Many have undertaken to compose an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LORD'S CAREER. We have the testimony of "eyewitnesses," of men who could not have been mistaken, and who gave the very strongest assurances that they were not deceiving and misleading; we therefore know what were the scenes through which Jesus passed, what were the particulars of his life. We know:
1. His character - how pure, how perfect, it was.
2. His thoughts - how profound, how practical, how original, they were.
3. His works - how mighty and how beneficent they were.
4. His sufferings and sorrows - with what sublime patience they were endured.
5. His death - under what awful solemnities it was undergone.
6. The great and supreme fact of his resurrection. Of all these things we are thoroughly assured.
II. THE OFFER HE MAKES OF HIMSELF AS OUR DIVINE REDEEMER. It is perfectly clear that Jesus Christ regarded himself as One that was here on the highest mission, as One that was very far removed above ordinary manhood. He felt that he stood in a relation to the human race that was not only unusual, but unique. Otherwise he could not have spoken of "giving his flesh for the life of the world," of being "the Light of the world," of "drawing all men unto him;" he could not have invited all heavyladen souls to come to him that they might find rest in him. It is abundantly clear that Jesus Christ offered himself, and still offers himself:
1. As the Divine Teacher, at whose feet we may all sit and learn the living truth of God.
2. As the Divine Savior, in whom we may all trust for the forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation to God.
3. As the Divine Friend, to whom we may trust our heart, and in whom we may find a Refuge.
4. As the Divine Lord, who claims the obedience and service of our lives.
III. THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST FOR ALL THAT HE UNDERTAKES. Can he, of whom his critics spoke so slightingly as "the carpenter's Son," do all this? Is he equal to such offices as these? There is the experience of eighteen centuries to which this appeal may be made. And from the first to the last; from the experience of the little child and of the man in middle life and of extreme old age; from that of health and of sickness; from that of adversity and of prosperity; from that of ignorance and of culture; from that of human souls of every conceivable variety of constitution and of human lives of every imaginable variety of condition; - the answer is one strong, unhesitating, enthusiastic "Yes!" Many things are disputable, but this is certain; many things are to be discredited, but these are to be "most surely believed;" and on them we do well to build our present heritage and our eternal hope. - C.
I. THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS GOSPEL IS THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY FOR THE ACCOUNT OF THE PURPOSE OF ITS COMPOSITION. Theophilus, whoever he was, was already a disciple, and had been instructed in the things which were most surely believed in the Church. He desired to know the certainty of those things. St. Luke believed that it was his vocation to give him what he wanted. If Theophilus was an individual, he represented the need of the Church generally. That which was good for him might, if God pleased, be good for ages to come.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand.
I. St. Luke gives us to understand that HE HIMSELF WAS NOT AN EYE-WITNESS OF THE EVENTS HE IS ABOUT TO RECORD, but that ha had taken pains to inquire, and had a perfect understanding of all the history of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. St. Luke tells us that he had undertaken to write his Gospel BECAUSE MANY HAD UNDERTAKEN TO DO THE SAME THING BEFORE. The question arises whether he means us to understand that he is adding one more to authentic and trustworthy histories already existing, or whether he intended rather to supersede and correct unauthorized and imperfect histories. Possibly neither the one view nor the other is entirely and exclusively true. It may be that St. Luke was aware that authentic histories were already in existence, but he may have known also that other and spurious accounts had been composed, and therefore have been desirous of helping Theophilus to choose the true and reject the false by setting down for his use such an orderly account of the life of Jesus Christ as he himself had been able to collect.
III. Again, WHO WAS THEOPHILUS? Some have thought that the name, signifying as it does "one who is dear to God," does not refer to any one particular person; it is probable, however, that Theophilus was a real person, perhaps an important man at Antioch, St. Luke's city, for whose confirmation in the faith St. Luke was induced to write. Quite in keeping with the general scheme of God's government that this should have been so. Works which are instinct with the Spirit of God often go far beyond their immediate aim. The Epistles, which are the precious inheritance of the universal Church, were addressed originally to particular portions of the Church, some of them only to individuals, and the greater number of them were called forth by circumstances which have long passed away. And so we need not be surprised to find that a Gospel addressed to Theophilus has become the possession of all throughout the world who follow his good example.
IV. Lastly, let it be noticed that St. Luke did not write to Theophilus with the purpose of giving him his first notions of Christian truth, BUT ONLY OF ESTABLISHING HIM IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THOSE THINGS IN WHICH HE HAD BEEN ALREADY INSTRUCTED OR CATECHIZED. This was almost of necessity the course which would be followed in the time of the apostles; but it is also the course which is generally followed by ourselves now: we do not gain our first notions of Christian truth from Scripture or indeed from any written book; we are instructed and catechized by our fathers and mothers and teachers, and when we come to years of discretion, and are able to think for ourselves, we find from careful study of God's Holy Word that those things which we have learnt as children are indeed the truth of God which is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
(Bishop Harvey Goodwin.)
II. MANY, ST. LUKE SAYS, HAD ATTEMPTED THIS TASK BEFORE HIM. They had taken in hand to set forth A DECLARATION of the things, &c. The declaration had been made already — contained in the preaching of the apostles and their helpers. What was wanted was a continuous narrative of the things which made the substance of the declaration, for it was a declaration of things, not of opinions. The preaching concerned a Person, the narrative must exhibit a Person. Who the "many" were St. Luke does not say. Nor does he pronounce upon the merits or demerits of his predecessors. That was not his calling. There was a better judge than he of the genuine and the spurious. We may safely affirm that he was not afraid if the experiments to produce a life of our Lord were ever so numerous; if some of them were ever so confused and erroneous. He could not believe the word which he preached unless he had confidence that what was true would live, that what was false would be, sooner or later, divided from it.
III. The next clause of the introduction has perplexed many, perhaps has given pain to some. WHAT! ARE WE NOT ABOUT TO READ THE STORY OF AN EYE-WITNESS? St. Luke does not claim that character. He has received these records from those who were eye-witnesses. He has examined their reports carefully. He does not say that he ever saw Christ whilst He was walking in Galilee or Judaea. He seems to imply the contrary. Now here is a difference between him and some of the other evangelists, perhaps between him and all the other three. Is it a difference which puts him below them? According to their own judgment and confession, assuredly it is not. They tell us that they did not understand the words and acts of Jesus whilst they were walking with Him, whilst they were eye-witnesses of what He did. They misapprehended the particular words and acts. They misapprehended their relation to each other. They misapprehended the Person who was the Speaker of the words and the Doer of the acts. What they all say — what no one says so frequently as the beloved disciple — is, that the things which they could not understand at first came to them with full power and revelation when they saw Him no more. No doubt to be eye-witnesses of a fact or a person is an honourable distinction, but an eye-witness may glorify himself on that distinction, and attribute a worth to it which no careful student of evidence will concede. There are qualities necessary in an eye-witness besides his eyes. One who possesses these qualities may tell us what they do not tell, may open to us the very sense and purpose of what they do tell. It is so in all cases: if we believe the evangelists — those of them who were eye-witnesses — it is preeminently so in this case.
IV. WHAT DOES ST. LUKE MEAN BY THE WORD? If the expression occurred in St. John's Gospel it would cause no perplexity. We should assume at once that he was speaking of the Word which was in the beginning and was made flesh. But it has been customary to assume that no other of the evangelists ever fell into this kind of language. I cannot doubt that the apostle who survived to the end of the age was specially appointed to remove confusions which had haunted the readers of the earlier Gospels. But every Jew could read, as well as St. John, that the Word of God had come to Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. Every Jew who read their prophecies believed they had conversed with this Word as with a living person. The thought, " He with whom we have conversed is that same Person — He has in human flesh revealed Himself to us," was not a strange speculation, the refinement of a later age. It was the simplest way of connecting the old world with their day. It was the great escape from the rabbinical traditions which buried the Divine Person under the mere letter of the books. Formally to assert the force of the prophetical phrase — to make it prominent before all others — was not St. Luke's calling. The King, the Christ, is his subject. If we admit any direction of the minds of those who wrote these books — indeed, any special callings of men in this world at all — we can perceive why the tasks of the different evangelists should be different. We can perceive also why each should inevitably at times adopt forms of speech which appear more characteristic of another.
V. "IT SEEMED GOOD TO ME ALSO." Some may cry, "Was he not then taught by the Spirit of God?" I imagine that he who described the Day of Pentecost, and referred the whole existence and work of the Church to the Spirit of God, had quite as awful a feeling of His government over himself as any of us can have. The freedom of his language shows me how strong his feeling was; our sensitiveness and unwillingness to connect the Spirit with the operations of the human intellect, indicate the weakness of ours. We ask for distinctions about the degrees and measures in which the Spirit has been or will be vouchsafed. The Evangelists make no such distinctions. I think they dared not.
VI. The next clause teaches us much on this subject, and would teach us more if it had not been unhappily perverted in our version. What St. Luke says is that it seemed good to him to write, HAVING FOLLOWED OUT ALL THINGS WITH CAREFUL DILIGENCE FROM THEIR SOURCE, JUST as a man traces the source of a river from its mountain-bed through all its windings. Instead of being absolved from this diligence by the presence of the Divine Spirit, he felt himself obliged by that Spirit to spare no labour, not to omit the most solicitous examination of what he heard, not to give himself credit for understanding it at the first, but to wait for that clear, penetrating light which could distinguish between his own impressions and the truth of things,
VII. There is one word more in this preface which I cannot pass by. St. Luke professes to write to Theophilus IN ORDER. The narrative is to be an orderly or continuous one. Can we then discover that order? Clearly it is very different from that of common biographers. I think you will find that what the evangelist traces are the steps by which a King claimed dominion over his subjects; how they were prepared for Him; how He was prepared for going forth among them; how He manifested the powers of His kingdom; how He illustrated the nature of it; what kind of opposition He encountered; what battles He fought; who stood by Him; who deserted Him; how He seemed to be vanquished; how He prevailed at last. The more steadily we keep before ourselves the thought of a Kingdom of Heaven — a kingdom actual in the highest sense, explaining the nature and forces of every kingdom that has existed on the earth, showing what in those kingdoms must abide, what must pass away — the more shall we adhere to the letter of the Gospels, the more shall we enter into their spirit.
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)1. The reason which Luke gives for writing this Gospel would seem at first sight to be an excellent reason for not writing. It is thought by superficial persons to-day that there are already sufficient religious books before the world. What is the error of such reasoning? Forgetfulness of the fact that Christianity presents different aspects to different minds, so that no statement of it can ever exhaust its intellectual and spiritual riches. Every Christian student writes a life of Christ for himself. The facts of Christianity are few and simple, but the truths arising out of them are innumerable and profound. The preaching of the Word can never be the same by any two men who diligently inquire into its meaning for themselves and fearlessly express the results of their investigation.
2. At the time of Luke's writing, the facts of Christianity were not only known as matters of current turnout — they were most surely believed. Not enough that the events of the Christian history be not discredited. They must be received with all faith and love, and become elements of our own spiritual life. When this is realized a new emphasis will characterize the tone of the Church.
3. Noticeable that Luke enters upon his work with the utmost candour and fearlessness. Does not propose to evade anything or skilfully slur over anything. Distinctly says that he will begin at the beginning, and trace the whole history through all its windings, difficulties, and successes. This is precisely what is wanted for our own day, viz., a distinct and complete idea of the ground which is occupied by Christian history.
4. The principle of tradition runs through this prefatory note in a remarkable manner. First of all come the eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word; then come the writers with whom they were immediately associated; then come such men as are represented by the "most excellent Theophilus;" and afterward would come the persons to whom Theophilus communicated the information with which he had been put in trust. Thus one age becomes the debtor of another, and we ourselves are to-day the treasurers of the ages.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)I. From this preface to St. Luke's Gospel we learn, first, THAT THERE WERE ALREADY EXISTING IN THE EVANGELIST'S DAY MANY "GOSPELS": "Forasmuch as many have undertaken to draw up a consecutive account concerning those matters which have been fully established among us." Christianity has ever been the grand inspirer of Christendom's literature. Probably more has been written about Jesus Christ, His character and teaching and work, than about all other things put together. For it is not in religious books alone that we see the signs of His presence and sway. We can scarcely take up a volume on any grave subject — ethical, philosophical, historic, biographic, aesthetic — without ever and anon catching at least glimpses of the passing shadow of the Son of Mary. The unconscious tributes of literature to Jesus the Nazarene arc surprisingly many and emphatic. And, observe, our evangelist does not censure these attempts at biography. He does not hint that those memorabilia are to be rejected. For aught we know, some of these sketches were as truly inspired as the Gospel of St. Luke himself. What though they have not come down to us? There is reason for believing that some Scriptures — for instance, a letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians — have been lost. But this does not detract from the worth of those we do have. Eternity will not exhaust what memoirs of the Divine Man we do have.
II. From this preface to St. Luke's Gospel, we learn, THE SOURCE OF THE GOSPELS: "Even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word." The source and basis, then, of these primitive Gospels was the contemporaneous oral gospel or tradition of the original apostles. Need I add that it is still the only kind of tradition which the Church is at liberty to accept as the authorized gospel and doctrine of Jesus Christ?
III. From this preface to St. Luke's Gospel, we learn, THAT INSPIRATION IS COMPATIBLE WITH FREE-WILL: "It seemed good to me also to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus." So far as his own consciousness was concerned, he seems to have set himself to his task spontaneously, and arranged his narrative as seemed to him best. Yet the judgment o! the Christian sense from the beginning has been that in thus composing his recital he was Divinely inspired. These facts cast light on the doctrine of inspiration. They show that one may be inspired, and yet act with entire freeness. The sacred writers have often been compared to AElolian harps, played on by the Holy Spirit or Divine Breath of God. The comparison is beautiful and just, so far as it goes. But it does not cover the whole truth; it fails to recognize the human element in inspiration. But let the sacred writers be compared to different musical instruments, for example, a flute, a cornet, a trumpet, an organ, &c., played on, indeed, by one and the same Divine Breath, but giving forth different melodies, according to the character of each distinct instrument; and the comparison becomes more complete and just. The source of the melody is Divine, and common to them all; the character of the melody is human, varying according to the temperament and peculiarity of the writer.
IV. From this preface to St. Luke's Gospel we learn THAT OUR EVANGELIST WAS QUALIFIED TO WRITE A GOSPEL: "Having traced the course of all things accurately from the first." His habits of observation as a physician would naturally lead him to scrutinize closely all alleged facts. He at least would know whether the Church of his day was following cunningly devised myths. In short, he exercised the "critical faculty."
V. From this preface to St. Luke's Gospel we learn our EVANGELIST'S PURPOSE IN WRITING: "That thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed." For knowledge of facts rather than theories was then, as it still is, the need of the times. Such is the preface to the Gospel according to St. Luke. And as St. John's prologue may be taken as the prologue to the Gospel, so St. Luke's preface may be taken as the preface to the Gospels. And this suggests our first concluding thought: The advantage of having several Gospels. And herein is an immense advantage. First, the having several Gospels is a key to the detection of imposture: where the testimony is false, it is perilous to multiply witnesses. Again, the having several Gospels helps us to understand better the myriad-sided Divine Man. And yet the four Gospels are but one Gospel. This is the circumstance which makes it so profitable for us to study the Gospels in synchronous lessons. The habit protects us from partial and unsymmetrical views; for the Gospels, like stones in mosaic, are mutually complemental. Secondly, let us thank God that He prompted His servants to note down, so early in the Christian era, statements of the apostolic testimony; for the rich result is that, instead of uncertain and fickle tradition, we have permanent contemporary records. Lastly, be thou thyself a Theophilus, Friend of God; and the Spirit will write a Gospel to thee also.
(G. D. Boardman.)Ephesians 4:11, but to designate them as evangelical historians. The nature and degree of correspondence between the four furnish a strong proof of the credibility of each and all.
I. THE AUTHOR OF THIS GOSPEL UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED TO BE LUKE. Companion of St. Paul (Acts 16. to end; 2 Timothy 4:11). A physician (Colossians 4:14). Said also to have been a painter, but no more authority than a very late tradition for this statement. If, however, he did not paint the faces of the Virgin and her Son with the colours of the limner, he did what was of much more importance; he, in this book, drew to the life an exquisite portraiture of their character, which continued with us long after the masterpieces of the ancient painters have vanished, and which will continue to the end of time — the antidote of superstition, the guide of the serious inquirer, and the admiration of all good men.
II. THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THIS GOSPEL.
1. The Church took great care to distinguish genuine Gospels from spurious. Clear testimony to the universal reception of these four, and only these, as canonical from the beginning.
2. If Luke was one of "the seventy," then was he also miraculously qualified to compose this history; if not, yet both his human and Divine qualifications for the work might be safely rested solely on his being called to preach the Gospel, and to act and write under the eye and approval of St. Paul.
3. Various circumstantial particulars respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, foretold in this Gospel, and nowhere else, have been exactly fulfilled.
4. Mutual dependence and connection of this Gospel and the other three.
(James Foote, M. A.)
(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)1. Its necessity.
2. Its certainty.
3. Its insufficiency when unaccompanied by a living faith.
(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)1. The predecessor of believing searchers.
2. The condemner of unbelieving searchers of Scripture.
(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)imself: —
1. To correct what is faulty.
2. To strengthen what is weak.
3. To arrange what is confused.
(Ibid.)— Civil dignities and honours not destroyed, but ennobled, by citizenship in the kingdom of God.
(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)The fear of God makes men truly great and excellent.
1. It cautions us against erroneous or defective statements of facts.
2. It directs us to the apostles as eye-witnesses of the life of Christ.
3. It proves the faithfulness of the evangelist in tracing the facts to the primitive source.
4. It brings out the human side in the origin of the sacred writings.
5. It teaches that "faith cometh by hearing," and that the gospel was first taught by catechetical instruction or oral tradition, but then written down by reliable witnesses for all ages to come. This written Gospel is essentially the same with the preached Gospel of Christ and the apostles, and together with the Epistles is to us the only pure and infallible source of primitive Christianity.
(P. Schaff , D. D.)
(Van Oosterzee.)many had undertaken to record the actions attributed to Jesus, it is evident that he alludes to more than one or two productions. Besides, though not asserted, it is implied, that the writings referred to were either defective or incorrect, for if they contained no arrors, nor were marked by great defects, the fact that they were numerous was a reason against adding to their number. We conclude, then, that Luke does not here refer to any of the other Gospels. Who, then, could be the writers of those narratives of which the evangelist did not approve? Were they the friends or the enemies of Christianity? There is no reason for supposing that the Scribes and Pharisees ventured to publish anything in writing against Jesus or His religion. They seem at first to have been satisfied by circulating false reports respecting His Resurrection, and afterwards by endeavouring to overwhelm Christianity by the strong arm of persecution. It is probable, therefore, that the objectionable narratives to which Luke refers were written by the friends of Christianity. But the zeal of friends has frequently been more injurious to the Christian religion than the malice of its enemies. We can easily conceive the pernicious consequences that may have arisen from erroneous statements, exaggerated facts, and fanciful explanations, given by honest but ignorant or ill-informed writers. The most judicious and effectual remedy was accordingly adopted by St. Luke. It consisted in making a proper selection and accurate statement of the most important facts as procured from the most undoubted authority. This, accordingly, was done; and the consequence has been that all the defective or erroneous accounts of our Saviour which were then circulated have entirely disappeared, as darkness flies at the approach of the morning sun, while the Gospels which contained the only correct history have been duly valued, copied, and preserved.
(J. B. Thomson, D. D.)— Luke undertook to be very minute and exhaustive in his statement of gospel facts. He was going to do better than many other writers had done. He says so with cool frankness: "Forasmuch... to me also." That is a curious expression. We expected him to say, Forasmuch as many have done this work, there is no need for me to do it. But he makes the very fact that there were other writers, a reason why there should be one more. That was good reasoning; it should prevail in all the lines and departments of Christian life and action. The contrary policy often supersedes it, and brings ministers and churches into great discomfort and enfeeblement. Men will say, You have so many helpers, you have no need of me. They are always more or less dishonest men — not intentionally so; intentional dishonesty is perfectly vulgar and wholly detestable, and nobody lays claim to it; but when men say, There are so many preachers, I need not be one: so many deacons, I need not be another: so many helpers, there is no need of me — they are not conducting a Christian argument, they are with all their graciousness unconsciously jealous and spiteful. Luke reasoned in the right way; he said, Many men are taking up this subject, I will do what I can in it; I think I can beat some of them.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
Essex Remembrancer.In spite of our professions and general convictions, we do not give to the truths of the gospel their full weight as infallible certainties; we do not embrace them as realities.
I. IT IS A REALITY THAT GOD IS SUPREME; THE UNIVERSAL SOVEREIGN, AND THAT HE RIGHTFULLY CLAIMS THE LOVE AND THE ENTIRE ALLEGIANCE OF ALL HIS CREATURES.
II. IT IS A MOST AWFUL FACT THAT A POSITIVE REBELLION AGAINST THE ETERNAL KING HAS TAKEN PLACE IN THIS WORLD, AND THAT WE ARE ALL DEEPLY INVOLVED IN ITS CONSEQUENCES.
III. THE REDEMPTION OF SINNERS, UNDER THE ALARMING CIRCUMSTANCES ABOVE DESCRIBED, BY THE SON OF GOD IS A MOST MERCIFUL PACT ANNOUNCED TO US IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. IV THAT THE ACCEPTANCE OF THIS GREAT REDEMPTION, ON YOUR PART, MUST BE A REALITY.
V. RELIGION IS A REALITY IN ITS GREAT AND HAPPY EFFECTS, WHICH ARE SANCTIFICATION AND SALVATION.
To write unto thee in order.— A work wall shaped into an artistic whole a history advancing by well-marked steps, and systematically progressive; an inter-connection easily perceptible of causes and effects — these for a Greek mind constituted the best material for carrying conviction. Now it is precisely this kind of evidence which is to be drawn from the third Gospel. And the preamble leads us even to think that such was the deliberate intention of the author.
(Professor Godet.)If it be said that Luke says that he wrote "in order" (ἐν ταξει), I answer that there are other orderly arrangements besides those of time and place; and that if a work is a religious memoir, the arrangement would be regulated, though not exclusively, by the reference of the facts to the religious end in view.
Most excellent Theophilus.Acts 23:26) and to Festus (Acts 26:25). Theophilus, therefore, was not only a Christian, but a nobleman, and probably high in office. Thus, though "not many mighty, not many noble, were called," yet some such were called from the first; and thus some such are still found among the faithful. Such instances ale highly important and pleasing. Not but that the soul of the meanest peasant is, in itself, as precious as the soul of the most illustrious nobleman — not but that the salvation of every soul transcends in importance every worldly consideration; but in reference to the probable effect on others, there is an undeniable difference. Every good man may be of some service to the cause of Christ; but when rank, office, wealth, and talent are engaged, God may be considered as Himself putting more powerful means in operation; and when His own blessing is superinduced, the good effects are correspondingly extensive.
(James Foote, M. A.)
(James Foote, M. A.)
(James Foote, M. A.)
Biblical Museum.I. HUMAN TITLES HAVE A PECULIAR SIGNIFICANCE WHEN APPLIED TO RELIGIOUS MEN. Many called "excellent"; this "friend of God" was "most excellent."
II. RELIGIOUS MEN MAY BE ILLUSTRIOUS, YET LITTLE KNOWN.
III. TITLED BELIEVERS FEW IN NUMBER — one Theophilus.
IV. WELL TO HAVE A GOOD NAME — "Theophilus"; better to deserve it — "most excellent."
V. Such EXCELLENCE HAS ITS MARKS.
1. Anxious to know things of Christ from beginning.
2. To know their certainty.
VI. SUCH EXCELLENCE HAS ITS ADVANTAGES.
1. Approved of God — such friendship is not one-sided.
2. Approval of the highest order of men — Luke.
3. The honour of having an authentic and inspired history of Christ dedicated to him.
4. His name thus rescued from utter oblivion
The certainty of those things
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.)
1. That man has lost himself by losing She knowledge of his God; and that he can recover himself, with the knowledge of his own nature and eternal destiny, only by recovering the knowledge of his Maker.
2. That God is to be loved through being known in His work of nature and redemption.
3. That certainty is essential for the peace of the soul.
4. That certain knowledge of God's works and ways is essential to growth in Christian character.
5. That the quality of the moral excellence required by the gospel under such a character is impossible of attainment apart from confidence in the possession of God's love and life eternal.
Baxendale's Illustrations.The son of Selina, the Countess of Huntingdon, whose zeal in the extension of the gospel is well known, was unhappily an unbeliever, but reverenced his pious and venerable mother. " I wish," said a peer to him, "you would speak to Lady Huntingdon; she has just erected a preaching-place close to my residence." His lordship replied, "Gladly, my lord; but you will do me the favour to inform me what plea to urge, for my mother really believes the Bible."
(H. W. Beecher.)
(Student's Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)
(J. Clifford, D. D.)
(Dr. John Hall.)
(Memoirs of Bishop Gobat.)
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