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Title: Witnesses to Truth
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1883 Church of England Book Society edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



                           WITNESSES TO TRUTH.


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                       THE REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A.,
                VICAR OF TRINITY CHURCH, TUNBRIDGE WELLS;
                    AND HONORARY CANON OF CANTERBURY.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                          _AUTHORIZED EDITION_.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                   THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND BOOK SOCIETY,
                         11, ADAM STREET, STRAND.

                                  1883.

                                * * * * *



CONTENTS.

                        PAGE
_DIFFICULTIES_             5
_THE RACES_               18
_THE JEWS_                33
_PALESTINE_               45
_SCOFFERS_                59
_THE SACRAMENTS_          70



DIFFICULTIES.


THE Bible has been compared to a river in which a child may wade, and an
elephant swim; by which is meant that it is full of practical truth so
plainly revealed that a little child may rejoice in it, while at the same
time it is full of truth so deep that the loftiest intellect of man is
very soon out of its depth in the study of it.  Thus there are few things
more beautifully simple than a living faith.  It is the unquestioning
trust of one who loves his God and Saviour; the calm repose of the
dependent heart on One who has summed up His Gospel in the words “Come
unto Me.”  Thus there are thousands, and tens of thousands, of happy
believers who have accepted the great salvation just as God has given it;
and who, without perplexing their minds about matters which they cannot
understand, most thankfully receive what God has revealed, and rejoice in
it with their whole hearts as belonging to themselves and their children.
As little children they receive and trust, the result of which is that
they rest in their Saviour as a child rests in its mother’s arms.  I
believe there are those by whom such persons are despised, and by whom
they are regarded as weak, foolish, and contemptible; but they have the
joy of the Lord, and, instead of being _despised_, they may well be
_envied_ by those who, in the consciousness of superior intellect,
consider themselves qualified to despise their folly.

But, while we rejoice in this simple and childlike Christian faith, it is
vain to deny that in “the deep things of God” there are difficulties, and
that there are other minds to whom these difficulties are a source of
real and grave perplexity.  I am not now speaking of those who delight in
magnifying difficulties, and whose only object in reading their Bible is
to find out something at which they may cavil; but I am speaking rather
of thoughtful men who respect religion, and are not opposed to truth; who
have never set their face against the Gospel; and to whom it would be a
real cause of heartfelt thanksgiving if they were able to receive, in the
simplicity of faith, the great salvation revealed to them in the Word of
God.  They have no wish to be unbelievers; their hearts are not set
against the truth; and they believe enough to make them long to believe
_the whole_.  But there are some things that perplex them, and there are
certain difficulties which they cannot quite get over.

Now, without the slightest hesitation or disguise, I fully and frankly
admit that there are very serious difficulties in the revelation of God,
and difficulties which I believe it is not in the power of the human
intellect to solve.  When, therefore, a person says that he cannot
understand all that is revealed, I agree with him.  If he add that on
that account he cannot believe, I altogether dissent from his conclusion;
but as to the existence of difficulties he is undoubtedly right.  We, who
believe, know perfectly well, and fully admit, that there are things in
divine revelation which we are altogether unable either to explain or
understand.

Think, for example, of the divinity of our blessed Lord and Saviour, and
the perfect union of a divine and human nature in His one sacred person.
I am not afraid to state plainly my firm conviction that no human
intellect can explain it.  If He were only an appearance of God Himself
that would be intelligible; or if He were only man endued with very high
qualifications, that again would be within our reach; but that He should
be in His one person both perfect God and perfect man, or, in other
words, both infinite and finite, that I believe to be far beyond the
reach of _human_ explanation.

It is the same with the doctrine of election, and its union with human
responsibility.  The two appear to be opposed to each other, but,
notwithstanding that, they are both found in the Gospel.  How can it be
explained?  How can it be?  I cannot tell.  Some people meet the
difficulty by cutting out one side, and some by cutting out the other;
but neither one process of excision nor the other can satisfy a really
thinking mind.  And the difficulty remains, for we find both sides in
Scripture.

Who, again, can explain a resurrection?  We see in spring that wonderful
revival of life which is a type of it.  But who can explain the thing
itself?  What physician, or what scientific philosopher, can explain how
the dead shall be made alive?  Whenever it is done it must be done by
some power of which man knows nothing, so that the resurrection of the
dead is something which, _to the knowledge of man_, appears impossible.

Then again, in conclusion, look around on all the sin and misery of the
world.  We know that it is explained in the Scriptural account of the
fall, and that there is a remedy provided in Christ Jesus.  But there is
something inexpressibly appalling in the facts.  Here is this beautiful
world, that appears to have been created as a happy home for holy
inhabitants, filled with sin, misery, ruin, pain, anguish, remorse,
strife, sickness, and ultimately death.  And when we think of the words,
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and when we
contrast the Creator with the present condition of creation, there is
enough to fill the heart with amazement, and to make the thoughtful man
exclaim, “How can these things be?”

Now with this full and frank acknowledgment of difficulty we are brought
face to face with the question, _What effect should these difficulties
have on our faith_?  Should they shake it, or should they confirm it?
Should they lead us to give up the Gospel, or should they establish our
trust, and induce us to cleave to it more stedfastly than ever?  Some
people will say, “Give it up,” and will tell you, because there are
difficulties to settle, to settle down in sceptical distrust!  But surely
they are not wise in giving such advice, nor in acting on such
principles.  They certainly do not act so in common life, and such
conduct is not in harmony with the wisdom of the world.

Can you explain how a little thin vapour rising up from boiling water can
force a long line of heavy-laden carriages through the country at the
rate of fifty miles an hour?  But you rely on the arrangements of those
who can, and, trusting them, you do not refuse to take your seat in the
train.

Can you explain all the deep currents of the ocean, or how it is that
water became endowed with such properties as to bear up a great, heavy,
iron ship?  But you trust those who have constructed the vessel, and,
without attempting to understand the construction, you do not hesitate to
go to sea.

Can you explain the chemical properties of medicine, or how it is that it
will act on your system and do you good?  But you trust a physician, and
you take it.

Can you explain how it is that the will, that secret, hidden,
indescribable power within you, makes your hand move in obedience to your
wish?  But would you on that account think it wise never to move your
limbs?

The fact is that in practical life we are surrounded in all directions
with things which we cannot explain, and problems which we cannot solve.
We cannot escape from such difficulties; they meet us at every turn.  But
in daily life we never think of them.  Our practical conduct is not
affected by them.  We see what we have to do, and we do it.  We take our
place in the train, we go on board the ship, we send our telegram, we eat
our food, and we move our limbs, without ever endeavouring to solve the
mysteries which underlie all that we are doing.  Now all I ask is that
men should act on the same principle with reference to the Gospel.  There
are, as I have said, difficulties, and if you never act until they are
solved, a weary time you will have to wait.  But there is also a plain,
simple, clear word of invitation; there is a great salvation prepared,
presented, and proclaimed.  There is a way of life so clearly taught that
he may run that readeth it.  So the wise course is to say, “Difficulty or
no difficulty, I accept the invitation,” and to act practically just as
you do with your food or your medicine.  Your physician gives you
medicine, and, though you cannot explain how it will act, you take it in
trust.  So your God gives you His salvation, and your part is to accept
His gift, and leave it to Him to solve the deep mysteries of His hidden
will.

But I cannot leave the subject there, for I am prepared to maintain that
these difficulties should confirm the faith, and to claim them even as
“witnesses to truth.”

1.  They are _witnesses to the truth of the Scriptures_, for in them we
are told that we are sure to meet with them.

While, as I have already said, the way of life is presented so clearly
that he may run that readeth it, there is at the same time the perfectly
clear statement that we must expect to find difficulties in the
revelation of God.  Only look at St. Peter’s description of St. Paul’s
Epistles in 2 Peter iii. 16.  In that passage he associates those
Epistles with the other Scriptures, and plainly declares that they
contain some things “hard to be understood.”  Are we then to be surprised
if, in reading them, we meet with things “hard to be understood,” or if
we meet with men who venture to cavil at them, and so wrest them to their
own destruction?  I am prepared to maintain that if in St. Paul’s
Epistles, and the other Scriptures, there had been nothing “hard to be
understood,” then St. Peter himself would not have spoken truth.  The
difficulties in the writings of St. Paul are necessary to the complete
truth of the Epistle of St. Peter.

So St. Paul himself plainly teaches us that our knowledge in this world
is only partial.  Only refer to his language in 1 Cor. xiii. 12.  There
are two facts there stated—first, that our vision is indistinct, and then
that it is limited.  It is indistinct, for we see through a glass darkly,
or through a dull refractor; and it is limited, for we know only in part.
“Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in
part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  Are we to be
surprised then if we do not enjoy a full, clear, sun-light vision of the
whole?  And is not the indistinctness of our vision a proof of the truth
of the Scriptures?

So we meet in the Scriptures with the full recognition of the selfsame
difficulties that arise in modern times.  These difficulties are no new
discoveries of the sharpened intellect of the nineteenth century, but are
as old as the Gospel itself.

Do you find a difficulty in explaining the perfect union of a perfect
Godhead and a perfect manhood in the one person of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ?  I acknowledge frankly, “So do I.”  I am not afraid to
acknowledge that I cannot explain it, and that I believe no one can.  But
my point is that the Scriptures have prepared us for it, and that it is
the very difficulty which our Lord Himself presented to the Pharisees
when He said, “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt
xxii. 45.)

Do you find a difficulty in the doctrine of “election,” and are you
unable to reconcile the gift of life to a chosen number with the perfect
equity of the universal government of God?  If so, remember that there is
nothing new in such a difficulty.  It is as old as the Gospel itself, and
it is fully recognized in the Scriptures.  Nothing can be more perfectly
clear than the statement made respecting it in Romans ix. 1–13, or than
the full recognition of the difficulty in verse 14—“What shall we say
then?  Is there unrighteousness with God?  God forbid.”

So, once more, with the resurrection.  Does it appear impossible that the
dead should rise again?  Are you unable to conceive the possibility of a
body, lost in the ocean, burnt in the flames, or corrupted in the grave,
being restored to unity, life, and vigour?  I grant you that it does
_seem_ impossible.  I see the difficulty as much as any of you.  But let
no man suppose that this difficulty is new, or the discovery of it the
result of his own independent intellect; for in the Scriptures of truth
we are fully prepared for it.  We are not taken by surprise, for we were
warned of it 1800 years ago in our Bibles; for there we read, in verse 35
of the great resurrection chapter (1 Cor. xv.), “But some man will say,
How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?”  Possibly
there may be, at this present time, some whom I am addressing, actually
fulfilling that prophecy, and so living amongst us as unintentional
“witnesses to its truth.”

But, whether there are or not, my point is that the difficulties
themselves are “witnesses to the truth of the Word of God.”  The Bible
says, plainly and repeatedly, that there are things “hard to be
understood,” and, therefore, if I were to meet with nothing of the kind,
and if everything contained in St. Paul’s Epistles and the other
Scriptures were perfectly plain, the only conclusion at which I could
arrive would be that those Scriptures had not given a true description of
the fact.  Now, however, I find them in this most important matter
perfectly true.  The objection of the sceptic only leads me to trust my
Bible.  If there were no difficulties, then I should begin to be afraid
that my Bible could not be from God.  But now the infidel himself is one
of the best “witnesses” that I can put into the witness-box, and the very
argument which he brings against the possibility of the fulfilment of the
promises of God is an evidence, as clear as the noonday sun, of the
wisdom, the foreknowledge, and the perfect acquaintance with the human
understanding, with which God inspired, 1800 years ago, (by His Holy
Spirit) the Scriptures of truth.  It reminds me of the words of the
apostle—“Let God be true, but every man a liar.”

But this is not all; for not only are these difficulties exactly what are
revealed in the Scriptures, but they are also exactly what, as thinking
men, we ought to expect in a divine revelation.

Let us think what we mean by a divine revelation.  We mean, the
communication from an infinite God to fallen man, of His own plan for the
salvation of the sinner.  Now what would a reasonable person expect in
such a communication?  He would expect Him to inform us of all that
concerned our own action, and to make plain to us the way of life in
which it is His will that we should walk; but he would not expect Him to
indulge our craving after full information respecting His own hidden
being, or the mode and power by which He would carry out His promises.
He would expect Him to make His promises plain, but he would not expect
Him to explain to us His divine plan for their fulfilment; he would
expect Him to do exactly what He has done in the case of the
resurrection—promise it faithfully, and so lead us to trust Himself,
without giving any explanation as to the mode or the instrumentality by
which that promise should be fulfilled.  And this is exactly the
principle which He Himself has laid down in His own Word, as when He said
(Deut. xxix., 29), “The secret things belong unto God,” _i.e._ they are
hidden in the depths of His own infinite mind; “but those things which
are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do
all the words of this law;” _i.e._ all that He has revealed we may freely
make use of, and even our little children may learn in it the blessed
secret of a Father’s love.

But does it not follow that the moment we attempt to reach into the
secrets of God we are perfectly certain to meet with difficulty?  We get
out of depth directly, and are like people who cannot swim.  For how can
the human mind, for one moment, expect to solve the mysteries of the deep
things of God?  How can it aspire either to fathom its depths, or to
scale its heights?  Think for one moment what man is, a little creature
on this little ball of earth, here for a few years, and then passing away
for ever.  And think what He is, “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity, whose name is Holy,” the “everlasting God, the Creator of the
ends of the earth.”  And is it likely that man should be able to put as
it were into the balances the deep mysteries of His eternal will?  When
Zophar thought of it he said (Job xi. 7, 8), “Canst thou by searching
find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?  It is as
high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou
know?”  When David thought of the knowledge of God, he said (Psalm
cxxxix. 6), “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot
attain unto it.”  When St. Paul was meeting the objection of those who
cavilled at the righteousness of the government of God, he met them with
the words (Rom. ix. 20), “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest
against God?  Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast
thou made me thus?”  And when the Sadducees put a difficult puzzle on the
subject of the resurrection, our Lord Himself silenced them with the
words, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”
(Matt. xxii 29.)  And were they not all right?  Shall the finite sit in
judgment on the infinite? the created on the Creator? the man of to-day
on the God of all eternity?  And are we to doubt His revelation because
we cannot fathom the depths of His wisdom nor the hidden mysteries of His
being?  Nay, rather, are not those very depths witnesses to the divinity
of His revelation?  If it were all so shallow that any young man could
wade in it without wetting even his ancles, might we not then believe
that it came from some shallow mind no deeper than his own?  If it
contained no mysteries, might we not begin to doubt whether it really
came from a mysterious God?  So these difficulties of which we hear so
much in modern times, these difficulties on which so many of our young
men are so perfectly ready to decide, and on account of which they are
even tempted to cast aside the revelation of God—these very difficulties
are to us who believe, divine “witnesses” to the divine authorship of the
whole.  Had the Book been a man’s book, drawn up by man to commend itself
to the mind of man, it never would have had in it those high and holy
mysteries by which we see the intellect of man altogether baffled.  Man’s
mind would have produced nothing which man’s mind could not comprehend.

We may rejoice, therefore, in “the breadth, and length, and depth, and
height;” and, instead of being dismayed or disheartened because we cannot
fathom the unfathomable depths of the unfathomable counsels of our God,
we would rather say with St. Paul, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?
or who hath been His counsellor?” and cling, with more tenacity than
ever, to this sacred and holy Book, thus shown by its very mystery to be
superhuman and supernatural, nothing less than a revelation from God.



THE RACES.


OUR subject now is one of almost unlimited extent, for we are to call as
“witnesses” the races of the world.  We are to take the evidence of
Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and of all the nations, tongues,
peoples, and languages that are dispersed throughout them; and we are to
consider the evidence which they bear to the inspiration of the
Scriptures.

As some limit must be put to such an enquiry, I propose to confine our
thoughts to the study of one passage of Scripture; viz., Gen. ix. 25–27,
“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his
servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of
Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”  Some people appear to speak with
great disrespect of the Pentateuch.  It is well, therefore, to take from
it an ancient prophecy, and to study first the historical truth, and
secondly the prophetical accuracy of these remarkable words.



I.  THE HISTORICAL TRUTH.


It is not an uncommon thing in these days to set science in opposition to
the Scriptures, and to speak as if the one were opposed to the other.  As
a general rule, the persons who do so are persons who have a very shallow
acquaintance with either, for the truly scientific man, and the true
student of the Scriptures, are both so conscious of their own limited
attainments in the face of the vast fields of unlimited knowledge which
are still unexplored, that they are sure to feel humbly on the subject,
and to be very shy of bold assertions respecting matters that they do not
understand.  But, instead of science being opposed to the Scriptures, we
are quite prepared to call in science as a witness to its truth; for
science is the study of the creation of God, and it would be indeed
strange if His own works were at variance with His Word.  So we will turn
now, if God permit, to one of the great results of modern scientific
discovery, and see what testimony it bears to the truth of the
Pentateuch.

The particular branch to which I would refer is what is called
“Ethnology,” or the study of the nations of the world.  This is
comparatively quite a modern science, for it is only quite lately that
the world has been thrown open to the investigation of scientific men.
The two means by which it has been thrown open have been the
steam-engine, and Christian missions.  The steam-engine has enabled
investigators to travel in all directions, and Christian missions have
led to the study of hundreds of languages that were previously unknown.

The history of one of these languages is worth recording.  When the late
Mr. Darwin visited the islands of Tierra del Fuego, in the celebrated
voyage of the _Beagle_, he considered the inhabitants to be below
ordinary manhood, and to have no language.  But a devoted missionary,
settled amongst them, has not only found that they have a language, but
he has learned it, reduced it to writing, and translated into it the
Gospel of St. Luke.  It has been printed by the British and Foreign Bible
Society, and is now read amongst the people.  Mr. Darwin, being a truly
scientific man, was so deeply interested at the discovery of his own
mistake, that for the last few years of his life he subscribed £5 a year
to the South American Missionary Society.

Thus the missionary movement has brought about a vast increase of
scientific knowledge respecting the languages of the world, and
scientific men have had before them a mass of fresh material to which
their predecessors had no access whatever.  The British and Foreign Bible
Society has circulated the Scriptures in no less than 250 languages, by
far the greater number of which had never before been reduced to writing.
By this means there has been an immense impetus given to the researches
of scientific men.  The two points to which especial attention has been
directed have been the structure of language, and the formation of the
skull.  On these two points men of science have most carefully collected
information from all quarters of the globe—north, south, east, and west;
and they have endeavoured to group, or classify, the various scattered
nations of mankind.

And now I come to the most remarkable and assuring fact, that, after
patient, laborious, and most elaborate scientific comparison, they have
come to the conclusion that all the nations of the earth may be grouped
into three great families, and have probably descended from three
original centres.  They name these three great divisions the Aryan, the
Semitic, and the Turanian.  But we need not trouble ourselves about the
names.  The classification itself is the matter of supreme importance;
for in this discovery of the nineteenth century we find the full
confirmation of the account, written by Moses more than 3,000 years ago,
of the three sons of Noah surviving the flood more than 4,000 years ago.
In that narrative we find the account of mankind starting afresh under
three heads, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Since that time there have elapsed
more than 4,000 years, and now, in this nineteenth century, after all the
changes that have taken place, we find a body of learned and unprejudiced
men, enabled by the discovery of steam to discover amongst mankind, as we
now exist, precisely the same threefold division that is described in the
Scriptures as having taken place in the days of Noah.  Now how are we to
explain this fact?  What is the cause of this strange coincidence?  It is
utterly impossible that the Mosaic record should have been constructed in
order to suit the scientific discoveries of our own day.  And those who
honour science would be the last to admit that men of science have
constructed their system on the lines of the Mosaic record.  But, there
is one word that is a key to the whole, one word that is the
connecting-link between the fifteenth century _before_ Christ, and the
nineteenth century _after_ Him; between the statements of the Scripture
and the researches of science, and that one word settles all.  That one
word is _Truth_, truth in science, and truth in Scripture; truth in the
Word, and truth in the works of God.

But we have not yet done with history, for the tenth chapter of Genesis
gives us some idea of the direction in which these three great families
spread themselves over the surface of the globe.  A moment’s thought will
be sufficient to show that it must be next to impossible to trace these
descriptions now.  Vast changes have taken place during the 4,000 years
that have elapsed.  Cities have sprung up and disappeared; whole nations
have risen to power, and passed away; names have changed; there have been
migrations, invasions, captivities, and dispersions; so that the
different families have in many cases been strangely intermingled.  But
still there is a certain outline given in the Pentateuch, and a certain
outline agreed upon by the men of science.  Now look at this outline.

Begin with Japheth.  Amongst his sons we meet with three well-known
names, all connected by Ezekiel (xxxviii.) with the north; viz., Mesech,
Tubal, and Togarmah, leading us to suppose that his descendants most
probably spread along the North of Europe and Asia; and in Genesis x. 5
it is added, “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their
lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their
nations”—an expression invariably used for Europe, and all countries
approached from central Asia by sea.  Now, curiously enough, that very
district, Europe and Northern Asia, is regarded by the men of science as
the head-quarters of those whom they call the Aryans.

As for Shem, there is no difficulty in ascertaining his head-quarters,
for Abraham was his lineal descendant; and we know that from the river of
Egypt to the river Euphrates was the country given him by God.  That
country, therefore, was his starting-point; and accordingly men of
science tell us that Western Asia, including Palestine and the adjacent
countries, must have been the home of the great Semitic family.  Again,
therefore, there is the closest possible agreement between ancient
history and modern discovery.

The case of Ham is not so perfectly clear.  According to the book of
Genesis he appears, if we understand the names, to have spread in two
directions—eastward towards Southern Asia, and also south-west to Gaza,
the gateway to Africa.  Though Africa is not mentioned in that passage it
is clear that the descendants of Ham spread over the isthmus of Suez into
that continent; for in Psalm cv. 23, 27, Egypt is actually called “the
land of Ham.”  And now once more I turn to the men of science, and I find
that these very districts are thought by them to be the ancient homes of
those they call Turanians.  Now, let it be well understood, I do not say
that these outlines are never crossed, and that the races are not found
in many cases to be intermixed.  But what I do say is, that in their
great local outlines the arrangements of the men of science correspond,
in a very remarkable manner, with the arrangements which we gather from
all that we can learn from the Scripture history.  Once more then modern
discovery bears its testimony to Scriptural accuracy, and we welcome the
men of science as unanswerable “witnesses” to historical truth.



II.  THE PROPHECY.


Thus far we have not gone beyond the _historical_ truth of the
Pentateuch; but now let us turn to the _prophecy_,—that most remarkable
prophecy of Noah, in which he foreshadowed the future destiny of the
great families.  Let us consider the three prophecies in the order in
which they stand.

(1.)  Canaan.  There is something inexpressibly awful in the words
respecting Canaan, and they are full of instruction respecting sin.  They
show what an awful thing sin is in the sight of God, and how superficial
is man’s estimate of its guilt; for here is a whole race laid under a
solemn curse in consequence of the sin of its head.  As Adam brought a
curse on the world, so Ham brought one on Canaan.  The curse inflicted in
that case was bondage, and the prophecy was that Canaan should be a
servant of servants to both his brethren: _i.e._ to both Shem and
Japheth.  And now look at the fulfilment.

Take first a period about 1,000 years after the prophecy was given, when
the Canaanites were still in the promised land, and Israel, the
descendants of Shem, came up from Egypt.  The conflict then was between
Shem and Canaan, and what was the result?  The greater part of the
Canaanites were destroyed, and those that remained were reduced to abject
slavery.  The prediction was fulfilled, and Canaan became the slave of
Shem.

But some may say that all that was a long time ago, and only matter of
ancient history.

Let us then turn to our own times, and consider facts that are within our
own observation.  How is it that our own West Indian islands are peopled
with negroes?  Is it not because we English made slaves of the Africans,
or, in other words, because Japheth made a slave of Canaan?  How is it
that there is a negro population amounting to 4,000,000 in the United
States?  Is it not for the name reason, that Japheth made a slave of
Canaan?  How is it that up to the year 1807, when the slave trade was
abolished, the West Coast of Africa was made the hunting-ground for all
the leading nations of Europe?  What was it but the simple fulfilment of
this prophecy, in which it was foretold that Japheth should make a slave
of Canaan?

And now turn to the Eastern coast of Africa, and the present negotiations
now going on in Egypt.  One of the great difficulties of these
negotiations arises from the horrors of the East African slave trade.
There is an extensive trade in slaves being carried on at this very time
all along the East Coast of Africa.  There are gangs of miserable victims
being driven at this very hour to the principal slave markets.  And who
are the great offenders in that most nefarious and wicked traffic?  The
Arabs, some still living in Arabia, and some settled in Egypt at the time
of the great Arab invasion of the country.  And who are the Arabs, and to
which race do they belong?  I believe it is agreed by all parties that
they are Semitic, or from Shem.  So that the result is that poor Canaan
has been enslaved by both his brethren—on the west by Japheth, and on the
east by Shem; and however deeply we deplore the woes of Africa, and
however earnestly we should arise as one man to urge our rulers to use
their powers to put down the accursed trade, we must look on the fact of
its existence with reverent wonder, and learn from those miserable slave
gangs a most solemn lesson as to the abiding truth of the prophecies of
God.

(2.)  But now let us turn to Shem, where we have a brighter prospect; for
on the mention of his name the prophet exclaims, “Blessed be the LORD God
of Shem,” or rather, “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem.”  Now here we
have not merely an act of praise, but a prophecy; for there is a clear
prediction that Jehovah should be the God of Shem.  Canaan and Japheth
might worship devils and false gods, and bow down before man-made idols;
but the God of Shem should be Jehovah Himself, and Shem should be
distinguished by the fact that Jehovah should be his God.  And is not
this precisely what has happened?  Up to the time of our blessed Saviour
what nation was there in the world that worshipped Jehovah except the
seed of Abraham?  It was the sacred calling of that family to stand out
alone as witnesses before an apostate world to the great principle—“Thou
shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”  It was
Shem, and Shem alone, that worshipped the one self-existent, omnipotent,
omnipresent, and everlasting Jehovah.

The great prophecy, therefore, was most literally fulfilled in fact.  But
if we understand the name “Jehovah” as applied to the promised seed of
the woman, the Saviour who was to come, the fulfilment is still more
remarkable; for it was in the line of Shem that the Coming One appeared.
No trouble is taken in the Scriptures to record the genealogies of either
Ham or Japheth, and they terminate with two generations.  But the sacred
line of Shem is carefully preserved.  We have every link given, from Adam
to Abraham, and after that from Abraham to the Lord Jesus; so that if we
thus understand the title Jehovah, the prophecy would mean, Blessed be
the Coming One, the Lord Jesus, the Christ, the God of Shem; and we
should see in it the prophecy that the coming deliverer, the deliverer
promised to Eve, should arise out of the family of Shem, so that in him
and his seed should all nations of the world be blessed.  I need not stop
to point out how exactly this prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of the
Lord Jesus Christ about 2,300 years after it was spoken by Noah.

(3.)  But now for Japheth.

The meaning of the name is generally considered to be “enlargement,” and
the prophecy is that he should be enlarged.  The meaning of this must be,
that he should be gifted with what may be termed a spreading power.  His
great characteristic is to be expansion, or, the enlargement of his
borders.  Now think for one moment of Europe and Europeans.  Think of
Europe as the home of the sons of Japheth according to the Scriptures, or
of the Aryans according to the men of science.  And may we not appeal to
any one who will take the trouble to look around the world at this
present day, and ask whether this power of spreading is not one of the
most peculiar and exceptional features of the European family?  Ham and
Shem are not spreading anywhere; but Japheth everywhere.  Why, look at
this little island of our own—one of the very least of the “isles of the
Gentiles”—and see how its people have spread.  Not only has it peopled
the vast continent of America, but it possesses at this present time such
a colonial empire that the sun never sets on the dominions of our Queen.
Most truly and most remarkably in our own case has God enlarged Japheth,
and so made England a “witness to the truth” of the prophecy which He
gave through Noah no less than 4,000 years ago.

But there still remains that last clause, “He shall dwell in the tents of
Shem,” and, as we ought never to speak too dogmatically respecting the
prophetic Word, I am free to admit that it is not perfectly clear in what
sense it should be understood.

It may refer to the spreading of the Europeans into all the nations of
the world, and so dwelling in the tents of Shem; and if there were
nothing more than our own settlements in foreign lands, there would be
the most complete fulfilment of the prophecy.

But surely there is more.  And especially there is one remarkable
fulfilment, which I cannot help thinking must have been intended in the
prophecy.  Now let us remember that the Lord and His coming is the
centre, or turning-point, of the whole prophetic Word.  Let us not forget
how we found that the prophecy respecting Shem appeared distinctly to
foretell His advent.  Now when the predicted time came, and the promised
Jehovah appeared, why did He not take His place on the throne of David,
and why did He not reign in the tents of Shem?  The Holy Land had all
been given to Abraham, and belonged to the family of Shem; but when the
Lord, the God of Shem, came, there was neither throne nor kingdom for
Him, and He had not even where to lay His head.  How could this be?  And
what had become of the royal throne?  The answer is most remarkable.  The
Romans were on it, or, in prophetic words, Japheth was dwelling in the
tents of Shem.  The Romans were sons of Japheth, and by them the Lord,
the God of Shem, was supplanted on His throne.

But, though that was a clear, literal, and most remarkable fulfilment of
the prophecy, I cannot help thinking that in these words the Spirit of
God referred to something higher.  When St. James was speaking of the
call of the Gentiles at what has been termed the council of Jerusalem, as
recorded, Acts xv. 15, he quoted the words, “I will build again the
tabernacle of David.”  The conversion of the Gentiles was compared,
therefore, to their admission into the tabernacle of David.  And so the
safety of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is compared by David
himself to the shelter of God’s tabernacle, as, _e.g._, in Psalm xxvii.
5, where we read, “In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me.”
Now, bearing in mind the great fact that Jehovah is the God of Shem, and
that the predicted Redeemer came from Shem, may we not believe that the
tent, or the tabernacle of Shem, was the prophetic figure of the safety
provided in the promised Son of God?  The word Shem means “name,” and
there may be something in the passage not unlike those other words, “The
name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is
safe.”  Now if the passage were so understood, it would lead to the
conclusion that Japheth would shelter himself under the Jehovah of Shem,
and so dwell, as it were, in his tent, or under his tabernacle.  It would
lead us to expect a salvation through the Jehovah of Shem, bestowed on
Japheth in such a way that Japheth should become possessor of Shem’s
inheritance.

Now if that view of the prophecy commend itself to your judgment,
remember that Noah spoke more than 4,000 years ago, and then look at the
present position of the world.  In what quarters of the globe do we find
at this present time the most general recognition of the God of Shem?
Which of the continents are most prominent in the honour paid to His
name?  Certainly neither Africa nor Asia; neither Ham nor even Shem
itself.  Beyond all controversy the two great Christian continents that
are dwelling under Jehovah of Shem are the two peopled by Japheth; viz.,
Europe and America.  Explain it as we may, the facts are most remarkable.
The Lord Jesus Christ came from Shem, and, according to the language of
scientific men, was Semitic, whereas by far the great majority of those
who believe in His Name are from Japheth, or, according to men of
science, Aryans.  Shem has rejected its own Saviour; but Japheth has
received Him, so that, under our own eyes, and at this present time,
Japheth is dwelling in the tents of Shem.  I know well how grievous a
perversion of truth there is throughout Europe, and I do not for one
moment maintain that the worship is pure; but still the name of Jehovah,
the God of Shem, as manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ, is avowedly
honoured, and we sons of Japheth are at this present moment abiding in
His tent.

Now how are we to explain all this?  How are we to explain the agreement
between the conclusions of modern science and the historical fact of the
threefold division which occurred more than 4,000 years ago?  How again
are we to account for the fulfilment of the prophetic Word?  How do we
explain the fact that, in exact accord with the prophecy, Canaan is the
servant of servants; that it was from Shem that the Lord appeared; that
Japheth is at this day remarkable for enlargement; and that we ourselves
at this very moment are assembled to worship in the house of the God of
Shem?  It is impossible to believe that the book of Genesis was written
to suit the conclusions of modern science; for these conclusions were
utterly unknown at the time of its composition.  It is impossible to
believe that it is the result of design in our scientific men, for such
an idea would indeed dishonour science.  It is equally impossible to
believe that the agreement was the result of chance or accident; for
there are far too many points, both in the history and prophecy, to
render such accidental coincidence possible.  It is like a complicated
lock which can only be opened by the key that was made to fit it.  No;
there is only one solution of the problem.  As for the history, science
agrees with it, and therefore confirms its truth; and as for the
prophecy, it could have had its origin in no human calculation of the
future; for how should Noah make any calculation respecting the state of
this nineteenth century?  But all is plain if we believe it to be
inspired.  He who inspired the prophecy, He saw the end from the
beginning.  He knew all, and by the lips of Noah he foretold what he
foreknew; and thus we are brought to the conclusion, so plainly stated by
St. Peter—“The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy
men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”



THE JEWS.


I AM about, if God permit, to speak now of, by far, the most remarkable
people in the world.  In the last chapter we studied the Races, and found
that through the labours of scientific men the three patriarchs of 4,000
years ago reappear in this nineteenth century as most important
“witnesses to truth.”  We put, as it were, Shem, Ham, and Japheth into
the witness-box, and the result of their testimony was that Noah was
inspired, and the Bible true.  Such a subject as that has a tendency to
lose power through the vastness of its extent.  Our reading is not
sufficiently wide, nor our minds sufficiently large, to enable us to take
in the whole.  We are dependent, moreover, on scientific men; and it is a
strange thing, but a fact, that those who talk most of science are
generally the least disposed to receive the conclusions of scientific
men, when those conclusions differ from their own.  But now I am about to
call witnesses, in the examination of whom we do not want the help of
science; for in their case there are no scientific difficulties.  Their
evidence is within reach of us all, and if we choose we may test it for
ourselves.  I am not about to speak of what happened 4,000 years ago; but
of what is going on now, of what took place last year, and what any one
may see for himself, if he will take the trouble to go to Houndsditch or
Petticoat Lane.  There he will find a most remarkable people, eager,
quick, and intelligent, exceedingly different from the rest of the
inhabitants of London, and separated from their fellow-townsmen by a
social barrier, which is very seldom overstepped.  These remarkable
people are the Jews.

Now there are five undoubted and indisputable facts respecting the Jews
that I propose, if God permit, to bring before you, and may He be pleased
to help our study to the confirmation of our faith, and to the increase
of our interest in His own ancient people!

(1.)  _Their Expatriation_, or their expulsion as a nation from their
country.

Now it is a curious fact, that there is no other nation in the world
which has such a right to its own country as the Jews.  Other nations
claim their country simply through the right of occupation.  We live in
England, and our fathers lived there before us, so we consider it ours,
and are ready to lay down our lives for its safety.  But we have no
title-deeds, and we have no documents to prove that it is ours.  But it
is very different with the Jews.  They have the clearest possible
documentary evidence of their covenant right to Palestine.  There is not
a person in any town who has a better title to his house than the Jews
have to their country.  It was distinctly given to them by God Himself,
as we read in Gen. xv. 18.  And yet after having occupied it for fifteen
centuries, and after having shown the utmost courage and determination in
its defence, they were driven from their homes by their Roman conquerors.
Their city was sacked, their temple burnt with fire, their country laid
desolate, and they themselves scattered homeless through the world.  The
result is that at this present time there are many more Jews in London
than there are in the whole of Palestine.  Now these are plain,
well-known facts, and facts so well established that they are beyond the
reach of contradiction.

(2.)  _Dispersion_.  When their home was broken up in Jerusalem they were
not carried elsewhere as they were when they entered it, like a hive of
bees moved from one garden to another, but they were dispersed in all
directions.  From that day they have had no resting-place anywhere, and
they have never since had what we may term a central home.  They have had
no head-quarters, and, although they cluster more thickly in some places
than in others, they have on the whole gone forth as lone wanderers on
the face of the earth.  The result is that, go where you will, you are
sure to meet with Jews.  They are sometimes driven about by persecution,
and sometimes attracted by trade; but we need not study the cause of
their movements.  They are found in all the continents—Europe, Asia,
Africa, America, and Australia; in new settlements and old countries, in
all climates and amongst all races; and as the seed is scattered over the
field, so the Jewish people are dispersed through the world.

(3.)  _Distinction_, _or Distinctiveness_.

It appears to be the general law of human nature, that when different
races live together they become, before long, fused with each other.
There may be exceptions, as there are in certain cases; but there is
always some cause to account for it.  In India, for example, there is
very little fusion between the English and the Hindoo; but then it must
be remembered that no English ever settle in India as their permanent
home.  So in America there is not much fusion between the European races
and the negroes; but there again we must remember that there is the
almost impassable barrier of the difference of colour as well as the
slave curse on Canaan.  But in ordinary cases there is always fusion, and
when there is no such barrier the races soon amalgamate.  In our own
country, for example, there are Britons, Romans, Saxons, Danes, and
Normans; but who can distinguish them?  We are all merged into one race,
and the distinction of our nationality is totally lost.  Who could pick
out from any congregation the Roman, the Dane, or the Norman?  But the
Jew remains distinct.  There is nothing to keep him separate, but
separate he remains.  He is rich, and enterprising, and talented, and
often exceedingly handsome; but he does not amalgamate, and he remains to
this day as distinct from us all as he was when he first landed on our
shores.

(4.)  _Reproach and persecution_.

Notwithstanding the wealth and great ability of the Jewish nation, they
have always been a people under reproach.  In trade, if people wish to
describe any one as covetous, grasping, and avaricious, it is not an
uncommon thing for people to say that he is “a regular Jew,” and thus,
whatever a person may be in himself, the name “Jew” is a term of
opprobrium throughout the world.

But reproach is not all, nor nearly all; for they have had to endure the
most terrible persecutions.  They have been treated most barbarously by
the nations amongst whom they have been scattered.  It has mattered
little whether they have been living amongst Pagans, Mahommedans, or
spurious Christians, though I fear it must be admitted that the treatment
by spurious Christians has been the worst.  But I need not dwell on these
horrible atrocities; for they are fresh in our own memories.  We have
only to go back to the newspapers of last year to learn what the poor
Jews endured in Southern Russia.  Their property was plundered, their
homes burnt, their daughters—oh, I cannot tell you the horrors!—and their
whole families cast out on a pitiless world to perish from cold, hunger,
and nakedness; and all this in the face of the whole of Europe in this
enlightened nineteenth century.

(5.)  _Preservation_.

But in the midst of all this they have been preserved.  Kindness has not
fused them, reproach has not shamed them, and persecution has not
destroyed them; so that after eighteen centuries they are in the midst of
us still—still scattered through the world, still remaining a separate
people, still under reproach and persecution, but still moving amongst us
as an active, intelligent body of men; in the midst of us, but not of us;
living in England, but not Englishmen; the subjects of another dynasty,
the proprietors of another land, and the scions of another home.

Now I wish to put it to all thinking and observing men, Can they refer me
to any other people in the world in which these five facts are found to
meet?  Do they know of any other people that was ever so completely
removed from its home, that was ever so effectually dispersed amongst the
nations, that has been kept so distinct, that has endured such reproach
and persecution, and that, notwithstanding all, has been so long
preserved?  There have been amongst other races conquests, massacres, and
migrations; but I venture to affirm, without the slightest hesitation,
that you may search history from one end to the other, may ransack its
pages for all that you can find respecting the nations, and I venture to
affirm, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that you will not
find one in which any of those facts have taken place as they have with
the Jews, and still less one in whom in this most extraordinary manner
they have all been found to meet.

But now comes the question, How is all this to be explained?  What is it
that has made the Jews such an exceptional people?  What is it that has
made their experience so entirely different to that of all the other
peoples upon the earth?  I ask the infidel to tell me if he can, but I
know he cannot; I ask the man of science to explain it on scientific
principles, but I know he cannot.  But I ask the believer to explain it,
and he can do so in a moment by the simple answer, “It is the hand of
God.”  But some man may say, “How do you know that it is the hand of God?
What proof have you that it is His doing?”  A perfectly clear proof that
it is impossible to deny.  There is a _sixth_ fact quite as plain as the
other five; _i.e._, that all the five facts were predicted in the
prophecies, and that centuries before the dispersion took place it was
clearly foretold in the prophecies of the Word of God.  These facts were
all foretold in prophecy, and therefore we are firmly persuaded that they
were all brought about by God.  The fulfilment of prophecy is a proof
that the whole is of God.

In proof of this let us refer to a few passages.

I spoke of the fact of their _expatriation_, or expulsion from their own
land.  Now what did Moses say of it fifteen hundred years before it
happened?  Only mark his words: “Ye shall be plucked from off the land
whither thou goest to possess it.” (Deut. xxviii. 63.)

I spoke of their _dispersion_ amongst the Gentiles.  Now what did Moses
say of it?  “Thou shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.”
(_v._ 25.)  “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the
one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve
other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and
stone.” (_v._ 64.)

I spoke of their _distinctness_.  Now what did Balaam say of it?  “The
people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned amongst the nations.”
(Num. xxiii 9.)  And though these words were spoken no less than three
thousand three hundred years ago, do they not predict exactly that which
you may see this very day in London, Liverpool and in every other great
city of Europe?

I spoke of _reproach and persecution_.  And returning to Deut. xxviii.,
what do we there find?  In verse 33 you find the prediction of
persecution and spoliation.  “The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours,
shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only
oppressed and crushed alway.”  And in verse 37 the reproach in foretold:
“And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byeword, among
all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.”

The last fact of which I spoke was the _preservation_, the long
preservation, through those eighteen centuries of unequalled trial; and
again we turn to Moses, and find him saying, “And yet for all that, when
they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither
will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with
them: for I am the Lord their God.” (Lev. xxvi. 44.)

Now all these passages are taken from the Pentateuch, the earliest book
of the Scriptures; and I have referred especially to them because some
people appear to speak with disrespect of the Pentateuch.  But here we
see the Pentateuch prophecies fulfilled in this nineteenth century in so
remarkable a manner that no observant man can deny it.

But if people prefer prophecies of a later date they shall have them; for
time makes no difference to truth, and the inspiration of the Scriptures
extends through its whole length.

We find that they have been driven from their country, and can no longer
inhabit the land which is their own.  Now what did the prophet Isaiah
say?  “Then said I, Lord, how long?  And He answered, Until the cities be
wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be
utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a
great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Chap. vi. 11, 12.)

We found that they are scattered amongst all the nations of the world.
Now what did God predict by the mouth of Ezekiel?  “The whole remnant of
thee will I scatter into all the winds.” (Chap. v. 10.)

We found that, though scattered, they are preserved as a distinct and
separate people.  Now what did God foretell by the prophet Amos?  “For,
lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all
nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain
fall upon the earth.” (See ix. 9.)

We found that in their dispersion they have been the object of cruel
reproach, and have endured much fierce persecution.  Now what said
Jeremiah, the prophet of God, in chap. xxix. 18?  “And I will deliver
them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and
an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations
whither I have driven them.”

But we found also that, notwithstanding all, they have been preserved in
a most marvellous manner; so that at the end of eighteen centuries they
are still amongst us a separate people, and preserved in the providence
of God.  And is it not all explained by that wonderful prophecy of
Jeremiah?  “If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord,
then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me
for ever.” (Chap. xxxi. 36.)

Such passages might be multiplied to almost any extent, as they abound
throughout the prophecies; and I have merely selected a text from the
Pentateuch and another from the later prophets to illustrate each of the
five facts to which we all are witnesses.  And are they not sufficient?
How was it, I ask, that these great prophecies were given, some fifteen
hundred years, and some five hundred years, before the dispersion?  Was
it accident?  Was it calculation or guesswork?  How should the writers
have calculated, or, how should they have guessed?  One thing is
perfectly plain.  They could not have been written after the event; for
ever since that time the Jews have been dispersed over the world, and in
all their dispersions have carried with them these prophecies.  If they
were forged afterwards, how did the forger get them into circulation
amongst all the scattered Jews throughout the world, and that before
there was a printing-press?  They must have been written before the
event; and before the dispersion what human mind could calculate the
condition of the Jews after eighteen centuries of wandering?  Think
calmly over it.  Consider well the five facts; test them both by history
and the statements of modern travellers; and I cannot doubt for one
moment that the conclusion of any thinking and intelligent man must be
that the history of the Jewish people has been ordained of God, and that
the Scriptures foretelling it were inspired by His Spirit, I cannot
imagine how it is possible to avoid the conclusion that it is His hand
which has ordered all in His sovereign providence, and His Spirit which
has so clearly and so unmistakably foretold it all in His Word.  While,
therefore, we grieve over the Jew, and long to see, not only the nation
safe in Palestine, but the individual safe in his own Messiah, we
consider it no small gift in these sceptical days that we have him living
amongst us as one of a separate people, and so bearing an unconscious
testimony to the truth and inspiration of the prophecies of God.

But I cannot stop there; for it is not the inspiration of the Scriptures
only to which the Jews bear unconscious testimony, for they are witnesses
also to the faithfulness of God.  Here they are after eighteen centuries
of dispersion, during which they have lived without a king, and without a
prince, and without a sacrifice; during which they have been exposed to
isolation, to temptation, to reproach, to spoliation, and to most unjust
persecution; but not one grain has been lost from the seed, and here they
are, Jews still.  Aye, and what is more wonderful than anything, they are
thus preserved in mercy, notwithstanding all that they have done, even in
the rejection of their own Messiah.  How could it be, and how can such
preserving mercy be explained?  Just turn to one text out of many that
may unlock the mystery.  It is written, in Psalm cv. 42, “He remembered
His holy promise, and Abraham His servant.”  There was His own covenant
given to Abraham, and our heavenly Father is faithful to it still.  Three
thousand eight hundred years have not exhausted His faithfulness, and
even the sin of the Jew has not prevailed over the fidelity of our God to
His friend.  Oh, what a lesson does this teach us as to the faithfulness
of our God!  Will He break the covenant which He has made with us in
Christ Jesus?  Will He depart from the promise which He has ratified in
the precious blood of the chosen Messiah?  Is not the covenant with
Christ as sure as that with Abraham?  And though we may be deeply
conscious how unable we are to stand, and still more deeply conscious how
unworthy we are to be preserved, may we not rest in the peaceful
assurance of His covenant grace, and apply to all His people in Christ
Jesus these wonderful words in Jeremiah xxxi. 37: “Thus saith the Lord;
If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth
searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all
that they have done, saith the Lord”?



PALESTINE.


CAN stones speak?  Can rocks make their voice to be heard?  The Lord said
of His people on His entrance into Jerusalem, “If these should hold their
peace the stones would immediately cry out.”  And this is very much what
those very stones are now doing; for the stones of Palestine are
beginning to speak with a voice so clear and decisive that it seems a
perfect marvel that any thinking man should be able to resist their
evidence.  Now therefore, if God permit, we will study their testimony;
we will put the rocks into the witness-box, and endeavour calmly to learn
from them what they teach us of the truth of God.  There are three
subjects on which their evidence is conclusive—the geographical accuracy,
the historical truth, and the prophetic inspiration of the Scriptures.
Let us examine them on all three points, and may that divine Spirit who
inspired the word of His own great grace bring it home to our
understandings and our hearts!



I.  THE GEOGRAPHICAL ACCURACY.


We must remember that a large portion of the Old Testament consists in
the history of that chosen line which connected the Lord Jesus Christ
with Abraham, and that the country which we generally call “Palestine”
was given to that family as their home.  It was in that country that
Abraham sojourned, and that his family lived for the 1,400 years between
the Exodus and the Advent.  It is obvious therefore that the history of
that family during all those centuries must abound in allusions to the
different places in that country, and as the history enters very much
into social life, we must naturally expect very frequent allusions to the
places in which the people lived.

It is important for us also to remember that the history was not one book
written by one author at one time, but that much of it was evidently
contemporary history; so that there were different books written by
different authors at different times, beginning with Moses 3,300 years
ago, and ending, as some suppose, with Ezra, or Nehemiah, about 2,300
years ago.

Now the question is, “Do the various allusions to places which lie
scattered up and down the history agree or disagree with what we know of
those places from observation on the spot?”  Through the patient labours
of some eminently scientific men working for the Palestine Exploration
Fund, we know a vast deal more of the country than has ever been known
since the dispersion of the people.  We have before us the result of a
most careful scientific survey, from which we may learn in perfect
confidence the evidence of the rocks.  What we have to do therefore is to
lay side by side the evidence of the rocks and the evidence of the
Books—to compare the two carefully, and to ascertain whether or not the
“witnesses” agree.  The ancient rule was, that “out of the mouth of two
witnesses shall every word be established.”  Here then there are two
witnesses—the rocks and the Books—do they or do they not agree?

Let us begin with the Book of Joshua, a book recording the original
invasion of the country, and the distribution of the land among the
tribes.  In the ten chapters, beginning with the 13th, we have a full
account of that distribution, and a clear definition of the boundaries of
eleven tribes, with a list of forty-eight cities assigned to the sons of
Levi.  This list and these boundaries have been most carefully examined
by the officers of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and the remarkable
result is that they can trace almost every place mentioned in Joshua; and
what is more remarkable still, “there is scarcely a village which does
not retain for its desolate heap or its modern hovels the Arabic
equivalent for the name written down by Joshua 3,300 years ago.”  In many
cases there is nothing more than a cluster of a few wretched Arab huts,
or a heap of shapeless ruins; but so complete has been the identification
that there is no doubt left respecting Joshua’s boundaries; and if the
Jews were to return to-morrow, and in returning were to observe the
distinction of the tribes, those officers could at once point out to them
their several homes, and show them exactly what portion of the country
was originally assigned to them by lot.

This general fact is quite sufficient to prove the general accuracy of
the geography of the Book.  But the general fact does not stand alone,
and there are countless details which are almost more conclusive than the
close agreement which we find existing between the list by Joshua and
that by scientific men.  Let us consider one of these details, and
examine one neighbourhood in the light of modern science.  The
neighbourhood shall be that of Bethel and Hai.  Respecting Bethel, no
one, I believe entertains a doubt.  It was named by Jacob “Bethel,” or
the house of God.  It was afterwards called “Bethaven,” or “the house of
vanity,” in consequence of the idolatry of Jeroboam; and the extensive
ruins now found there are called Beitin.  Now Bethel does not stand
alone, for it is frequently connected with Hai; so that Abraham’s second
halting-place, as recorded in Gen. xii. 8, was on a mountain “having
Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east.”  There were two ranges of hills
running from north to south, with a valley between them, and on a hill
standing in that valley Abraham pitched his tent, and built an altar unto
the Lord.  Now, as I have just said, there is not the slightest doubt
about the identification of Bethel.  But what are we to say of Hai?  In
Joshua viii. we have an accurate description of its capture, and every
detail of the attack can be verified on the spot.  But we cannot find the
name.  There is a heap, or mound, on the slope of the hill, which no
doubt marks the site.  But the name Hai is completely lost.  The name
given to the mound is Tell.  Now Tell is the word for heap, so that Tell
Ashtereh is the heap of Ashtaroth, and Tell Kedes the heap of Kadesh.
But to this heap there is no such name attached, and the only name is
Tell.  “Tell” alone marks the spot.  And now turn to Joshua viii. 28:
“And Joshua burnt Hai, and made it an heap” (_i.e._ a Tell) “for ever,
even a desolation unto this day.”  The name given by the modern Bedouin
is exactly that of the ancient record, and the testimony of the stones is
in perfect agreement with the scriptural narrative.

But this is not all.  I have already pointed out that the hill between
Bethel and Hai was Abraham’s second halting-place; and if we turn to Gen.
xiii. we shall find, in verses 3, 4, that after he had been down into
Egypt he returned to that same spot, and there once more he called on the
name of the Lord.  It was there that he made Lot the generous offer of
the choice of the land, and that “Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all
the plain of Jordan.”  But at first sight this seems impossible, for
between Bethel and Jordan there is a lofty range of hills running from
north to south, and completely obstructing the view; and so the merely
superficial observer might say that the Book was wrong.  But before we
come to any such decision we must consult the stones.  And what will they
say to us?  Go up the heights above Bethel on the west, and they will
tell you that there is no view of the plain of Sodom there.  Go up on the
eastern side to the Tell that once was Hai, and there is no view there.
But now go to the mountain having Bethel on the west and Hai on the east,
the very spot where, according to the 13th chapter of Genesis, Abraham
and Lot were standing; and there through a gap in the hills you see the
very sight that tempted Lot, and you look on the plains of Sodom, as Lot
looked on them not much less than 4,000 years ago.

And what makes the agreement still more wonderful is that the Book was
written by one who was not an inhabitant of the country, and who had
never stood on that mountain-top.  It is obvious from the history that
Moses was never there, and accordingly it is obvious from the Book that
it was written on the eastern side of Jordan.  In all the Books written
in Palestine the expression “Beyond Jordan” is employed to describe the
eastern side.  But it is not so with the Book of Genesis.  In chapter l.
10 there is the mention of the “threshing-floor of Atad,” where Joseph
and his company made a mourning for Jacob, and in verse 11 this place is
said to be “beyond Jordan.”  But Atad was on the west side of Jordan, for
it was amongst the Canaanites, and is believed by learned men to have
been between the Jordan and Jericho.  To Moses, therefore, approaching
Canaan from the east, it was “beyond Jordan.”  To any pretender writing
after the occupation of the promised land it would have been “on this
side Jordan.”  But to Moses, who died on the eastern side, and never set
his foot on the western side, it was “beyond.”  He may have seen it from
Pisgah, but that was all.  He never set his foot there, for he never
crossed the Jordan.  So he never set his foot on the mount between Bethel
and Ai; but he wrote with the most minute geographical accuracy.  And
thus we have the testimony of the stones that the Book of Genesis was not
only the Book of truth, but, may we not add, that Moses was inspired by
God Himself to write with such perfect truthfulness of places which he
had never seen?

This one instance must suffice as an illustration of _geographical_
accuracy, and we may hasten to consider the second point; viz.:—



II.  HISTORICAL TRUTH.


To this I turn with deeper interest, because it has been denied.
Voltaire, for example, describes Palestine as one of the worst countries
of Asia, comparing it to Switzerland, and says it can only be esteemed
fertile “when compared with the desert.” (KEITH, p. 106.)  There cannot
be one moment’s doubt that in such statements he exceeded fact.  But
others have pointed to the desolate hillsides, and asked the question
whether such a country could ever have supported a population as dense as
that of Norfolk or Suffolk.  Now let there be no mistake on this subject;
for we are fully prepared most freely to admit that the hill country, as
we now see it, could not possibly support a large population, and that
there is a dreary, barren desolation about it which is wholly unlike the
descriptions of rich fertility which abound through the Scriptures.  One
of these descriptions will be sufficient; viz., Deut. viii. 7–9: “For the
Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water,
of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of
wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of
oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without
scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are
iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.”  Now I am not in the
least afraid of saying plainly that such a description as that is not
true of _modern_ Palestine.  It is not a good land flowing with milk and
honey; it is not a land of vines and oil olives; it is not a land from
which a large population could eat bread without scarceness.  I read that
there is not a vine to be seen between Eschol and Beersheba, and that
there are very few olives to be found anywhere.  What then are we to say?
Was the historical description true, or was it not?  Were the people
deceived, or was God true to His Word?  “Let God be true, but every man a
liar.”  On this point let us ask the stones, and let us take the
testimony of the rocks.  But in doing this we must not be content with
taking a tourist’s ticket, and hurrying as fast as possible along the
beaten tracks; but we must accompany our scientific men in their
investigations; and if we do so, what shall we find?  In the first place
we shall find scattered through the country the ruins of an enormous
number of villages.  The Exploration Fund have actually entered on their
map no less than 2,770 names.  It is perfectly clear therefore that there
was once a very large and densely-packed population.  Then in the next
place the careful observer will perceive that those hills which are now
so barren were once covered with terraces so as to preserve the soil.
Dr. Keith says that on one hill he counted no less than sixty-seven such
terraces one above another.  Then if you examine these terraces you find
a countless number of cisterns and water-courses cut in the rocks,
proving clearly that there was once a careful system of irrigation; and
then, in conclusion, near many of the villages there is found an
olive-press, apparently used by the whole village, while up amongst the
terraces there are multitudes of smaller wine-presses, apparently cut in
the rocks by each proprietor for his own use.  In confirmation of this
evidence I have been informed by one for many years a resident in
Jerusalem, that the inhabitants are dependent for firewood on the roots
of the vines and the olives still found on the desolate hillsides.  The
roots remain, though the trees are gone, and those roots unite in their
testimony with the rocks amongst which they are found.  The evidence
therefore of the rocks is irresistible.  The people are scattered through
the nations, and the rain has washed down the toil from the broken
terraces; but the rocks remain; and the proof is as clear as any proof
can be of anything, that there was once a teeming population and a high
state of cultivation, that the country was once a land of vines and oil
olives, and that it was a land maintaining a prosperous, thriving, and
painstaking people.  Thus the rocks agree with the Book.  Those barren
hills themselves supply the evidence of their former fertility, and the
stones cry out that the grand old Pentateuch is historically true.



III.  PROPHETIC INSPIRATION.


But we have not yet done with those barren hills; for we have not yet
exhausted their evidence.  Some may enquire how it is that a country
which was once so fertile is now become so desolate; and the answer may
be given that the villages have been burned, the terraces neglected, the
cisterns broken, and the water-courses choked, which is all perfectly
true.  But that is not enough to satisfy a real enquirer.  “How was it,”
the thoughtful man will ask, “that the villages were burned and the
terraces neglected?”  In the answer of this question the rocks can give
us no assistance, and we must depend entirely on the Book; but there we
find the whole mystery solved.  The fact is, that the whole country bears
witness to the truth of prophecy.  The present state of things is exactly
what God foretold in His Word.  It is perfectly true that the mountains
are dreary, barren, and desolate; perfectly true that it is no longer
“the land flowing with milk and honey, the glory of all lands;” but it is
equally true that the change which has taken place is exactly that which
God foretold in the Scriptures.

What did Moses write three thousand three hundred years ago?  Turn to
Leviticus xxvi. 33: “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will
draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate, and your
cities waste.”

What did Isaiah say, writing about two thousand five hundred years ago?
Turn to Isaiah vi. 11: “Then said I, Lord, how long?  And He answered,
Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without
man, and the land be utterly desolate.”  Turn to chap. xxiv. 3: “The land
shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for the Lord hath spoken
this word.”  Or to chap. xxxii. 12, 13: “They shall lament for the teats,
for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.  Upon the land of my
people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy
in the joyous city.”

What did Jeremiah say, writing about two thousand three hundred years
ago?  Turn to Jeremiah iv. 26, 27: “I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place
was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the
presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger.  For thus hath the Lord
said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.”
“The spoilers are come upon all high places through the wilderness: for
the sword of the Lord shall devour from the one end of the land even to
the other end of the land: no flesh shall have peace.” (Chap. xii. 12.)

And what did Ezekiel, writing about the same time, predict of the
condition of Palestine during the dispersion, and until the restoration
of the people?  Turn to his address to those hills of which we have been
speaking, in Ezekiel xxxvi. 3, 4: “Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith
the Lord God; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up
on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the
heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of
the people: therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord
God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the
rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities
that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the
heathen that are round about.”

Here then we have the whole mystery solved, and the whole thing
explained.  In His sure Word of prophecy our heavenly Father told us what
He would do, and the desolate hills of Palestine bear witness that He has
done it.  We may long to see them clothed once more with the vine and the
olive, and we may profoundly pity their lawful proprietors, who look on
their lawful home—once so beautiful, but now so desolate!  But yet we
cannot look even on that desolation without thanksgiving, for it is an
evidence to all thinking men of the certain truth of God’s inspired Word.
Those who refer to those desolate hills as an argument against the truth
forget that the desolation to which they refer is a conclusive proof of
the truth of the _prophetic_ Word of God.  Thus we are carried by this
third proof far beyond either geographical accuracy or historical truth.
A book may be geographically accurate, or historically true, and yet not
be inspired.  But no _man_ can foretell the future.  No man can look
forward 3,000 years.  No man, therefore, could span over all those
centuries and tell us ages ago what would be the condition of Palestine
in this nineteenth century.  But God has done it.  We thank God,
therefore, for His Word, and we thank Him also for the testimony of the
rocks.  Nay, more, we may thank Him even for the sneers of such a man as
Voltaire, for the very sneers are a proof to the students of the
Scriptures that God’s prophecy is being fulfilled, and that God’s Holy
Word may be trusted as divine.

But we must not leave the subject there, for we are taught a most solemn
lesson as to the desolating power of a righteous God.  He who has reduced
those fertile hills to desolation, cannot He equally desolate the soul,
and reduce the poor ruined heart to a similar condition of barren
hopelessness?  And will He not do it if His great salvation be neglected?
I know that it is the fashion to believe that He is too merciful to
punish; but for my own part I find it much more easy to believe that he
is too true to declare that which he has no intention of performing.  If
the Word of God be true, “Verily there is a God that judgeth the earth,”
and we cannot doubt that to the guilty sinner He must prove “a consuming
fire.”  But, thanks be to His Holy Name, if the warnings be true, so also
are the promises.  If the judgment be certain, so also is the salvation.
If the minister of wrath be sure to fulfil the Word of judgment, so also
is the blessed Saviour perfectly sure to fulfil the promises of life.  If
the law condemn with infallible certainty, so also does the Gospel
proclaim that the claim of the law is satisfied in the great propitiation
by the Son of God; so that any one, even the least and most unworthy of
His people, may peacefully rest in the certainty of His never-failing
Word, and abide in perfect peace, and perfect safety, in the perfect
truth, and never-failing covenant of God.



SCOFFERS.


I PROPOSE to call the evidence of an _unwilling_ witness, and to ask the
scoffer himself to bear his “testimony to the truth” against which he
scoffs.  There is no better evidence than that which is given
unwillingly—than that of a man who is put into the witness-box in order
to prove one thing, and when closely examined is compelled by the force
of truth to prove the opposite.  Now as a general rule the scoffers
desire to dishonour the Scriptures; they ridicule its statements, and
deny its inspiration.  But I am not sure that, if carefully examined,
they will not be found to confirm the Word.  Let us then carefully study
their evidence, and may God the Holy Ghost bring it home to their hearts
and our own!

But before we examine the modern scoffers, we must turn to what the Word
of God has said respecting them.  Rather more than eighteen hundred years
ago the apostle Peter wrote two letters, the first addressed to scattered
strangers, and the second to those who had “obtained like precious faith
with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
In this second Epistle he gave a divine prophecy to all such persons, and
told them from God what they were to expect in the latter days.  He
taught them quite clearly that when they were approaching the end they
were not to expect to be like some beautiful ship (with its sails set and
its flags flying) sailing gallantly into the harbour, with a bright
sunshine, a flowing tide, and a prosperous breeze; but rather like some
weather-beaten craft, battered by the storm, beating up against the gale,
and almost overwhelmed by the breakers on the bar.  And it teaches also
that one of the trials of those last days will arise from scoffers.  As
in navigation the chart may teach that there are dangerous rocks near the
harbour mouth, so the prophecy says that when we draw near to the coming
of the Lord, there will arise certain persons who will not be afraid even
to scoff at the revelation of God.  Let us first examine the prophecy,
and then we shall be prepared to compare it with the fact.  It assures us
then of the fact that there will be scoffers, and it gives us a fourfold
description of their character.

We shall find it in 2 Peter iii. 3–5: “Knowing this first, that there
shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and
saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell
asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the
creation.  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of
God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and
in the water.”

(1.)  _They will scoff_.

Now, as a general rule, a scoffer is not a reasoner.  It requires some
knowledge and logical power to argue, but any fool can scoff.  In fact,
it seems the peculiar attribute of folly; for we are distinctly told that
“fools make a mock of sin.”  Now in this passage it is clearly foretold
that in the last days men will scoff.  But when St. Peter wrote the words
he must have thought it almost impossible.  For let any man look around
at the visible effects of sin—the ruin, the misery, the wretched homes,
the miserable wives, the pitiable children, the sickness, poverty, crime,
violence, and every species of abomination resulting from sin—and can any
wise man scoff at sin?

Or look at the majesty of God, at His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His
omniscience, His infinitude, His holiness, His sin-abhorring character,
and it seems impossible that there should be anyone bold enough to
presume to scoff at the Most High God.

Or look at His love in Christ Jesus; in the provision of such a salvation
for sinners such as we are; in providing such a Lamb for the
burnt-offering; in making to the guilty such an offer of such a salvation
on such terms of magnificent generosity, and can it be possible that any
man should scoff at that?  Will they scoff at the love that prompted it,
at the sacrifice made for it, or at the pardon and life presented through
it?  We might as well expect to see the condemned criminal scoffing at a
free pardon from the Queen.

But notwithstanding all that, the prophecy says plainly that in the last
days there shall be scoffers.

(2.)  The next clause throws further light on their character; for it
teaches that _they will walk after their own lusts_.  Now “lust” does not
mean merely the low, vicious, depraved passion of the profligate; but the
word in old English expresses exactly the meaning of the Greek—the
appetite or will of the natural man.  A person, therefore, may be what
“the world” calls a moral man, and still be walking after his own lust.
Such characters are described by the prophet Isaiah in the words, “We
have turned every one to his own way.” (Chap. liii. 6.)  And again, chap.
lxvi. 3, “Yea, they have chosen their own ways.”  They make of themselves
their own god.  They set up their own understanding as their teacher, and
their own will as their law.  Their religion consists in one letter of
the alphabet, that one most absorbing letter, “I.”  “I know,” “I think”
“I choose,” “I will,” “I am,” and “I act as I think proper;” and thus it
is that their own will becomes their only god.  Oh what a miserable god!
Oh, what a contrast to the life of him who knows his Saviour! to the
blessedness of the man whose life is hid with Christ in God, and whose
daily prayer is, “Thy will be done!”  But though it seem almost
impossible, the words of the prophecy are perfectly clear that the rise
of such characters will be amongst the anxious trials of the latter days.

(3.)  But this is not all; for the next clause shows _they will scoff at
the hope of the Advent_, and they will say, “Where is the promise of His
coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they
were from the beginning of the creation.”  This does not mean, “Where
shall we find the promise in the Scriptures?” but rather, “What has
become of it?  Everything is going on just as it always has done, and He
is not come yet.  The winter comes and goes, the sun rises and sets, the
business of life goes on as in former days, and the Lord has not yet
appeared; so what are we to think of the promise?”  St. Peter points out
the true answer to all this; viz., that God’s time must not be measured
by man’s scale; for that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day,” and he might have added that prophecy
of our Lord Himself, in which he taught us that everything will go on
exactly the same right up to His return; viz., “For as in the days that
were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving
in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not
until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of
the Son of man be.” (Matt. xxiv. 38, 39.)  It is most important that we
bear this well in mind; for there is an undoubted tendency in us all to
settle down into an undefined feeling that things that have gone on
without a change will go on still without a change, and so to allow our
hope of the Advent to grow weary, or to burn itself out through delay.
There is this tendency in even the Christian mind, and in all probability
there are few amongst us who have not felt the need of watching against
the temptation.  So in this prophecy the scoffer is predicted as availing
himself of this natural tendency in our hearts, and turning it against
the promises of God; as attacking the Christian in His blessed hope; as
striving to shake the faith of believers; and as endeavouring to pull
down those who are looking for the Lord to the dreary level of utter
hopelessness on which he finds that he himself is standing.  It seems a
very cruel thing, and I often think that if I were an infidel I could not
endeavour to shake the faith of other men.  It seems a horrible thing,
that because a man is without hope himself, he should endeavour to take
away hope from others; and a most especially horrible thing that he
should endeavour to poison the minds of children, and so harden their
young hearts against the reception of the truth of God.  But though it
seem so cruel, so unnatural, and so contrary to any principle of ordinary
benevolence, the prophecy teaches quite plainly that so it will be in the
“latter days.”

(4.)  But there is one more feature in the description; viz., this, that
_these scoffers are_ “_willingly ignorant_.”  The ignorance here
predicted has special reference to the creation and the flood; but the
point to which I would draw your most especial attention is the
_willingness_ of its character.  Ignorance in many cases is the result of
circumstances, and in some of grave misfortune.  There are some who long
for knowledge, but have no opportunity of obtaining it; and there are
many others who, though they show no such thirst, cannot be blamed; for
they have never known enough even to excite an appetite.  But the
prophecy describes men who are determinately and wilfully ignorant; who
are ignorant, not because they _cannot_ know, but because they _will_
not.  They are like those persons described in Romans i. 28: “Even as
they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”  Such are the people
described in this prophecy—persons who are profoundly ignorant of the
whole purpose of God in Christ Jesus; who know absolutely nothing of that
knowledge of the true God and of “Jesus Christ, whom He has sent,” which
the Lord Himself declared to be “life eternal;” and who do not wish to
know it, but had rather remain without the knowledge.  The result is,
that they will read no Christian evidence, will care for no books but
those of infidels, and will never search their Bible, unless it be to
find out something which they may make the subject of their mockery.
Such is the willing ignorance most clearly predicted in this prophecy.

There are, therefore, four points clearly predicted in the character of
those persons who, according to prophecy, must be expected in the “latter
days.”  They will scoff; they will walk after their own will; they will
call in question the Lord’s coming; and they will be willingly ignorant
of His inspired truth.  What then should be the effect on our own minds
when we see the fulfilment of this prophecy?  Should it shake our faith,
or strengthen it?  Should it lead us to doubt our Bibles, or to rest in
them as the truth of God?  When we found that Noah’s great prophecy
respecting Shem, Ham, and Japheth was fulfilled, what was the effect?  It
assured us that the Pentateuch was true, and the Bible inspired.  When we
found a whole series of prophecies respecting the Jews and Palestine were
literally fulfilled, what again was the effect?  It assured us that the
Bible was true, and those prophets inspired.  So now, if we see with our
own eyes the clear fulfilment of St. Peter’s prophecy, what again must be
our conclusion?  What but that the Bible is true, and that the apostle
Peter was inspired?  Thus it is that the scoffer against the truth
becomes a witness for the truth, and the man who would insult our God by
what he calls “profane jokes” is unconsciously and unintentionally
bearing testimony to the God whom he insults.  If there were no such
scoffers in these latter days, then indeed we might begin to doubt the
inspiration of the prophetic Word.  If the Jews had remained settled in
their own country, and had never been dispersed among the nations, then
we might have doubted the inspiration of the prophets respecting them;
and so, if there were no infidels and no scoffers, then we might call in
question the inspiration of the Scriptures that predicted them.  But now,
as the Jews are witnesses to one class of prophecy, so are the scoffers
to another; and while we grieve for the poor men, and most heartily
desire to see them saved with the great salvation, we may be at the same
time thankful for their evidence, and may accept their scoffing is an
unanswerable testimony to the prophetic truth of the inspired Scripture.

But that is not all.  For when we have such a prophecy, so full in its
prediction, and so clearly proved by its fulfilment to have been inspired
by God, we are bound by every principle of allegiance to Him to listen to
His counsel and act on His warning.  If we believe His Word, the least we
can do is to be on our guard; and if God has predicted scoffers, we ought
to be prepared to meet them.  This is the application which the apostle
Peter makes of his own prophecy, and the passage is a remarkable instance
of the application of a prophecy by the prophet who was employed to give
it.  Turn, then, to verse 17 of the chapter, and there you find him
saying, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before”
(_i.e._, that you are fully warned beforehand), “beware lest ye also,
being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own
stedfastness.”  He points to a danger against which we should watch, and
a standard at which we are to aim.  The danger is that, “being led away
with the error of the wicked,” we should “fall from our own
stedfastness.”  The standard is, that we “grow in grace and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  But if we are to act on
this advice, it is clear that we must be armed in _the understanding_.
It is not enough that we feel emotion; but we want to be able to give a
reason for the hope that is in us—to know what that hope is, and to know
also the strong foundation on which it rests.  Most especially would I
urge this on our young men.  As you go through life you are almost
certain to meet with scoffers, and when you do you do not want to be like
them, willingly ignorant.  Our position is perfectly impregnable!  We
have a rock under our feet which nothing can shake.  We have facts which
cannot be disproved, and an accumulation of evidence which is not to be
found respecting any other book in the world.  But we must not let our
weapons remain locked up like old armour in some baronial hall, but we
must have them out, and use them with vigour.  They are made of the best
of steel; but we must take care that there is no rust on the blade, and
so be able to meet the scoffer; not by scoffing, but by the sword of the
Spirit, remembering well the assurance of Scripture, that “the weapons of
our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
strongholds.”

But it is not in the understanding only that we require to be armed, for
I believe there is no armour like _the heart’s experience of the love of
God in Christ Jesus_.  The happy, consistent, thankful believer, he is
not afraid of the scoffer.  He knows whom he has believed, and he is
persuaded that he is able to keep that which he has committed to Him
against that day.  He pities the scoffer, therefore; but he is not afraid
of him except for the harm that he may do to others.  He has felt the
strength of the rock under his feet, and he is not going to be driven
from it on to the shifting sands of unsettled infidelity.  Oh, may God
grant to every one of us strong assurance in the grace wherein we stand!
May He keep us in the hearty enjoyment of an abiding union with Christ
Jesus our Lord! that so, strong in the Lord, and in the power of His
might, we may stand fast in Him; redeemed by His blood; born again by His
Spirit; called by the Holy Ghost; justified in His righteousness;
forgiven through His atonement; and made heirs according to the hope of
eternal life!  If that be granted, we can afford to be scoffed at; and if
that be ours, we should be stirred in the very depths of our soul to
fresh energy as the witnesses for Christ.  The scoffer himself is a
witness to Him, inasmuch as he is a living, speaking, visible proof of
the fulfilment of the prophetic Word.  But it is not so that we must bear
our testimony.  He is a witness to truth by his denial, we by our
confession; he by his insult, we by our reverend faith; he by denying the
coming of our Lord, we by expecting it; he by the assertion of his own
will, we by the surrender of ourselves to the will of the Lord.  So it is
that we may realize the full meaning of the words of our Lord, “Ye shall
receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be
witnesses unto me.”



THE SACRAMENTS.


IT was one of the principles of the ancient Jewish law, that “in the
mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  I have
already exceeded that requirement in having brought before you no less
than five “witnesses” to establish the truth and inspiration of the
Scriptures; but I propose, if God permit, to conclude my series with two
more:

They shall be very simple witnesses, and to the eye of man quite
insignificant.  They shall not have in themselves any apparent power of
testimony; but yet I believe they are intended to speak in words of
irresistible argument to all thinking men, and I trust will carry home to
the hearts of those who are not “willingly ignorant” the most conclusive
evidence of the truth of God.  I refer to the two Sacraments of the
Lord’s appointment—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  In 1 John v. there
appears to be a distinct reference to the Jewish rule, and there are
three witnesses mentioned as bearing testimony upon earth—“the Spirit,
and the water, and the blood.”  The passage is not an easy one, and it
behoves us to speak with caution.  But I cannot help believing that by
“the Spirit” is meant the testimony of the Holy Ghost in His inspired
Word; and by “the water and the blood,” the two Sacraments, Baptism and
the Lord’s Supper.  It is to the testimony of these two latter witnesses
that I now propose to refer; but we must remember there is nothing in
either of them of a conspicuous or ostentatious character.  In neither
one nor the other is there anything like a material monument, nor
anything to attract the attention of “the world;” there is no erection of
granite or marble, nor any inscription like those on the stones from
Nineveh; but they are both simple acts of the simplest possible
character.  A little water is all that is visible in the one, and a
little bread and wine in the other; and yet, though so simple, so
insignificant, and so absolutely without any visible monument, for the
last eighteen hundred years they have been bearing their testimony as
“witnesses” for Christ.  Let us then conclude our series by the
examination of their evidence, and let us consider two points: (1) Their
present position; and (2) When and how did they acquire it?  May God so
bless our study by the Holy Ghost as to bring home conviction to all our
hearts and understandings.

(1.)  _Their present position_.

In order to realise this we must not confine our thoughts to our own
personal enjoyment of our own sacred privileges.  We may come to the
Lord’s table as individuals, and find in the sacred feast such “a
strengthening and refreshing of our souls” as may be to us the most
conclusive and satisfactory evidence of the certain reality of the grace
of God; but our personal experience would be no evidence to others, and
our own enjoyment would not be regarded by the sceptic as a proof; it
would be evidence to ourselves, but not to him, nor to the world at
large.  We must therefore take a wider range, and consider only such
evidence as lies within the cognizance of all observing men.  For this
reason I have selected their position in the Church of Christ at this
present time.  I am not about to ask you to consider past history, but
present facts; facts that may be tested by every one, facts belonging to
this enlightened nineteenth century; and what I ask you to do is quietly
and patiently to investigate facts.

Taking then our standpoint in this year of our Lord, 1883, we find that
the Church of Christ has been extending for just 1850 years, and that
throughout that time it has been spread by countless agents, and in
countless manners, in every direction throughout the world.  Starting as
it did from Palestine, it has now taken root on every continent, and it
has borne the sacred Name of our blessed Saviour into every quarter of
the globe.

But while there has been this world-wide spread of Christianity, and
while there is at this present time this widely-extended acknowledgment
of the Name of the Lord Jesus, it is at the same time perfectly obvious
that there are within the Church of the baptized immense diversities both
of creed and practice.  There are different Churches standing aloof from
each other.  There is the Church of Rome in conflict with what is called
the Greek Church on the one hand, and with us Protestants on the other.
What is commonly called the Greek Church consists again of many branches,
or is rather an aggregate of many independent Churches not united under
any one head.  There is the original Greek Church, the Russian, the
Syrian, the Coptic, and the Abyssinian.  So in the Church of Rome there
are various orders, besides the great division between the secular and
regular clergy; while we all know, to our heartfelt sorrow, how those who
are united in their love for the great Scriptural principles of
Protestant truth are still divided into various denominations.  Thus,
looking at the Church of Christ as a whole, we find it spread into so
many places that it encircles the world; and broken up into so many
sections that it is hard to trace what we may term any visible corporate
union.  There is separation as to place, and divergence as to Church
organisation.

But now we come to the wonderful and indisputable fact that,
notwithstanding all this separation and all this divergence in all
countries and many systems, wherever we find the name of Christ there we
find His own two Sacraments; and wherever we meet with Christianity there
we are sure to meet with Baptism and the Holy Communion, God’s two
witnesses to His inspired truth.

This is sufficiently wonderful if you think merely of the geographical
extension of the Church.  The visible Church is spread amongst different
nations, in different climates, and with different habits; some of which
are leading the way in civilization and science, while some are sunk in
barbarism; some leading the thoughts of the world, and some apparently
never thinking at all; some absorbed in trade, and some so completely
without trade that they have not even a currency.  In some there are old
churches that have existed for centuries, and in some churches of modern
formation recently called into being through colonization and missions;
and yet, though the two Sacraments are so perfectly simple that there is
nothing in themselves to spread or perpetuate themselves, wherever you go
you find them.  Place and space have made no difference.  Go to Europe,
Asia, Africa, or America, it makes no difference; wherever you go there
you find God’s two Sacraments essentially bound up with the Christianity
of the people.

But what is more wonderful still, the divergences in the faith have not
destroyed them.  There are different Churches most earnestly opposed to
each other, as the Church of England to that of Rome, and the Church of
Rome to that of Constantinople; but all have the two Sacraments.  So at
home there are various denominations, sadly disunited, and in some cases,
I fear I must say, opposed; but yet amidst them all there remains this
remarkable fact, that, with one or two perfectly insignificant
exceptions, they all observe these same two Sacraments.  And what makes
this more remarkable still is the fact that throughout Christendom there
are immense diversities of opinion on the particular subject of these
Sacraments; and there is scarcely any subject around which controversy
has raged more fiercely.  Both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been
the subject of sharp contention; and they have both been misinterpreted,
misrepresented, and misused.  Desperate heresies have been attached to
them both, and they have become the battle-field for most determined
theological conflict; but, notwithstanding all this confusion of tongues,
the great fact still remains, that after eighteen centuries of conflict,
here they are still.  Controversy has not destroyed them; perversion has
not put an end to them; separation has not divided them; but in the midst
of all disturbing forces they remain.  Wherever you find Christianity,
there you find them.  In all parts of the world, and in all Churches on
the face of the earth, they are inseparably connected with the confession
of Christ; and, as a matter of fact, there is not a Church in Christendom
which in some mode or other does not observe them both.

Now in the study of this fact we must remember, as I said at the outset,
that they are not like solid marbles set up by some great men, and so
remaining as national monuments; but they consist in very insignificant
actions, and their existence depends on their being observed by millions
of insignificant individuals.  They are preserved, not by state authority
or church councils, but by the loving hearts of millions of scattered
individuals, who, though it may be in much confusion, desire to act on
the bidding of their Lord.  Thus they become exceedingly like the rainbow
spanning the heaven.  That beautiful bow, the token of the covenant, is
formed by the reflection of the sun from unnumbered millions of minute
drops of falling rain.  Each drop is in itself a mere speck, a nothing,
falling rapidly, but shining as it falls; and all these millions of
falling drops combine to form the one beautiful arch, which remains
perfectly still, and bridges the interval between earth and heaven.  So
these two Sacraments are maintained throughout the world by the faith and
piety of millions of insignificant and short-lived individuals, each one
undesignedly fulfilling his own little part; while the grand combination
of all these millions of little individualities maintains in all places
and in all ages the twofold token of the everlasting covenant of God.

(II.)  Thus far I have spoken simply of facts, of facts open to the
observation of all men, and, as far as I know, denied by none.  I cannot
imagine that even an infidel would deny any of them.  I may proceed then
to my next question: _When and how did these two Sacraments acquire this
position_?  As a matter of fact they are observed throughout Christendom;
when then were they introduced, and how did this observance begin?  To
this question our answer is simple; for we believe that they were
ordained by Christ Himself, the one as His last act before His
crucifixion, and the other before His ascension.  To us therefore who
receive the Scriptures the whole thing is perfectly clear, and the fact
is explained by the principle that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ
must receive, in obedience to His will, the two Sacraments which He
Himself ordained.

But suppose there were any one who did not receive the Scripture account,
it would be extremely interesting if such an one would endeavour to
explain the introduction of either Sacrament, and would tell us who
introduced it, and when, and how.  If any person were now to endeavour to
invent a third Sacrament he would find it very difficult to obtain for it
a general acceptance through the world.  The Church of Rome endeavoured
to establish a new dogma respecting the Pope’s infallibility, and what
was the result?  They split off a large body of their own people, and
they totally failed to introduce their dogma amongst any of the other
churches of Christendom.  In this respect the divisions of Christendom
tend greatly to confirm the evidence of the Sacraments; for they show the
complete impossibility of the introduction of these Sacraments at a later
date than that claimed for them in the Scriptures.  If Protestants had
invented them, Roman Catholics would never have received them; or, to go
back to a later date, if they had been invented by Rome they would never
have been received at Constantinople.  The Church of God is like a
multitude of channels, all radiating from one centre.  If you pour water
into one channel you produce no effect on all the others, for the water
will not pass across from channel to channel; but if there be a spring in
the centre itself, then they are all filled together, for they all draw
from one fountain-head.  Just so it is with the Sacraments.  If they had
sprung up in any one branch of the scattered Church, they might have
remained there; but there is no power on earth that could have carried
them across into the other branches.  So that now, as they are found in
every branch, and in every part of every branch, the only possible
explanation is that they have come direct from the fountain-head; that
therefore the Scriptural narrative is perfectly true; and that they were
founded, as there recorded, by our Lord Himself, and none other.  As they
came from Christ, the original centre, they spread through Christendom;
as they were founded by the Author of Christianity, they are observed
wherever Christianity exists.  If any one doubt this conclusion, let him
tell us where, when, and by whom they were first invented, and how after
that they were spread through the world.

But we have not done yet; for if we believe that the two Sacraments were
founded by our Lord Himself at the time and in the manner recorded in the
Scriptures, there are certain very important results which follow.

Let us confine our thoughts to the Lord’s Supper.  It was clearly
declared at the time of its institution to be a memorial of the death and
passion of our blessed Lord and Saviour.  It was founded, moreover, on
the night before His suffering, and that amongst men who were
eye-witnesses of all that passed.  Such is the statement of the
Scriptures, which we now follow up by the fact that, from that day to
this, wherever the name of Christ is named, there has never been a break
in the observance of that memorial.  Now what is the plain, simple, and
obvious conclusion from all this?  Is it not surely this, that the facts
actually took place?  The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of the crucifixion,
and it was founded among persons who were eye-witnesses of the whole
transaction.  Now if these facts had never occurred, and if the Book
recording them had not been a true Book, how could the memorial have ever
got its hold on the Church?  The truth of the Book is proved by the
existence of the memorial.  The Book and the memorial are bound the one
to the other.  They stand and fall together; they cannot be separated.
But the memorial may be seen throughout Christendom as a visible fact.
It is, and always has been, co-extensive with Christianity.  It is at
this present time open to the observation of any one; so, seeing the
memorial, we believe the Book, and are fully, perfectly, and historically
satisfied as to all the great facts of the crucifixion.

But we must not stop there; for the memorial is not merely a proof of the
facts of the crucifixion, but is also a proof of the doctrine of the
cross.  We have found that the memorial could not possibly have been
introduced at any subsequent date, but that its institution must be
traced up to the fountain-head, even to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
and those words of His, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  But this is not
the whole of the passage, and we must not forget those other words, “This
is my body, which is given for you,” and, “This cup is the new testament
in my blood, which is shed for you.”  The memorial, therefore, is not
merely a memorial of the death, but of the purpose of it, and of the
great principle which underlies the whole.  It is a monument of those two
sentences, “given for you” and “shed for you.”  If it were a granite
column instead of a simple service, these would be the two sentences to
be engraved upon it; or if men wished to make the inscription shorter
still, they might be content with two words, and write “For you;” for
these two words contain the pith and marrow of the whole matter.  It is
not, therefore, merely the fact that He died of which the Lord’s Supper
is a divinely-appointed witness, but the fact that He died as a vicarious
satisfaction for sin—“a propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only,
but also for the sins of the whole world.”  It is well for us, therefore,
to look carefully at the certain and undeniable fact, that in this
nineteenth century the Lord’s Supper is observed in some form or other
wherever the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is known; to consider well the
utter impossibility of its being introduced at any period subsequent to
the foundation of the Gospel, or by any person except by Him who said,
“This do in remembrance of me;” and so to accept the assurance of its
testimony that the body there given was given _for us_, and the blood
there shed was shed _for us_.  Divine atonement then is the great truth
visibly signed and sealed to us by God’s divine memorial; and when we
kneel together before that table of His, we may accept for our own soul’s
everlasting peace, not merely the fact that He died, but the truth that
He died as a propitiation for our sins; that His body was given in our
behalf, or _for us_, and His blood shed in our behalf, or _for us_; and
that therefore, without any further propitiatory sacrifice, or any
supplementary mode of reconciliation, believing in Him, we are perfectly,
immediately, and eternally free.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                   THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND BOOK SOCIETY,
                         11, ADAM STREET, STRAND.

                                * * * * *



WORKS BY THE REV. CANON HOARE, M.A.,


                               PUBLISHED BY
                   THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND BOOK SOCIETY,
                     11, ADAM STREET, STRAND, LONDON.

                                * * * * *



JUST PUBLISHED.


WITNESSES TO TRUTH.  Authorized Edition.  80 pages, crown 8vo, in tinted
paper cover, 9d.; neatly bound in cloth, 1s. 6d.

  CONTENTS.—(1) Difficulties; (2) The Races; (3) The Jews; (4) Palestine;
  (5) Scoffers; (6) The Sacraments.

CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.  Third Edition, revised.  64 pages, imperial
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BAPTISM: AS TAUGHT IN THE BIBLE AND THE PRAYER BOOK.  Seventh Edition.
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