an eruption of fire, and by hot and bituminous waters, it became a lake as it now is; the rocks were consumed, some of the cities were swallowed up, and others abandoned by those of the inhabitants who were able to escape."

Solinus, who flourished in the third century, informs his readers, that "at a considerable distance from Jerusalem, a frightful lake extends itself, which has been struck by lightning, as is evident from the ground, black, and reduced to ashes." In a word; besides Mr. Volney, whose testimony has before been quoted; Moundrel, Dr. Pococke, Shaw, and other scientific gentlemen, who visited these ancient ruins, have given to the world the valuable result of their investigations, which go directly to confirm the statements of the sacred historian. Those who wish to peruse an interesting description of this singular lake, may be gratified by consulting Basselius, in his treatise on illustrious ruins.

When the prophet Isaiah denounces the judgment of God against the city of Babylon, he appeals to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as a fact well authenticated. Her fearful doom is announced in the following tremendous denunciation, "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there." Isa. xiii. 19, 20 The prophet Amos expressly mentions the overthrow of these cities as a judgment of God for their wickedness. Chap. iv. 11. Nearly all the prophetic writers of the old Testament, have alluded to this same event, and have thereby given evidence that the overthrow of these sinful cities was a fact well authenticated, and universally believed

I cannot consent to dismiss this subject, without giving a moment's attention to the prophecy of Isaiah, which has already been quoted. He compares the desolation which should come upon Babylon, to that which reigned over the ancient seat of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God had destroyed and rendered uninhabitable forever, on account

of the enormity of their crimes.-And has not this solemn and extraordinary prophecy, which was uttered more than 100 years before the Babylonish captivity, been literally fulfilled? yes; for Babylon has been uninhabited for centuries, and all the immediate country is rendered a sunken, and unhealthy desolation; and absolutely dangerous to the traveller, whose curiosity has prompted him to visit that once populous and flourishing region of the globe.And can any man, in the exercise of his sober reason, believe that God would sanction a palpable untruth, by the inspiration of his wisdom? It cannot be ;- and yet this glaring absurdity is involved in the impious conclusion, that the cities of which we have been treating were not destroyed for their wickedness.

. If, therefore, we reject the Mosaic account of the miraculous destruction of these cities, we must not only disbelieve the history of this prophet; but we must abandon, as impostors, all the prophets who have spoken of, or alluded to this event; treat the Son of God as a deceiver ! suppose the apostles to be knaves or dupes, and shut our eyes against the testimony of profane historians and all the interesting narratives of distinguished individuals, who have visited these ruins in modern ages.-And now I ask you, my hearers, what authority is offered by modern skepticks to justify us, in case we comply with their wishes, in disbelieving the testimony which has been adduced ?—Nothing, but their bare denial, their determined hostility, and their relentless satire! They would have you believe that all these testimonies are false, without a particle of evidence to sustain the conclusion! nay, they would even persuade you to believe their declarations, against all evidence, both sacred and profane !-Beware then of deception;-listen to the admonitions of truth and be wise ;"Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good."


ST. JOHN V. 46, 47.

"Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?"

The circumstances which called forth the pointed address, of which our text is a part, are briefly narrated in the preceding context of this chapter; where we are informed of the miracle by which the great Redeemer healed a man of an infirmity which he had borne for the space of thirty-eight years. Against the benevolence of this act, the Jews could offer no complaint; but the day on which the miracle was performed, was the subject of their grievance, and gave birth to their murmurings against the Son of God. They insisted that he must be an irreligious man, since they construed this display of his power and benevolence, on a day held by them in such veneration, into an irreverence and disregard for the institution of the Sabbath.

Their superstitious zeal had so far blinded their reason, that they were betrayed into the absurd and ridiculous hypothesis, that it was "unlawful even to do good on the Sabbath day!" thereby arraying the law of God against the pure display of mercy and benevolence!

This blind fanatical zeal, with which they were infected, led them to persecute the Saviour, and to seek opportunities to accomplish his destruction: But to place the evidence of his divine authority and doctrine in a plain and striking manner before them, Christ reminds them of the testimony of John the Baptist, who was a bright and burning light, and in whom, for a time, they all rejoiced for he had borne witness to the mission of Christ, and to the divine approbation which he had received from God. He also appealed to the works or miracles which he had per

formed in the name of his Father; and finally, to the testimony of Moses, in whom they professed to believe; alleging that this celebrated lawgiver had written of him. Hence he takes occasion to question the sincerity of their professions of confidence in what Moses had. taught, and infers the evidence of their infidelity to their own prophet, from the fact of their rejecting him of whom that prophet had written: But he admonishes them, saying, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" From this language it is evident that Christ sanctioned the divine authority of the Mosaic records.

As there were, in the days of Christ, those who discredited the writings of Moses, even so, there are multitudes at the present day, who reject his testimony and treat it with reproach. But at this enlightened age, it is, and ought to be, confidently expected, that in case his prophetic inspiration can be clearly and fully supported by an appeal to the authentic pages of history, his writings must and ought to be received and accredited as of divine authority. To accomplish this object, will be the design of the labors for this evening.

I shall not trouble you, my hearers, with a long and useless prelude, nor trespass upon your sympathies by complaining of the arduous labor assigned me for the task upon which I enter, though it must present to you the historical evidence of numerous scenes of suffering, the most severe and protracted of any which the annals of nations have recorded, yet it is a labor upon which I enter with cheerfulness, from a conviction of its importance to man's best hopes, which must stand or fall with the truth of prophetic inspiration. I therefore solicit you to give the subject a candid and impartial hearing, and to weigh every argument and evidence which may be adduced, in the even balance of reason.

In the discharge of this duty, I must call your attention to some of the most extraordinary prophecies of Moses, and briefly lay before you the history of their fulfilment.

The limits of a single discourse forbid that the selections from the writings of this prophet should be numerous; and hence the necessity of embracing those, and those only, which are the most striking and important.

The first prophetic passage of his writings which you are invited to consider, is recorded in Leviticus, xxvi. 33. "And I will scatter you among the heathen, and draw out a sword after you and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste."

It is proper here to remind you that Moses had before instructed the children of Israel that they should enter in and possess the land of Canaan, and had also foretold the astonishing success and prosperity which should attend them: He had now, in the chapter which contains this singular prophecy, been describing to them the various blessings and advantages which should attend them and their posterity, in case they persevered in obedience to the divine commands: but upon their rebellion and wilful disobedience, numerous and severe punishments were to be visited upon them as a people, among which, that which is mentioned in the prophecy under consideration, holds a conspicuous place.

In this passage, Moses tells his brethren that their land should be desolate, and their cities waste: But at the period of this annunciation, they possessed neither land nor cities. The language is therefore doubly prophetic : had they then failed to take possession of the promised land, the whole prophecy would not only have been regarded as a base imposture, but the authority of his successor would probably have been challenged, and his person treated and despised as that of an unprincipled and ambitious usurper.-Moses was doubtless aware of this, and yet he betrays no symptoms of doubt or uncertainty as to the event; but the most entire confidence that all which he had spoken would be fulfilled. The reason, my hearers, for this confidence, is plain and forcible; he knew that what he uttered was by divine authority, and therefore, could not fail of accomplishment.

The first part of this prophecy, which related to their possession of the land and cities of Palestine, no man, who possesses any knowledge of Jewish, or universal his

« VorigeDoorgaan »