they are the documents and the depository of the Christian Revelation, or the Christian Faith, which is the consummation of all religious knowledge. Secondly, they are Divine in their origin: the product of the Holy Spirit's inspiration. Thirdly, they are the Rule of the Faith, as forming a body of canonical Scriptures, regulating forever the doctrine and teaching of the Christian Church. Hence we derive the three great words which are the superscription of the whole body of dogma concerning the written oracles of God: Revelation, Inspiration, and Canon.


These two terms may be studied as counterparts, and in some sense as synonymous. The Christian Faith is the perfected Revelation, and the perfected Revelation is the Christian Faith; each and both being coincident, generally speaking, with the Christian Scriptures.

But Revelation refers them to God the Revealer; Christian Faith regards them as received by man. It will be useful to make this distinction govern our treatment of the whole subject. Human faith and Divine revelation are DOUBLE ONE AGAINST THE OTHER. 1What God is pleased to make known, man's acceptance makes his Faith. 1 Ecclus. 42:24.


The term Revelation signifies in its last and highest theological meaning the unveiling or disclosing of God's redeeming purpose to mankind. This definition distinguishes it from more general manifestations of the Supreme Being, and gives to the Christian revelation its distinctive character, as including all other forms of Divine teaching and adding its own supplement and consummation. It is at once the most elementary and the-most comprehensive word of our theological system.


Revelation, taken in its broadest sense, includes every manifestation of God to the consciousness and perception of man: whether in the constitution of the human mind, in the framework of nature, or in the processes of Providential government. The term is used to embrace the whole compass of the Divine disclosures, whether in act or word, whether by immediate contact of the Eternal Spirit with the human soul or by mediating instrumentalities, whether of truth generally or any special token of the Divine will. In this more general application other words are used besides apokalupsis, or revelation: such as photizo, of the light of the Son in human reason which lighteth every man that cometh into the world; fanerón, 1 of the declaration of the Divine glory in the universe, and of the testimony of the Supreme to all men to whom that which may be known of God is manifest,2 referring to His providential guidance of the Gentiles before whom He left not Himself without witness, OUK AMARTURON.3 It is sufficient for our present purpose that all these lower and more unrestricted or improper revelations and methods of revelation are taken up into Revelation proper. The Records of the Faith are the records of all the teachings that at sundry times 4 and in divers manners preceded and prepared for it.

There is, however, a special and limited meaning of the term. But, before considering this more fully, it may be well to note some theological distinctions which lead the way to it.

1 John 1:9; 2 Rom. 1:19; 3 Acts 14:17; 4 Heb. 1:1

1. The word revelation unites the two ideas of a Divine unveiling or apokalupsis, and making known or fanerosis, of the mysteries of religion, or of the soul's relation to God.

We must remember the conventional meaning of these terms in theology. There are secrets gradually unveiled in the worlds of mind and matter, the slow disclosure of which is appointed to be the aim and the reward of human science; but we do not call them mysteries. Nor do we call their discovery revelation, save as they are directly connected with religion and taken up into the economy of the Providential government of the world.

2. This leads to another distinction: Revelation, in this higher theological meaning of the term, is general and special. As GENERAL it is undoubtedly common to the human race as such: the foundation of what may be called natural theology and natural religion.

Although, as we have seen, the highest word is not: used of this universal unveiling of God in the creature, it may be called natural as distinguished from supernatural revelation. This latter is SPECIAL; as being imparted not so much in man; as to man, through the medium both of Divine works and Divine words, as will be hereafter seen.

3. External and internal revelation are to be separated: the former is as it were given objectively and for all; the latter is specially imparted to the organs of revelation, and to those who receive it in faith. They are united in St. Paul's words: by revelation He made known unto me the mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit. 1 Here is the special revelation not included in the former general manifestations of God; the disclosure to the organs of inspiration as a body; and the internal unveiling to St. Paul by the Spirit, to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery. But it is obvious that all external revelation must also be internal, though the converse may not be said with the same propriety.

1 Eph. 3:3-9.


Revelation, in the stricter, deeper, and fuller sense, is the unfolding of the eternal counsel of God in Christ, for the restoration of man to fellowship with Himself. This is the sum and substance of truth as truth is in Jesus; 1 it is the conclusion of the whole matter of Divine manifestation to man; and, as such, it is perfected in the Christian Scriptures, that is, in the final testimony of Jesus. His testimony is the last word of all objective revelation. In this definition there are three salient points; the one Eternal Purpose in Christ the Revealer, the perfect Scripture, and the identity, or rather coincidence, of the Christian oracles with the Christian Faith.

1 Eph. 4:21.

1. Revelation proper is consecrated to the mystery hid with Christ in God, the one Secret which it unfolds. This is the common burden of the prophets and of the Apostles and of Christ Himself. It is the ONE TRUTH of the whole Word of God. The entire range of its disclosures, in all their many forms, is governed by this supreme purpose, and all pay their tribute to this one subject. Christ, Himself the Sum of all revelation, is Himself also the one Revealer or Apocalyptist. He is the Revealer in act and in word. First, and above all, in act He is Himself the personal revelation of God and His whole eternal purpose towards the human race. This profound truth of Christianity is presupposed throughout the New Testament. It may be studied in the combination of several Pauline passages. In the first the great Mystery of Godliness is spoken of as being manifest in the flesh: 1 this refers to the Person of Christ Incarnate, who elsewhere is termed the Mystery of God, which is Christ,2 the one Secret to be revealed in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.3 Again, this manifestation is said to be reflected from the mirror of the Gospel, which consummates all Divine disclosures: But we all, with open face receiving as in a glass the glory of the Lord.4 Finally, it is still more clearly explained in a passage which combines the others, as the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,5 the Countenance of the personal God in His incarnate Son looking upon man and giving him, in the light of that countenance, all that he needs to know for time and eternity. Our Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the substance of all revelation of God, according to His own testimony: He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.6 Secondly, therefore, He is the Revealer in word. No one knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him: ho Huiós apokalúpsai.7 Christ is THE WORD 8 in His original and eternal estate, Who, however, became incarnate to be the Oracle of God in the temple of humanity. No man hath seen God at any time; the Only begotten God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath made Him known.9 In His incarnate estate He is also THAT PROPHET, 10 Who should absorb into Himself all prophetic functions, whether of announcing or of foretelling the will of God. In virtue of that first name, He has been from the beginning the Revealer: it was His voice that uttered the ancient oracles. In virtue of the latter name superadded to the former, He has summed up, satisfied, and consummated the revelation of all past ages in one perfect revelation for ages to come.

He spake by the prophets; He spake upon earth; and, though gone from us, He yet speaketh. His word means all revelation, and all revelation means His word. The ORACLE and the oracles are one.

11 Tim. 3:16; 2 Col. 2:2; 3 Col.2:3; 4 2 Cor. 3:18; 5 2 Cor. 4:6; 6 John 14:9; 7 Matt. 11:27; 8 John 1:1; 9 John 1:18; 10 John 1:21.

2. The Scriptures contain and are this perfect disclosure and finished revelation. Of their Divine origin we need not think as yet; though it is anticipated in the fact that the Savior has given His authenticating testimony to the whole body of them in their integrity. That sanction, first, makes the Old Testament the revelation of Christ. As it testified of Him so He testifies of it. He took it into His hands, and blessed it, and hallowed it forever as His own. As revelation is Christ, and Christ is the subject of the Old Testament, the Old Testament is of necessity the revelation of God. Knowing better than any human critic can know all its internal obscurities and difficulties, He sealed it nevertheless for the reverence of His people. The canon of the ancient oracles, precisely as we hold them now, no more no less, He sanctified and gave to His Church as the early preparatory records of His own Gospel and kingdom. That sanction, secondly, assures us that the New Testament is His own authoritative completion of the Scriptures of revelation.

Leaving the fuller study of this proposition for a further stage, we need only note the general fact that our Lord declared His own purpose to complete an unfinished revelation.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, allá pleeroósai: 1 not only to fulfill the predictions both of law and prophecy, but to fill out their meaning; to set on them the seal of perfection by revealing fully what they revealed only in part. All the lines of Old-Testament revelation were broken off and incomplete: He gathered them up into Himself and His word, so that in Him they might have their vanishing point and yet not vanish. In regard to the Old- Testament oracles the word of St. Paul does not hold good: When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will come to an end. 2 And He made full provision for the preservation of His perfected doctrine. All that we need to assure our hearts of this was given in one large promise, which declared that His sayings should be revived in their unbroken unity in His disciples' memory, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you; 3 that what He could not yet speak concerning His Person, His Spirit should reveal, He will guide you into all truth; 4 and that the same Spirit should show them the things to come. The Spirit was no other than Himself by His Agent re-uttering His own words, revealing His own Person and work, and filling up His prophecy of the future. Hence, lastly, our Lord's sanction makes the complete Scriptures the finished revelation, never to be superseded. Nothing can be more plain than that the entire fullness of what the Revealer had to say to the world was to be communicated to the Apostles by the Holy Ghost; and that, not as a further disclosure on the part of the Spirit, but as the consolidation of the Savior’s teaching into its perfect unity, and its expansion into its perfect meaning. No future streams of revelation were to rise higher than the fountainhead of truth opened in Himself. Hence we may repeat concerning the Book what has been said concerning the Lord's teaching: the Bible means all revelation and all revelation means the Bible.

1 Matt. 5:17; 2 1 Cor. 13:10; 3 John 14:26; 4 John 16:13.

3. We are justified, therefore, in holding that the Scriptures of revelation and Christianity, as the Christian Faith, cover the same ground and strictly coincide. As yet, we have nothing to do with the question of inspiration, nor with inquiries into the genuineness and integrity of individual books and individual passages; but only with the general fact that in all sound theology the Bible and Christ are inseparably connected. Not that they are in the nature of things identical: we can suppose the possibility of an Incarnate Revealer present in the world without the mediation of the written Word. Indeed we are bound to assume, as has been already seen, that there is a wider revelation of the WORD in the world than the Scriptures cover. Moreover we may assert that His revelation of Himself is still, and even in connection with the Scriptures, more or less independent of the Word.

But, as the basis of the science of theology, the Bible is Christianity. It has pleased God from the beginning to conduct the development of the great mystery by documents containing the attested facts, the authenticated doctrines, and the sealed predictions of revelation. The process of the Divine Counsel has been bound up with the enlargement of the Volume of the Book. That Book is the foundation of Christianity: the Lord of the Bible and the Bible are indissolubly the Rock on which it is based. We have no other Christian Religion than that which is one with its documents and records; we have no documents and records which do not directly or indirectly pay their tribute to the Christian Religion; and there is no revelation in any department of truth of which the same may not be said. All revelation is identical with Christianity and summed up in it.

Hence, generally speaking, and as yet regarding the Scriptures only as a whole, we may say that the character of Christianity is the character of the Bible; the claims and credentials of the one are the claims and credentials of the other. This observation will lead us by an easy transition to the counterpart of Revelation: the Christian Faith.


The Revelation given by God is the Christian Faith as received by man. The entire body of revealed truth is addressed to the principle of faith, receiving on Divine evidence what becomes matter of certitude and assurance. This is the objective dogmatic Faith delivered to the saints. But this same Faith may also be regarded as having to win the assent of the world, and as presenting its credentials to the reason in order to universal acceptance.

Hence we have two general aspects of our present subject: first the Christian Revelation as accepted by faith, and, secondly, as presenting its evidences to reason.


The Christian Revelation in all its compass of truth is addressed to faith primarily, to reason only as subordinated to faith. It is committed to the supreme tenure of that principle which is the evidence and substantiation of spiritual things. This faith extends explicitly to all the facts, doctrines, and promises of the Holy Scripture, and implicitly to all its mysteries whether already revealed, in course of revelation, or reserved for the future. Its supreme object is Christ and the truth as TRUTH is IN JESUS. 1 But it must be remembered that the Christian Faith is effectually such only to those whose belief is quickened by the Holy Ghost into the assurance of personal knowledge and experience.

1 Eph. 4:21.

It is obvious that this general proposition involves a consideration of the credentials of Christianity; but we have now to do with Revelation only as addressed to faith. As containing the Christian system of truth, and recorded in the Bible, it appeals to a universal principle of human nature, the faculty of believing This primary faculty is profoundly seated in our constitution: it works as the acceptance of truth on sufficient evidence, whether of consciousness, or intuition, or testimony. It is at the root of all knowledge generally, especially of all knowledge of spiritual things. Now it is to this principle pre-eminently that Revelation appeals: to faith alone as it is a revelation of spiritual principles and truth: to faith conjoined with reason as it is a Divine record of facts through which these principles are taught. These two points have now to be briefly discussed.

I. Faith must here in all things have the pre-eminence.

1. The grand revelations of the Word of God are all committed to that highest and noblest faculty which the Scripture calls the evidence of things not seen. 1 The existence of a Supreme First Cause, the creation of the world framed by the Word of God, 2 the nature of sin and the glory of redemption, the Person of the Incarnate and His atonement, the union of the Holy Spirit with the spirit of man, the processes and issues, in time and eternity, of the redeeming economy, in short all that belongs to the supernatural world, must be believed or they are not the heritage of the soul. There is no faculty competent to deal with them, to receive them, to appropriate them, but faith. Reason of itself is the soul's judgment according to sense: if it is regarded as occupied with the mysteries of the spirit and the spiritual world it is no longer reason but faith under the name of reason.

Faith is to the other world what the senses are to the world that now is; the eye, the ear, the taste, and the touch that perceives what the physical senses cannot perceive. All is thus summed up: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. 3

1 Heb. 11:1; 2 Heb. 11:3,4; 3 1 Cor. 2:14

2. Hence it is that, inasmuch as the principle of faith belongs as certainly to human nature as reason does, the evidences of the; supernatural world are addressed to a faculty which they ought to awaken, even as light ought to awaken the faculty of seeing. If the great truths of Revelation excite no response it is because a deadly evil vitiates the faith which does not vitiate the natural senses. It is necessary to dwell upon this, because reason, thus set aside, will ask why it is that Revelation addressed to a universal faculty in man does not meet with instantaneous and universal acceptance.

3. There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.1 There is a Spirit Who demonstrates truth to the mind, affections, and will of the personal man; but only to him who is sincere and cometh to the light. 2 The credentials of Divine truth are self-evidencing: they are like the light of the sun in the natural world. This preliminary postulate is of the utmost importance, and may be established from the Scripture itself without any irrational begging of the question. First, let our Lord Himself be heard. The testimony concerning Him is, that He is the true Light, which enlighteneth every man, coming into the world. 3 His testimony to Himself, borne, moreover, to one who was not His disciple, is: Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice, 4 where of the truth points to the mystery of man's free posture of mind as disposed or otherwise to be guided aright. This final declaration of Him Who knew what was in man 5 expresses the spirit of His entire teaching concerning the selfmanifestation of His truth to every man's conscience who wills to do His will. 6 Secondly, the light of the body of revelation is the Holy Ghost. The Savior does not appeal to reason, apart from the mediation of the sole and supreme Convincer. That Spirit also knoweth what is in man, and brings His own Divine demonstration to every mind that does not refuse to consider what He says. He so adapts His arguments to the present fallen moral nature of men that their rejection can spring only from the perverseness of those whose spiritual eye of faith is darkened. As Christ is the Truth incarnate, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Truth. 7 He is the great Apologist of Revelation to the world.

And St. Paul says, concerning His argument, that it is nothing less than demonstration: en apodeíxei pneúmatos, 8 Hence, thirdly, descending to man, we may appeal to the testimonies of Scripture as to the sin and self-conviction of unbelief. The tenor of those testimonies may be summed up in the same Apostle's last word, concerning the heretic, the Hairetikón ánthroopon: he is autokatákritos, condemned of himself. 9 Those who resist the truth are men of corrupt minds, and this has its evidence in their being reprobate concerning the faith. 10 On the other hand, he tells us that there is a manifestation of the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God; 11 and that, in every case in which it is hid, the cause is to be found in a blindness superadded by the god of this world. The same God who in the natural sphere commanded the light to shine out of darkness 12 in the beginning, commandeth still the light of His knowledge to shine in the face of Jesus Christ. No command of God can be disobeyed. There was light follows Let there be light 13 in the moral world also; but the light, like its Author, may be rejected of men: the darkness comprehendeth it not.14

1 Job 32:8; 2 John 3:21; 3 John 1:9; 4 John 18:37; 5 John 2:25; 6 John 7:17; 7 John 16:13; 8 1 Cor. 2:4; 9 Titus 3:11; 10 2 Tim. 3:8; 11 2 Cor. 4:2-4; 12 2 Cor. 4:6; 13 Gen. 1:3; 14 John 1:5.

4. To those who receive the light, in the sense of not refusing it, revelation is one whole, and all its glorious system of truth is received and surely believed. To them it is both objectively and subjectively THE FAITH; and, inasmuch as Christianity has brought it in all its fullness into the world, it is to them THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. This phrase has therefore a large meaning. It signifies that it is not their Philosophy simply, the glory of their reason, the Tradition they have derived from their fathers, but the rich inheritance which the Holy Spirit has given to that one supreme faculty of their souls, the faith which is the evidence of things not seen. 1 It is a body of truth which, as reason did not give it, so reason cannot take it away. It is a region in which they walk by faith, which their faith habitually visits, in which their faith lives, and moves, and has its being.

1 Heb. 11:1.

II. But some of these remarks have already suggested that faith is strictly allied with reason in the acceptance of Christianity as a system of truth. The Spirit Who awakens faith regenerates the reason so that it humbles itself to receive mysteries which it cannot understand; the evidences on which faith rests are such as; the reason is called on to approve, here the judgment of the mind having its full honor; and in the acceptance of the whole economy of the Scriptures of Revelation faith and sound reason; are blended into a perfect unity.

1. The Christian Faith presents to the faculty by which the infinite and the eternal are perceived a system of truth which human reason cannot fathom or understand, against which it naturally rebels. But the same Spirit Who opens the eye of faith gives reason its perfect soundness, so that it consents to accept what it cannot itself verify. Here of course we regard Revelation as one organic whole, which has for its unifying principle one overwhelming truth, the union of God and man in Christ. Around this centre revolve other equally incomprehensible doctrines; and beyond these in a wider orbit many which are not in the same sense beyond the human faculties. And speaking of the one vast Revelation we may say that it is committed to faith and submissively wondered at by reason. Faith is elevated to receive it and reason humbled to submit to it.

2. But this faith is not arbitrary or despotic. It gives its rights to reason in all things over which reasoning presides. It presents the evidences for the being of God, for the Incarnation of the Son, for the mystery of the Atonement; and reason must either admit the evidence as in the case of the Divine existence, or confess that it has nothing to plead against it, as in the case of the Incarnation. Like sin before the presence of Divine justice reason shuts her mouth and is silent. But, descending into the province of the general external evidences of Revelation the matter changes its character. Either it must be said that here reason and faith are one under different names, or faith must be regarded as no longer the faculty of perceiving the infinite but as the principle of believing on evidence.

In either view faith and reason are here inseparable. Faith accepts and relies on what there is every reasonable ground for believing. Our great term, THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, then becomes the body of external revelation which is surely believed in by all Christians because they are assured of the strength of its evidences. But this leads us at once to the Credentials of Revelation.


Revelation, which is one with the Christian Faith, which is one with its documents and records, presents its sufficient Credentials to the reason and heart and will of man as one great body of irresistible evidence. First, it comes to mankind as a response to the universal desire and expectation of communication from above: to the craving of the human heart for communion with God. Secondly, Revelation exhibits, in its own structure, the Divine attributes as stamped upon every part of its system in the form of miracle, prophecy, and inspiration. Thirdly, it furnishes, in the Person of Christ the Revealer, its heavenly guarantee of its own truth. Fourthly, in its perfect consummation as Christianity, it appeals to the character of its influence in human history: positively in its victory over the world's evil, and negatively in its victory over all opposition. Lastly, it relies, as a Divine revelation might be expected to rely, on the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. All its credentials may without much difficulty be classed under these several heads: so far that is as they are a general apology and vindication of the Christian Faith contained in itself.

The Revelation of Christ in the Scriptures enforces its own claims, and theology must pay supreme deference to those internal credentials. These become Evidences when they are arranged in their order. What the Law was to the earlier Gospel, Evidences are to Credentials: added because of human weakness. They have their use, as it respects both the believer and the unbeliever; to the former for confirmation, to the latter for conviction.

1. The believer is taught by them how to give a reason of the; hope that is in him: to be ready or prepared, prós apologían, 1 for Apology. St. Luke, the Evangelist of the Evidences, sets this: clearly before us: he so arranges the testimonies of the Faith that; Theophilus, already instructed in the verities most surely believed, might know the certainty of those things: epignoós, 2 referring to an accurate and systematic knowledge.

Both for the confirmation of his own faith, and for the conviction of the gainsayer, every Christian, especially every Christian minister, should have the form of sound defense at hand to guard the form of sound words the Hupotúpoosin,3 or systematic arrangement, is equally necessary for each.

1 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Luke 1:4; 3 2 Tim. 1:13.

2. As to the unbeliever, the Credentials must be so arranged as to form a complete body of evidence for his possible conviction: without either undervaluing or over-estimating their importance. They must not be despised by a transcendental reliance on the selfevidencing light. Christianity, like its Founder, has a mission to seek that it may save. Its history, both within and without the Bible, is a record of calm reasonings with the mind, even of those who turn away. Evidences or signs are for those who believe not. There may be cases in which the arguments used concerning Revelation may induce the skeptic to listen to the voice of Revelation itself. But, on the other hand, too much must not be expected from them, as they are external evidences apart from the interior demonstration of the truth. Our Lord and His Apostles have left us no instance of argument with those who held not some measure of faith to which their reasonings might appeal. As the Book of Revelation does not reason with Atheism, neither does Christianity lay any stress on reasoning with Infidelity and disbelief.

3. Various terms have been here introduced: such as unbeliever, disbeliever, doubter, and skeptic. These bear their shades of meaning, which it is important to remember and discriminate in all discussions on this subject. It is well known that in the New Testament there is everywhere a clear and broad distinction between two classes: believers and unbelievers. But it is not Implied that the state of unbelief is that in which nothing is believed: on the contrary, UNBELIEF is DISBELIEF and disbelief is the belief of the opposite of that which faith holds. Not that no room is left for a neutral state, that in which men muse in their hearts and remain suspended in doubt. DOUBT hesitates between two contradictory conclusions. It may have some degree of belief, checked by a consciousness of ignorance: in this case it is provisional, waiting for more light, and the New Testament gives several instances of this as worthy to be reasoned with. It may be definitive, and is then SCEPTICISM, or the surrender of the mind to a conviction of the impossibility of certainty, with a tranquil complacency in such a state. But as skepticism believes that truth cannot be found, it is itself faith in necessary ignorance, unbelief of that about which it doubts, and therefore really disbelief. Hence the bad sense which is generally attached to the word in Christian Evidences.

4. Let it be further observed that these credentials have no reference to those branches of evidences that concern the volume externally viewed: they come from the heart of Revelation as it is one great communication in Christ; and the question of the authenticity and authority of the several parts of the Holy Scriptures must be postponed. It must be remembered also that the Apologetics of the Christian Faith accompany the several doctrines; every article of the creed requires its own defense; and therefore the evidences of Christianity must needs be distributed over the whole course of our dogmatic system.

Again, they allow opportunity for the fair consideration of everything that can be said for or against Christianity as such, without descending, however, to innumerable subordinate questions, which have no importance in themselves. Once more, the exhibition of these credentials in all their grandeur will simplify the later evidences as to the several doctrines of the Bible, and at the same time lend those evidences their own force. Finally, this arrangement enables us to do justice to the cumulative character of the argument: it is not merely an accumulation of all that may be said on the subject, but such an orderly presentation as will make every argument, whether more or less important, both give and receive strength through its connection with the rest.


Christianity, or the perfect Divine Revelation, presents itself as the answer to a universal demand. It explains while it appeals to the innate craving of the human mind to know God, or its sentiment of religion, and accounts for the general expectation of the Race, as expressed in its traditional Religions: appealing to them by what they contain of truth, and by what they contain of falsehood. It comes with these credentials; and, moreover, pleads as being the perfect utterance of a Revelation which has been among men from the beginning, and, therefore, as the response to an expectation kept alive in the world by its own earlier teachings. Under this first department of credentials must be included all those preliminary considerations which are sometimes reckoned as Presumptive Evidences.

In systems of Apologetics, or Evidences, presumptive arguments are commonly arranged in a threefold gradation. First, it is shown that a Divine revelation is POSSIBLE, whether as it respects the Giver of it or the recipient. Secondly, the deficiencies of reason within and the failures of human religion without are urged to establish that such a revelation is NECESSARY. Then, thirdly the conclusion follows that it is PROBABLE: the probability, when the Divine goodness and man's desire are taken into the account, reaching the point which only falls short of moral certainty. Now this chain of propositions may be established: the argument breaks down nowhere. But, for the reasons already given, it seems better to attain the same object by first of all examining the Revelation itself.

Instead of arguing over the first proposition, the affirmation of which is contradicted by a certain school of philosophy, we must assume it to be true by appealing to the consciousness of all men, the doubters included. To conduct this argument without taking some revelation for granted is a thing impossible. And it is certain that it is more after the manner of the Bible to set out with the credentials of Revelation itself than to array a number of internal and presumptive evidences in its-absence.


Divine revelation appeals to a preparation in the human spirit which it explains and accounts for: first, the instinctive and indestructible sense of dependence on a First Cause; secondly, the consciousness of responsibility to a Supreme Authority; and, thirdly, the union of these in the deep desire to know and have fellowship with the Source and End of life. This three-one fact in human nature revelation challenges; and here is its first credential. The instinct in man and the response from God meet. From the first word of the Scriptures to the last the Voice of the Creator speaks to the still small voice of His creature: the Voice of the All-sufficient answering the cry of dependence, of the Merciful Judge dealing with guilt, and of the Eternal and Invisible conversing as Man with humanity. In the Bible, as completed by Christianity, there is not a possible question of human nature to which a response is not given. The positive strength of this plea will be considered when we come to establish the existence of God. Meanwhile, it may be necessary here to obviate two opposite objections which may be urged against this most mighty presumptive argument.

1. Atheistic philosophy of every order is content to assert that the sentiment in human nature is one of the fruits of its own imagination, begotten of fear or hope; and that it has invented a revelation to satisfy the demands of its own delusion: the imaginary revelation from heaven being, like heaven itself, its most consummate delusion. With such theories of the soul it is vain to argue: at least, they do not enter into the present discussion. Save, indeed, so far as they sometimes undertake to deny that what we may term this instinct is really universal in the constitution of man. This is simply an appeal to experience and induction. No race of humanity has ever been found which does not contradict this denial. Among the very lowest tribes there are traces of a certain sense of dependence on another world: the degraded feeling which looks with awe at some fetish symbol of the unknown is the same tribute at the one pole as the philosophical speculation of Agnosticism is at the opposite pole, to a sense in man of the Infinite. The finite instinct for the Infinite, which is faith, undergoes in them the same degradation which; all their other mental and spiritual faculties have undergone: no more, no less.

But of this more will be said hereafter.

2. Deism has another and very different kind of counterargument. It sometimes insists that these instinctive preparations for the voice of God are themselves the revelation of the Supreme, and that there can be no other: that is to say, a transcendental Deism refuses to allow that there can be any other authenticated revelation of the Infinite to the finite than that which is direct in the consciousness of those who receive it. But it forgets that the; very highest religious sentiment in man is only a desire unsatisfied; and that, as every strong and universal instinct has its answer from without, so also must this the strongest and most universal of all. But it may be denied that there is any longing of the human mind for an external revelation. Many who admit that the irrepressible yearning of the human soul towards the Infinite is an. argument for the expectation of a secret revelation of God in the depths of the yearning spirit nevertheless refuse to admit the force of this appeal in favor of a revelation coming from above with all the external appendages that belong to the Christian Faith. It is sufficient to reply that this style of argument ignores the fact that the relation of man to God is such as to demand an external communication as well as an internal. If he were, as he should be, at peace with the Object he seeks, the communion with his Maker might be conducted altogether within. Yet even then not altogether within; for the whole universe around him would be full of symbols, the visible revelation of his Creator. But he is, by the very supposition, estranged from God.

The original conditions have ceased to exist: and no argument can be based upon them.

The unutterable longing to which Christianity responds is that of a guilty spirit; not only dependent on the Supreme, but trembling before Him. Man looks up to heaven—as his Greek name, anthroopínee, testifies; but he looks up to an outward Judge and not within to an interior God; and expects and hopes that the Supreme will appear to him and speak to him by some being, or voice, or token. And this is the germ of all revelation.

Moreover, it is undeniable that in every age and in every region men have longed for and believed in an external expression of the Divine mind. In fact, Christianity is but one of many responses to man's groaning unutterable towards God. But this leads to a further stage in our credentials, to which what has been said is only introductory.


As Divine revelation responds to the spirit in man, so it explains and responds to the great Anticipation of the Human Race, as testified by its universal Religions. This also is a most mighty credential, which may be regarded under several aspects.

1. The Christian Religion explains the religiousness of mankind, and pays respect to the forms in which this has been expressed. St. Paul, the amplest expositor of Natural Theology, preaches in the Acts, and teaches in the Epistle to the Romans, that the whole world has always been under a Divine education: drawn by God's works of creation to contemplate His power, and by the benefits of His providence to consider His goodness, in order that it might thus be prepared for a third revelation which should display both His power and His goodness in redemption. The Apostle, as the leading representative of this argument, professes only to DECLARE or preach, —katangélloo humín—the UNKNOWN GOD 1 Whom all the world had been ever consciously or unconsciously seeking: that world which is, as Tertullian said of the human spirit, naturaliter Christianus. He makes God Himself, in a certain sense, the universal Teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity, didáskalos ethnoón, 2 and heathenism, like the law, a schoolmaster unto Christ. In other words, this representative of Christianity traces all forms of religious faith and practice among the nations to a yearning for revelation from heaven. And he in fact gives us the argument we now use: the strong presumption from the Consensus Gentium, the consent of all the world, in favor of a communication from God to mankind. For, Christianity, which is revelation made perfect, or rather the only true revelation, appeals to the anticipation it explains. Tracing to their ultimate cause both the truth and the error, it makes both subservient to its own credentials. It must be remembered that the New Testament is in this the successor and continuator of the Old. The whole Bible appeals from beginning to end, that is since the time that external religion began, to; the common, tribal or national, instinct of the peoples of the earth. This argument we shall hereafter use in demonstration of the existence of a Divine Source of all things: namely, the very fact that the Bible regards it as already a secret thought, ready to be revealed, in the hearts of all men. Our present argument supposes that the being of God is admitted. And its strength is this, that that God has in every age been training the nations for a full disclosure of Himself. As it is written: He correcteth the Gentiles; 3 or places them under discipline.

1 Acts 17:23; 2 1 Tim. 2:7; 3 Ps. 94:10.

2. All this has taken for granted that the forms of religion always existing in heathenism have possessed certain elements of truth. Otherwise they would be worthless as evidence of a universal aspiration towards communion with heaven. Whatever strong assertions we may find in the Old and New Testaments of the doctrinal errors and moral abominations of heathenism, we discern everywhere an acknowledgment of something good lying at their root, of which they are only the perversions. Much truth is tacitly recognized in the sacred traditions of mankind, however waning and ready to perish: that is to say, much truth dispersed among them and variously represented, though no one system may be said to exhibit even the perversions of all truths. Perhaps almost all the great tribal or national expressions of the feeling after the Infinite have more or less paid their tribute to the unity and supremacy of the One Unknown God, with a dim perception of a plurality in that unity; to the existence of intelligences higher than man, as it were between God and man, this notion being disguised in a thousand ways, from Polytheism down to the personification of all the forces of nature; to the degradation of man himself through a fall, and the universality of sin as personal guilt and liability to punishment; to a mysterious Deliverer desired of the nations; to the sense of the necessity and acceptableness of worship by sacrifice ; in the ethical domain to the rights of the Bight and the goodness of the Good; to the inextinguishable hope of immortality, more distorted perhaps than almost any other truth. Now it is a credential of the Christian revelation that it acknowledges all this; or rather that all this is true. Professing to be the supreme, the only direct, communication from God to man, it points to a universal consent among the nations that some such revelation was expected and was needed.

3. But this leads to the further argument, that Christianity explains and corrects these errors while it confirms the truth underlying them all. It comes as the correction of every delusion into which it declares the Eternal had permitted the world to fall as the consequence of its resistance of His Spirit. It teaches the true doctrine concerning God.

Sweeping away the pantheism, the polytheism, the atheism of the nations: it amends the doctrine of sin, by connecting it with redemption; it substitutes the true Divine-human Sacrifice, its expiation cleansing the heathen temple, its gift of the Spirit supplying the need of the heathen philosophical schools; it reforms the whole economy of worship, by revealing a Mediator; it supplies the defects and reproves the corruptions of the world's ethical systems; and it brightens and simplifies its doctrine of the future state.

4. Such are the credentials of the Christian revelation: such are its claims to be heard. No further plea is at present urged than this. No other system, among the many candidates for acceptance, has ever made such pretensions as these. No ancient creed or religion, however missionary in its spirit, ever professed to come from God with the explanation and sure guidance of the world's spiritual desires. Christianity alone explains heathenism, with a solution at once gentle and stern. And it alone brings in the time of a universal reformation. This is, however, laid down only as its credential: as such it has all the force, although no more than the force, of a preliminary demand for profound respect and solemn attention to its appeals.

5. Objections to this credential, as such, and limited strictly to the present stage of the argument, may be noticed at once and disarmed in a few sentences. It will be said by the Atheist, or the Antitheist, that Christianity, in common with every other form of the religious sentiment among men, is no more than an invention of the human mind—or that subtle action of matter which is called the mind—and the most beautiful, though not always the most beautiful, evolution in man of those strange phenomena which in the lower orders of creation make man himself their object. All the history of religion, in every part of the world, and among all the tribes of mankind, is only the record of the evolution of something in man that has no name, no object, and apparently no meaning.

We are not at present concerned with the Atheist; and may postpone further reference to this subject. Meanwhile, there is another form of the objection which cannot be thus summarily dismissed.

(1.) It appears to many students of what may be called Comparative Theology that the existence of so many other religions, containing so many noble and uncontested truths, is a bar to the acceptance of Christianity as the one definitive revelation of God. They deny the distinction between natural religion and super-natural, between natural theology and revealed. They assert that all the faiths or mythologies of mankind are natural or supernatural alike, according as these words are understood. All are supernatural, in the sense that the Creator has lodged in the spirit of man a faculty for the Infinite, which has developed in a few great historical religions; just as the Creator gave man a, supernatural endowment of language, which has been developed into a few great families of speech.

All are natural, in the sense that all have their natural pedigree, and may be traced through the various nationalities as, equally with language and perhaps more than language, the foundation of race distinctions. Hence, the Science of Religion distinguishes in various ways the religions of mankind. There are the religions which should be traced to individual founders: such as Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tse, Christ, and Mohammed. And there are those which are national, and have never been connected with human names: the religions of the ancient Brahmans, the Greeks, Romans, Teutons, Slavs, and Celts. Again, we have the Faiths which have Sacred Books and those which are without them: of the former eight being reckoned, Brahmanism and Buddhism among the Hindus; Zornastrianisrn among the Persians; among the Hebrews, Mosaism and Christianity; among the Arabs, Mohammedanism; among the Chinese, Confucianism and the religion of Lao-tse. These distinctions rise at last into the division of two or three great families. First, the Aryan, subdivided into the Brahmanism of the Yeda, Buddhism which sprang from it and revolted against it, and Zoroastrianism, which departed from the ancient Yedic faith. Secondly, the Semitic, with its Old and New Testament religions, the latter transferred, however, into Aryan soil: and Mohammedanism. These have played the most distinguished part in the history of the world hitherto; but a third must be added, the Turanian, to which the branches of Chinese religion belong. The argument deduced from the study of Comparative Theology is simply this: that there is not one religion which is of Divine right, and must needs be separated from all the rest. In plain words, whatever other distinctions there are— between Monotheistic and Polytheistic, Documentary and Traditional, Cultivated and Fetish—the distinction between true and false religions is not to be allowed. There is no final, definitive, supreme religion for mankind, any more than there is one universal language for mankind. This science, which is comparatively new, makes a fair show of zeal for all religions; and, indeed, most triumphantly vindicates the truth, depth, and universality of the Godward tendency in our nature. But this is at the expense of Christianity, however seemingly on its side. In fact, it takes away all the strength of the credential now under consideration, so far as it concerns Christianity, while leaving it in its full force so far as it concerns revelation generally, or the religion of nature. What then is to be said in defense of our argument? (2.) First, and foremost, the Science of Religion pays too much honor to the Faiths of the World when it brings Christianity into conjunction or comparison with them. After allowing all that the catholic Apostle asserts as to the religiousness of mankind—our argument has done justice to that—we must not forget his dark testimony against the outward forms of that religiousness. The world by wisdom knew not God. 1 Comparative Theology collects a number of sublime sayings about God to which Hindu devotion gave birth; but it is undeniable that the system of Brahmanism was at almost all points a gigantic parody on the religion of supernatural revelation. Attempt after attempt from age to age was made to reform it; but its greatest reformation, that of Buddhism, —now one of the most extensively held faiths in the world—was and is in reality a religion without a God: the vastest waste of Atheism that has ever been known. Christianity is not one of the religions of the world: responding, like others, to the common instinct, only in bolder and sublimer terms. Once more, Christianity is not what the Science of Religions makes it: an offshoot from Mosaism, and an improvement on it, as Buddhism rose out of the old Vedic faith and put away its old gods. It is the one only religion that the world has ever received directly from heaven. In its present form, and with its present name, it originated in the midst of Judaism, at a certain epoch, and struggled for and won its ascendancy much after the manner of other religions. But Christianity as Divine Revelation is only the consummate form of a truth, or a system of truths, that has been in the world from the beginning of human history. But this will introduce another very important aspect of our credentials.

1 1 Cor. 1:21.


It is a continuation of the same argument to say that Christianity is itself an explanation of the preparatory disclosures of revealed truth, and the consummation of them all.

1. This is, in fact, the crowning presumptive argument in its favor, that it is the end and completion of a revelation that has been going on from the beginning. It is not a religion that literally began in Judaea with the advent of Jesus. It does not profess to be the first supernatural communication to mankind: it is not the opening of the heavens for the first time. It finishes a testimony that began with the fall of man: in the best sense, it is therefore as old as the Creation. This last sentence has been made the watchword of English Infidelity: as if its being coeval with the human race were a disproof of its Divine original. But this is in fact its glory. It is the last accent of a Voice which spoke first at the gate of Paradise. That voice was the Primitive Revelation from the perversions of which all the innumerable forms of mythology arose. But that Voice awakened the desire of the human race to which all revelation has been a response, and has constantly deepened that desire whilst it responded to it. But only in a peculiar line, and within a limited area. On either side of that line, and beyond that area, men groped after the lost, Creator and the forfeited Paradise in their own way: being dealt with both in justice and in mercy. The mercy of the Supreme has in every age guided the instincts of all the sincere. St. Peter is as catholic as St. Paul on this subject. Discerning in Cornelius the best religion of the Gentiles, he said: I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is acceptable to Him. 1 But justice abandoned the races as such to the consequences of their own perverseness: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 2 Thus the two Apostles agree: as to individuals the sincere have been guided towards an unknown Savior; as to the races the just Providence of God dealt with them according to their inventions. Meanwhile, there has been in every age a clear, distinct, though not voluminous announcement of the will of God, delivered to a chosen and faithful people. And the peculiarity of these preliminary revelations has been this, that every word has at once satisfied human aspiration and kindled it to higher desire. Christianity is the final answer to a continuous expectation kept up from age to age. It is the response to what may be called a third form of the great anticipation: besides the instinct in every human spirit, and in the human race as such, man has had, though all men have not had, an express testimony of the Mind of the Supreme, leading human hope onward to the perfect revelation of Christ. Christianity comes as the perfecting of its earlier Self: the final and sufficient response to the expectation it had kept up from the beginning. This is its supreme preparatory credential.

It is the last of many words, and leaves nothing more to be desired in the present estate of mankind.

1 Acts 10:34,35; 2 Rom. 1:21.

2. The force of this credential will be felt only by those who already accept, or are disposed to accept, the revelation of Jesus. The more it is pondered the more satisfactory will it seem to all who take a large view of the dealings of Providence with man. There are, of course, unsearchable mysteries in the subject: mysteries so perplexing that they have driven some speculatists to the renunciation of a God. To those who do believe in God the gradual education of a world free and responsible is a thought to be accepted and reposed in. It is more tolerable at least than other thoughts which would displace it. It is more in harmony with every high conception of the Supreme to suppose that He has in every age been communicating His will with more and more clearness to mankind, having always in view a final and full disclosure, than to suppose that He planted a religious germ in man's heart which has been always developing with infinite variety in every variety of soils, no provision whatever being made for the survival of the best, without indeed allowing that there is or that there can be any best.

(1.) But the objection may be urged that it is below the dignity of a Divine revelation to keep the world so long in suspense. In answer to this we can only refer to the analogy of all the other dealings of God which come within our cognizance. The earth as man's abode, the history of all the creatures that it inherit, especially the progress of everything pertaining to its chief inhabitant, has been under a law of secular and slow evolution.

Supposing the entire economy of things to be under the government of one Supreme Mind—that is to say, supposing the God of revelation to be the Author of nature—there can be, or there ought to be, no difficulties in the way of considering at least the claims of a revelation which professes to describe the methods of a gradual education of the human race. To the Theistic advocates of development this ought to be a strong recommendation of the Holy Scriptures, and of their final solution of all mysteries in Christianity. With its Materialistic or Positivist advocates of course we have nothing to do: there are no credentials which appeal to them. They must give up their delusion of Nescience or unintelligent and meaningless Law, and first be reconciled to a Personal Author of all things, before the Christian Revelation even looks their way. But those who admit that the laying of the material foundations of the superstructure of intelligent life required incalculable ages ought not to shrink from the preliminary announcement that God has at sundry times and in divers manners spoken to the human race, and finally consummated all His words in His Son.

(2.) If, once more, it be pointed out—as it constantly is—that what professes to be the last revelation is after all only a partial response to the deep questions of mankind, this may be granted as a fact, but it is robbed of its force as an argument by the suggestion that even Christianity is only part of a scheme, understood only by the Infinite Mind, the first elements of which alone are brought within the range of our faculties. It will be shown hereafter that there is not a solitary question of the human-spirit, on the answer to which its present peace and its probation for eternal happiness depend, which the Holy Oracles do not satisfy. More than that we have no right to expect. Had the revelation of Jesus professed to leave no mystery unexplained, that would have been a stronger plea against its Divinity than infidelity has ever yet been able to find.


The cumulative strength of these pleas, the line of which only has been indicated, is or should be irresistible. They have immense force as a moral demonstration of the claims of Christianity to be heard and weighed with the most profound solemnity. Not to listen to Christ is to be self-condemned. His words are the only response to the universal anticipation of the human; race: as existing in the very constitution of the mind, as testified; by the consent of nations, and as kept alive from the beginning by supernatural and gradual disclosures of the Divine will. Either I God has thus finally spoken, or there is no God, and man is the incomprehensible creation of chance and the sport of the chance that created him.


Another class of the credentials of revelation is found in its exhibition of the Divine attributes, displayed in the tokens of the presence of God generally, and particularly in the supernatural order of miracles, prophecy, and inspiration as including both, which everywhere reigns. These are not so much notes and qualities of revelation as the fabric of the revelation itself; and have always been, whether separately or combined, the strong enforcement of, its claims upon attention and acceptance.


God is a Personal Presence in the whole economy of revealed truth. But He is not present in the same sense as that in which He is immanent in the world: revelation is, has ever been and must ever be, a supernatural order, blending with the natural And moving on harmoniously with it in general, whilst exhibiting most essential differences. But here it is necessary to define terms, or rather to remind ourselves of their conventional relations.

1. There is a sense in which the natural order of things—that is, the constitution of nature as governed by certain fixed physical and metaphysical laws—must always be touched if not pervaded by the supernatural, that is, by what is not matter of our constant experience. The invisible world, and all interventions from the spiritual world, are supernatural. Hence it follows that the introduction of man into this system of things was a supernatural intervention; and all revelations of the unseen in the constitution of his nature are supernatural; and all evidences of the presence and glory of God in the universe as seen by man are supernatural.

2. This then being granted, there is a sense also in which the great economy to which the Bible bears witness is in a preeminent sense supernatural. From beginning to end—that is, from the first intimation of a coming Redeemer to His final manifestation with final and eternal truth upon His lips—all has been beyond and above the nature of man's ordinary experience. All has been one vast and never-ceasing demonstration of God moving among men and supernaturally operating in human affairs. His wonderful works pervade the whole, though only on occasions bursting into what we call Miracle. They have displayed His presence in His own immediate acts, or in acts above nature performed by the instrumentality of His creatures. They have displayed His one design in the communication of knowledge concerning it to His ministers in Prophecy. They have displayed His wisdom in the preservation, through men raised up to be objects of Inspiration, of the continuous record of His revealed economy of salvation. Thus the laws of the supernatural operation have been threefold. MIRACLE is the intervention of the Supreme Power in the established course of nature. The Creator put all things under the control of general law, but it is manifest that He is excepted who did subject all things 1 to it. His personal authority is not a violation of law, nor a suspension of it, but the introduction of a new and sufficient cause of any effect He would produce. PROPHECY is the intervention of the supreme knowledge, imparted to man independently of the ordinary laws of knowing: whether for the purpose of uttering new truth, or of foretelling what, to all but God, is contingent in the future. INSPIRATION is that supernatural intervention of the Divines wisdom by which the miracle of prophecy is made permanent in the organic unity of Scripture. Now these are all of the essence of revelation: they combine in every part of it. The Scriptures, or Revelation, or the Christian faith—these three are one—have exhibited one vast and permanent miracle, one great prophecy ever in coarse of fulfillment, and one great result of inspiration.

1 1 Cor. 15:27.

3. These three may be regarded as one great continuous Miracle, and one great body of credentials commending to us the Scriptures of revelation. But these credentials for faith must have their own evidences for reason. As they belong to the supernatural order they must be received by faith. They imply, indeed they assert, the being of God, and His intervention for objects, and in a manner, before which reason sinks confounded. But as facts recorded and humanly attested, they must be received on evidence which is trustworthy and amenable to the tests of trustworthiness. These two must combine; just as in all things pertaining to religion, faith and reason must unite: being reconciled when they differ, and blended into the harmony of certitude. In examining these several evidences of God in revelation each must be viewed as distinct. But, in considering them as credentials of one great scheme professedly the revelation of a God Whose existence is admitted, we are not under the necessity of examining at length the question which touches their abstract possibility in a philosophical point of view. We regard them as the internal demonstrations of Scripture, and have only to ask what their force and meaning are as credentials, and to prove that no condition of such credentials is wanting.


There are many and distinct terms used in Scripture to signify what we call miracles.

They are called generally the ergon, or works of God; sometimes these works are referred to as acts of the Divine power that effects them, and they are then MIRACLES OR dunamesi; sometimes the purpose for which they are wrought is made emphatic in their designation, and they are SIGNS or shmeia. A third term, terata, is occasionally connected with these; but, as it merely refers to the immediate effect produced on the minds of beholders, it has no theological importance. All that requires to be said as to the credentials of Miracle may be referred to these two words respectively.


The former, the highest expression of which is in the Pentecostal word, The wonderful works of God, 1 pervades the whole Scripture, which clearly distinguishes between the ordinary operations of Providence and these extraordinary tokens of the Divine presence.

It makes miracle the special intervention of omnipotence: in this sense also there is no power but of God. Revelation shows us the Maker of the laws of the universe, which we understand only as the invariable sequence of cause and effect, introducing when He pleases a new cause: not violating His own laws, or suppressing, or arresting them; not using the operation of more extensive laws than those known to exist, but simply bringing in new causes of new effects when He sees fit. Faith recognizes the FINGER OF GOD; 2 , 3 and reason, admitting the existence of a Supreme Cause, assents to this. Its definition of Miracle is an act of the immediate power of God intervening in the connection of natural causes and effects. It does not argue with those who deny to the God of nature this power and freedom to use it. The preliminary objection against the possibility of miracle, and the value of any amount of evidence that might seek to establish its credibility, can never be met by any other argument than this first term. It is well that the Apologist of revelation should take a high stand here. If there is a Personal God there can be no a priori reason why He should not interfere with His own laws. No continuity and unbroken order of sequence in cause and effect can be made an argument against the possibility of its being disturbed. The last word of philosophy on the subject is that our faith in the stability of nature is a primary law of human thought, as certainly bound up in our mental constitution as our consciousness of personal identity. Now we have an equally firm faith operating as a primary law of thought that an omnipotent Being can, if He will, put forth His Finger and regulate in a new way laws the general order of which He does not violate. On this conviction rests all the evidence that miracles need as they are manifestations of a Divine presence.

1 Acts 2:11; 2 Ex. 8:19; 3 Luke 11:20.


The second term, shmeia, (Greek) 'oth, (Hebrew) theologically and in our present connection the more important, is never wanting in Scripture, though used with a more limited application. It indicates that God declares Himself present in certain particular miracles, and challenges attention to His own words or the words of His messenger thus authenticated. Now, revelation has not at its great epochs been without this credential.

While the Wonderful Works are literally never absent in revelation, —always in course of procedure, open or secret, known or unknown, in miracles of nature and in miracles of grace, during the ages while the Volume was constructed and since it has been finished, for ever and ever throughout the whole economy of salvation, —the Signs have been occasionally given at certain great and important epochs, and in confirmation, both to believers and unbelievers, of messages from heaven. It is needless to ask whether it might have been otherwise: in His wisdom God has seen fit to accompany all supernatural communications by signs and infallible tokens. But, though needless, it is not unprofitable to consider how absolutely necessary such signs and tokens must be to authenticate tidings so amazing as those which the Scripture brings. Here a few distinctions may be useful.

1. The grandest miracles which are the credentials of revelation are in the substance of the revelation itself. Very many of the extraordinary interpositions it records are not bound up with the nature and purpose of the economy of God's redeeming will, but have been miraculous attestations of individual missions. When, however, we rise from its appendages, circumstantials, and preliminaries to the Great Redemption itself, the case is different. Christ the Author of Christianity and its Substance and its End is the supreme Miracle, and everything connected with Him is miraculous. As soon as we come within the sphere, of His sacred presence the definition of miracle becomes enlarged: it is then an immediate act of Divine omnipotence which has its necessity, its reality, and its exhibition in the redeeming economy. To the central or final congregation of wonders in Him those of the Old Testament looked forward, and with them the great series virtually ended. The advent of Christ was a miracle; of which the entire history of His words and works, of His life and death, of His resurrection and ascension, is a continuation. Hence it is obvious that with regard to the Christian system as a whole miracle is essential to its demonstration. For without miracle there is no Christian revelation.

2. But, descending from this high level, we may confidently assert that the authentication of the human agents of the Divine will required such attestations from heaven as we call miracles. It may be going too far to say that the common instinct of mankind expects that if God sends a messenger He will excite attention by signs preceding and confirm His word by signs following. No founder of a human religion has ever failed to appeal to this general expectation. Confucius and Buddha and Mohammed are sometimes said to have been exceptions; but they were exceptions only to this extent, that they did not profess themselves to work miracles. Buddha was a strange anomaly in every respect. He appeared only as a reformer of an old religion, and did not found, or rather did not claim to found, a religion of his own. In other words, he needed no credentials, for he did not profess to come from God. Confucius brought no revelation: his honest task and his honest work was to revive and classify and perfect the religious literature of his people.

Mohammed pretended to no power of working miracles: wisely declining to come into competition with the true prophets of God whose revelations he appropriated and perverted. But he did bring, or assume to bring, a new revelation; and accordingly he made his appeal to miraculous messages and communications which were in the place of the miracles he could not perform. But, apart from the question of universal expectation, —which is of some importance, though not decisive, —we find that from beginning to end the Author of revelation is represented as taking this expectation into account, and as always investing His ambassadors and heralds with the credentials of miracle. The importance of these signs by which the Divine Being has authenticated the beginnings at least of every new economy of truth is sometimes undervalued. It is said to be more in harmony with heavenly decorum to communicate truth directly to the human mind; and more consistent with the dignity of truth itself that it should depend on its own intrinsic adaptation and fitness. But they who reason thus are needlessly jealous of the Divine prerogative and of human dignity. He who knows what is in man has never offered a revelation to the race without such signs and wonders as were sufficient to establish it in the world, leaving those inexcusable who should refuse to believe.

3. This leads to the nature of the credential itself, or the value of the miracle, as it is a sign. Generally, and taking revelation as a whole, it appeals to the body of evidence that God has interposed in human affairs, in a manner transcendently extraordinary, as its plenary and abiding demonstration. That is to say, in few words, the Christian Faith rests its strong claim on this among: other things, that there is a series of wonderful works and supernatural acts behind it, around it, and encompassing it, which no sincere and candid mind ought to be able to resist. More particularly, every messenger, the Supreme Messenger not excepted, coming with professed revelation from above, has invariably been authenticated by miraculous endowments which God Himself has deemed necessary and sufficient to vindicate His servants' mission. Lastly, the miracles which satisfied the generation receiving these credentials are, as will be hereafter seen, committed to the documents which hand down the truths they taught; and the miracles and the documents together with those truths become matter of historical testimony.

4. Finally, it is obvious that the value of miracles as such, and apart from all other credentials, is to be found mainly in the authentication of the messengers to their own contemporaries. Their immediate effect on those who behold them is expressed by Nicodemus: Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God; far no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him. 1 Then follows profound attention to the messenger and the message. The Sign precedes the teaching. But to after generations there is a certain change. They have the message, and its full force as truth, before they consider the miraculous attestation. We in our day include the original miracles with all other branches of evidence which are to be received on trustworthy testimony such as no lapse of ages can invalidate. But this leads to a consideration of that testimony itself, or what may be called the credentials of this Credential.

1 John 2:2.


The entire question of the trustworthiness of the testimony to the miraculous facts of revelation may be resolved into a statement of the criteria or tests to which these supposed facts may fairly be subjected.

1. Such Divine interventions must authenticate missions worthy of God. And it requires no argument to prove that the miracles to which the Christian revelation appeals have a cause behind them of supreme value. As a whole—from the miraculous attributes of the trees in the garden down to the ascension of the Incarnate Son of God and the Pentecostal opening of the heavens —they sustain the grand fabric of the Divine education of redeemed mankind. Here we must divert our attention from many isolated wonderful works and think only of the One Work of God upon earth. But, descending to particulars, and sending a general glance backward through all the economies, we see that the great assemblages of miracles were wrought at crises pregnant with importance to the Great Cause in the Old Testament. The ante-Mosaic miracles were authentications, not of God's messengers-only, but of His own dread Name and attributes. At the introduction of the Mosaic institute there was reason for the glorious manifestations of the Divine power, rebuking the long-endured perverseness of Egypt, authenticating the Lawgiver so slowly accepted by His own people, proving the Divinity of what we call the Mosaic economy, and confirming that proof by signs following down to the miraculous entrance into Canaan. While the Theocracy lasted, every recorded wonder attested at the critical hour that Jehovah reigned. The miracles which cluster around the persons of Elijah and Elisha asserted His supremacy when the cause of God was at stake in the chosen land. And, finally, after long comparative cessation, there was a great, and, in some respects, unexampled renewal of miracles to rescue the sinking faith of the people during their captivity. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that the New Testament yields the same analysis. The prolonged miracle of the Divine Person, Whose deep humiliation for mankind rendered necessary the vindication of His Godhead, stands out from all wonders of the Bible as one continuous Virtue from His Divine-human presence. The Resurrection, with its infallible signs, completed the education of the Apostles' faith, and laid the corner stone of all evidences forever. The miracles of the Acts are exhibited only on critical occasions, but always then: witness the minor renewals of Pentecost for the conversion of the Gentiles, for Samaria, and for the relicts of the Baptist's ministry; lessening, as it were, through these several phases, according to the importance of the occasion. Not always however were they lessened. The resurrection-miracles of St. Peter and St. Paul followed hard on the Savior’s highest acts: to demonstrate by the hand of two or three witnesses, after His rising, the fact of the victory over death which He had demonstrated most effectually by His rising itself. The abundance of St. Paul's miraculous gifts were the signs of an Apostle 1 which his peculiar vocation demanded.

And, finally, the miracles wrought in the early churches were enough and no more than enough to attest the reality of the Pentecost; being, so to speak, the same kind of confirmations of that great day as the few resurrections of the Acts were confirmations of that other day of the Resurrection proper. It must be remembered, however, that in conclusion the Supreme has not absolutely restricted His wonderful works to the great eras of revelation: the power of God, like the word of God, is not bound. We discern a certain law of miracles which seems to limit them to great epochs; but there is nothing in it which requires us to limit the Holy One, or to render it impossible that miraculous interventions have occurred since the full establishment of the organic Church in the world. Moreover, the occasional instances in which the wonders, or teras, have been wrought by the permitted agency of wicked men are so referred to in Scripture as to strengthen this credential of revelation. As Balaam in the Old Testament and Caiaphas in the New delivered sublime predictions, so the magicians in the Old Testament wrought supernatural wonders under a Divine restraint; and Antichrist, to come with his lying wonders, is predicted in the New. But the true workers of miracles in the Scripture are its holiest men; 2 and one of its closing records is the miracle that vindicates the sanctity of miraculous power upon Elymas.

1 2 Cor. 12:12; 2 Acts 13:11.

2. It may be demanded that these wonders of the Finger of God should generally teach worthy lessons, besides asserting the power of God in the supernatural order of the world: in other words that they should be essential constituents of revelation itself, as well as being its credentials. We must not, indeed, presume to judge what in every case is the worthiness of the lesson taught: some miracles may seem too trivial, such as the recovery of the axe, 1 others too stupendously great, such as the sun's standing still, 2 for acceptance. With this reservation, it cannot be denied that the wonders of Scripture are most confessedly worthy of the cause they support. In all cases they pay respect to the very laws that they seem to supersede. They themselves effectually teach the lessons of the Divine will and illustrate the Divine perfections. Not a miracle in the whole Bible fails to demonstrate either the power or the fidelity, or the wisdom, or the justice, or the mercy of God. They are never, or very rarely, even liable to be regarded as merely portents. All are faithful to the character of God as otherwise revealed: mingling chastisement with mercy in both Testaments, the benevolence and mercy largely predominating in the New. As it respects the miracles of Christ, the supreme miraculous credentials, they are so ordered from the least to the greatest as to teach symbolically the whole mystery of His grace, and to give illustrations beforehand of the character of His future administration through the Holy Ghost. There are a few of His miracles which have been thought to militate against our canon, and to be merely portentous or evidences of capricious severity: for instance, the consignment of the swine to death, the withering of the fig-tree, and the vehement act of zealotry in the Temple. But, read in the light of the Divine providence in the world, these acts of Jesus will be seen not only to be in harmony with the zealous severity of the Divine justice but to be almost necessary for its illustration. Seeing that the gentle Redeemer so often predicted the desolation which impenitence would bring upon God's ancient people, it might be expected that some few of His symbolical miracles would confirm His prophecies. And these seemingly exceptional cases, in which He made inanimate and irrational creatures the vicarious symbols of His displeasure, are precisely of that character. But more of this when the character of the Lord Himself becomes our Credential.

1 2 Kings 6:6; 2 Josh. 10:13.

3. It may be expected, further, that the miracles which bring the Supernatural Hand into human affairs shall, as credentials, allow of the application of fair criteria in the case of those who witnessed them, and further that they shall be supported by; sufficient evidence for posterity, (1.) As to the former, the demand may be as abundantly satisfied as the case admits.

Many of the wonders recorded in the Bible are simply matters of record, and their circumstantials are lost forever. But these may claim the benefit of being blended with the mass of those which are as it were wrought before our eyes, in the midst of all their surroundings. If the question were of the integrity of Scripture these exceptional instances might be challenged, and must be defended. But for our present argument that is needless: it is enough to assert that the grand miraculous credentials of the two covenants were wrought openly, under the cognizance of men's senses, and amidst such circumstances as forbid the possibility of deception. The miracles which accompanied the advent and legislation of Moses: were witnessed by large numbers; and the testimony of the rivals; who used their enchantments is in evidence. Of course we have only the record of Scripture itself to guide us; but for our present argument that is enough. We have all the evidence the case allows that the Egyptians as well as the Israelites saw and believed things that were not done in a corner. We have not con-temporary documents to which appeal can be made. But the entire history which flowed out of these miraculous interpositions speaks for them. From generation to generation the annals of the nation are full of allusions to what was steadfastly believed from the day of its occurrence. And the whole economy of Hebrew revelations was founded upon that faith. However, it is obvious that this question touches the Gospel miracles more particularly. With regard to them our Savior Himself may be asked for evidence. He admitted that publicity and openness and candid invitation of criticism were to be expected from anyone who claimed to bring a special message from heaven. And what He said as to His words held true of His miracles, which were His acted words: I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 1 Even the Resurrection—the miracle above every miracle—was amenable to the same tests with all others; although in the nature of the case the interior mystery must needs be hidden. It was a supernatural event which men might investigate and be assured of: which indeed would be investigated with the utmost diligence. But it ought to be remembered here that the wisdom of the advocate of Christianity is quietness and confidence in a defensive or negative position. He is not bound to do more than challenge the opponent to prove that with regard to any of the recorded miracles of the Gospels, or of the Old Testament, there is the slightest vestige of evidence that anything was done which could give any ground for suspicion. But this leads to something that is more positive.

1 John 18:20.

(2.) As to the latter: we are, as posterity, in a different position, and miracles are matter of historical evidence. There are no events in the past history of the human race, which have become matter of accepted history and are doubted by no sane person, more amply and circumstantially attested than the miraculous life and resurrection from death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: that is, the whole range of the central miracles of Christianity.

They were not questioned at the time of their supposed occurrence; at least, the only challenge they underwent was of such a kind as to turn to their advantage. All kinds of spectators watched the more public miracles; and the only disparagement recorded was that of those who ascribed the Lord's works to Beelzebub, and His absence from the sepulcher to the cunning stratagem of His disciples. The resurrection of Jesus was the critical or crucial miracle the establishment of which would assure all the rest. Now that event was guaranteed to many hundreds of persons by many infallible proofs; it was believed from the time by a large body of conscientious and credible witnesses, whose mental and moral character sustains every test, who, moreover, to the number of hundreds sealed their conviction by an entire consecration of life, and some of them by the sacrifice of life itself. Finally, the great miracles of revelation are connected with posterity by the existence of public monuments which owe their existence to a widespread and profound confidence in their genuineness. In ancient times the Passover attested the national faith in the deliverance from Egypt, and it has continued from generation to generation to declare the strength of the evidence based upon the faith of a whole people. Similarly, the Lord’s Day has declared down to the present time the faith of an immense body of witnesses that the Savior rose from the dead. And, in fact, the Christian Church as an institution vouches, if not for the reality of the miracle of Christ's life and death and resurrection, at least for the satisfaction with which the evidence of it was received from the earliest Christian generations. Supercilious skepticism may affirm that no amount of evidence can ever avail to enforce upon the mind the acceptance of facts which are contrary to the eternal laws of nature. The only reply which, at this stage, we can give is that this is quite true, if no God exists; but that, if a Personal Ruler of the universe is believed in, such supernatural facts are not incredible; and, finally, that these events were witnessed and relied upon by a very large number of trustworthy witnesses who; have sent down their evidence signed and attested to posterity.

4. Once more, the dignity of eternal truth demands that it should not lay the main stress of its demonstration on miracles: certainly never on miracles alone. No one in all the records of revelation is represented as having made the validity of his mission depend on his works; though no one, thus authenticated, was ever known to decline producing this credential when; challenged. There is no subject connected with the evidences of the Faith that requires more careful statement than this. Exaggeration on both sides is very frequent. Certainly, it might sometimes appear as if everything was staked upon miraculous intervention: for instance, the challenges of Moses and Elijah seem to confirm this notion, as also a few of the minor miracles of both Testaments. But it ought to be remembered that the wonderful works wrought in Egypt were not merely the credentials of Moses: they were also and chiefly marks of the Divine displeasure against the false gods of that land, and chastisements of the perverseness of those who refused to obey.

The same may be said of the contest on Mount Carmel. The people were bidden to choose between the True God and the false gods before the tokens came from heaven; and when these came, they took the form of chastisement, as in the case of Egypt. Merely as portents, to astonish the beholders and thus enchain their attention, miracles were never vouchsafed. But at all the great crises of revelation they have been given to enlist and pre-engage the hearers by tokens of Divine goodness and power. In fact, and on the whole, as they are the Hand of God demanding attention to His Voice, the relation of miracles to the doctrine of the Teacher who performs them is always most simply stated and guarded throughout the Scripture. The tokens when rejected are very soon withdrawn: There shall no sign be given unto this generation 1 was not uttered until sign after sign had been rejected. Moreover, it is observable that the performance of miracles becomes very occasional where the Gospel is established; and that by degrees they are taken up into the number of transitory and exceptional charisms, tokens of the Divine power for them that believe not, 2 and instruments of usefulness to those who believed.

When it is said that God confirmed the word of His servants both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost 3 we must remember that the stress is laid upon the last clause. And our Lord's prediction and promise of the greater works than these 4 to be wrought by His Apostles, and of the miraculous tokens to be expected by believers, were not intended to be understood of a permanent authentication of the Gospel by miraculous tokens. But this takes us back to the Supreme Witness Himself, Who has left many testimonies to the true place of miracles among the credentials of His Faith. Nothing is more certain than that He appealed to His works as fulfillment of prophecy, and as proofs of His own Divine power and authority. He also made them the vehicle of teaching His most impressive lessons, and of encouraging His servants' faith in the goodness of His heart. Our Lord also declared that His miracles rendered unbelief inexcusable: If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin. 5 But the works include, if they do not mean, the words: If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin.6 And accordingly His most solemn testimony as to the responsibility of His generation was: the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day. 7 Finally, there are two other passages in St. John which will repay careful study. Though ye believe not Me, believe the works: 8 this places the works in their due subordination, while giving them their value. Those who ought to believe, because of the works, ought rather to have believed because of the virtue that proceeded from Himself. The works which the Father hath given Me TO FINISH, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me: 9 this gives the glorious Gospel, as one whole finished in Christ, its supreme place as the final and consummate evidence of the truth of revelation.

1 Mark 8:12; 2 1 Cor. 14:22; 3 Heb. 2:4; 4 John 14:12; 5 John 15:24; 6 John 15:22; 7 John 12:48; 8 John 10:38; 9 John 5:36.

5. Lastly, there is a criterion or postulate which believers in revelation add to those already considered. The miracles of Scripture, in their wide variety and unbounded grandeur, are the economy of a SUPERNATURAL ORDER. As they must, therefore, be in many respects dimly apprehended by the limited faculties of men, it may be expected that there will be residual difficulties, remaining as the test of faith. Among these difficulties we do not reckon the supposed evidence of modern science in favor of a fixed and unalterable reign of law, any interference with which is in itself not to be conceived. Law implies a Lawgiver, and the Supreme Author of all laws may interpose when and how He will. Moreover, so long as man has the evidence of consciousness that he can control for a season the action of natural laws, the exercise of his own volition being independent of any previous merely natural cause, it will be impossible to persuade him that the Infinite Personal Will cannot interpose amidst the sequences of nature. But there are other difficulties. Such is the occasional want of seeming reason for a supreme intervention; concerning which, however, it is enough to say that we are not fit judges on this question.

Again, the undeniable occurrence of prodigies such as witchcraft and necromancy and the performance of wonderful works through the agency of evil spirits, are sometimes a stumbling-block to faith: only however to a faith which does not admit, what the Scriptures everywhere testify, that such things as these have been permitted by God for reasons to a great extent incomprehensible to us. Finally, the question of the continuance of miraculous signs since the days of the Apostles presents a topic of difficulty. But the difficulty vanishes if it is honestly admitted that there is no reason why the Supreme should not still manifest His power in endowing His servants occasionally, whether with the gift of prophecy or with the gift of miracle. This granted, the question becomes then simply matter of evidence. All these and other seemingly unsolvable problems become to the believer in the supreme miracles of the Incarnation and the Resurrection no more and no less than trials of humility and intellectual submission and faith.


PROPHECY, as one of the credentials of revelation, is, like Miracle, bound up with its very fabric. It is the Divine law of the gradual disclosure of that system of truth which is ever expanding throughout the Scriptures from stage to stage unto perfection. As such, the term has two meanings: one wider, according to which it is the immediate declaration of the will of God through His servants, whether as to the past, or the present, or the future; and one more restricted, according to which it is the prediction of future events in connection with the great economy of revealed truth.


1. Prophecy is the utterance of Divine revelation; and a prophet is one raised up and sent to communicate God's truth. The meaning of nabiy’ is an Announcer; and that of chazah, is Seer, the earlier name of the same office, or one who receives what he is to utter in visions. The visions were not universally characteristic of the office; but the office itself, and the employment of it throughout the whole economy of revelation, is one of the great credentials of the Bible, as pervasive as the miracle, with which indeed it is indissolubly bound up, being only one aspect of a continuous Divine intervention in human affairs.

The prophet was not an ordinary announcer of the will of Heaven, like the priest who might read and expound the law. He was an instrument of the Divine will raised up out of the order of nature, to receive communications which may be called supernatural, being imparted by an influence of the Holy Ghost sometimes called Vision, sometimes the Word of the Lord: for instance, The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. 1 Whether by exhibiting to the interior eye the scene, or by lodging the word in the thoughts, there can be no doubt that the Author of revelation performed what in another domain would have been a miracle, every time that the Man of God 2 or the Man of the Spirit 3 was sent forth with his burden of revelation.

1 1 Sam. 3:1; 2 Gen. 20:7; 3 Hos. 9:7.

2. The essence of this credential of Divine revelation is this, that it represents every communication from God as directly imparted by a Divine afflatus, the influence of which the prophet could not mistake, and the reality of which the people might test. This direct contact of the Spirit of God with the spirit of man is the pervading law and the pervading glory of the Divine revelation from Moses downward. There is nothing resembling it in the history of perverted religions. So far as the oracles, soothsayers, and diviners of heathenism offer any analogy, it is only as a foil to the grandeur of this credential. It is thus spoken of by the voice of Jehovah Himself. When Miriam and Aaron murmured against the superior dignity of Moses as the prophet of the Hebrews, they said: Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not spoken also by us?1 and it is recorded that Jehovah came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle; . . . and He said. Hear now My words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? Here we have, as it were, in epitome, the entire mystery of the prophetic gift and function; and in such a manner as to exhibit the strength of this credential most impressively. It is the Voice of Jehovah, jealous of His own honor and of the honor of His servants, at once describing and defending the prophetic law of revelation. We mark that there was to be a permanent order of these agents always ready—whether as a school of the prophets or still abiding in their callings—for the high service of the Kingdom. To one of them Jehovah would reveal Himself whether in a more extraordinary manner or otherwise, in such a way, however, that the receiver of the vision should have no doubt: I the Lord will make MYSELF known unto him. 2 Yet the Supreme was not limited to any order of men or to any special method. Hence we find that, while the Seventy Elders received the Spirit and prophesied and did not cease (or but not further] ,3 the same Spirit rested also upon Eldad and Medad and they prophesied in the camp. Above all minor ministries rises Moses supreme: with him Jehovah spoke face to face. Yet he was not strictly supreme: being only the type and precursor of that Prophet, like unto him yet greater than he, with whom in eternity the Father speaketh face to face: the SON over His own house. 4 When this Son came, the ancient order of prophets ceased; for the Supreme Revealer made every one of His Apostles like Moses, and spoke to them face to face. Moses could never communicate the Spirit received by him; for we hear him say: Would God that all the Lords people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.5 But our Lord Himself breathed on His Apostles His own Spirit. And thus the whole sum of revelation is under the sublime law of a direct manifestation of God to His people through His servants. This is the grand and glorious claim of revelation from beginning to end, from Moses to the Greater than Moses.

1 Num. 12:2; 2 Num. 12:6; 3 Num. 11:25,26; 4 Heb. 3:6; 5 Num. 11:29.

3. We find everywhere, however, the most careful provision for the vindication of this credential. The interior consciousness of the prophet was the guarantee to himself that the Lord was with him; this however could not be transferred to others, and is no argument to unbelievers who regard the entire mystery of the prophetic function as a delusion. But Jehovah gave His people tests by which they might verify the claims of these prophets.

Those whom God sent could appeal to the fact that the honor of Jehovah was their supreme end. What our Savior said concerning Himself was true of all who had come before Him, and of all who should follow Him. My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory.1 This test may be applied to the company of the prophets, and, if applied with candor, will result in the conviction that such a body of men could never have imposed a series of delusions on their own people and on the whole world. But this is not all. These men were fortified by two other qualifications. They were sometimes armed with the power of working miracles, as in the case of Moses and Elijah, Sometimes also their credential was the utterance of prediction: When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken.2 This, however, leads to that second and more limited meaning of the word which has almost displaced the former.

1 John 7:16-18; 2 Deut. 18:22.


Prophecy is thus more specifically the impartation of a Divine knowledge of the future to man: that is, it embraces the prediction of future events. All revelation from the beginning has been prediction unfolding into prediction. This, we have seen, is its law; concerning which no more can be said than that the God of revelation has so willed it. We can imagine it otherwise: every generation might have been taught its lesson, as based upon the past, but not including the future. But we are shut up to the assumption that revelation is the progressive disclosure of one great event to which the eyes of all generations, as well before it; as after it, were to be directed. Moreover, according to the testimony of Scripture itself the prediction of future events followed by the accomplishment of those predictions has always been one of the Divine methods of authenticating revelation. Here then we have the general laws of prophecy proper, and its criterion; as a credential.


There are a few general principles the study of which are of great importance in order to a right estimate of Scriptural prediction as a distinct and pervasive credential of revelation.

1. The first is that CHRIST IS ITS SUPREME SUBJECT: the Object to Whom give all the prophets witness,1 directly or indirectly, from generation to generation, till He came; and for Whose return, now that He is gone, all the predictions of Scripture wait. The Redeemer Himself declared that the Scriptures were to be searched because they testify of Me: 2 if whatever else might be found in them this was their supreme matter. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. 3 His Person, advent, and kingdom give to all the prophecies of Scripture their unity. The great catholic all-embracing predictions which pervade revelation concerning the accomplished redemption of mankind, from the Protevangelium, or first prediction with promise, downward, are everywhere found; each new cycle of the prophetic inspiration pays its tribute to that great design of the coming Deliverer. While no prophet is ever heard to foreannounce his successor, all conspire to foreannounce the Christ. We cannot always see the connection between the lesser predictions and that vast accomplishment; but we do see that the running superscription of prophetic revelation is the final kingdom of the Redeemer. All types, which are prophecies in act, and all predictions, which are prophecies in word, have a more or less obvious reference to the Gospel. To discover this we often have to apply what is called the Canon of a Double Sense; that is, a first accomplishment nearer at hand, which itself suggests a second and ulterior satisfying all requirements: a combination worthy of the Divine attributes, and resembling in the free domain of history the use of symbols in nature; the events to which the predictions first refer being themselves prophetic of Christ. In due time we must examine the predictions of the Old Testament more in detail.

Meanwhile, all that is necessary here is to dwell on this law as stamping the credential character of prophecy. There are indeed predictions in the Old Testament—such as those minutely describing the destruction of some of the ancient cities of the world —the accomplishment of which is known and read of all men who study history. They must not be forgotten. But whoever examines the New Testament carefully will see that the whole strain of allusion to the Great Fulfillment of the fullness of time points to the coming and kingdom of Jesus as the one accomplishment that guarantees all the rest. There is nothing more certain in the annals of mankind than that a series of predictions runs through the ancient literature of the Jews which has had a most exact fulfillment in the advent and work of Jesus. This is the supreme credential of prophecy in revelation.

1 Acts 10:43; 2 John 5:39; 3 Rev. 19:10.

2. Another unfailing evidence of the Divine presence in the prophetic Scripture is the peculiar law of PROGRESSION found to pervade them: a law which determines the steady development of the great doctrine of revelation according to certain fixed principles.

Every age is under the sway of some governing prophecy the accomplishment of which introduces the government of a new order of prophetic expectation. The fulfillment of one prediction becomes the starting-point of another, with wider issues and a larger number of subordinate tributaries.

(1.) It may be said that one transcendent prophecy begins the Scripture, commands the whole of revelation, and binds time and eternity in one: the first Gospel of a coming Redeemer. But even this illustrates, like all others, that largest application of the principle which divides the whole series into the Old-Testament predictions and those of the New.

All the ancient prophets spoke of what Isaiah, in their name, calls the Last Days, 1 or the great AFTERWARD, that indefinite period of Jacob's prophecy, achariyt hayaamiym, which began to be more definite in the opening vision of the evangelical Prophet, It shall come to pass in the last days. 2 The coming of that glorious After Age, or the ends of the world, or the world to come, the Fulfillment, is the fullness of time 3 generally.

Particularly, it is stamped with perfection in the New Testament by three tokens: it is the time of the last days when God spoke His perfect revelation in His Son, 4 and imperfect oracles were consummated by one Final Voice; secondly, when He who was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and testified beforehand, was manifest in these last times, 5 as the spotless Lamb of the Finished Atonement; and, finally, the period of the last days when the prophecy was accomplished, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. 6 These three events fill up the perfection of the Second Period of redemption: the Voice of the Son, the Atoning Blood, the Effusion of the Spirit. And with Christ, the Supreme Fulfillment, begins a new order and range of prophecy what eternity is to time that His coming in the new economy is to the expectation of Him in the old. In fact, the very same language was adopted by the ancient Rabbins to distinguish these: the time of the Messiah was the WORLD TO COME.

1 Gen. 49:1; 2 Is. 2:2; 3 Gal.4:4; 4 Heb. 1:2; 5 1 Pet. 1:11,20; 6 Acts 2:17.

(2.) The same principle may be traced in the subordinate cycles throughout Scripture. The patriarchal predictions, while always faithful to the first law and keeping the Messianic age in view, terminated in Canaan, to begin again with an altogether new order of prophecies. The predictions of the Jewish prophets, so far as they referred to the Captivity, found their accomplishment in that event, the first goal of the largest of all clusters of foreannouncement; but with that accomplishment another series emerged into prominence. Similarly, there are, in the New Testament, subordinate cycles of predictions out of the accomplishment of which other predictions arise. Over the Incarnation there was a large array of prophetic songs, pointing to the Advent but including also its ulterior results. Our Lord's own predictions referred to His death and resurrection and ascension; to the outpouring of His Spirit, the establishment, of His kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem, the final resurrection, and the end of the world: the largest and most comprehensive series of predictions delivered by any one Voice since prophecy began.

The same law is latent in the Apocalypse, the last book of prophecy; but here our eyes are holden, and it is not given to those who now read to trace its operation otherwise than in broad outline. The more this general principle is studied, in its application to the entire mass of the predictions of Scripture, the more glorious will appear to all dispassionate students the economy of prophecy which the Omniscient Mind has ordered. Whatever it may be to those who are bent upon resisting all evidences that recommend the Word of God, to those who are OF THE TRUTH this law of foreannouncement will itself be a strong credential of revelation.

3. Once more, and pursuing the same topic a little further, all prophecy is under the law of RESERVE; a mysterious law which has been appointed in the Divine counsel, and has literally never been changed. In its absolute supremacy it governs the development of revelation: this being the difference between time and eternity, that in the latter alone will all restriction be done away Neither What nor What manner of time 1 as ever been fully made clear until the day has declared it. It is evident that this might have been otherwise. The same Spirit Who foreannounced the Coming of the Christ could have so described His Person, so unfolded His work, and so defined the period of His advent, as to remove every vestige of uncertainty. But this was not His will. He so ordered every prediction, and every cycle of predictions, that, while enough was declared to encourage hope and excite desire, enough was concealed to shut up the heirs of prophecy to faith.

Looking back upon the long series as irradiated by the light of Pentecost we see that every general and every more particular prediction had its determinate reference to the Great Fulfillment; but we can see also that not one of them was clear enough to preclude unbelief in the case of those who were disposed to murmur against Divine Providence.

Every generation could rejoice in the fulfillment of the prophecies that had gone before concerning itself; but as to its own future it was under the sway of an indefinite hope.

There is no exception to this law throughout the economy of prophecy. When it was approaching its Old-Testament close, it might appear as if the law was somewhat relaxed; for Daniel's predictions are exceedingly minute, and their specifications of the Seventy Weeks, and of the peculiarity of the last week of the Seventy, goes beyond the general indeterminateness of prophetic utterance; but his prophecies are no real exception, having been until the Messiah came almost as indeterminate as the date of the Millennium. The New Testament introduces the same law, and is everywhere faithful to it. Reserve begins again; and it reigns over the expectations of the Christian church at the present hour.

Our Lord's foreannouncements of His passion were veiled in a certain obscurity; and it was not until after His resurrection that even the THIRD DAY was understood. Even when approaching the seventh of the weeks before Pentecost, and giving His disciples their last encouragement, the Savior says only Not many days hence, 2 though we might suppose that the tenth day would be certain to all. As soon as the Holy Ghost begins a new cycle of predictions concerning the coming again of Jesus, with all the subordinate fulfillments of prophecy connected with that event, we mark that we are under the same restrictions as the fathers were under. We have the immeasurable advantage of the accomplishment of the greatest prophecies concerning Him in the First Advent; hut the times and the seasons of the Return are still under a veil. We have, like the ancients, to inquire diligently what, or what manner of, time the Spirit of the Christ did signify. 3 Nor have we a right to expect until the Lord comes a more clear and full revelation of the millennial events than the fathers had of the Advent of the Redeemer. Now this law of a strict reserve is itself a glorious testimony to the wisdom and goodness of the God of revelation: especially when it is connected with those we have already referred to. For, to sum up, all prophecy points to One Supreme Person, like the needle to the pole, and with only the same tremulous variation; all proceeds in the majestic march of a determinate counsel, but in spiral cycles; and over all, including that under which we live, there is the same veil of heavenly mystery. Like every past generation, we also are in the hour of a great Expectation: an hour or a day which is rich with the inheritance of a vast fulfillment, but richer still, if possible, in the hope of a yet more abundant inheritance hereafter when the time of its perfect revelation and enjoyment shall have fully come.

1 1 Pet. 1:11; 2 Acts 1:5; 3 1 Pet. 1:11.

4. Finally, an important law of all prophetic announcements is that it has been constituted by the Holy Spirit a sign to every successive generation: in other words, like the miracle proper, and equally with the miracle, it has been a Divine credential of revelation. In the unlimited wisdom of the Supreme the prophetic office was ordained to subserve many purposes. It was the medium through which the supreme communications were, from time to time, made to the chosen people, of encouragement or warning to themselves, and of defiance and threatening against their enemies. Hence for a long series of ages it was the vehicle of the entire economy of Divine instruction: containing the doctrines and the ethics of the religion common to all dispensations, with a glorious prospective announcement of the Christian truth hereafter to be revealed. Hence the prophetic books, and the prophetic elements in all the other books, are to us an inexhaustible fund of instruction apart from their predictions of future events. But, all this being true, it is equally plain that the whole system of foreannouncement was intended to be from generation to generation a standing and permanent credential. There is abundant evidence of this in all parts of the Old Testament. And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the words which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken. 1 Long afterwards we read: Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring futurity from the former time, and from ancient times the things that are not yet, done. 2 To this our Lord gives His own sanction for the New Testament: And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might believe. 3

1 Deu. 18:21,22; 2 Isa. 46:9,10; 3 John 14:29.


THE TESTS of prophecy are very simple. They are, strictly speaking, not the moral character of the prophet, nor the worthiness of the matter, nor the preservation of the record, nor obvious connection with the Divine scheme: these are all implied characteristics which have been already dwelt on in another connection. But the prophecies which are the credentials of a revelation ought to be such as to satisfy their student that they can be accounted for only by Omniscience; they should be beyond the suspicion of a mere human fulfillment: and they must of course, in order to be; prophecies, precede their accomplishment.

1. It is undeniable that the prediction of future events is the prerogative of Omniscience alone; and also that in the Scriptures; God is represented as making it one great purpose in His commission of the prophets to establish clearly this claim. We may suppose therefore that the predictions of Scripture will generally, if not in all individual and isolated cases, have such a character as to be beyond the reach of human calculation. It may safely be granted that in some cases it is impossible to prove the event foreannounced to have been beyond the range of skilful foresight. But it must be remembered that the weight of the argument from prophecy does not rest upon isolated examples: it depends upon certain great and prominent and vast predictions such as only the Supreme Mind could have given to men, and the accomplishment of which is before our eyes. Beginning with these, and fortified by their undeniable strength, we have only afterwards to stand on the defensive with regard to the rest: nothing is necessary beyond establishing that the opposite conclusion cannot be proved. First, then, let this test be applied to that One Great Object of prophecy to Whom all the prophets bore witness. During a thousand years a perfect picture is gradually drawn, by more than a hundred distinct predictions, of One Person, and of Him as unique in the history of mankind: that distinct picture being the filling up of an outline which had been sketched thousands of years before, in fact from the very beginning of the world. Could the Deliverer of mankind have been foreseen in all the marvelous traits of His character, and in all the minute circumstances of His appearance and history and life and death and resurrection and reign, by the enthusiasm of national longing? Could the converging foresight of a series of prophets have drawn this most elaborate and most sacred Portrait? The same may be said as to the steadfast predictions of the fates of some of the leading nations of the world. After the Person of the Messiah, the Israel after the flesh which rejected Him takes the next rank in the historical perspective of prophecy. There is a similar wonderful unanimity in the predictions of their entire history whether as originally Hebrews, or afterwards Israelites, or in more modern times Jews. Their destiny as depicted in the Bible, that is in both Testaments, brings prophecy and fulfillment into such plain and undeniable harmony that no room ought to be left for infidelity. This is a topic that must be pursued through the whole Bible, which shows that the rejection and dispersal of the people was foretold when it was most prosperous, its elevation and dignity when it was most dejected. Moses, the founder of Hebrew greatness, foretold the dispersion of Israel as the result of their disobedience, and at the same time their preservation through all ages as distinct and unconfounded among the nations. Scarcely one of the later prophets but has repeated this wonderful prophecy, applicable to no other race. The nations among which they were scattered have disappeared, or are in course of disappearance: the ten tribes are wanderers over the face of the earth still. They have survived the greatest revolutions of history: a standing proof that the Eye of the Supreme foresaw what His omnipotent Hand has accomplished. Though I make an end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make an end of thee. 1 And, as to those other nations themselves, the prophetic Scriptures abound with predictions, more or less minute, the fulfillment of which has proved that the voice of God uttered them. It was foretold, again and again, that the covenant people should go into captivity: that the captives should be again set free, and those who spoiled them be themselves laid waste.

A minute study of these prophecies will show, and the more minute the study the more effectually will it show, that Omni-science was in these predictions. Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah pre-dieted that the kingdom of Israel and Jerusalem also would be scourged by Assyria; and it was so. The fulfillment was exact as to the ravage of Samaria, and the restraining hand that saved Jerusalem from destruction. In the year 712 B.C. Nahum denounced ruin against the Assyrian oppressor and Nineveh: in the year 612 B.C., after a century which had given no signs of this, the destruction of Nineveh took place.

Concerning Babylon also, the successor of Assyria, there were equally sure words of prophecy. No fact in human annals is more certain than that the Babylonian captivity was foretold by Isaiah, and also the deliverance of the people; nor than that Micah, two hundred years before their accomplishment, predicted the same events. The burden of Tyre in Isaiah described its ruin, by the Chaldeans in a manner so clear and explicit, and so fully confirmed by history, as to make it one of the triumphs of prophetic evidence.

But for confirmation of the evidence the prophecies themselves must be carefully studied.

This branch of the Apologetics of revelation is only glanced at in this general summary; it will amply repay the most exhaustive examination.

1 Jer. 30:11.

2. As the first test pays its tribute to the Omniscience of the God of revelation, so the second pays its tribute to the Omnipotence. Only He Who gave them could fulfill the predictions of Scripture. But it has been urged by the opponents of the Faith that many of those so-called vaticinations which undeniably are found in the rhapsodies of the prophets were really fulfilled; but fulfilled through the determination of those who were interested in their accomplishment that they should be accomplished. It is pleaded with great subtlety that patriotic enthusiasts, gifted with keen foresight, gave hints of what they saw in the germ of probability; and that these hints fulfilled themselves. It is not a hopeless, nor is it even a difficult, task to vindicate the whole body of Old-Testament foreannouncements from this charge. But it most concerns us to examine it in its reference to the New Testament, where it is applied, with some show of plausibility, but with no real force, to the Supreme Fulfillment of all prophecy. The spirit of infidelity does not shrink from making the career of Christ a studied adaptation to Himself of the scattered prophetic hints of the ancient records. It seizes upon the Scriptural word, that it might be fulfilled; 1 and boldly assumes that the entire history of our Lord and His kingdom in the New Testament was a cunningly devised fable, 2 woven after the pattern given in the Old Testament. It is scarcely necessary to say that here lies the stress of the whole argument against the Christian revelation as resting upon the fulfillment of prophecy. We may remain for ever in doubt as to the precise relation of some of the obscurer predictions of the prophets to their fulfillment: the doubt is simply the result of our ignorance of many of the elements necessary to its solution. But it is a matter of vital importance, the very life of Christianity is in it, that our Lord's manifestation on earth should be a fulfillment of what was provided and foretold according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; and not a studied assumption of a character and destiny sketched in the enthusiasm of national hope. Here we must needs argue in a circle: it is the first necessity, as will be hereafter seen, that, as we believe in God, we believe also in His Son. And He rests the whole issue of His mission, with all its boundless interests to mankind, upon the accomplishment of the entire prophetic word in Himself. He has appropriated all the leading foreannouncements of the Messiah to His own Person. But, in His own application, and in that of His Spirit in the Apostles, there is a distinction to be observed. While all the major prophecies are referred to as absolutely accomplished in His mission—beginning with His incarnation and ending with His final return—many of the minor prophecies are said to be fulfilled in an accommodated sense.

The formula that it might be fulfilled 3 applies to some events which accomplish prophetic types: such as Out of Egypt have I called My Son: 4 and, Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was a voice heard. 5 The same principle may be applied to many quotations from the ancient prophets: in Christ and His kingdom all types and predictions found as it were their natural and legitimate resting place. But it must be remembered that, if the Supreme Fulfillment is in Christ, His authority must protect all the prophets who wrote of Him: protect them, not only in their general authenticity, but also in the detail of these most obscure predictions. The two prophets against whose mission and specific prophecies infidelity has most vehemently excepted are Isaiah and Daniel; and these are precisely the prophets whom Jesus and His Apostles most emphatically quote. They are safe therefore in our estimation for the Master's sake.

But, speaking generally, they are safe in their own integrity. Their leading foreannouncements were such as could never have fulfilled themselves, nor have been fulfilled by those who artfully seize upon these hints. Have the nations and empires whose overthrow was predicted and accomplished, fulfilled the predictions by their own cunning? Are the Jews executing on themselves the judgment written? They are the most determined enemies of the Christian Fulfillment; but they do not deny that the hand of God has been long against them. He has smitten them, they think, for the chastisement of the world's peace; and wounded them for the transgressions of mankind; but surely they have not smitten and wounded themselves in order to fulfill predictions bound up with their own disgrace.

1 Matt. 1:22; 2 Hos. 11:1; 3 Matt. 2:17,18.

3. The test of prophecy takes yet another form. It is very confidently asserted that some of the avowed predictions of Scripture were written POST EVENTUM: after the supposed accomplishment. To prove this in the case of any of the least of these predictions is a task which has not succeeded; in the case of the greatest of them, that is of those on which the burden of the credential lies, it has been a hopeless failure. But the spirit of infidelity is very bold: as daring in its unholy attacks as the spirit of faith is daring in its acceptance of mysteries. From the earliest assault on prophecy down to modern times the whole force of its attack has taken this direction. Disintegrating the Scriptures as a whole, utterly renouncing the traditions of ages, and attaching no weight to the testimony of Christ and His Apostles, of the Jewish and Christian churches from the beginning, it scruples not to make the Pentateuch a Mosaic tesselation of documents to which Moses has only given his name, which indeed belongs to a period subsequent to the Captivity; and the voices of the psalmists and prophets, from Samuel and David to Joel and Zechariah, are regarded as singing strains which turn history, past and present, into poetry with a prophetic form.

The Book of Daniel is declared to have been written after the leading events which it records, these being mainly predictions concerning Antiochus Epiphanes; while its remarkable miracles are supposed to prove its unauthentic character as well as later origin. It has been seen that the Lord has thrown His shield around this prophet; He mentions him by name; receives from him His Messianic designation, Son of Man, and that of His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven; and generally protects him by anticipation against all assaults. The Lord's own apology is sustained by the best modern research; and, after the utmost critical sifting, its most vehement opponents have no argument to allege but the extreme minuteness of its prophecies and the supernatural hand in its events. The Holy Gospels contain predictions of the Supreme Prophet; and they also are therefore assigned, in spite of the strongest evidence of antiquity, to a period after the destruction of Jerusalem. In this case also our loyalty to the Lord almost forbids argument. If Christ Jesus be worthy of any confidence the main predictions of the Old and New Testaments must have been delivered before their fulfillment. As to a multitude of lesser prophecies, about which there may be contention, the application of our test, and the consequent vindication of the prophets in detail, will require the close study of prophetic Scripture as a distinct branch of theology. But that minute investigation is not necessary to show the triumph of this particular credential of revelation as such in its broad outlines. Doubtless the New Testament followed the Old, and the Old was not written after the event. The dispersion of the Jews, the spread of Christianity, the ruin of the great empires whose burdens rest upon the prophets, the signs of Antichrist, the latterday infidelity, —all are fulfillments of distinct prophecy, which assuredly was written before their accomplishment.


The evidence of Prophecy as a credential of revelation is of the highest order: whether taken by itself or in connection with miracle generally.

1. In common with miracle proper it is a standing and perpetual token of the Divine presence in the whole sphere of revelation. He Himself appeals to both as His high prerogative in many of the sublimest passages of the prophets. I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly and they came to pass. 1 It was the Voice Supernatural, beyond the ordinary methods of guiding man's inquiries, that declared all coming events from the beginning: nothing worth calling history has taken place without foreannouncement. And it was the Hand Supernatural, beyond the ordinary and quiet operation of Providence in nature, that SUDDENLY brought it to pass. The boundless variety and steadfast unity of these predictions give them an unspeakable, grandeur; and the wonderful events in human history which are the direct fulfillment of prophecy are beyond all others great in all the elements of sublimity. In fact, if all the events which have been matter of fulfillment and of prophecy are eliminated from the current of human history there is not much that is left. The leading transactions of every age have been under a ruling prophecy; and we also, in our day, wait to see the end of the things that concern ourselves.

1 Isa. 48:3.

2. Viewed apart, and by themselves, these prophecies are peculiarly cumulative in their demonstrative force. Unlike the miracles, the fulfilled predictions constantly enlarge the materials of their evidence. There is a sense indeed in which this observation, frequently made, is not true. The miracles recorded in Scripture are thought to be more feebly commended to the acceptance of every succeeding generation; as if the testimony on which they rest grows weaker as it recedes from the present. But that is not philosophically true. Moreover, the most evident and noblest miracles—if any such distinction may be made—are yet constantly performed; and the Finger and Hand of God are evermore at work in the hearts of men and in the heart of society. Still, the accumulating force of the prophetic credential is more conspicuous than that of the miracle. We live under a vaster amount of fulfillment than any former age; and he who shall take the historical prophecies of the Old Testament and trace their fulfillment in the course of Oriental history will have an irresistible demonstration of Christianity at his command.

3. Finally, like the miracles, the prophecies are bound up with the teaching of the Bible; and, apart from their evidential force, yield an unlimited treasure of instruction in the ways of God, the work of Christ, and the destiny of man. Neither miracle nor prophecy can easily be over-estimated as the vehicle of Divine teaching: neither can be while time lasts exhausted.


The specific doctrine of inspiration, as the ground of the Divine authority of the Scriptures, will be considered in its place. It may here be regarded very briefly as one of the credentials of revelation, on a level with Miracles and Prophecy and completing or consummating their evidence.

1. Inspiration is a distinct element of the supernatural order of revealed truth: one of its laws and characteristic attributes. As such it simply means that the sacred documents are worthy of the Divine Author; and that they are not unworthily described as GODBREATHED.

Strictly speaking only the writers are inspired; but the last word on the subject in the New Testament gives the epithet to Scripture itself: Pása grafeé Theópneustos 1 What we have agreed to mean by inspiration is therefore the fact that God has interposed to keep a continuous and abiding record of truth in the world: this, throughout all the ages of the world's religious history, has been the Divine method of imparting and preserving the knowledge of God among men. The beginning of this interposition, so far as concerns the written documents, is lost in the distance of ages; but none of its fruits can be supposed to be lost. Inspiration is, in a certain sense, one with revelation, as meaning the Divine bestowment of knowledge that could not otherwise be acquired. It does not, however, entirely coincide with revelation: being either less or more: less, since much that has been revealed has not been transmitted; more, since much is recorded and transmitted that was not given by direct revelation. But, whatever may be its limits, it indicates a specific intervention of God in human literature, through which there has always been in course of production, and has been finally produced, the permanent and authoritative revelation of His mind and will to man. And this may fairly be regarded as a credential of the whole system of revealed truth: it is worthy of the Divine wisdom, and what might have been, humanly speaking, expected, that He whose power has been known in miracle, and His knowledge in prophecy, should declare His wisdom and fidelity in giving revelation to mankind, and in making it an abiding heritage. Now revelation makes this its universal claim; and appeals to the manifest evidences of the Presence of God, as its Author and Indwelling Spirit, in Holy Scripture. Such is the overwhelming demonstration of this, that the whole weight of the cause of Christianity might be made to rest upon it, if it be rightly stated and exhibited. The entire scope and contents of the volume of inspiration justify its pretension to have come direct from heaven. When the character of Jesus is introduced, and the moral and spiritual effects of His Gospel, we shall have to consider much that might be supposed to belong to this credential.

But there remains a very interesting argument that may be briefly touched upon here.

1 2 Tim. 3:16.

2. Generally speaking, the records of revelation are worthy of their Divine authorship or of the Divine authorship which they claim. Dispassionately taking up the whole Bible, with the hypothesis in our thoughts that it was composed by writers under a special control of the Holy Spirit, we find nothing, or very little, to make us hesitate in admitting the claim; but, on the contrary, perpetual demonstration that the several authors cannot have been left to themselves. The children of this Wisdom justify her on the whole; and where they seem to do otherwise it is only that we cannot penetrate the secret which makes any one of them say, in the language of St. Paul, I speak as a fool. 1

1 2 Cor 11:23.

3. For, it must be remembered that the records of revelation exhibit a characteristic Divine-human excellence corresponding with the only sound theory of inspiration. They are worthy to be assigned to the authorship of the controlling Spirit: supposing that Spirit to employ human faculties and human editorship. They may not be at all points, in every line and every record, what we might expect from the immediate dictation of the Holy Ghost, or from the writing of His Finger on tables delivered to man. But, if they are below what God might be supposed to send down straight from heaven, they are certainly altogether beyond the unassisted ability of man, higher indeed than any ability of man, even assisted from above, could have produced: that is to say, there are disclosures in various parts of the Bible, and one in particular everywhere, which imply not the raising of earth to heaven but the descent of heaven to earth. We have only to contemplate their tranquil, authoritative solution of questions that no other books have attempted even to investigate; their profound and natural familiarity with God and the things of God; the simplicity and awfulness of their doctrine of sin; the supreme moral interest that everywhere reigns; and their universal, never-failing appeal to what is good in human nature, as if a Divine Voice were issuing from them for ever speaking to something in the human spirit that must hear. If God records His truth for man, this is just what He would write: whether we have respect to what is given or to what is withheld. There is a perfect Divine dignity and perfect human purity: it is both the Voice of God and the voice of man; combined in so marvelous a way as to make the claims of Inspiration rightly understood a most impressive credential of the Faith.

4. Hence the simple and undeniable fact of the supremacy of the Bible, as a collection of religious documents, may be appealed to as itself a mighty presumptive argument of its own truth and of the truth of the religion it propounds. There is nothing parallel, nothing similar, in human literature. Place it by the side of the most ancient religious books, the Indian Vedas, the Chinese Classics arranged by Confucius, and the other sacred writings of the world at large, and comparison must soon give up its task. Soon give it up: not immediately; for there are undoubtedly certain outlines of primitive truth in the ancient writings of the East which show that they also were written not without a certain degree of the Divine afflatus. The Holy Ghost has ever been the Voice of One crying in the wilderness, and saying. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. In the books which treat of the Science of Religion, and give us systems of Comparative Theology, more than justice is done to this element common to the sacred books of what we call heathenism and the Holy Scriptures: so far as mere justice is done, the advocate of Christianity heartily assents, but when the other holy writings are collated with the Christian at all points it is an exaggeration of justice that becomes most unjust. The Bible refuses to form one column of a great Biblical Polyglot. There is outside of the Christian Scriptures no document extant among men which really professes to have been written under the inspiration of God: and among those which may seem to make such a claim there is not one which does not in half its contents refute the claim, common sense being the judge. Again, there is no document of the kind extant for which it may be pleaded that, though as standing alone it has no divinity, it recovers its character when placed in a collection of sacred books. But there is not a book of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures which does not vindicate its own dignity and sanctity at all points when studied as belonging to the entire volume. This leads however to a distinct argument.

5. The Unity of the Scriptures of revelation is a very strong credential in its favor as professing to be from God. It is one great vision, and its interpretation one: beginning and ending with the same Paradise, with thousands of years of redeeming history between. It has been instinctively called, what it does not call itself, the Bible: one Book divided, if divided at all, into two parts. That the New Testament as fulfillment should so perfectly correspond with the Old Testament as prophecy is in itself the most wonderful phenomenon in literature: it is evidence as near demonstration as need be of the intervention of a Divine Hand. The Redeemer made manifest in the later Scriptures answers face to face and feature for feature to the Form predicted in the older Scriptures.

But it is not merely that the Same Being is foreannounced in one book Who comes in another. He is the sole predominant subject of many books in both departments of the Bible. One idea runs through the whole: the kingdom of God set up or restored in His incarnate Son. To this idea authors of various ages and of various races contribute in a harmony which never could be the result of accident or mere coincidence. Only the Divine power could have made so many men, of different lands, concert, without concerting, such a scheme of literature. These men belonged to no school of consecutive writers: yet they seem as if they had been, before time was, in the counsel and councilchamber of Jehovah, and to have come forth each predestined to furnish his own contribution. If they had not asserted their inspiration of God, that hypothesis must have been invented to account for the facts and phenomena of their writings. But they have asserted it: the claim is bound up with every page of the word they have left behind them.

6. There is a special aspect of this argument which will be found of great importance by those who examine it from this point of view: that is, the unity of teaching which is maintained through a long and diversified course of development. The leading doctrines which distinguish Christianity from every other system of supposed religious truth are to be traced through the many books of the Bible in a line of ever widening and everdeepening expansion. Each prominent article of our Faith may be traced upwards to its germ in the earliest Biblical documents, and downward again as it threads its way distinct from others until it finds its full expression. And all combined converge through the older Scriptures to a consummate harmony in the New Testament. These two facts are undoubted: they ought not, at least, to be doubted by anyone who is familiar with the history of doctrine in the Bible. The Holy Trinity, with the redeeming relation to mankind of the Second Person in that Trinity, and the relation to the universe of life sustained by the Third Person; the establishment in the world of a kingdom of grace destined finally to triumph; the acceptance of every penitent sinner by God on the ground of what is called a Righteousness of Faith; the essential difference between soul and body, with the transient separation caused by physical death; the eternal issues of the present life of probation;— these are all doctrinal truths which run through the whole Bible, so that Christian preachers may take their proof-texts from almost every book; but which run through the Bible with always progressive clearness. The development of doctrine we have to study elsewhere. It is referred to now as a clear indication of the presence—perhaps it would be better to say of the very strong probability of the presence—of a Divine Hand in the construction of the Bible. The supreme truth—that of the Sacred Trinity in the Godhead— might be shown to bear up the pillars of this argument. There is not a single reference in the Old Testament to the Messiah as a Person near to Jehovah, or as Jehovah Himself, that is not perfectly consistent with the amazing secret concerning His being which the New Testament brings to light; nor is there a single reference, among multitudes, to the Spirit of God that is not perfectly in harmony with what the later Scriptures declare as to His relation to the Father and the Son. Such is the effect produced on the devout mind of a believer in Christianity by the consideration of this wonderful harmony that he is disposed to place it among the foremost evidences of the Faith. Most certainly it is one of its most emphatic and persuasive credentials.

7. It must be remembered that the argument based upon the presence of the Divine Hand in the construction of the Bible is not exhibited as final and demonstrative: it is, as has just been remarked, only a credential hard to resist. Here a few further observations may be made which will suggest hints to be followed out by the student himself to any extent.

(1.) There is in this no more demonstration than the analogical argument generally presents. Throughout the works of God— granted that the creation is a work of God— we perceive the universal sway of a law of evolution, qualified however by a subordinate law of occasional interventions that seem to break the former. Precisely what we find in nature and in providence we find in the gradual construction of Scripture. Why it should be so, it is vain to ask. That it is an absolutely valid proof of the Divinity or supreme authority of the Bible it is vain to assert, It might by the most wonderful of all coincidences have happened that such a Book should be composed at long intervals by authors independent of each other, and retain such a character of steady, uniform, evergrowing development. But the probabilities against this would have been exceedingly great.

(2.) Again, it must be borne in mind that the Divine influence and agency in Scripture is not asserted to be absolute and unqualified. What was said as to the miracles, and might have been said as to prophecy—that residual difficulties were to be expected in the nature of the case—may be said of the credentials of inspiration. Objectors frame hypotheses of miracle and prophecy with which the facts are not found to accord: and they are offended.

So, also, they frame hypotheses of inspiration with which the records of revelation cannot be harmonized: and they turn away with suspicion. This subject will be more fully discussed when we come to the doctrine of inspiration. At present it is enough to say that there is in the human elements of the workmanship of Scripture nothing utterly inconsistent with the supposition of a Divine Hand overruling and controlling and even arranging the whole compass of sacred literature.


These three credentials of Miracle, Prophecy, and Inspiration ought to be united: they mutually give and receive strength, and are strongest when they are combined. The miracle is of course most demonstrative to the extant generation of beholders, the prophecy is of course demonstrative only to the generations who come afterwards. The present generation in the midst of which miracles are wrought cannot hand down to us in the fullest degree the evidence of their senses; we who behold the fulfillment cannot send back to those who heard the prophecy our vision of accomplished prediction. Inspiration embraces the two in one: it records the fact of the miracle, and, as inspiration, makes it present to every age; while, as inspiration, its record of a prophecy makes the fulfillment as if it were already come or were already past to those who hear it. This may be made plainer by applying it to the narratives of our Lord's mission. Throughout the holy Gospels Jesus is found working miracles and uttering prophecies. When His works and His words were alike approaching their close, He predicted the coming of a miraculous power which should provide for the permanent record of the whole: He promised the Spirit of inspiration Who was not only Himself to abide with His disciples but also to cause the Lord's words to abide with His Church. Certainly the Savior when He gave this assurance uttered a prophecy, which was fulfilled from the Day of Pentecost onward; while the prophecy predicted a miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost Who was to be a Memory within the disciples' memory, and a special expositor of their Master's words.

And the fulfillment of the prophecy was the Spirit of inspiration through Whose influence and superintendence the Four 'Gospels were written. But these three are more or less united throughout the history of the Bible: they have never been disjoined since the construction of the Biblical Library began. Strictly speaking, it was prophecy which commenced, miracle abundantly followed, and in due time inspiration provided one permanent record. The three have kept pace through all the ages of revealed truth; and they ended together, when their common work was done. Yet they have not ended. In the Bible miracle, and prophecy, and inspiration abide: but in some respects the greatest is inspiration; for it really absorbs the two others, and gives continuance and permanence to the whole.


The Person of Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of the Faith, is its highest and most sacred credential. This is true of our Lord's historical manifestation generally; but for our present purpose it will be sufficient to regard Him as the Founder of His own religion, and to mark the perfect consistency with which He supports His claim to be the Incarnate Revealer of all truth. The more closely we examine the Four Gospels the more clearly shall we perceive that He Himself in His Divine-human self-consciousness rested upon this for the enforcement of His claims: not only in the case of those who were around Him in the flesh, but also throughout all the future. The strength of this argument as such will be found to be only increased by the various explanations from time to time devised to resist it. There is no rational way of accounting for the Person and Work of Christ but that which accepts the Divine origin of Christianity.


Here we have reverently to consider the claim of Jesus, the Supreme Revealer, and the consistency of His teaching with His claim: both these being viewed as completely exhibited in the Christian revelation as a whole.

1. The Savior’s testimony to Himself is not to be gathered from any one of His assertions, but from the entire strain of the Gospels, as these are corroborated by the exposition of His Apostles. The sum is, that He came down from heaven as the Son of God, and appeared on earth while still in heaven as the Son of man, to reveal the words of His Father and to accomplish His Father's, will, for human redemption. There is nothing parallel to the pretension of Jesus; nothing like it ever entered into the mind of man. The anticipation of mankind had never risen to such a conception: scarcely had the Old Testament itself prepared for it, Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God: this fact, or this claim, entirely rules the new dispensation. For the Christianity which does not bring this credential we do not plead: such a Christianity has descended to the level of other religions. It might almost be said that the very claim is a sufficient credential. That such a Being as Jesus of Nazareth undeniably was —so lowly and pure, so unselfish and reverent, so mighty in word and deed, with such irresistible power over all who approached Him—should declare Himself to have come down from heaven with the mysteries of eternity, with eternal truth in His words and eternal love in His heart, is itself something so new and transcendent that it might almost take our faith captive at its will.

This is the thought of those who are already His. But it is a sublime credential which provokes the unbelief of the unregenerate reason, and must defend itself.

2. There is no more wonderful characteristic of our Lord's revealing mission, and no stronger assertion of its divinity, than the absence of everything that might place Him on a level with other teachers, or with men generally. From His first word to His mother in the temple down to His prayer before the cross, there is not a single expression uttered by Himself which, fairly interpreted, makes Him a member of the fellowship of the human teachers of mankind. Nor is there a single expression in the New Testament which, fairly interpreted, makes Him a member in common of the human race.

(1.) It is true that on some few occasions Jesus spoke as a man, and seemed to ally Himself with the Rabbis around Him. To Nicodemus He said, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness: 1 thus contrasting himself with the Master of Israel as the teacher of a new doctrine, while in some sense identifying Himself with his order. But it must be remembered that He immediately added: No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man Which is in heaven: 2,3 thus, the very sentence which appears to conjoin the Redeemer with His own Apostles, in which He indeed uses almost the words that both St. Paul and St. John apply to themselves, is that which contains the very loftiest assertion of His Divine authority as a Teacher. It is the new Teacher Who says that He is THE SON OF MAN WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.

1 John 3:10-13; 2 2 Cor. 4:13; 3 1 John 1:1.

(2.) Further, and it is of great importance, our Lord never once allied Himself with mankind in any such way as would be inconsistent with the infinite peculiarity of His claim as His Father's Representative in the human race. The more deeply this fact is pondered the more wonderful will it appear, and the more mighty as a credential of the Christian Faith. Though His delights were with the sons of men, 1 and He so identified Himself with the human family as to elect for His own lips the name SON OF MAN, yet in every variety of way He distinguished Himself from the descendants of Adam. IF YE, BEING EVIL, 2 is only one instance out of many with which the Gospels make us familiar.

Whosoever studies the question in all its bearings will find that in this fact is one of the most effectual internal evidences of the truth of our holy religion.

1 Pro. 8:31; 2 Matt. 7:11.


The full exposition of the character of our Lord in all His offices must be reserved. But there are some reflections which arise from a general review of the history of His revelation of Himself, and of the truth in Him, which will set this sacred and central credential in its proper light.

1. Though it is undoubtedly true that nothing in human history runs parallel with this claim of the Redeemer, it is found to be in strict harmony with the profoundest desires and instincts of the race. Not indeed that the incarnation of the Son of God had ever been anticipated. The loftiest aspiration of the religious spirit in man had never aimed so high.

The transcendental philosophy which makes the Infinite and the finite two necessary poles of thought finding their axis, as it were, in the union of the Absolute and the Conditioned in Christ could never have existed if the Gospel had not given it the idea.

The difference between the modern and the ancient Pantheistic philosophy is to be traced to this: Hegel and the moderns have ploughed with the heifer of revelation, that is, of New Testament revelation; for scarcely did the Old Testament disclose this deepest secret of the counsel of God. Whatever approximations towards the idea of a personal union between God and man, exhibited in any one historic person, are to be found in the ancient or modern systems of religious philosophy lack, as close scrutiny proves, the essential element of the Christian incarnation. They never conceived, nor did they approach the conception, of a real and permanent union of the Divine and human in one personality.

Yet the very distortions of the truth are profoundly suggestive. They are like the magicians' imitations of the miracles in Egypt: permitted exhibitions of what man's fantasy will do with Divine truth, when Satan is the teacher and not the Holy Ghost. But to return The manifestation of our Lord among men—the Son of Man and the Son of God in one—was the pure and perfect realization of the highest unconscious longing of human nature: that of seeing the Divinity reflected again in itself as a mirror. He was in that sense also the Desire of all nations. 1

1 Hag. 2:7.

2. Christ's personal character, if such language may be used, is in precise harmony with the assumption of so unheard of a relation. It is a character of which it must be said that it is neither altogether Divine nor altogether human: it is Divine-human; with the perfection of God in it, but exhibited in the life of a man. Human holiness has in Him its consummate ideal: judged indeed by a standard that He has set up; one however that our own reason approves. Following Him throughout His career, and forgetting so far as we can His Divinity, we mark that every act and word, and believe, are constrained to believe, that every thought also, is consistent with His assertion that Satan had NO PART IN HIM. 1 When the Savior was tested by the Enemy in the wilderness He neither asserted nor denied His sinlessness; but the answers He gave were precisely those which a perfect human nature would have uttered. It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 2 When He was maligned by His foes among men He simply challenged all accusers and defied them: Which of you convinceth Me of sin? 3 As He approached the cross, where His atonement; required His absolute sinlessness, He spoke most explicitly. The prince of this world cometh, and hath NOTHING IN ME. 4 It is, of: course, utterly impossible, in the nature of things, to demonstrate the absolute sinlessness of Jesus as man. None but God can: pronounce upon that. But it must be remembered that, according to the assumption of the whole New Testament, Jesus was more than man. His holiness is essentially Divine holiness.

That is, it is a holiness which is guaranteed by the Divinity of the Son of God. The miraculous conception insured the sanctity of the human nature; and the Divinity of the Son insured the permanent necessity of that sinlessness. Hence it was Divine sanctity.

We see that it is not a holiness that has retrieved itself, that our Lord's resistance to temptation is not that of one who can fall, that He does not speak of law and of duty save as a God. In short, the religious character of the Savior is Divine-human: it is what God, supposing Him also man, would exhibit; and that is all the argument requires.

1 John 14:30; 2 Matt. 4:4; 3 John 8:46; 4 John 9:30.

3. The Incarnate mission of Jesus is conducted precisely under such restrictions as are consistent with the twofold nature of His one Person; and this alone we have a right to demand. All His works and all His words are Divine. The universe is under His authority: there is a sense in which we see all things already put under Him. And nothing can be more certain than that our Lord claims to know everything pertaining at least to human destiny: as the impression produced in our mind is that supreme power is at the Savior’s command, so also we feel a conviction that He has unlimited knowledge. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: 1 hidden in the deepest sense of the term. Both these truths our Lord impresses in His own heavenly manner, not yet understood by those who heard: The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 2 These words speak of what is an Eternal Vision, and of what is an Eternal Power. But there is a strange reserve in the Redeemer's assertion of both: yet not strange, however mysterious, to those who understand, or rather believe in, the Lord's wonderful relations to God and man. This power is, as it were, held by Him in trust and sometimes fettered by some transcendent restraint; this knowledge is a hearing of the Father, first in eternity, and then gradually enlarging in human faculties. Of the unfathomable mystery that is here it is needless to speak: only of its consistency with the claim, amazing beyond all human conception, of the Founder of our faith.

1 Col. 2:3; 2 John 5:9.

4. Christ's style of teaching exhibits the same harmony. It is, on the one hand, perfectly after the manner of men. He uses human documents, quotes them humanly, and adopts the purest arts of human rhetoric. His presentation of truth as a Teacher is simply the highest in human literature. But it is absolutely Divine: those who are drawn by the cords of a man, for instance, in the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount must be constrained to own at the close that they have heard the voice of a God and not of a man. We feel that His dealing with the conscience is not that of a human witness, nor of a sanctified human teacher, but of a Judge, Who not only gives laws and administers them but also demands of all who hear Him an account of their conduct. No one can read carefully the Four Gospels without feeling that the Master of Christian doctrine and morals is more than man. It may be sometimes matter of doubt whether the Teacher is one to whom in an extraordinary manner the Divine authority was delegated, or Himself the Divine Son of God. But there can be no doubt whether or not the Voice of Jesus speaks with the confidence of a final Revealer of doctrine and Arbiter of duty. And the very doubt to which reference has been made implies the pure humanness of His ministry. The two sides of His teaching character—the one expressed by the people's question. How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 1 and the other by our Lord's own self-revelation, My Father hath taught Me 2are harmonized in the Redeemer's claim as avowed through His whole history, but on no other principle can they be reconciled.

1 John 7:15; 2 John 8:28.

5. The end and consummation of the Savior’s whole work reveals this credential in its infinite clearness and force. The Founder of Christianity Himself lays the chief stress of His appeal to mankind on His redeeming mission, and His atoning death. It must be expected, therefore, that in the crisis and culmination of the incarnate history—that is, in the transactions connected with the death of the cross—the deep secret of our Lord's Divine-human nature would be exhibited in its most impressive way. Accordingly, we observe that in almost all the details of our Lord's suffering and death there is evidence that the Victim of manifest human violence and of hidden Divine justice is both human and Divine. He approaches His passion as a man: the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, 1 is only a man of deeper sorrow and more profoundly acquainted with grief than other men. Looking at Him from our human position, we see that He advances to the end like any other martyr: He had His distant dread, His Gethsemane foretaste, and then the very bitterness of death itself. By those who looked at Him with only human eyes He was regarded naturally as the first of all confessors: perfect in meekness as towards enemies, perfect in lowliness of heart as before God, and perfect in self-sacrifice as bearing the witness of blood to His mission. But by those who beheld Him from heaven—He was seen of angels 2 —it was regarded as a more than mortal passion. The Eternal Father had again and again declared that the Sufferer was His Eternal Son: as when He sent Him down from the mount of transfiguration, and when He acknowledged Him before the wondering crowd in the temple. So also the centurion near the cross, and the disciples who watched Him afar off, bore their witness. These testimonies, however, may not be accepted by all as the credentials of Christ: their value is felt only by those who accept the heavenly origin of the Gospels, and already believe in the Divine-human Person of the Son. But the naked strength of the argument is felt by those who watch the Great Sufferer of Christianity, and mark very carefully the union of Divinity and humanity in the Savior’s own sentiment, bearing, and words. According to His own sacrificial Prayer, His death was a voluntary self-sanctification: to be an offering the virtue of which should expiate the sin of the world, to reveal the Divine glory in the redemption of mankind, and through that revelation to secure His own return to the glory of God. No testimony borne by our Lord to Himself is plainer than that which declares Him to have died not as men die; but to have suffered as the Son of God, appointed in the Divine counsel to save the race by dying for it. The entire economy of Christianity is based upon this. It stands or falls with the security of this foundation. The Person Who claims the confidence of men, and demands that they entrust to Him their eternal destiny, asks their absolute submission only as their Divine-human Redeemer. His credentials are not perfect till they are delivered from the cross. And His apologists, who plead His cause, affirm that every incident and word of the history of the passion, like the great passion itself, is consistent with the Savior’s claim. There is a calm undertone of Divinity in all the human experience and testimony. The Lord declared beforehand the circumstances of His death, and after a certain period made His disciples familiar with that cross the sight of which afterwards appalled them so much. He spoke of His enemies as having no power against Him of themselves; of the hosts of angels as ready to defend Him if He should only call them to His aid; and of the whole passion generally as a foreordained event that nothing could avert from Him though He accepted it with perfect spontaneousness. It is profoundly true that the credentials of Christianity come in all their strength from the passion week and the eve of the cross. Humanly speaking, and supposing the Sufferer to be only a perfect man, we may claim for the death of Jesus a dignity and a pathos of which there are few examples in history and no rivals. He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, knowing what awaited Him there; and, though He might have escaped—for the leaders of the people evidently wished to give Him the opportunity—He deliberately arranged everything, down to the minutest particular, for His own end. His disciples' safety was in His thoughts, and provision for His mother, and for the daughters of Jerusalem only less dear to Him than she was, at the very time that He was meditating on the world's salvation. During the same hour that He was pouring out His triumphant prayer in the expectation of His glory, as if the suffering of death was over, He was in the profoundest anguish of Gethsemane, holding in His hand the cup which He drank with seemingly more fear than Socrates felt when his cup was in his hand. But an infinite difference is manifest between the cups. There was a bitterness in the Redeemer’s agony which no man hath felt or could feel. It was the endurance of that curse on human sin which the Christian economy ascribes to Christ, and the absence of which makes the history of the end of Jesus unintelligible. We take the three Gospels and perpetually feel that there is something more than mortal in His sufferings. We add to them the fourth, and we perceive the secret of the mystery. To have invented such a combination of the suffering and triumphant Messiah was altogether beyond the power of such men as the Evangelists. It had been the labor of Jewish Rabbis for ages to disjoin the two: the interpretation of inspired men alone could unite them thus. The Spirit of Christ in the Prophets could only signify the passion and the glory that should follow. But the Spirit of Christ in the Evangelists teaches them to see the suffering and the glory blended in one hour, the hour and the power of redemption. That two such aspects of His death are found in the same Gospels requires the agency of the Spirit for its explanation; and His explanation is that the Savior was delivered up by the wicked counsel of men to the wicked hands of men, on the one hand, and that on the other, He died by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Meanwhile He, as at once God and man, yielded Himself up both to the will of man and to the will of God His Father. Here all is evident though incomprehensible consistency with that supreme claim on which all the stress is laid, and those who are of the truth must feel the force of this most sad and most glorious of all His credentials.

1 Isa. 53:3; 2 1 Tim. 3:16.

6. Once more, it must strike every thoughtful observer of Jesus, and hearer of His words, that the peculiar character of His predictions concerning the future of His cause upon earth is in strict harmony with His Divine-human claims. Almost from the outset of His manifestation it is obvious that the Teacher of Nazareth speaks of that future with two voices that are really one: that is to say, on many occasions it might seem as if He were sent to make a great experiment, the issue of which would depend upon His servants' fidelity; while, on many other occasions, He spoke in the full consciousness of the accomplishment of a Divine purpose the end of which was known to Him as clearly as the beginning. There can be no doubt that these two aspects of our Lord's prevision are manifest everywhere. When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth? 1 was His question to the disciples concerning a special kind of faith that He constantly inculcated, a faith, however that He bids His disciples to regard as rare in every age, and probably—to them but not to Himself— to be rare at the last. This is only one specimen of many passages in which the Savior seems to look out upon a vast contingency. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest. 2 Here we have another. But there is a much larger number of His sayings in which there is no contingency expressed or implied. Such are all the purely eschatological discourses, where the program of the future kingdom is sketched in its broad outlines with a firm hand. There is no more clear and definite history in the Bible than the future of the last day, evidently as present to the Divine Teacher in the Gospels as the day on which He speaks: whatever may be thought of the authority of the writers of the New Testament, it is certain that without a single exception they represent to us a Savior Who beholds at once the sum of things, declaring the end from the beginning, 3 and has before His eyes the whole panorama of human history. Certainly it was not His will to disclose all because, in the unfathomable mystery of life, what is present to the Supreme is to the creature a yet unformed future dependent on himself. Hence the Savior’s predictions of the events of the long interval—the times and the seasons—are given in general terms. That there was to be a long interval He always implied: especially in the kingdom-parables. That it was to be a diversified interval of struggle He showed also: / am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I if it is already kindled? 4 The disciplinary furnace was already heated; before its fiery process began among men it must begin at the house of God, and even with the Son in the house: But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! His disciples might expect it to be otherwise: Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth—a term that always stretched from the present to the last future—there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. The two aspects of the future—that in which it is a fixed issue, and that in which it is a varied contingency—are strikingly combined in the Lord's reference to what He termed the day of His appearing. While in general the expression refers to the final advent, it is certain that the Lord Himself comprehended under it the entire space of the interval: the several critical events—such as the Pentecostal visitation and the destruction of Jerusalem, and the many indefinite crises indicated in the Apocalypse—were the day or the coming of Christ. This must be studied more fully in its proper place. Meanwhile, it is enough to point out in how wonderful a manner the Savior’s predictions of the future of His cause and kingdom confirm His claim to be the incarnate but Divine Revealer of the Father's will and Author of the Christian Faith.

1 Luke 18:8; 2 Mat. 9:37,38; 3 Isa. 46:10; 4 Luke 12:49-52.

7. This leads, however, to another view. The provision made by the Founder of Christianity for the continuance of His cause or kingdom on earth exhibits the same tokens of consistency with His Divine-human character. The human provisions are throughout perfect in their calm, deliberate foresight. The Seventy and the Twelve were carefully chosen: the former to prepare the Lord's own way in a transitory manner, and accordingly with rules for their guidance not adapted for permanence; the latter to pave the way for His Gospel among all nations after His departure; and accordingly with a long-continued discipline the perfection of which appears throughout the Gospels. We see also that while the Lord speaks of a kingdom over men He is also preparing for a Church gathered from among men: its foundation is laid, and the Two Sacraments—the most wonderful expedients in all legislation—appointed for the initiation and abiding test of worthy membership. Besides these two fundamentals of ecclesiastical order many other regulations were made. In fact, nothing was left unprovided for: every hint and germ develops afterwards into profound significance, fitted into a perfect system. But the provision is at all points Divine; and in truth its adaptation depended upon the Lord's own survival and victory as God over death and continuance in life. All was made to rest, further, upon a heavenly Substitute for His visible presence, Whose glorious descent from heaven, a Messenger from Himself, is as clearly before the Redeemer's mind as His own descent through death to the world of spirits. This argument—for it is really such— requires to be studied with care, especially in the light of the final discourses in St. John.

Can anything be conceived more grand or sublime than the Savior’s tranquil committal of the interests of His kingdom to Another Divine Person, for whose advent He had made all necessary preparation? The idea of a divided function— His own in heaven and the Spirit's upon earth—is one with which we are so familiar that we are apt to lose our sense of its perfect uniqueness. If it did not come from above, it could not have come from below. If its origin was earth, then never did earth produce so strange a thought before. In other words, the great future is humanly provided for, but under Divine conditions, by one and the same Incarnate Head of our religion.

8. We might trace still further this marvelous chain of consistency, the links of which are the credentials of our Lord's mission. But the best apology of the Christian Religion for ever keeps the Person of its Founder in view and considers the combination in Him of Divine dignity and human humility. The claims of Jesus to the homage and devotion of men are at all points exactly what might be expected of Deity Incarnate, but to be accounted for on no other assumption. Without that great pre-supposal all is obscure and incomprehensible : that being admitted all is harmonious and worthy of acceptation. In our Savior’s character as the Head of a religion are seen in marked distinctness the two sides. There is a series of records which represent Him as one of ourselves, and even as claiming to be the Refuge of the weary because He could say, I am meek and lowly in heart; 1 and such a most tender human atmosphere the history breathes to the end. But this same Jesus everywhere claims, both from His foes and from His friends, all that God might exact: the former He threatens with His own displeasure, as if there could be no fear beyond that; while from the latter He demands perfect love and creaturely consecration. There is nothing like this in the history of mankind. Such a twofold relation of One to others—of a human Head to the members of His community—is absolutely alone in human affairs. The purest, gentlest, and most abstracted of men, whose deep devotion to heaven and unselfish spirituality cannot be for a moment even brought in question, nevertheless addresses those who seem to be His fellows as their God and their Judge. On the one hand, He displaces Moses, 2 who was the meekest man on earth, and becomes Himself the pattern of humility. 3 On the other hand, His holy wrath surpasses the jealous anger of Moses who rebuked the people and died for his impatience. The Woes of Jesus are as historical as His Benedictions. 4,5 But, after all, the noblest argument for the consistency and truth of the Savior’s claims is the calmness with which He asks for the undivided homage of every heart. He Himself makes the sum of religion the perfect love of God; and then claims perfect love for Himself: here upon earth as there in heaven it holds good that I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE. 6

1 Mat. 11:29; 2 Num. 12:10; 3 Num. 20:10; 4 Mat. 5; 5 Mat. 21; 6 John 10:30.

9. We complete the chain, thus feebly held and traced, when we point to the inexpressible influence of the Savior’s character, both while He was upon earth and since He has gone into heaven If He came down to this world, the Eternal Son in the flesh, and delivered these credentials of power and goodness, and died for us as the Incarnate Lover of our souls, we might expect that His Divine-human ascendency over men would be supreme and permanent. No one can read the four Gospels without feeling that the sway of Jesus of Nazareth over those who came within the sphere of His influence was strictly answerable to our hypothesis. To none was He an object of indifference; no one ever crossed His path, or exchanged words with Him, who was not thenceforward a different man. It is impossible to account for His supremacy over all on any human principle. The narratives that record it are too artless and simple to be suspected of depicting a mere human hero: they have no air of embellishment, and rather understate than exaggerate.

There is not a sentence in them that calls attention to the character or works of Jesus as their subject. They simply record facts, and leave those facts to produce their own impression. We follow the steps of the Redeemer; and mark that His influence on all men is precisely what the influence of God incarnate would be. If the recorders of His life had purposed to describe such a Being, supposing them able to form the conception and to execute it, they could not have better accomplished their task. The scene with the doctors and His parents in the Temple, the conclusion of the discourse on the mountain, the testimony of those sent to entangle Him, the various accounts of His colloquies with His disciples, occasional intercourse with individual strangers, and controversies with the malignant Jews, with the solemn pathos of awe which He inspired into every person who had to do with His death, all conspire to prove that the Jesus of the Gospels is always consistent with His claims to be the Incarnate Son of God. Never man spake like this Man!1 never man was loved, reverenced, adored like this Man! The sentiments inspired by this Son of the Blessed are to those who love Him testimony to the Divinity of His claims. And it has been permanent. There is nothing possible to the Supreme that the name of Jesus has not accomplished during the Christian ages. His name through faith in His name has evoked a stronger and a purer enthusiasm than any other; and it is the only one that has evoked it among all races alike. Wherever the Gospel is preached and received Jesus is accepted as the Son of man Who is the Son of God: accepted with a fervor and confidence which no human qualities could account for. No mere man ever was or could be received with such an equal devotion: with that kind of catholic recognition which regards Him not as a Jew or an Oriental but as the Man Who belongs to all men. But the vast majority of those who have received Him have received Him as their God: the exceptions have always been few. He has received a Divine devotion through all generations from His own people; and been hated as only Divine excellence can be hated. He is still God manifest in the flesh: 2 by far the most influential power that has ever been known in the affairs of mankind.

1 John 7: 46; 2 1 Tim. 3:16.


Many have been the attempts to give an account to human reason of the most wonderful phenomenon in all human history: that is, to parry the force of this argument, the most precious and the most effectual of all that Christianity has to bring forward. It has been felt by friends and enemies alike, that this is the inmost stronghold; and consequently both the most determined assaults and the most resolute defense have been found here. A few remarks may be made on the methods adopted by infidelity: the student will perceive that the consideration of these methods will tend only to strengthen our position.

1. It is remarkable that the Gospels, which contain predictions of the entire future of the Redeemer's kingdom, very accurately predict, both by word and in act, the kind of assault that would be directed against the name of Jesus. During our Lord's sojourn on earth the representatives of every subsequent speculation spent their surmise and questioning upon Him, and the representatives of every subsequent attack are found confronting Him. The colloquy between the Master and the disciples at Caesarea Philippi throws much light on the divided opinions of the generation. Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? 1 was a question once asked and still continued from age to age. It teaches significantly that the opposition excited among His contemporaries took the form of hypothesis concerning His Person. His enemies pondered rather Who He was than what He was. Although sometimes they strove to impeach His moral character, as one who broke the Sabbath, or who stirred up the people, or who was too familiar with sinners, generally they aimed at the mystery of His relation to the Father: either avowedly pointing to His known Nazareth family, or darkly hinting at a supposed compact with Satan. Anyone who should collate and study the opinions of His contemporaries concerning Him will find the germs of all subsequent opinions and treatment. From that day Jesus has riveted on Himself the regards of the whole civilized world. And it may be safely affirmed that all speculation on the Founder of Christianity has had reference, expressed or unexpressed, to the mystery of His Incarnate Person. This most strange phenomenon—the Form that seems so much like the Son of God—has to be accounted for in some way by those who reject Christianity. They must confront and salute this Figure: it may be with fear or with scorn or with reasoning doubt; but never with indifference.

1 Mat. 16:13.

2. The methods of infidel resistance to the claims of Christ have been very various; but usually they have wavered between two sides of an alternative: while all accept the reality and in a certain sense the truth of the Record, some have labored to find flaws in this Image of holiness, or, if they have not disparaged the Lord's character, have aimed to prove that it exhibits nothing beyond human attainment; while others, despairing of this, and leaving His character untouched, have made it a picture drawn by the enthusiasm of His disciples vying with each other in laying on the Picture touches of perfection. What more has to be said definitely on these points will be only briefly indicated: reverence imposes a restraint as to the former class; and future discussion of the Person of Christ will introduce much that might otherwise be said on the latter.


Our Lord's personal character, whether in itself or in relation to His mission, has been brought into controversy from the beginning: but with very different subordinate objects, and on very different principles. Generally, the assault has been negative or positive: either the absolute sinlessness of Jesus has been denied, or some positive moral impeachment has been ventured on.

1. Negatively, it has been asserted that the sinlessness which Christianity imputes to its Founder is simply and absolutely an impossibility. Concerning this assertion it is enough to say that it pays an unconscious tribute of high importance to the fact that our Savior’s claim to be, in virtue of His Divine personality, eternally and essentially what His servant calls Him, Separate from sinners. 1 It is felt by most sincere opponents of the Christian revelation that Jesus is presented to us by His Evangelists, and by Himself through their record, as One in Whom there neither is nor could be any taint. St. John gathers up all testimonies in one Indefinite Present: In Him is no sin. 2 Some there are who do not admit that such a claim is made: many sincere Christians, for instance, think it necessary to the perfection of our Lord's human nature that it was possible for Him, under pressure of temptation, to have fallen; and many unbelievers suppose that Jesus went no further than a challenge to His enemies to prove against Him any moral evil. In either case, they take it for granted that He shared the common infirmity of mankind, and make their comments accordingly. Some, at whose head stand the French Encyclopedists, and the German author of the "Wolfenbuttel Fragments," regard him as an impostor who made piety a mask: having failed to secure the empire of Judaism he changed his: mote, and said that his kingdom was not of this world. Others suppose that he was only the first and greatest of Christian enthusiasts who have mistaken ardent zeal and high devotion for sinlessness. Later infidelity has been more respectful than the earlier, and has been content to allege that the exemption of Christ from sin is fatal to the claims of Christianity: since He was truly man, and all men are sinners. The Christian theology which meets such an argument by saying that Christ might have sinned but did not sin, plays into the enemies' hands. The best, and indeed the only, reply is that the Head of the Christian Faith was tempted of evil in His human nature, which was conceived and born without sin; and that He was incapable of falling because His human nature had no personality independent of His Divine nature, which rendered sin impossible.

1 Heb. 7:26; 2 1 John 3:5.

2. Positively, the elements of our Lord's character have been analyzed, and found to be wanting in some attributes essential to perfection. This is a chapter in our Apologetics which the Christian mourns to approach, and would fain make very brief. He can see no spot in the Lamb of God; and the more he studies the character of his Master the more fully persuaded is he that it embodies all perfection. But many who say that they are dispassionate critics come to a different conclusion. The Savior’s asperity against His enemies; His avowed indifference to ascetic practices, and disrespect to the conventional morality which would separate a Rabbi from convivial assemblies and prevent his numbering women among his disciples; His recoil from sufferings and from death; His vacillation during the last days of His life; the bitterness of the final Woes uttered before He left His people; these are features in which—by recent English Infidelity, to its disgrace—He has been counted less great than some of His own disciples. But there is no difficulty in answering these objections. As to the Lord's indifference to the conventional ethics of the time, it is enough that we adopt His own defense. As the Lord of the Sabbath He relaxed the prescriptive observances which had clustered around the day; as the Lord of the Temple He acted there as men did not generally act; and as the Lord of all proprieties He made Himself the Friend of publicans and sinners. Moreover, as His morals were well known to be strict in principle co the verge of rigor, it was His good pleasure to show in practice that the wisdom which cometh from above is justified of all her children: that her severity is not asceticism and her abstracted-ness from created things is not indifference to the welfare of mankind. The Savior did indeed bow under the burden of His unfathomable Messianic sorrows, and His human part shrank from the bitterness of that death which was prepared for Him. But to shrink from death is not necessarily to fear it: the Redeemer only paid a tribute of salutation to the enemy whom He came to destroy. Moreover, his eyes must be holden indeed who does not perceive that in Gethsemane, as distinguished from Calvary, the question was of something infinitely more than death. On the cross, in the presence of multitudes of witnesses, no infirmity is betrayed for a moment: in the garden before the cross there is a most mysterious and incomprehensible struggle of the Incarnate Redeemer which points to the sacrificial endurance of the visitation of Divine justice for the sins of the world. This was not the sinful fear of dying: witness the words, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death! UNTO DEATH! 1 Here there were only three human witnesses—if indeed in all senses witnesses—and the record of the exceeding bitter Gethsemane cry might have been withheld, if the Evangelists had written with the fear of enemies before their eyes.

As to the last impeachment, our Lord is the perfect Counterpart and Representative of the Old-Testament Jehovah. As He said, Ye believe in God, believe also in Me, 2 so we may say: those who disbelieve in Jesus because of His severity and wrath against hypocrites and reprobate sinners must disbelieve in the God of the ancient Scriptures. In the Gospels we see and hear and feel the very Jehovah of the older revelation, as He is described from Paradise to the Return from Captivity.

1 Mat. 26:38; 2 John 14:1.


As it respects the public appearance and work of the Founder of Christianity, the argument is turned against our Faith in many ways. It may be well to glance rapidly at the; stages through which the assault generally travels, or rather at the various restingplaces where the spirit of unbelief halts.

1. The first hypothesis reduces Jesus to the level of the other great reformers of mankind, assigning Him it may be the first place: PRIMUS INTER PARES, as they said of Him in Galilee that He was one of the prophets. 1 At the right juncture he arose and fascinated the world by a mysterious influence which it could not resist, and so swayed the minds of his followers that he became for ages the Lord of human thought and destiny. Every great power in human affairs has had its secret. Every man who has moved his own nation in his own time, and many nations afterwards, has had some peculiar element of success: a great doctrine, or the offer of something longed for by all men, or irresistible force of arms. So it is said that Jesus had his secret, though no one ventures to say what it was.

Suffice that he led captive the whole world at his will; and for some unexplained reason was more successful than any before him had ever been. The peculiarity of this hypothesis is that it treats the Founder of Christianity with great respect, and in fact has been accepted by many who accept the Christian revelation as from God: a Divine economy but without a Divine Head. But it is utterly inadequate to explain the Savior’s own testimony to the nature of His mission; and is therefore at best a great unreality. He Himself utterly disavowed it. From the beginning to the end of His public teaching He separated Himself from other human teachers as summarily as He separated Himself from other children of Adam. Although the words all that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers 2 had another meaning as spoken to the Jews, they were intended also to signify that no Messiah professing to have come with a revelation for the race could substantiate his claims. He Who spoke was Himself from the beginning to the end of the world the only Revealer. Neither does Christ nor do His Apostles rest the weight of the Christian religion upon the human excellence of its Founder in comparison of other prophets of mankind.

1 Mat. 16:14; 2 John 10:8.

2. A second hypothesis makes Jesus a Jewish fanatic, who was inspired by an intense study of the ancient documents and legends of Judaism, formed during his silent youth the amazing scheme out of which Christianity sprang, kindled his own enthusiasm in the hearts of a few others whose natures he could read as he read Simon's, came to believe in himself as the creation of his own enthusiasm, cast all upon the hazard of a great experiment, and at length paid the penalty of his daring. But a single glance at the awful tranquility and reasonableness of the Lord's character at once dispels this illusion. An enthusiast He was, beyond any that ever lived: He was the second Adam, hungering and thirsting for what the first Adam had lost; both His anger and sorrow at the effect of sin, and His eagerness to redeem the world, sprang from His supreme charity. All the glorious enterprises of Christian love of souls have been only rills from the ocean in Him. But a fanatic He was not, nor is there one trace of fanaticism in all the narratives concerning Him. Those who read the Gospels in the light of the Old Testament, and with sufficient knowledge of Hebrew customs, will see no traces of religious frenzy in the acts of Jesus.

It was no more than a meet tribute to His own honor and the honor of His own Father that He cleansed the Temple: that is, the outer court and approaches of it, where alone the guilty traffic took place, and where such an act of zealotry as His would require only authority to sanction it: By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority? 1 When He turned water into wine He did the precise opposite of what a fanatic would have essayed to do. When He seemed to renounce His mother and His brethren, it was only to teach that He was of no race or lineage, but the Son of man: that lesson taught, He never treated His mother or His kindred with anything but love. As to those who profess to believe that He was a conscious impostor, though they hear Him ask, How can Satan cast out Satan? 2 it is superfluous to say a word. That an impostor should spend his life in exposing hypocrisy, and in sacrificing self for the good of others, as Jesus confessedly did, His enemies of every age being witness, is what no sane reasoner ever alleged. Modern infidelity has outgrown that charge, and is or ought to be ashamed of having made it.

1 Mat. 21:23; 2 Mark 3:23.

3. So far we have been considering what arguments may be urged against the Divine origin of Christianity as represented by its Head. But these have had little success.

Accordingly, the attack has been more generally directed against the documents of the Faith: and elaborate theories have been devised to account for the Author of Christianity without any special reference to Himself or His own character. These are sometimes dignified by high-sounding names, and have had much more attention than they deserved.

By whatever names known they are simply variations on the central theme that the Christian religion is a remarkable development under favoring circumstances of a fortunate germ. This germ could not, however, have developed without the help of the early adherents of Jesus, who are supposed, in every form of the hypothesis, to have raised the superstructure—for the figure must now be changed—of the Christian system on the foundation of the name of Jesus: that name being supposed by some to have been merely the centre of legendary accretions, by others the symbol or expression of a national Messianic myth, and again by others as the watchword of opposite parties in the early church, in the interests of which the Gospels were invented, thus creating a Christendom that forgot the true meaning of the name Jesus, being the expression only of theories or tendencies.

(1.) First comes what may be called the Legendary Hypothesis of Christianity. It simply assigns to it an origin which requires no more than a slight nucleus of reality in the person of Jesus and His personal influence of word and work: the industrious enthusiasm of His followers invented all the rest. This method of accounting for the Christian economy is applied to it in common with the whole scheme of revelation and all the supernatural events and wonderful histories of the Bible. In fact, it is the normal and necessary argument of unbelief in the Divine conduct of the universe generally, and of human affairs in particular. It is based on a philosophy, falsely so called, which makes the religious sentiment merely an accident of human nature, either its embellishment or its disease as the case may be. It supposes that the universal instincts, traditions, and religious records of mankind are merely the produce of imagination under a special influence, for which no account can be given. In particular, it assumes that the entire fabric of the Bible is a tissue of the national legends of a people smitten more than most others with the religious phantasy. With the application of the notion of legend and invention to the Bible generally we have not now to do: save so far as its utter futility in the case of the Gospels discredits its value in regard to all revelation. As to the history of Jesus it is hard, inexpressibly hard, to believe that so compact, affecting, and heavenly a narrative could have been made up of the floating traditions of Galilee and Judea. It is enough to point to the inexpressible air of reality suffused over the accounts, their pure and childlike simplicity, the self-forgetful-ness of the writers, their impartiality in recording what showed the weakness as well as what showed the strength of the great Hero of their narrative, the transcendent Picture drawn so absolutely beyond invention, and the natural flow of the narrative into the current of later history which cannot be assigned to legend.

(2.) The Mythical Hypothesis is but a modification of the former: more seemingly dignified but not more rational. The myth may be defined as the vesture in which great national ideas have, from generation to generation, clothed themselves by a certain necessity of human development, and without the concurrence of any conscious legendary invention. Undoubtedly the myth, muthos, means the product of fancy but not the product of falsehood. Every race has had its great illusion. The hope of a coming deliverer has been bright in the expectation of every people, especially of every people whose history has been, like that of the Jews, calamitous. The Messiah had been for ages predicted and expected among them, especially since the Captivity. The Messianic idea was the great myth which was realized from time to time. When the Roman oppression was at the worst the idea took form in many persons; but that of Jesus was the fairest. He was only the resultant of many forces springing from the common expectation. His disciples made him the centre of their unconscious but necessary creations; and thus only embodied the supreme Judaic fiction. This hypothesis hardly merits refutation. It is utterly inconsistent with the facts. The Jesus of Christianity and the Christianity of Jesus did not spring up in poetry by which a nation expressed its hopes: the nation as such disavowed the whole. It was undeniably a very small company who were responsible for the form of the new revelation. The hypothesis must be applied to the plain, straightforward, and earnest circle of the Apostles. On the one hand, it in some sense lowers them to the level of childish dreamers; on the other, it ascribes too much to their mythologic and creative faculty, which is thus supposed to have invented one of the most elaborate systems of belief known to man. The four Gospels and the Acts and the Epistles are not composed of the stuff that myths are made of. They are, or profess to be, clear history, and doctrine based upon the history; with reasoning of the severest kind binding the whole together. Legends and myths are after all impalpable things: Christ and Christianity are hard realities.

(3.) The most popular theory among philosophical opponents of Christianity in its perfect form makes it the result of conflict among various parties in the Christian Church.

Those who hold it may or may not accept the idea of a mission assigned by Providence to Christ: they may or may not believe in God. Generally they leave that matter undetermined. But there are two parties at two opposite extremes who have their specific notions as to the person of Jesus. The one hold Him to be the temporary expression of the eternal incarnation by which the Pantheistic God is for ever evolved in consciousness; the other hold Him to be the simple expression of a human ideal. But all agree that the system contained in the New Testament sprang up from a union of many opposite, or of two chief, tendencies: hence it is sometimes called the hypothesis of Tendency. It would be scarcely necessary to examine this were it not that it has been by far the most influential theory in the attempt to harmonize the various books of the New Testament. It assumes that Jesus lived and taught and died; but that no record of His history was thought of until far into the second century. Then arose gospels or memoirs with many aims or designs. Those which merely gratified an unsanctified curiosity found no permanent credit, and are now preserved only as relics. Some, however, were written in the interest of a Judaic Gospel, and of them St. Matthew takes the lead: some sentences preserved by him, and by him alone, might seem to make Jesus no more than a zealous assertor of the perpetuity of Judaism. Others were written in the interest of a Gospel for all the world, and of these St. Luke takes the lead: some of the most touching parts of his work introduce the heathen as receiving the glad tidings. Meanwhile, the hand of the partisan is to be found here and there and everywhere cunningly interpolating his own view: making the author whom he transcribes and whose text he corrupts speak a language inconsistent with his views. Accordingly, critics of this school have a reason to give for every various reading, and their only perfect text is that in which all writers absolutely agree. But there is another and more interesting application of the hypothesis, which might with more propriety be termed the PAULINE; for it really makes Paul the founder of the Christian system. Different schools contended both over the body and the spirit of Jesus: over His resurrection from the dead in the flesh, and the resurrection of the spirit of Judaism in Him: there was a broad distinction between the Jewish and the Gentile, the bond and the free, the Petrine Christianity and the Pauline. The writings of the New Testament were composed or at least finished, some with the one tendency, others with the other; but both were exquisitely combined in the Acts, which Peter and Paul divide between them with about equal pre-eminence. Paul, however, finally triumphed; his Jesus spoiled the best of the Rabbis or Prophets; prevented Judaism from putting on its perfection in the teaching of the Master on the Mount; and gave the character of Christ a coloring of his own that it has permanently retained. The careful study of the New-Testament writings refutes this most elaborate hypothesis, which arose from a superficial study of them. He who collates the four Gospels will find that they agree with each other, and with the later Epistles in representing Christ to have abrogated the Law as an institution for one people, and to have fulfilled its meaning in every sense.

There is not a page of the New Testament where may not be found, either in letter or in spirit, the evangelization of the world. The simplicity of the history, both of the coincidence and of the divergence of Christianity and Judaism, forbids the acceptance of this notion that the idea of Jesus was perverted by Paul. The Pauline Christ does not differ from the Petrine or the Johannaean. It is St. Paul who calls Him a Minister of the circumcision; 1 and it is St. Peter who says that Christians are built up a spiritual house, 2 and it is St. John who, in the name of all the Apostles, announces: That which was from the beginning . . . declare we unto you. 3 All tendencies run one way, and that way is Christ: a Christ Who is not divided, but one. It is true that the Form of the Blessed One does not rise at once in full perfection upon the records of the New Testament: it is developed, as the word is, or gradually fashioned into its fullness and integrity. But the several writers conspire to this; and, after all that they have done, it is Christ Who remains and not they. Not I, each says, but Christ liveth in me. St. Paul especially deprecates this theory by anticipation in the beginning of the Corinthian Epistle. And, while we are observing the interminable phases through which it passes in this voluminous school of destructive critics, we hear always a voice: Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 4

1 Rom. 15:8; 2 1 Pet. 2:5; 3 1 John 1:1,3; 4 1 Cor 1:13.


1. Our Lord in delivering to His people the Faith delivers it, so to speak, with His own hand, and His own Person is His highest credential. He is the Author and Finisher of the Faith. 1 Prophets before Him and Apostles after Him look, and bid us look, only to Him; or, as the writer who strengthens the faith of the wavering Hebrews says, to Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession: 2 no man falters long whose eye is singly and supremely fixed on Christ Jesus. Revelation reflects the glory of His Person: that is, His Divine-human perfection. It is hard to demonstrate the truth of our Religion on the assumption that Christ was as other men; the Christianity of that postulate is not Christianity, and the character of Christ is the greatest possible embarrassment to its principles: the conclusion is too vast for its premises. No man ever paid the person and words of Jesus the tribute of sincere, unprejudiced, thoughtful attention without feeling the irresistible power of this argument. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice: 3 these words are a sublime explanation and rebuke of the inmost spirit of infidelity. After all that He had said and done He would at the end give no further sign: Why askest thou Me? ask them which heard Me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.4 He still makes the same calm and unbending appeal: we have Moses and the prophets, we have Christ and the Apostles; but in them all He speaks of Whom the Father said, Hear ye Him! 5 There is the immortal strength of the credentials or evidences of Christianity. If we believe in Jesus, all other apologetics are comparatively needless: if we doubt about or reject Him, all other evidence will be comparatively superfluous. It is impossible to read deeply into the Gospels without perceiving that the Savior always appeals to something behind and below and beyond all other evidences. Whether present in the flesh or absent in heaven He looks for faith in Himself as a principle or sentiment or energy that ought to be awakened by His own manifestation and word. If that faith is not found a revelation from heaven is resisted: Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. 6 Wherever and to whomsoever Jesus speaks there is an influence accompanying His words that must lead to faith, unless moral obstacles interfere. On that day when our Lord first opened to His disciples the secret of His Messiahship, and Simon Peter uttered the great confession, He pronounced the confessor blessed because he was taught of God; and yet it is most manifest that Simon only uttered the sentiment that the appeal of his Master naturally evoked. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven. 7 We mark that our Lord sometimes points to His miracles, sometimes to the fulfillment of prophecy in Himself; but sometimes He seems to disparage both these. The evidence that radiated from His own Person, the virtue to vanquish unbelief that flowed from Himself, He never disparaged.

Jesus is His own Interpreter, and His own Apologist: the Sun in the moral firmament that needs no other proof than that it is a pleasant thing to see the light. This great argument should be the helmet and breastplate of the Christian, especially of the Christian minister.

It gives immense corroboration to all other defenses; abates the strength of every form of opposition; and consummates and crowns the whole system of Christian apology. Other series of evidences may convince the judgment, but this central one gives rest to the heart. Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, 8 was the language of our Lord at the time when He mourned over the unbelief of the wise and the prudent from whom His truth was hid, and offered His thanksgiving that to babes were revealed all things that were delivered unto Him of the Father.

1 Heb. 12:2; 2 Heb. 3:1; 3 John 18:37; 4 John 18:21; 5 Mat. 17:5; 6 John 5:40; 7 Mat. 16:17; 8 Mat. 11:28-30.

2. Doubtless, this appeal—which as a whole is unique in the Gospels—was not limited to those whose minds were troubled with perplexities as to the truth. But certainly they were included. We find the Savior often referring to the embarrassments of the age in which men's thoughts were directed to the great Messianic expectation and they mused in themselves. Himself being the Christ, and knowing full well the thoughts of all hearts, He felt the most profound sympathy with the struggles of those who came to Him for the solution of their doubts. We may be sure that His promise of rest was given to such men as were feeling their way to Himself through a multitude of prejudices and difficulties which it is hard for us to estimate. We are apt to forget that He was not only the Friend of publicans and sinners, but the Friend of doubters also. The more carefully we examine the accounts of His intercourse with men, the more certainly we find that the difficulties in the way of their faith were always present to His thoughts. We plainly see and hear how solicitous He was to vanquish unbelief and win the hearts of all. But this great apostrophe to disquieted minds and the great promise of rest teaches us that He Himself has no argument more mighty and more influential than the study and emulation of His own character: That I am meek and lowly of heart. 1

1 Mat. 11:29.


Christianity in the world is its own permanent apology. Its credentials have been presented to mankind from the beginning in the slow but sure accomplishment of the Divine purpose which it proclaims. To this it made its appeal in Apostolic days, and to this it makes its appeal now: what religion should accomplish in the free spirit of man personal or individual and social or collective the Christian religion has done and is doing. In one sense this is the most plain and palpable among the evidences of the Faith; in another sense it is one of the most difficult, inasmuch as the many obvious and reasonable objections which arise and demand to be considered are not always easily to be refuted. The best method of exhibiting this line of argument is, to state clearly what the claims of Christianity, as a power, are, and what they are not; then to point to the proof that it has answered and is answering its ends, notwithstanding the facts that may be urged to the contrary; and to show that every opposing or rival system has either been utterly powerless, or is slowly confessing its defeat.


The key-note of this method of demonstrating the truth of Christianity is found in St.

Paul's assurance that Christ in His Gospel is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.1After challenging the whole world to gainsay what he affirms, and reducing its glorying to naught by showing the impotence of its wisdom, he sums up: That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 2 The chapter, ending thus, is really a chapter of Apologetics; and these words which close it place the Redeemer, as the Author of Christianity, in the midst: with the world at its best on one side, reduced to silence and hopelessness, while on the other, the believers in Jesus have their glorying restored in Him Whom the Father hath made the very author of their new life, Whom He hath set forth more particularly to be the sole fountain of wisdom for the teaching of mankind, of salvation from sin for individual man, and of redemption for the entire race.

1 1 Cor. 1:24; 2 1 Cor 1:29-31.

1. The Gospel, making foolish the wisdom of this world, professes to impart perfect truth.

The wisdom in St. Paul's sentence is what our Savior meant when He said, I am the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life, 1 where the three testimonies must be united: in Jesus is the whole truth concerning the way of life; nor is there any other truth than as it is in Jesus. 2 Now it may be observed that the Gospel really limits truth to the things which concern man's relation to God: there may be many verities in other matters, but there is only one truth, and that is the foundation of religion. When therefore we estimate the nature of the claim of Christianity it must be remembered that the claim is limited to religious truth only, and that as taught of the Holy Ghost. If the documents of the Faith are challenged on innumerable other questions, and judged by their relation to all branches of human knowledge, and tested by their conformity or otherwise with universal science, then their Author says, by the mouth of the same Apostle: not the wisdom of this world.3

1 John 14:6; 2 Eph. 4:21; 3 1 Cor. 2:6.

2. Again, the system of Christianity proclaims that it brings to mankind generally, which of course in this matter is also man kind individually, deliverance from spiritual evil: that is, from the consequences of transgression by a provision for righteousness and from the consequences of separation from God by a provision for sanctification to Him and His service. These two, it will be observed, are very closely conjoined, so as to form one idea dikaiosúnee te kaí hagiasmós. 1 This is the wonderful claim of the religion of Christ, that it professes to put away sin, by a method that at once sets the conscience right with God and His holy law, and delivers the consciousness of man from the sense of impurity and consequent estrangement from Him: both the CONSCIENCE and the CONSCIOUSNESS of sin being in the design of grace removed. The provision for this is the grand secret of the Gospel and the design of the mystery of the Incarnation. God hath provided in His incarnate Son the means of putting away human evil. Jesus Christ is at once man and God: His mediation on behalf of the human race is that of One in Whom God meets man on a new ground and in a new relation. In Christ all sin is atoned for by man: for He is man absolutely. In Christ God accepts the Atonement, and unites man to Himself notwithstanding his sin: satisfaction being presented to justice, and satisfaction guaranteed to holiness that the pardoned sin shall be also abolished. But here again it must be remembered that Christianity does not promise to rid individuals of evil by virtue of an act external. There must be a personal union with Jesus by faith, even as there is already a collective union of the whole race without faith. The individual is delivered only on certain conditions: through the penitent acceptance of the Atonement, and a sanctifying Spirit provided for all but administered only to the soul united with the Lord.

If the infidel spirit asks how sin should reign in spite of an atonement that has put away sin, the answer is twofold: first, evil does not absolutely reign in the world, as will be hereafter shown; and, secondly, the claim of the Gospel is not to deliver every man by a physical necessity or despotic application of power, but everyone who uses its provisions as an infallible remedy abundantly supplied.

1 1 Cor 1:30.

3. The religion of Jesus professes to redeem the world of mankind or the race of Adam from all its evil: to be set for the healing of the nations. 1 This is everywhere its unlimited promise. It is not to be denied that redemption from all kinds of calamity is announced: a redemption in which not only man rejoices, but, in a certain sense, the whole creation around rejoices with him. The Old Testament bids the earth and the heavens be glad because of the coming of the Universal Deliverer; 2 and when He came Whom the earth and the nations desired it was declared of Him by Himself, in the first words He uttered concerning His mission when He assumed His office in Nazareth: He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me [to heal the brokenhearted], to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 3 But here again we must be careful to note that the Savior of our race never professes to have come with an absolute, unconditional, and universal deliverance from all the effects of transgression. How this should be, why it should be, that the Redeemer of the world does not, notwithstanding His name, put an end for ever to the evil of the world, is a question to which no answer can be given: no other answer, that is, than that the redemption of mankind is a probationary redemption, and takes effect only through the spread of a spiritual kingdom, as a process that acts with moral, slow, and not in every respect irresistible, force.

1 Rev. 22:2; 2 Isa. 2; Psa. 96; Psa. 100; 3 Luke 4:18.

4. Such are the claims, and with such qualifications, for which alone the religion of Jesus is answerable. In an argument which pleads its effects and results we are bound to take Christianity according to its own profession. It does not claim to be an instrument in the hand of absolute omnipotence: providing a heavenly Man or a Divinity in man who should first instruct the race in duty, then go down to the pit where its past generations were gathered, and rescue them; then send forth His influence to abolish sin, either in this world by moral teaching or in the next by purgatorial discipline; and, finally, put an end to all the evil that could not otherwise be removed. Neither is that the Gospel which Christ preaches, nor could we well apologize for it if it were. Be that as it may, the Christianity which it is our business to defend by showing its own credentials is of a very different character. It professes to be the sole instructor of mankind: but only in religious truth, and only through a word which a Divine Interpreter must explain. It promises to save men from their sins: but only through such an atoning provision on behalf of all as each must appropriate for himself. It engages to emancipate our world from all its evils; but only as that world is created anew in Christ, and made up of individuals who receive His salvation. If the opponents of Christianity forget the freedom of man's will, and the moral character of the influence religion brings to bear upon it, then they contend against a religion which we are not anxious to defend.


It may be confidently asserted that the Christian Faith has made good its glorying, whether we look generally at its influence in the world, or at its specific triumphs under the several heads already adverted to as the substance of Apostolical apology.


That Christianity has introduced into the world a system of doctrine worthy to be called Divine is the plea itself sets up, and one that may be sustained: in fact, it alone has a system of doctrine. All must admit that its exhibition of truth is at least the most compact and perfect the world has ever known: this must be allowed even by those who demur to many of its individual dogmas. Remembering that the Christian Religion means both its Testaments, that which it received and that which it created, we may say that it presents a body of professedly authoritative teaching on all subjects of interest to mankind, — ranging from heaven to earth, from earth to things under the earth, and thence back to heaven again, —in comparison of which all other teaching that belongs to the race is but as legend and fable. It is no exaggeration to affirm that whatever great fundamental truths are found in other systems come in a nobler form and in a more consistent connection from the lips of Jesus and His Apostles. There are doubtless many great spiritual ideas held by the Eastern Religions especially in common with the Gospel. But in the Gospel they are released from those appendages which almost distort them out of recognition; and, what is more than that, they are taught as parts of one vast and literally infinite circle of truth the centre of which is God. Although the outermost circumference of this circle is nowhere, its inner circumference, which comprehends strictly human doctrines, is clearly defined and traceable all round, without any arc of indistinctness. It is the compactness, completeness, and consistency of the Evangelical system of truth that sustains its claim to be the wisdom of God. But the argument—so far as it is argument—will be better exhibited by considering what may be said in opposition.

1. It would hardly be a fair objection to the Christian system of teaching that it is, as a whole, beyond the grasp of the human intelligence. Man's faculties are limited, and cannot expect to understand all the mysteries of religion. We know that we are encompassed about with innumerable worlds, which are but parts of the universe; but beyond our own planet we know little even of physical nature: how can we expect to understand the things that pertain to spirit and the God of spirits? Whatever truth is, it must at all points transcend our capacity. But it may be urged that many of the doctrines of Christianity are inconsistent with reason, or opposed to its primary laws of thinking: indeed, this is even charged against all the fundamental and peculiarly Christian revelations of truth. The Holy Trinity, that in the necessary unity or soleness of the Divine essence there are three Personal Subsistences; the creation of the physical universe and the beginning of limited existence; the probation and fall of spirits for ever unsaved and of redeemed mankind, as involving the dependence of an Infinite Being on contingent events; the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of God, one Person in two natures as distinct as Infinite and finite can be; and the vicarious sacrifice of that Divine-human Person for the race of man; the vast contrast between this insignificant world and the price of its redemption; the doctrine of original sin as infecting the race, and yet virtually atoned for .at the beginning or before it began its course, as actually after many ages expiated at the cross, and nevertheless eternally punished in many:—these are but specimens of 'doctrine absolutely essential to the Christian system which are said to militate against the first principles of human thought. Similarly, the entire record of the providential government of the world with which these doctrines are bound up, especially some of the more wonderful facts of Scripture, such as the series of stern Divine interventions and judgments in the old world and the prophecies in the New Testament of yet sterner to come, excite the rebellion of human thought, which measures the unknown God by a standard of its own. Against this class of objections to Christianity there is no other argument than that which Christianity itself uses in the Scriptures of the New Testament. Both the Master and His Apostles speak as perfectly aware that they announce things utterly beyond human comprehension and things which seem to contradict reason. Their reply to every objection is, that the whole system of Divine truth is beyond and above mere human criticism; in fact requiring a special faculty, and that faculty to be specially illumined from above. Here was the force of our Lord's appeal to Nicodemus, who was perplexed by one of the seeming paradoxes of the new religion: If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things. 1 This is a word of great importance: our Lord's figure suggests that He had mysteries to disclose, not so much Himself as by His Apostles, which were as far above ordinary doctrine hitherto familiar as heaven is above earth. The Apostle Paul also again and again speaks of the wisdom of God in a mystery: 2 in mystery unsearchable. The apologist may and must attempt to conciliate human reason by showing that the most difficult doctrines introduced by Christianity are rather above man's thinking power than contrary to the laws of thought; that some faint adumbrations of the highest of them all, the Holy Trinity, are found in nature and in the human constitution and some gropings after it in most of the traditions of nations. He may also point to the perfect unity of the system which stands or falls with its-awful doctrine of sin: a doctrine confirmed by all the facts of human experience and the instincts of the human consciousness. If so much stress is laid upon the invasion and suppression of our instinctive principles, then it is lawful to point to them when they are in favor of Christian doctrine. Undoubtedly the tenor of the teaching concerning sin is in harmony with the profoundest thoughts of the human heart.

He may also appeal to the instinctive hope of an equalizing and reconciling hereafter and that future solution which is reserved for the vindication of the ways of Providence. But, after all that may be said, those who defend the Faith must be content to use an argument which man in his irrational pride despises: the argument that imitates the Bible and refuses to argue with one who will not accept more than he can understand. Christianity imposes a doctrinal as well as an ethical cross. In many cases, the burden of the Faith is the chief ethical cross: that of which our Lord said, speaking of the mysteries committed unto Himself for babes: Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me! 3 His elect ones in every age have bowed down; and, though this is not itself an argument, it must be remembered that very many of the greatest intellects among men have thought it wisdom to bear that cross, and have found in bearing it their rest. This rest must be sought and found.

1 John 3:12; 2 1 Cor 2:7; 3 Mat. 11:29.

2. The history of heresy in Christendom, the manifold perversions of doctrine within the Church, and the endless diversities of opinion among believers themselves, are pleas of which much use has been made. It cannot be denied that every truth has been perverted, and that almost every truth has been denied, among the communities professing to hold the Head; and, more-over, that the same documents have been and are still made the standard of appeal by maintainers of very opposite opinions on some most important points. But this undoubted fact is, on the whole, rather in favor of the Christian system than to its prejudice. Religious truth is not like truth mathematical. It is probationary, and does not command assent. Had it been otherwise it might have banished every error from the world in the course of one age. But it has the entire strength of sin and sinful prejudice against it; and those whose lives it cannot reform would fain reform its teaching. The Wisdom of God in the Gospel has ever waged, according to its own prediction, a double conflict: against errors in the world without, and against the foes of its own household. To obviate the argument that might and would be found in the unfaithfulness of the professors of His religion, our Lord has left on record His own testimony that many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. 1 So also St. Paul predicted the greater and lesser apostasies, and that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 And St. John summed up the strain: declaring that prophecy had already become fact: Even now are there many Anti-christs. 3 Moreover, he turns the existence and abounding of these opponents of Christ and His doctrine into an argument in favor of the religion from which they declined. Meanwhile the heresies pass away, but the truth endureth for ever.4

1 Mat 24:11; 2 2 Tim. 3:13; 3 1 John 2:18,19; 4 1 Pet. 1:25.


The effects of Christianity upon the character of him who heartily embraces it, and yields to its personal discipline, most abundantly confirm its claim to be a religion provided by God for man. It offers, through the atoning mediation of Christ accepted by faith, a perfect deliverance from the sense of guilt, and a perfect system of education for holiness.

These are the elements of a salvation needed, and equally needed, by all mankind: the universal cravings of the race have been known to seek them as long as the history of man has been known. On these two great necessities hang all the obligations of religion.

It must meet these, or it is useless: and. if it truly meets these, then it leaves nothing wanting. New Christianity in all its doctrinal and ethical teaching keeps those two supreme demands in view. It makes everything, as it were, subordinate to them. It professes to show every man living the Way of Peace and the Way of Holiness: the method by which he may obtain knowledge of the remission of his sins, and full deliverance from the sinfulness of his nature. It promises to every believer a conscious union with his God: the power of a Divine life within making him happy and holy and fit for fellowship with the company of heaven. The testimonies of Scripture on these subjects are confirmed by a cloud of innumerable witnesses in the history of mankind, beginning with the Biblical records and continued to this day. Against this evidence of the truth of Christianity as against every other many things may be urged.

1. It may be said that this kind of argument is altogether subjective, and begs the question. That the Christian religion makes such a claim is evident, and also that many have supposed themselves to be living witnesses of its truth; but that all such sup posed experience is or may be the result of delusion, or of imagination, or of strong faith in an idea which goes far towards accomplishing its own will. Now the effects produced by the Gospel in those who have entirely surrendered themselves to its sway have been such as no imagination could produce. Multitudes have felt relief from the burden of a guilty conscience, either gradually or suddenly imparted, which has been to them as if, in the language of Jesus, they had passed from death unto life; 1 and they have consciously known, as they have been taught by St. Paul, the power of God unto salvation. 2 They have been persuaded — as they think by the Holy Ghost — that their sins were blotted out; and they have felt a strength supernatural in doing right, in bearing affliction, in vanquishing self, and in suffering for God, the source of which they have confidently ascribed to the same Spirit. But this kind of evidence the New Testament itself is not eager to press on the unbeliever. It is reserved for the sure encouragement of those who receive it.

1 1 John 3:14; 2 Rom. 1:16.

2. It may be said further that the average lives of professors of the Faith from the beginning have not sustained this argument: that the Gospel failed when it was first sent, accompanied by miraculous aids; that it then elevated only a very select number; and that its spiritual transformations and triumphs have been comparatively few from the very first, so few that they are fitly named the elect. Here again the apologist has little to say.

He must admit that our religion has waged war against a strong power in human nature, and that this has been often a wavering or a failing war, even among its best professors.

But if we grant that the influence of Christianity is moral only and not physical, there is no argument as against its own Divinity in its comparative failure. The earliest prophecies in the New Testament predicted precisely what has taken place; while they also assure us that the triumph of the Gospel shall prove hereafter to have been exceedingly great: much greater indeed in every age than the eye of man could discern.

3. But the plea most earnestly urged against this argument is this, that the best effects of Christianity have been produced by other systems either independent of it or contrary to it. Almost all the so-called natural religions of older or of more recent times have names to present which are thought not to suffer in comparison with the saints of Christendom.

The Eastern faiths have a wonderful catalogue both of ascetic and of mystic devotees; and the Greek and Roman philosophies, — which have gloried in such men as Socrates, Seneca, Marcus Antoninus, —are not behind them. This is a plea that it is not hard to set aside, although the method of doing so may seem somewhat bigoted. First, no true advocates of our Faith deny that godliness has existed outside of direct revelation. The early apologists of the Faith were wont to dwell much upon what they called the LOGOS SPERMATICUS, or the pre-incarnate Son of God at the root of human nature, or as a seminal inspiration of-truth among the heathen, or the influence of the light of THE WORD 1 everywhere diffused among men, as the New Testament declares. The effort to find Him after Whom the Gentiles groped has produced some of the noblest fruits of the tree of human morality. Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, 2 our Lord Himself said; and we may suppose Him to have wondered at the faith of many, before and besides the Syrophoenician and the Centurion, who put to shame the children of revelation. But this plea is sometimes carried too far. It may be denied that, apart from Christianity, any mortal has ever rejoiced in forgiveness and perfect victory over sin. On the contrary, the highest ethics taught and exemplified in heathenism have lacked the very qualities and prerogatives on which Christian teaching lays the utmost stress. Not only have they lacked these qualities, but they have despaired of the possibility of reaching them. The Heathen atonements were never regarded by those who offered them as securing forgiveness from heaven; and Heathen philosophy never pretended to bring to more than a few, and to them only in a limited degree, the thorough purification of the nature.

1 John 1:9; 2 John 10:16.

4. Finally, it is said, as already intimated, that this is an argument in a circle. We assume that Christianity is true because it produces certain effects which itself only declares to be Divine. Nor can we altogether disavow this. The evidences of the Faith are of necessity deeply infected with the Petitio Principii. From beginning to end the New Testament refers to the effects of its own proclamation of the Gospel as being produced by God. It accustoms the individual believer—and to the individual reference is now made—to look for and to be content with the testimony of the Divine Spirit, concerning Whom and His influence it asserts, He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. 1 If it be asked, how is he to know that secret influence to be the Holy Ghost? the answer is, that the Holy Ghost also says, IT is I! 2 And, after all, the final refuge of the humble Christian must be in the Divine authentication of the Faith within himself.

1 1 John 5:10; 2 Mat. 14:27.


The world is under a manifest process of deliverance from all the evils that weigh upon it as the fruit of sin. The pledge j given by our Lord in that first sermon at Nazareth has so far been redeemed that we may with confidence predict that it will be redeemed in full. 1 No power at all comparable to Christianity has ever been at work in the world: indeed, no power save the Gospel can be said ever to have been at work at all in the world of humanity at large. Judaism was Christianity within a limited sphere, and with only the hope of the Christ Who has come. But from the day of Pentecost the Faith of Jesus has been leavening the entire race of mankind. Negatively, it has been steadily raising the tone of universal morality, and abolishing the worst evils of human society: even beyond the limits of its own fellowship it has been an influence for good wherever it has been found, It has waged exterminating warfare against every vice that has ever been condemned by man's instinct or laws: mitigating on the way the evils that it is bent on destroying though unable at once to destroy. It may be boldly affirmed that wherever genuine Christianity has been admitted it has discountenanced and weakened and in due time abolished every practice that corrupts the fellowship of mankind as such. Positively, it has introduced benevolence in a thousand forms unknown to antiquity, and charities hitherto without a name; it has raised and dignified all the nations that have received it; and it may fairly claim as its own the civilization of the modern world. Objections here also only too readily rise: objections confessedly hard to deal with.

1 Luke 4:21-27.

1. It is, alas, a too obvious plea that the organization of Christianity itself has been to a very great extent flagrantly corrupt. Very soon—to put the counterplea in its worst aspect—the religion of Christ, or rather the outward form of it in the world, fell under temptation. Errors crept in which were all the more perilous, and all the more humiliating, because they sprang from corruption of the noblest principles of the faith. It is not necessary to enumerate, what it is impossible to deny, that the Church which should reform the world seemed unable to keep herself pure. This plea cannot be answered without humiliation that it should be so, and thankfulness for the confidence we have that the foundation of God standeth sure. 1 As to the answer itself it is simple enough. As it is no valid argument against individual religion that the godly may fall, so it is no disparagement of Christianity as a system that it is liable to perversion. The causes of that perversion are very obvious; the body corporate was not protected against them by any defense that should interfere with the laws of historical development; and both our Lord and His Apostles foretold the very apostasies and declensions that took place. Moreover, the evils and corruptions which have encumbered the cause of Christ have never altogether suppressed its saving influence in the world. And, finally, a steady reformation has long been going on within the Church which will issue, according to prophecy, in making it a yet more effectual power for the conversion of the nations.

1 2 Tim. 2:19.

2. But a still more serious difficulty here arises. It is urged, and has been urged in all ages, that the supposed remedial economy of the Gospel is either, on the one hand, arbitrarily under the sovereign and elective control of God, or, on the other, dependent on the free agency of man: in either case, too slow and partial to be a real and effectual relief of the miseries of mankind as such. Perhaps no objection to the Christian scheme has weighed more with thoughtful minds than this. It seems hard that a Divine scheme for the rescue of a world should in any sense suffer defeat, or be slow in its processes and partial in its operation. Of mere human systems this might be expected; but surely not of the system which is said to declare both the wisdom and the power of God. The facts themselves are to the most cursory consideration very embarrassing. The countless multitudes of the descendants of Adam have been only slightly touched by the Gospel: comparatively few have even seen the tree whose leaves are for the healing of the nations, and still fewer have put forth their hands to it. What can be said to these things? Scarcely anything but what the Scripture itself says on this very subject. The delay of Christianity to accomplish its mission, while the dying generations of men wait for it, is indeed a mystery unfathomable; but it is no argument against the Christian Faith to those who remember that it is one branch of an infinite scheme, every department of which is oppressed or glorified by the same mystery. And those who believe that the Creator works by a law of evolution that required numberless ages for the preparation of the earth, and in a long series of developments before man was reached, ought not to rebel against the slow process of man's redemption. There is no reply but the appeal to the unfathomable mystery that surrounds our being on every conceivable hypothesis. Those who reject Christianity because it does not search to the bottom and expound the enigma of life are not wise: it at least goes immeasurably farther than any other philosophy. We cannot with our present faculties, or at any rate with our faculties in their present stage of discipline, reconcile the inscrutable counsel of God, on the one hand, and the profound abyss, on the other, of human control over human destiny. Meanwhile the Christian economy is most certainly accomplishing the redemption of the human family; there is no other force in the world that even aims at this. We may predict that it will make an end of sins, and bring in everlasting righteousness for the race as such. We may be sure that the time will come when all miseries and evils that grace can vanquish will be vanquished and be forgotten; and that the wisdom of God will hereafter give account of everything that seems to impeach His goodness. As to the multitudes of individuals whom the Gospel seems to forget or fail to save by the way, they must be left with God and His Christ. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? 1 But this eternal Judge of all the earth in the counsel of redemption committed all judgment unto the Son; 2 and He hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.3

1 Gen. 18:25; 2 John 5:22; 3 John 5:27.


Christianity has sustained its other credentials, and added a new one, in the fact of its early spread, its enduring life, and its outliving every form of opposition. Its triumph over all the assaults of its foes as well as all the contingencies of time was predicted by our Lord for the encouragement of His disciples, when He first announced the foundation and destiny of His Church. The earliest use of the term is very suggestive in this light: Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 1 It is both His defiance and His prophecy.

1 Mat. 16:18.


The history of the early victories of Christianity is a strong enforcement of its claims. As a religion it had everything against it: so decisively against it that, on the supposition of its being one more new cults introduced by a human innovator, or, as St. Paul says, but a man's covenant, 1 every method of accounting for its swift diffusion and sway is baffled.

Nothing in its relation to Judaism was favorable: the new Gospel was a miserable disappointment to the Jewish people: its proclamation of a crucified Messiah was unto the Jews a stumbling block. 2 It had few elements of affinity with the philosophical systems of mankind, and made no appeal to the pride of the human intellect: it preached a fundamental doctrine that was unto the Greeks foolishness, and even that doctrine it preached foolishly. It did not, in fact, come with any formal doctrine at all; but simply enforced at first the old truths of natural religion as taught by a new Teacher Who must be accepted before His mysteries were unfolded. It is true that the Person presented was supreme in excellence; but the Gentile disputers did not know this at first, and all they knew was that he suffered a death of infamy. If he was accepted it must be as one who in defiance of every law of nature had left his tomb, but did not, as might be expected, come back to live among men. Moreover, the men who proclaimed the Gospel could not be acceptable to the Jews, not being Rabbis; nor to the Greeks, not being philosophers; nor to the common people generally, not bringing a popular doctrine. Their Gospel inculcated ethics of the grandest character; but such virtues as spiritual-mindedness, unlimited forgiveness, meekness, self-sacrifice, contempt for this world, abjuration of all good in man, were not likely to win attention. It introduced its adherents to a society that had no attraction but its simplicity, no rewards but persecution in this life. Yet in a few decades it shook the world, and in a few centuries subjugated it.

1 Gal. 3:15; 2 1 Cor. 1:23.

1. Against this it is urged that the power of a great idea fitly represented has, in every age, swayed mightily the minds of men, and that Christianity was only one more instance and not really more influential than some others. Something in the state of the world predisposed it for the peculiar idea of redemption introduced by Jesus and His Apostles; nor is it necessary—the argument runs—that we should know the peculiar secret. But it may be absolutely denied that any system of religious thought has ever commanded all kinds of people and excited such a perfect devotion. Brahmanism and Buddhism and the other Eastern religions never even pretended to be forces for the world; and though they have long existed they are tending towards extinction, and the Nirvana of one of them is written on all. Mohammedanism has lived by the truth it borrowed from the Bible, and been spread only by secular force: it has indeed ruled a large portion of the globe; but it has long ago lost its missionary character. Christianity in all respects stands alone. Of course, there is no demonstrative force in the mere argument of success; nor would there be, if success had been much greater. But at least it may be said that in connection with other pleas this has great force: apart from a Divine power, there is no mystery in the religion of the Christ greater than its early triumphs.

2. But, although there was much external might to oppose the spread of Christianity, it has been argued that there was much within it naturally to further its diffusion. A subtle case has been made out of the concurrence of fortunate circumstances: such as the pure and vehement zeal of the Christians, their new doctrine of a future life, the miraculous powers attributed to them, their austere morals, the union and discipline and vigor of the commonwealth. But it is obvious that this style of argument does in reality pay a high tribute to the new Faith, while it has little force as a human explanation of its triumphs.

The reasoning unconsciously points to that very Finger of God which it aims to withdraw from human affairs, if not to abolish altogether.


1. Judaism was the first enemy that Christianity encountered, and has been in all ages the most virulent if not the most formidable. Its opposition had this peculiarity, that it was manifested against the Founder of the Faith: in fact, it was the only human and visible opponent that He met upon earth. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. 1 Throughout the whole course of His ministry, but especially towards its close when His claim to be the Messiah became known, He was persecuted by the representatives of Judaism. This gave a peculiar emphasis to His saying: A man's foes shall be they of his own household. 2 Jesus arose in the midst of our race as a member of the Jewish household, to perfect and glorify the ancient religion. His brethren according to the flesh by their malice and blindness brought about in a way they never contemplated the consummation and end of their own national religion and law. And the result of their enmity in the death of the Messiah was a most wonderful fulfillment of prophecy and evidence of the truth of His claims. When we enter the Acts, we find that the first contest of the Gospel was everywhere with the Jews; and that in most places, though not in all, the cause of Jesus was triumphant. It was not in Jerusalem alone that a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. 3 But neither in the Gospels nor in the Acts is the triumph of Christianity over Judaism so described as to make it an argument of the Divinity of the Christian religion. Rather it might seem as if the persistent enmity of the Jews was made such an argument, being so directly a fulfillment of prediction: Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet: unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.4

1 John 1:11; 2 Mat. 10:36; 3 Acts 6:7; 4 Acts 28:25-28.

2. During the early ages there was a fierce polemic kept up between the Christians and the Jews. At first it seemed as if a compromise would be affected. A considerable body of Jewish converts received Jesus as the Messiah, but only as the greatest of the prophets, and as raised up for the ancient people: others being admitted to these privileges only by complying with their rite of initiation, and by binding themselves to keep the law. But when that expedient failed, and the Christianity which had its final expression in St. Paul's writings gained the ascendancy, it was bitterly opposed by the ancient people, and all the more bitterly because they ascribed to Jesus and His religion the ruin of their polity. But Judaism the mother declined, and Christianity the daughter triumphed. From generation to generation there has been a ceaseless enmity between the Israel after the flesh and the true Christian Israel after the Spirit; but, applying any fitting test whatever, we must be persuaded that the Christian Messiah has gotten to Himself the victory. His renewed, enlarged, baptized, and perfected Judaism lives on earth: the Judaism which still clings to the law, and still looks for Another, lives indeed, but is dead while it lives.

It has had its schools of learning, and names of high excellence. It has also displayed marvelous virtue in its charities, in its indestructible patience of hope—though a hope that must make ashamed—and in its meek endurance of unexampled wrongs, often from Christian hands. But it is, as a system, dead, twice dead; and never can be revived.

Moreover, it is remarkable that the greatest intellects produced by modern Judaism— Maimonides and Spinoza, the latter especially, —have done much to unsettle the religious ideas of mankind.

3. But the affecting and unnatural conflict between Christianity and Judaism is itself, and apart from any great success, a strong argument in favor of the Christian cause. Both systems are world-wide in their extent; both pervade, or bid fair to pervade, the whole earth; but how entirely different are the issues of their progress respectively! The one is advancing on a career of beneficence, in the course of which it sweeps away all systems of idolatry, cruelty, and wrong. The other simply overspreads the earth without any mission or pretence of a mission: in obedience, as it were, to some fate or absolute compulsion. Why the Jews are diffused among the nations, more or less dishonored of all, and in spite of the enlightened views of the present day never able to throw off the universal ban that is upon them, is a mystery that can be solved only by their own Scriptures, now become not theirs but ours. In them, as interpreted by the New Testament, the reason is given so plainly that he may run who readeth it. It goes back to their very origin: The Lord shall scatter you among the nations. 1 And a second date it has, which is the turning point of the history of mankind: His blood be on us, and on our children. 2 Moses predicted that, if they should do evil in the sight of the Lord, 3 they should cease from the enjoyment of their inheritance: Ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. 4 Utter destruction is never in the Divine threatenings annihilation. His ancient people have gone out of the presence of God, like Cain; and a mark has been set upon them, that they should not be exterminated, but remain as an enduring demonstration of the truth of their rejected Messiah, Whose cutting off—BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF—was their greatest EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD.5

1 DEU. 4:27; 2 MAT. 27:25; 3 DEU. 4:25; 4 DEU. 4:26; 5 DAN. 9:26 .


1. When Christianity appeared, the Gentile religions were both at their best and at their worst: they had reached the highest result of their wisdom and art; but they had also descended to the lowest point of their moral impotence. The world was never so highly cultivated, and never so ethically vile. But both the strength and the weakness of heathenism were armed against the new faith, which was the object of the converging attacks of all the forces of the Gentile world. Christianity during the first three centuries was of course aggressive as well as persecuted. The ten imperial persecutions were only a reaction of heathenism against a spiritual persecution which itself had to endure from a religion that spared none of its weaknesses and poured contempt on all its errors. That religion prospered in spite of every attack; and drove the mightiest mythology the world had known into the villages, whence it derived the name of PAGANISM. That which had been branded as an Exitiabilis Superstitio compelled before the fourth century the homage of all civilized nations of the empire. An attempt was made to revive heathenism under Julian the Apostate; but it signally failed. The great Apologies of the second century were never answered. And when, somewhat later, the advocates of the ancient and effete religions charged upon Christianity the decay and ruin of the empire, Augustine's treatise De Civitate and other similar writings, silenced the argument of heathenism for ever. Although many extraneous causes conspired to aid the Christian Religion in gaining ascendancy, the dispassionate verdict of history must be that its own internal power gave it the victory. And that power was the Holy Ghost leading it in triumph in Christ.1

1 2 Cor. 2:14.

2. This triumph of Christianity is all the more remarkable because as conquering it was itself infected by many of the errors it displaced. Scarcely a form of superstition was overcome which did not contribute its measure of corruption to the faith of Jesus. The earlier and later heresies were to a great extent results of the infusion of the old leaven of Oriental and Classical modes of thought. Gentile philosophy was vanquished; but its Parthian arrows left their poison, and the final superiority of orthodox Christianity over the subtle errors of Gnosticism, Manichssism, Pantheistic mysticism, with the superstitions of materialistic sacramentalism in later days, manifested its eternal power not less than its original suppression of heathen error. If we take a broad and catholic view of Christian history in its doctrinal development we shall see that there has been a steady, continuous victory of truth over all forms of the Gentile lie whether without or within the Church. No weapon formed against it, however often reappearing, has finally prospered.

3. No species of heathenism has ever effectually withstood the power of the Christian religion. Not always has its mode of assault been in harmony with its own precepts.

Too often has its war with the old idolatries and superstitions been in harmony with that spirit which the Lord condemned in His sons of thunder. 1,2 Sometimes it has imitated the violent methods of Mohammedanism or employed the cunning wiles of the great deceiver. But there has never been wanting an honest and true propagandism. And the result has always accorded with the high aim and pretension of the Gospel. It has supplanted one system after another in the South, and the West, and the North. The Eastern superstitions alone have seemed to defy its power, But these are slowly and surely yielding. They are the most ancient forces of heathenism, and in seemingly immovable tranquility have survived the fall of a multitude of other systems; but they are surely succumbing to the truth which was earlier than they, and are fulfilling the predictions which make certain the universal spread of the Gospel. In them the word shall have its double truth: many that are first shall be last in yielding; and the last shall be first 3 in demonstration of the glory of our Lord.

1 Luke 9:55; 2 Mark 3:17; 3 Mat. 19:30.

4. On the whole, a calm survey of the state of the world under the influence of the Christian religion will lead every philosophic student of history to the conclusion that the Head of the Church will surely become the Master of the whole earth. Human prophecy, guided by the lights of the past and the analogy of the present, must concur with prophecy Divine in predicting this. In the struggle for existence—if we condescend to use current phraseology —the survival will be on the side of Christianity. Give it time enough and it will, even apart from supreme interpositions of the Spirit, displace every other system. It has annihilated many; it has transformed some; it has touched all with the earnest of a fundamental change. The mystery of its slow development is in some respects unfathomable. But its ultimate supremacy is to human calculation the highest possible probability: to faith in the word of revelation it is as certain as the being of God.

And its past, present, and future triumph is its irresistible credential.


1. It has been already seen that the teaching of Christ is as much a republication of the original principles of natural religion as it is an expansion of the religion of Judaism. It rests upon these two as its pillars, so far as it is a religion: that is, a system of observances and morality and worship, which is all that religion or threeskeías, means. Christianity is, however, a great revelation, an unveiling, of the supernatural world or order of things; and against all that it brings over and above the teaching of nature there has been from the beginning a protest. In fact, the early Apologies abound with arguments vindicating the religion of Jesus against those who asserted the sufficiency of the light of nature. But the victory over opponents of this class was then easy, as the world had been long accustomed to the thought of heavenly interventions. Antiquity, which really had nothing but the traditions of a lost revelation, or what is called natural religion, was never without a strong conviction that it had at the same time something much better. It would hardly have understood the force of any argument against a revelation as such.

2. Perhaps the first, certainly the most influential, development of opposition to Christianity proceeding on this line of thought was DEISM, the form assumed by English Infidelity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In this continuous assault on the Faith many elements combined: it was an application to theology, never intended by Bacon, of the new philosophy of induction and experience, as also an application of the sensational philosophy never intended by Locke; but it was mainly an attempt to show that the principles of natural religion render a supernatural revelation superfluous, that the documents and evidences of the supposed supernatural revelation are contradictory to the light of nature, and also that these documents are in them-selves unworthy of confidence.

As it regards this last point, in which the English Deists were followed by the destructive critics of France and Germany, more must be said when the documents are under consideration. The Nationalism also that underlies the entire system of attack must be examined elsewhere. Meanwhile, it is enough to say that the Christian revelation has not only survived, it has vanquished, Infidelity or Deism. The strength of this system—its theistic belief in God and adherence to the principles of natural theology—proved its weakness. The argument of Analogy was triumphantly applied to show that the believer in a God Who controls the course and constitution of nature ought not to reject the revelation of the Bible, which introduces only a wider extension or larger view of the same scheme of the same God. It silenced all rational opposition to the Christian Faith; and the silencing of opposition is in this case victory. As our Savior said: Ye believe in God, believe also in Me. 1

1 John 14:1.


1. Generally speaking, there has never been any opposition between Christianity and true science. For Christianity pro-fesses to be, and is, a scientific presentation of the largest and broadest philosophy ever expounded to mankind. Hence St. Paul speaks of oppositions of science falsely so-called. 1 True science, or disciplined and formulated knowledge, must needs respect the system of thought which has commanded the homage of so influential a portion of mankind. It is not too much to say that no principle of thinking deserves to be called philosophy, and no results of thinking deserve to be called science, which can despise the Christian Faith. On this subject, however, enough will be found elsewhere. Meanwhile, it is one of the evidences of the truth of our religion that it has survived the attack of many systems of false science. It has in every past age received the homage of the best intellects and most earnest cultivators of both physical and metaphysical truth. This is true of the present age also. And it may be safely said that true Christianity is accepted by a far larger number of rigorous and sound thinkers than is to be found in the service of any one particular department of scientific opposition or perhaps in all departments of scientific opposition put together.

1 1 Tim. 6:20.

2. This being true, it may be granted that it is true only of genuine Christianity. There has been in all Christian ages an unsound development of certain doctrines against which sound science has successfully protested. The Christian Faith ought not to be held responsible for the additions of men; and there can be no doubt that it has pleased God to rebuke by the ministry of human learning many errors which have dimmed or perverted the Faith. During the Middle Ages the authority of the Church was armed in favor of false interpretations of Scripture, and science came to the aid of the simplicity of truth.

Christendom has had much to unlearn and much to learn through its contact with scientific criticism and research. It may have something yet both to unlearn and to learn: many most important helps for the solution of difficulties, the removal of obstacles, and the reconciliation of apparent contradictions in the exegesis of Scripture, may and indeed certainly will be afforded by the investigations of scholars and physicists. Science furnished the key to open some of the dark chambers of cosmogony. And as the origin of things is better understood since modern geology sprang up, so also the origin of man is and will be better understood when the chaos of modern anthropology is reduced to shape. If it should seem in any case that a clear result of inductive science clashes with Scripture or the Christian religion, it will be found, as it has been found in times past, that the contradiction is not real: either the Scripture and the particular truth concerned has been misunderstood, or the scientific induction may itself have to be corrected, or some yet unknown mediatorial fact must be waited for. There is much ground common to science and the Faith in the archaeology, chronology, anthropology, and history of Scripture, not yet fully explored. Meanwhile, science in this relation is comparatively young, and Christianity is absolutely old. The foundation of the eternal verities that make up the relations of God and man has never been shaken by sound human learning and research. On many contested points there is doubtless much controversy. But religion has nothing to fear; and it is a consolation, though a subordinate one, that this is the firm conviction of many who are at once the most profound students of modern science and the most humble disciples of Holy Scripture.

3. There is, however, a false science, a pseudonumos gnosis, 1 which has absolutely withstood Christianity from the beginning; and, with peculiar critical keenness opposes it now. This also it has vanquished in the past; and, though the issue is still pending, it will be victorious now. This science is one with many forms; and it may be called false, for its fundamental principles are unscientific, as destroying the foundations of all human knowledge. If science at all it is the science of nescience: a contradiction in terms.

Skepticism, or suspended judgment on many points, may be tolerated; though universal skepticism is utterly alien from the spirit of the Bible, which appeals to the common sense of mankind against the chaos both of universal skepticism and universal nescience.

The same may be said of Pantheistic science: though based on a principle which has commanded the homage of much human thought in all ages, it is not scientific; for it annihilates the distinctness, or at least the permanent distinctness of the thinking subject, whose fleeting phenomena cannot constitute knowledge. Christianity has overcome Pantheism : by the very fact that the noblest Pantheists, the mediaeval, mystical, and the German transcendental philosophers, have aimed to Christianize their system, and, in fact, have held it as Christians. Where it has not leaned on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity it has had no semblance of scientific precision: Spinoza's mathematical system died with himself. Positivism is the supreme delusion of the nineteenth century: professing to be sure and absolute science in every department, it leaves out the endless phenomena which revelation has taught the world, and that with the general consent of all true science, to call spiritual. Materialism is the modern form of Atheism which seems to threaten the hold of religion on men's minds. It is the last and most uncompromising of its enemies: never during earlier ages having risen with anything like strength, it seems now to be encouraged to assault the Faith by the aid of physical science. But sound science must, sooner or later, utterly disavow a system that abolishes the notions of cause and effect, of all final causes and ends, and asserts, in the face of evidence most absolute, the spontaneous origin of life. Most of these forms of the falsely called science will be considered in their appropriate place. Here it is enough to say that they have opposed Christianity in rain. The religion of Christ, with its earlier and later documents, gives a grand and consistent, though at some points most mysterious and unsearchable, explanation of all things. It may be said to have already vanquished all systems and hypotheses which are destructive only and have no positive principles or explanations of their own to substitute for what they take away.

1 1 Tim. 6:20.


No view of the credentials of Divine Revelation is complete which omits a distinct reference to the Holy Ghost, Whose special influence accompanies the Truth as its seal, demonstration, and assurance. This has been of necessity referred to already, and will in due course be more fully exhibited under other aspects and relations. Here it is sufficient to lay down this principle as the sum and conclusion of the whole matter: the Spirit of God and of Christ alone gives to all evidences their force, and imparts to those who sincerely consider them both the faith that believes and the confirmation of that faith.

Moreover, though it may seem a hard saying, the secret of an unbelieving rejection of the Christian Revelation must be traced to an implicit or explicit resistance of His neverfailing and impartial testimony. The presence of the Holy Ghost promised and pledged and bestowed, is the last and crowning credential of the Faith.


It will be necessary only to indicate the force of the testimonies of Scripture on this subject: testimonies forming an unbroken series, the course of which may be easily traced by the following leading instances of their use and application.

1. Our Lord, laying the foundation of the Faith, declares that the Spirit of the truth should convict the unbelief of the world: of sin, because, they believe not on Me. 1 Moreover, He promised that same Spirit as the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, 2 by which His Apostles should be competent witnesses of Himself. It is most evident that to the Spirit is assigned by the Head of the Faith the function of enforcing its credentials. The Lord could not more expressly have said that the cause of Christianity was to be pleaded for ever by this Advocate or Paraclete. Accordingly, the first preachers of the Gospel appealed to this credential, or relied on this Advocate. St. Peter says of the facts, We all are witnesses; 3 but he then points to the testimony of the Holy Ghost: He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. 4 And, at a later time more expressly: We are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him. 5 The Apostles speak with the consciousness of a higher Witness behind their own, to whose effectual energy they look for the demonstration of their words. The entire apostolic ministry illustrates the same truth. The human witnesses do their best, setting forth, as St. John says, events undeniable: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life. 6 But they never rely only on that. There is a concurrent evidence: The witness of God is greater, 7 the same Apostle declares; and, with plain allusion to the Master's words, adds, And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth: kaí tó Pneúmá estin tó marturoún hóti tó Pneúmá estin hee aleétheia, 8 as if the Spirit were Himself the witness that He Himself is the truth; or, as the Vulgate has it, quoniam Christus est Veritas. Thus the New Testament closes, in St. John's Epistle, with the great truth that the Holy Ghost, given by the Father, is the permanent and, as it were, official proof in the world that God hath given His Son.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself. 9 Outside of himself, and objectively, there the Savior that came by water and blood: 10 the believer receives the external evidences of the mission of Jesus, both in its commencement by Baptism and at its consummation on the cross. But the Spirit is the supreme Witness within the witness.

1 John 16:8,9,13; 2 Acts 1:8; 3 Acts 2:32; 4 Acts 2:33; 5 Acts 5:32; 6 1 John 1:1; 7 1 John 5:9; 8 1 John 5:6; 9 1 John 5:10; 10 1 John 5:6.

2. It is very important, in connection with this, to remember that the actual presence of unbelief in the Christian revelation is referred by St. Paul plainly and unambiguously to the rejection of the Spirit: he tells the Corinthians, after reminding them that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led, that No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost, 1 words which follow their counterpart, No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed. Above he had already said that faith standeth in the power of God, that is, in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 2 These passages confirm the principle laid down generally in the New Testament, that there is a sense in which faith in the Christian revelation is the gift of God: a gift, that is, bestowed in connection with the prudent and prayerful use of our own faculties. Hence St. John ratifies the whole at the close of Scripture, by saying that every true Christian that believeth on the Son of God hath the Witness in himself: 3 hath, that is, both the testimony and Him that beareth it within his own soul, as a permanent source of assurance. It is the Spirit that beareth witness, 4 not merely to subjective personal acceptance, but also to the great objective truth which is the ground of that acceptance, to wit, that Jesus is the Son of God. 5 As the anointing of the Holy Ghost was the Father's seal on His Son's mission— for Him hath God the Father sealed—so THE SAME ANOINTING, 6 descending from Him to the skirts of His garments, 7 is the seal that assures to us the truth of His mission and the reality of our interest in Him. St. John therefore says with confidence: ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things: 8 all things, that is, concerning the eternal difference between Christ and Antichrist. That unction of the Holy One, the Revealer, may not instruct in all mysteries, whether of nature or of grace, but if received in humble faith it serves two purposes: it makes the believer confident in Him Whom he trusts as a Savior; and it enables him to detect the liar that denieth that Jesus is the Christ. 9

1 1 Cor 12:2,3; 2 1 Cor 2:4,5; 3 1 John 5:10; 4 1 John 5:6; 5 1 John 5:5; 6 John 6:27; 7 Psa. 133:2; 8 1 John 2:27; 9 1 John 2:22.


This is the bare outline of a doctrine concerning the objective and subjective testimony of the Divine Spirit which the entire New Testament fills up. A careful consideration of the current of its teaching on this subject will convince all, whether students or preachers or defenders of Christianity, that an appeal to the never-absent demonstration of the Holy Ghost is their sheet-anchor for themselves and their last appeal for others.

1. As apologists for the Religion we believe in we must remember for our encouragement the limits of our own obligation. St. Peter instructs the early Christians who had, like us their descendants, to defend their creed, that it was their duty to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. 1 We are bound to provide the very best arguments for the Great Hope that our learning and diligence can supply. This is most certainly demanded of us; but nothing more. After all, the Faith is not in our keeping, but in that of the Holy Ghost.

If we happily succeed in disarming opposition or securing attention or exciting the beginnings of trust, the glory is God's: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. 2 If we fail, and our opponents harden their hearts, we must not give way to Jonah-like despondency, and fall into the snare of our own ill-success: we must remember that our Master will see to it, and show in His time whose words shall stand Theirs or mine. 3

1 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Zech. 4:6; 3 Jer. 44:28.

2. As preachers also in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 1 We must cultivate an absolute reliance on a certain secret Divine testimony which is infallibly given to every truth that we declare: however weakly we proclaim it, provided only we proclaim it faithfully. Here we have the example of the Apostles, who with great fervor argue and persuade, but with the utmost calmness leave the result to God: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, Io, we turn to the Gentiles. 2 But we have a higher example than that of the Apostles. Our Lord Himself, the Supreme Apologist of His own religion, committed His failing cause to His Father. He said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me; 3 and when they murmured against Him and His words, He answered their murmurings and said: No man can come to Me, except the Father Which, hath sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets. And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me. 4 This seems like a tranquil reference of the contest to the arbitration of Heaven, leaving His opponents to their own responsibility. We may humbly copy His example. Our doctrine is not our own, but His Who has sent us; we must leave to His Spirit the responsibility and the justification of the tremendous mysteries we are commissioned to unfold.

1 Isa 30:15; 2 Acts 13:46; 3 John 7:16; 4 John 6:44,45.

3. As Christian men, we have to take care that we find our own full assurance of faith in the conscious influence of the Spirit of Christ. No theologian, in these days of doubt and despair of truth, can keep his soul in peace who does not so live that his mind may be the temple of the Holy Ghost, giving him the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, 1 which is summed up in one word, Christ. A beclouded faith may be traced to many causes; but there is one secret of protection or cure: He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness. 2

1 Col. 2:2; 2 John 8:12.


Thus far we have only sketched the course that Apologetics may take in presenting the Credentials of the Christian Revelation generally and as such; and as distinct from the evidences necessary to establish particular doctrines and particular documents. When we have to discuss the Canon, and proceed with the separate topics of theology, we shall find ourselves always obliged to maintain a defensive position. The contest is prepared at every point. The Christian system is everywhere militant; and some of the best evidences of the Faith are those which arise under the several heads of its individual dogmas, each of which has its own cause to defend. Meanwhile the general credentials of Christianity prepare the way for those more detailed evidences and add force by anticipation to the arguments introduced to sustain both the books and the doctrines. When the glorious revelation as a whole is accepted, that acceptance renders the mind more accessible to persuasion on subordinate points, and disarms captious criticism of documents and minor difficulties of every kind. When the objective Christian Faith is subjectively received by the faith of man accepting its credentials—credentials adapted to our probation, and amply sufficient, as sealed by the Holy Ghost—then it becomes comparatively easy to proceed to the specific methods by which that Faith has been communicated. The consideration of those methods connects this topic with that which now follows: in which we descend from revelation as objective, universal and one, to the form it assumes in holy books.