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research brings forward almost every hour new evidences, unravels mysteries, and restores reputations. Envious malignity, or the hatred of party, can never have laid a man's name so low that it may not be lawful to plead his cause before the nations, and call forth a revision of his judgment. We have a happy illustration of this in Carlyle's life of Cromwell. A man's body is laid to rest with his father's, but his principles, his intellectual and moral elements, never fall on sleep. They remain unhurt amid the war of elements, and the wreck and crash of all things else. Let it not then be objected that Christ's coming into the world was too long delayed. The lateness of the world's age when Christ came was no loss to those that lived before his advent, for truth is immutable, and was, therefore, the same before and after that event. Truth may have different phases or dispensations, but truth itself is eternal and unchangeable. A time there was, when there was *neither sun, nor star, nor angel; but a time there never was when truth was not. Truth has witnessed the beginning of all things, and shall live after the consummation of all things. Radiant with the light of eternity, truth with the sons of God rejoiced in the first lighting up of the sun, and beheld the firmament when it began to glow and kindle and flame forth with constellations. Truth dwelt in Eden, nor could the flaming cherubim keep it there. Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, were all men of truth. Truth has indeed often been "crushed to the earth." Her votaries have often been persecuted and put to the torture and to death, but she herself dieth not. "The eternal years of God are, hers." And in the ages to come, when the pencil shall sketch the ruins of man's mightiest works, and even of the Universe itself, truth will still be vigorous in eternal youth. At the funeral of all earthly things, she will put on the habiliments of immmortality and live on, undying, undecaying as when first she dwelt in the bosom of the Everlasting Father.
Some branches of knowledge are progressive, but truth itself is independent of all chance and change, unchangably the same. The discoveries of truth may be progressive. In mathematics when once a proposition has been demonstrated, it is never afterwards contested. Every new proposition demonstrated is an addition to the stock of discovered truth. In the inductive sciences every new fact brings theory nearer and nearer to perfection. Nor can there ever be retrogression or going back in the purely demonstrative, or in the purely experimental sciences. Nor can they ever remain stationary. Their law is progression. Still the elementary principles are unchangable. For illustration: chemistry is a modern sci
ence-a science in which the improvement is so rapid, that it is difficult to keep up with it. Yet modern chemical experiments have neither created nor annihilated a single atom. Nor have they originated a single element or first principle. They have only developed or combined and brought to light what has existed ever since the creation. And such is the perfection and immutability of truth that there never has been a reaction against Harvey's circulation of the blood, nor against the discoveries of Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Cook, nor against the experiments of Bacon, Franklin, Priestly and Black, nor against the inventions of Fulton and Watt, Arkwright and Davenport, Daguerre and Morse. There has never been, nor can there ever be a reaction against the problems of Euclid, the theorems of Taylor, or the laws of La Place. The developments of truth, of mind and science may vary—may be greater and better at one time than at another-may be lost for an age or even ages-may go back and then go forward; but the elements of nature-the great principles of mind and matter-are fixed and unchangable. And yet every fact brought to light, every experiment, every invention, every new development or combination of things, is an addition to the stock of discovered truth, while the quantity and quality, nature and essence of truth remain precisely the same, wholly independent of its developments. And the same law is as true of religion as of nature. Natural religion, so called to distinguish it from that revealed in the Bible, is the same in all ages. The student of natural theology now is just like the student of theology in the age of Pericles. The Greek had the same evidence of design in the structure of birds, insects and beasts, of fish, flowers and shells, and of the whole universe, that Ray and Durham had, and that Lord Brougham has used in his work on Natural Theology. The reasoning of Socrates as reported by Xenophon to confute the atheist Aristodemus is exactly the reasoning of "Paley's Natural Theology." Socrates makes the same use of the statues of Polycletus and of the pictures of Zeuxis that Paley makes of the watch. And as to what becomes of a man after death, the highly educated man, left to his unassisted reason, is not more likely to come to the truth than a Blackfoot Indian of the mountains. Not a single one of the many sciences, problems, discoveries, laws, inventions, and arts, in which civilization surpasses the attainments of the Blackfoot Indian, throws the smallest light on the state of the soul after death. The Bible is the only light that penetrates the grave and shines steadily on the world to come.
Again, all the great enigmas of the natural theologian are
the same in all ages and countries. The ingenuity of a people just emerging from barbarism, or even of a child, is quite sufficient to propound them; but the wisdom of Plato, of Locke, of Butler, and Chalmers is unable to solve them. The book of Job shows that long before letters and arts were known in Ionia, the most perplexing questions concerning free will, the origin of evil, man's responsibility, and the necessity of morals were debated with as much skill and eloquence in the tents of the Idumean Emirs, as they have been ages since in the halls of Oxford; nor has human reason in the course of three thousand years, discovered any satisfactory solution of the riddles which perplexed Eliphaz and Zophar.* Enough has been said to prove that natural theology is not a progressive science, and the same thing is true of revealed religion. The Bible is a sure and certain summary of doctrines and duties-a full and perfect rule of faith and practice. All the discoveries of all the travellers and philosophers in the world cannot add a single verse to any one of all the chapters of any one of all the books of the Bible; nor a single doctrine or precept needful for human progress and happiness to our holy faith. Pharmacy, geology, agriculture, chemistry, navigation and commerce may constantly improve, but religion was as good a thousand years ago, as it is now, and it is as precious, as sufficient now as it will ever be. A Christian with his Bible in his hand in the fifth century, is on a par with a Christian in the middle of the nineteenth century. What does it matter that we have the compass, the art of printing, gunpowder, steam, gas, vaccination, electrotype, and daguerreotype, and a thousand other types and a thousand other discoveries and inventions, and a thousand too many isms, which were unknown in the fifth century? None, nor all of these discoveries and inventions have added the smallest particle to the value of the blood of Christ, by which alone sin can be washed away, nor have they extracted a single agony from the awakened conscience laboring to find peace with God. It is obvious, then, since truth-all truth, physical and moral, is unchangable, although its manifestations may be different in different ages-that truth is truth, whether discovered in one age or in another; so the gospel as a system of truth, is the same whether introduced in the year of the world 4004 or 6000, or 1000, and consequently there was no loss to those who lived before the incarnation merely from the fact of its delay, for
2. The virtue of Christ's atonement depends not upon the See this subject ably discussed in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1840.
year of the world when it was made, but upon His divinity. The blood of Christ is a sufficient atonement, whether shed at the beginning or at the end of the world.
It is true those who lived before the coming of Christ, had not the same degree of light that we enjoy; but they had the same unqualified promise that whosoever looked to the Lamb of God who was to be slain, should be saved. They were saved by faith in a Saviour to come, just as we are in a Saviour who has come. For out of all ages, "whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
As respects, therefore, the salvation of those who lived before the coming of Christ, the difference between them and us is, that they believed in a Saviour to come, while we believe in the Saviour who has come, and actually died to redeem us. The pious before the coming of the Messiah were pardoned and renewed in heart and spirit, and finally admitted to heaven on the same ground that the pious are now, the vicarious death of Christ as an atonement for sin. Had the Gospel dispensation been introduced a thousand years sooner, still those who then lived might have asked why it had not been published a thousand years before. We might as well ask why it was delayed at all, or why it was not delayed till now. If the redemption of man is liable to this kind of objection, so is his creation; and as some portion of time must have preceded both his creation and redemption, according to infidel wisdom man ought never to have been created or redeemed. We may just as wisely challenge the great Creator to know why we are not made with four hands instead of two, or why we have not the lion's strength, the elephant's body, or the eagle's wings, or why we were not born in the time of the Cesars, or of Chinese or Japanese parents.
The apostle intimates in the text, that there was as much propriety in delaying the incarnation of Christ, as there is in not allowing a minor to possess the property and privileges of an heir. Now I say that the heir, so long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son. Having thus endeavored to remove the objection as to the lateness of the incarnation, I shall now attempt to show that
II. CHRIST CAME AT PRECISELY THE PROPER TIME.
1. There were circumstances connected with the period of Christ's coming, which prove that it was the fulness of time
-the time of all best suited for the introduction of the Gospel. This is true as it respects the state of human languages, at the time of the Advent. Language is the present medium of intercourse between man and man. It has also been used as the chief medium of Revelation, or of making known the Divine will; and it is for this reason that the Son of God, by whom His will is made known to us, is called, by way of eminence, the Word. Language is the embodying power, the incarnation of thought. We can almost as easily imagine a soul without a body, as thought unclothed or without the form of outward expression. It is indeed a point in dispute in the learned world, whether a man can think without the use of words in his mind. It is not strange, therefore, that God has adapted the time of his great Revelation to us, to the state of human language. "Literature," says some one, "is the soul of history," and God is in history. His finger writes all history. A nation's literature is an index to its principles and character. It represents at one view, the culture, the theology, the ethics, the degree of intrinsic purity and outward prosperity of a nation. Our leading statesmen and scholars, who feel a just and laudable interest in the success of the long talked of Japanese expedition, form their opinions respecting the character of the people, government, religions and customs of the empire of Japan, from what they learn of its literature out of books that have been published by the Portuguese, Dutch and English, or by our own countrymen. The literature of Japan tells the origin and history of that singular nation as far as known; what they have done for themselves, and what fortunes, and pervading and retributive providences have befallen them, and furnishes a sort of key to unlock their future. The literature of China, Greece and Rome expounds their moral and political history. This is precisely what we should expect from the nature of language. It is the organ of the soul's conceptions. It must therefore in turn, mould, control and modify its peculiar character, so that the mind of a nation will correspond to its language. This is true even in modern times. The German language is no bad mirror of German mind; and every one who sees a Frenchman and understands his language, must be convinced that the one is made for the other, exactly according to measure. But the point in hand is pre-eminently true of all ancient languages, when trade and travel had not modified. national words or incorporated so much that was foreign into the native tongues as has been done with ours, and with most living languages. Let us take what is called the Semitic family of tongues, to which the Hebrew and Syriac belonged. This whole family is destitute of particles and grammatical