For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,…
Part of the value of this short and simple introduction consists in its quite undesigned manifestation of the true historic character of Christianity. In the good sense Luke was a sceptic first, in order that he might be a rational and strong believer. Anything more truly scientific than his method I cannot imagine. It is the method of every candid historian who wishes to set down only what is genuine and authentic. When he speaks here of "the certainty" of some particular things, he means substantially what the Apostle Paul means when he speaks of "the gospel of God," "the gospel of which he was not ashamed," and of "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Is that first "certainty" enough for us still? Everything, we are told, is being tried by this practical test, by what it can do, and by the honest feeling men have to it, and we must not complain if the test is applied even to supernatural religion. We do not complain. It is quite true that we ought to be able by this time to furnish much practical corroboration of the truth and worth of Christianity which did not and could not exist in the apostolic days. I will therefore mention some of the practical and secondary "certainties" which, when duly considered, will tend greatly to confirm and enforce those which are primary and principal.
I. IT IS CERTAIN THAT NO STYLE OR TYPE OF HUMAN CHARACTER IS HIGHER THAN THE CHRISTIAN TYPE; THAT NONE IS SO HIGH. Theoretically it ought to be so. Practically it is so.
II. IT IS CERTAIN THAT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH ENABLES THOSE WHO REALLY HAVE IT TO BEAR THE STRAIN AND PRESSURE OF LIFE — the sorrow, the pain, whatever they may be, as they could not be borne without it; and it is quite certain that we do not know of anything else which has the same upholding and consolatory power.
III. IT IS CERTAIN THAT CHRISTIANITY ALONE KEEPS AN OPEN DOOR FOR US OUT OF THIS WORLD INTO ANOTHER AND A BETTER.
IV. IT IS CERTAIN THAT, AT THIS MOMENT, THERE IS ONLY ONE RELIGION IN THE WORLD THAT CAN, FROM ITS VERY NATURE, BE EXTENDED TO EVERY PART OF IT; only one religion which, as a matter of fact, is being diffused by those who believe in it and adhere to it, in a spirit of entire impartiality, " among all nations, kindreds, peoples, and tongues." Christianity is, as it has ever been, the only really missionary religion in the world. The poor Turk has no missionary in any Christian country. Educated Hindoos come to our universities, but although they can speak our language as well as we ourselves, and although they know that there is entire religious freedom in this country, who among them preaches Hindooism, or seeks a footing for it among the English people? On the other hand, every Christian individual and every Christian community stand committed, in simple fidelity to their Master, and in obedience to the very law of their life, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
(Alexander Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,