followers of Christ (Greek christos, Messiah)
Southern Levant (modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan)
c. 30 CE
Jesus, Peter, Paul
Roman Catholic; Eastern Orthodox; Protestant
Prayer, Bible study, baptism, Eucharist (Communion), church on Sundays, numerous holidays.
Easter, Christmas, saints’ days
Bible (Hebrew Bible + New Testament)
Cross, dove, anchor, fish, alpha/omega, chi rho
With over 2 billion adherents worldwide, Christianity is the largest religion in the world. It has dominated western culture for centuries and remains the majority religion of Europe and the Americas.
Christian beliefs center on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, a teacher and healer who lived in first century Palestine. The primary source of information about the life of Jesus are the Gospels, which were written sometime between 20 and 100 years after his death and became the first four books of the New Testament. The Gospels describe a three-year teaching and healing ministry during which Jesus attracted 12 close disciples and other followers who believed him to be the Messiah (Christos).
Jesus’ teachings focused on the themes of the kingdom of God, love of God and love of neighbor. Along with some of his teachings, his growing popularity with the masses was seen as dangerous by Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government, leading to his execution by crucifixion. Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead three days later, and in so doing made it possible for those who believe to be forgiven of sin and attain eternal life. Much of Christian belief and practice centers on the resurrection of Christ.
The sacred text of Christianity is the Christian Bible, which consists of the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament. The New Testament contains 27 books: four gospels (narratives of Jesus’ life), one account of the apostles’ ministry after Jesus’ death, letters from church leaders (the earliest of which predate the Gospels), and an apocalyptic book.
Nearly all Christians regard the Bible as divinely inspired and authoritative, but views differ as to the nature and extent of its authority. Some hold it to be completely without error in all matters it addresses, while others stress its accuracy only in religious matters and allow for errors or limitations in other areas due to its human authorship.
Christianity has divided into three major branches. Roman Catholicism represents the continuation of the historical organized church as it developed over the centuries, and is headed by the Pope. Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism separated in 1054, when the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope excommunicated each other. Eastern Orthodoxy (which includes the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches and several others) differs from Catholicism in its refusal of allegiance to the Pope, its emphasis on the use of icons in worship, and the date it celebrates Easter. Other cultural, political, and religious differences exist as well.
Protestantism arose in the 16th century. Protestants do not acknowledge the authority of the Pope, reject many traditions and beliefs of the Catholic Church, and emphasize the importance of reading the Bible and the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Protestantism encompasses numerous denominational groups, including Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Evangelicals.
Christian practices vary by denomination, but common elements include a Sunday worship service, private and corporate prayer, study and reading of the Scriptures, and participation in the rites of baptism and communion. Distinctive Catholic practices include recognition of seven sacraments, devotion to Mary and the saints, and veneration of relics and sacred sites associated with holy figures. Eastern Orthodoxy holds many practices in common with Catholicism, but is especially distinguished by the central role of icons.
The most important Christian holiday is Easter, a spring holiday that celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Easter is immediately preceded by Holy Week, which includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. The 40 days prior to Easter form the Lenten season, a time of fasting and repentance. Another holiday that has become important is Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus on December 25 (January 6 in Orthodox Churches). Saints’ days are also important. Some of these, such as St. Patrick’s Day and St. Valentine’s Day, have come to play a prominent role in popular American culture.
యేసునుగూర్చి ఎన్నడూ వినుటకు అవకాశం లభించని వ్యక్తిని దేవుడు ఖండించునా?
ప్రజలందరూ యేసును గూర్చి వినిన లేక వినకపోయిన వారు దేవునికి జవాబుదారులు. బైబిలు స్పష్టముగా విశదపరుస్తుంది దేవుడుreference సృష్టిద్వారా తన్ను తాను ప్రత్యక్షపరచుకున్నాడు (రోమా 1:20) మరియు ప్రజల హృదయములో (పరమగీతములు 3:11) ఇక్కడ సమస్య మానవజాతియే పాపముతో నిండినవారు; మనమందరం దేవుని గూర్చిన ఙ్ఞామును తిరస్కరించి ఆయనకు వ్యతిరేకముగా తిరుగుబాటును చేసాము (రోమా 1:21-223). దేవుని కృపమనపట్ల లేనట్లయితే, మన హృదయానికి ఇష్టానుసారమైన పాపములు చేయటానికి అప్పగించబడేవాళ్ళం, మనము ఎంత పనికిమాలినవారమో, ఆయనకు వేరుగా ఎంత ధౌర్భాగ్యమైన జీవితం జీవిస్తున్నామో కనుగొనటానికి అనుమతించాడు.
వాస్తవంగా, ఇది కొంతమంది దేవుని విషయము విననివరి గురుంచే కాదు. దానికంటె అధికమైన సమస్యేంటంటే వారు ఏదైతే విన్నారో సృష్టిద్వారా ప్రత్యక్షమయిన దానిని ఏదైతే చూచారో దానిని తిరస్కరించారు. ద్వితియోపదేశకాండం 4:29లో అయితే అక్కడనుండి నీ దేవుడైన యెహోవాను మీరు వెదకినయెడల, నీ పూర్ణ హృదయముతోను నీ పూర్ణాత్మతోను వెదకునప్పుడు ఆయన నీకు ప్రత్యక్షమగును.ఈ వచనము ఒక ముఖ్యమైన సూత్రాన్ని భోదిస్తుంది- ప్రతీ ఒక్కరూ ఎవరైతే దేవునిని వెదకుతారో వారు దేవునిని కనుగొంటారు. ఒక వ్యక్తి నిజంగా దేవునిని వెదకుటకు ఇష్టపడినట్లయితే దేవుడుreference ఆవ్యక్తికి ప్రత్యక్షపరచుకుంటాడు.
సమస్య ఏంటంటే నీతిమంతుడు లేడు, ఒక్కడును లేడు గ్రహించువాడెవడును లేడు, దేవుని వెదకువాడెవడును లేడు (రోమా 3:11). ప్రజలు దేవునిని గూర్చిన ఙ్ఞానమును అంటె సృష్టి ద్వారా, వారి హృదయములోను వెల్లడిపరచినదానిని తిరస్కరించి, దానికి బదులుగా వారు స్వహస్తాలతో చేసికొనిన సృష్టాన్ని “దేవుని” ఆరాధించటానికి నిర్ణయించుకున్నారు. యేసుక్రీస్తు సువార్తను వినటానికి ఒక్కసారికూడ అవకాశం లభించని వ్యక్తులను దేవుడుreference న్యాయమైన రీతిలో ఒకరిని నరకమునకు పంపించుట అనేదాన్ని గురించి వాదించటము అనాలోచితమైంది. బైబిలు చెప్తుంది ప్రజలు ఆయన ఙ్ఞానాన్ని తిరస్కరించారని మరియు అందుచేత వారి నరకానికి ఖండించుటలో దేవుడుreference న్యాయవంతుడు.
విననివారి గతి ఏంటి అని తర్కించుటకు బదులుగా , మనము, క్రైస్తవులముగా, మనకు చేతనైనంత వరకు శ్రేష్టమైనవిధంగా వారు ఖచ్చితముగా వినేటట్లు చూడటం. మనము సర్వ సృష్టికి సువార్తను ప్రకటించుటకు పిలువబడ్డాము ( మత్తయి 28:19-20; అపోస్తలులకార్యములు 1:8). సృష్టి ద్వారా ప్రత్యక్షమైన దేవుని ఙ్ఞానాన్ని ప్రజలు తిరస్కరిస్తారన్ని మనము ఎరిగినప్పటికి అది మనలను యేసుక్రీస్తుద్వారా లభించే రక్షణ సువార్తను ప్రకటించాలని మనలను పురికొల్పుతుంది. దేవుని కృప కేవలము యేసుక్రీస్తుద్వారా లభించినదాన్ని అంగీకరించుటవలన , ప్రజలు వారి పాపాలనుండి రక్షించబడి, మరియు దేవునికి వేరుగా నిత్యత్వపు శిక్షనుండి తప్పింపబడుతారు.
ఒకవేళ సువార్త ఎన్నడూ విననివారికి ప్రత్యేకమైన కృప దేవుడుreference చూపిస్తాడు అని ఊహించుకుంటునట్లైతే మనము భీకరమైన సమస్యలో చిక్కుకుంటాం. ఒకవేళ ఎన్నడూ సువార్త వినని ప్రజలు రక్షించబడినట్లైతే ,ఇంకా ఎవరూ సువార్త వినకుండా ఖచ్చితంగా చూడటం సత్కారికం. మనము మరీ హీనంగా చేయగలిగిందేటంటే ఒక వ్యక్తికి సువార్తనందించి మరియు అతడు లేక ఆమె తిరస్కరించుటకు విడచిపెట్టుట మాత్రమే. ఈ వ్హిధంగా జరిగినట్లయితే ఆమె లేక అతడు ఖండించబడతారు. ప్రజలు ఎవరైతే సువార్త వినరో వారు నిషేధించబడాలి, లేకపోయినట్లైతే సువార్త అందించుటకు ప్రేరణ వుండదు. సువార్తను తిరస్కరిస్తారని మరియు ఎన్నడూ సువార్త వినలేదని ఎందుకంటే ఇంతకుముందే రక్షింబడ్డామని గర్హీంచుకొంటూ వుండే వారి వెంట ఎందుకు విపత్కరంగా వెంటపడాలి?
క్లోరోఫాం అనే మత్తు మందును కనుగొన్న శాస్త్రజ్ఞుడి పేరు జేమ్స్ సింప్సన్, ఇతను 1811 జూన్ 7న స్కాట్లాండ్ దేశములో జన్మించాడు.
ఇతను క్లోరోఫాం కనిపెట్టక ముందు ఎవరికైనా ఆపరేషన్ చెయ్యాలంటే రోగిని నలుగురు, ఐదుగురు బలవంతముగా పట్టుకొని ఆపరేషన్ చేసేవారు. రోగికి మత్తు ఇవ్వనందున, ఎక్కువ శాతం ఆపరేషన్లు విఫలం అయ్యేవి. అయితే జేమ్స్ సింప్సన్ 1847లో క్లోరోఫాం కనిపెట్టిన తరువాత వైద్య రంగంలో ఆపరేషన్లు (శస్త్ర చికిత్స) చెయ్యడం సులభం అయింది.
ఇంత గొప్ప మందుని కనిపెట్టిన ఈయనకు సన్మానం చేస్తుండగా, కొందరు వ్యక్తులు జేమ్స్ సింప్సన్ గారు మీకు ఈ ఆలోచన ఎలా వచ్చింది? దీనిని మీరు ఎలా కనిపెట్టగలిగారు? అని అడిగారు. దానికి జేమ్స్ సింప్సన్ ఇచ్చిన సమాధానం అందరిని ఆశ్చర్యపరచినది.
నేను బాల్యం నుండి దైవ భయం, భక్తి కలిగిన వాడను గనుక ప్రతి రోజు బైబిలు చదువుట వాడుక. బైబిలు చదువుట, ప్రార్థన లేకుండా నేను ఏ పని చెయ్యను. అదే విధముగా ఒక రోజు ఆదికాండం చదువుచుండగా దేవుడు ఆదాముకు చేసిన ఆపరేషన్ గురించి చదివాను.
అప్పుడు దేవుడైన యెహోవా ఆదామునకు గాఢనిద్ర కలుగజేసి అతడు నిద్రించినప్పుడు అతని ప్రక్కటి ఎముకలలో ఒక దానిని తీసి ఆ చోటును మాంసముతో పూడ్చి వేసెను. (ఆదికాండము 2:21)
ఈ మాటలు చదివినప్పుడు నాలో ఒక ఆలోచన పుట్టింది. దేవుడు ఆదాముకు చేసిన ఆపరేషన్లో మొదటిగా ఆదాముకు గాఢ నిద్ర కలుగజేసాడు, గనుక ఆపరేషన్ చేయవలసిన రోగికి ముందుగా గాఢ నిద్ర కలుగజేయాలి. అలా గాఢ నిద్ర కలుగజేయడానికి ఏదైనా మందు కనుగొంటే వైద్య రంగంలో ఆపరేషన్ సులభం అవుతుంది అని ఆలోచించి కొన్ని మూలికల ద్వారా క్లోరోఫాం అను మత్తు మందును కనిపెట్టాను.
నేను క్లోరోఫాంను కనిపెట్టుటకు ప్రధమ కారణం “పరిశుద్ధ గ్రంధము” చదువుటయే. బైబిలు నేను చదవకపోయి ఉంటే, క్లోరోఫాం కనిపెట్టే వాడిని కాదు అని చెప్పాడు.
దేవునికే మహిమ కలుగును గాక, ఆమెన్.
క్రైస్తవ విశ్వాసానికి మూలం యేసు క్రీస్తు పునరుత్థానము (1 కొరింథీ 15:12-34) అయన పునరుత్థానము మీద క్రీస్తు విరోధులు మొదటి శతాబ్దం నుండే అనేక తప్పుడు బోధలు ప్రచారం చేసారు, ఇప్పటికీ కూడా చేస్తున్నారు (మత్తయి 28:11-15)
అంతే కాకుండా పునరుత్థానము తరువాత జరిగిన సంఘటనలు ఏ ఒక సువార్తలో కూడా క్రమ పద్దతిలో వ్రాయబడలేదు. అయితే ఆ నాలుగు సువార్తలను క్షుణ్ణముగా పరిశీలిస్తే ఆ సువార్తల భావం, ఉద్దేశ్యం ఒకటే అని యేసు క్రీస్తు చనిపోయి తిరిగి పునరుత్థానుడు అయ్యాడని, దానికి అనేకమంది ప్రత్యక్ష సాక్షులు కలరని ఆ సువార్తలు స్పష్టం చేస్తున్నాయి. ఈ విషయాలన్నిటిని కూడా ఒక క్రమ పద్దతిలో పొందుపరచడం జరిగినది. ఈ సందేశం బైబిలును క్రమముగా చదివే వారికి, దైవజనులకు, బైబిలు పరిశోధకులకు ఉపయోగపడుతుంది అని భావిస్తూ వ్రాయడం జరిగినది.
1) ఇదిగో ప్రభువు దూత పరలోకమునుండి దిగివచ్చి, రాయి పొర్లించి దాని మీద కూర్చుండెను; అప్పుడు మహాభూకంపము కలిగెను. (మత్తయి 28:2)
2 ) ఆదివారం తెల్లవారుచుండగా మగ్దలేనే మరియ, యాకోబు తల్లియైన మరియ, సలోమేయు, యోహన్నయు మరి కొంతమంది స్త్రీలు సమాధి దగ్గరకు వచ్చారు (మత్తయి 28:1; మార్కు 16:1,2; లూకా 24:10-11)
(Note: చాలా మంది కేవలం మగ్ధలేనే మరియ, యాకోబు తల్లి అయిన వేరొక మరియ మాత్రమే సమాధి దగ్గరకు వచ్చారు అనుకొంటారు కాని చాలా మంది స్త్రీలు అక్కడకు వచ్చారు. ఈ విషయం లూకా స్పస్టముగా వ్రాసాడు. మత్తయి, మార్కు అయన పునరుత్థానుడు అయ్యాడని తెలపడానికి ప్రత్యేకముగా కొంతమంది స్త్రీల పేర్లు వ్రాసారు. అయితే లూకా వారికంటే ఎక్కువగా స్పస్టముగా వ్రాసాడు. ఏది ఏమైనప్పటికీ వారి భావం ఒక్కటే. యేసు క్రీస్తు మరణించి తిరిగి లేచాడని స్పష్టం చేసారు. )
3 ) మగ్ధలేనే మరియ సమాధి దగ్గరకు వచ్చి రాయి పోర్లింపబడి ఉండుట చూసి, తిరిగి వెనక్కి వెళ్లి పేతురుకు, మరియొక శిష్యుడికి ప్రభువును ఎత్తుకొని పోయారు అని చెప్పెను (యోహాను 20:1-3)
(Note: మిగతా స్త్రీలు సమాధి దగ్గర యేసు క్రీస్తును వెదకుచున్నారు – లూకా 24:3)
4 ) యేసు క్రీస్తును వెదకుచున్న స్త్రీలతో ప్రభువు దూతలు మాట్లాడారు (మత్తయి 28:4-7, మార్కు 16:2-8, లూకా 24:1-8)
5 ) ఆ స్త్రీలు సమాధి దగ్గర జరిగిన సంగతులను శిష్యులకు వివరించడానికి బయలుదేరారు (మత్తయి 28:8)
6 ) పేతురు మగ్ధలేనే మరియ చెప్పిన సంగతులు విని సమాధి దగ్గరకు వచ్చి చూసాడు (యోహాను 20:3-10, లూకా 24:12)
7 ) మగ్ధలేనే మరియ బయట నిలిచి ఏడ్చుచూ ఉండెను (యోహాను 20:11)
8 ) యేసు క్రీస్తు తిరిగి లేచిన తరువాత మొదటిగా మగ్ధలేనే మరియకు కనబడెను (యోహాను 20:11-18, మార్కు 16:9)
9 ) సమాధి దగ్గర జరిగిన సంగటనలు శిష్యులకు వివరించడానికి బయలుదేరిన స్త్రీలకు క్రీస్తు కనబడెను (అందరికి కాదు) ఇది రెండవ ప్రత్యక్షత, ఇక్కడ మగ్ధలేనే మరియ లేదు. (మత్తయి 28:8,9)
10 ) క్రీస్తు దేహాన్ని శిష్యులు ఎత్తుకొని పోయారని అబద్దం చెప్పుటకు సైనికులకు ప్రధాన యాజకులు ద్రవ్యమిచ్చి అలా ప్రచారం చేయించారు. (మత్తయి 28:11-15)
11 ) కొందరు స్త్రీలు సమాధి దగ్గర జరిగిన సంగతులను శిష్యులకు, మరి కొందరికి తెలియజేసారు, అయితే వారు నమ్మలేదు (లూకా 24:10,22-24;)
12 ) మగ్ధలేనే మరియ యేసు క్రీస్తు బ్రతికి ఉన్నాడని శిష్యులకు తెలియజేసెను (యోహాను 20:18, మార్కు 16:10-11)
13 ) పేతురు అనబడిన సీమోనుకు యేసుక్రీస్తు కనబడెను. ఇది మూడవ ప్రత్యక్షత (లూకా 24:34, 1 కోరింధి 15:5)
14 ) ఎమ్మాయు అను గ్రామమునకు వెళ్ళుచున్న ఇద్దరు వ్యక్తులకు యేసు క్రీస్తు కనబడెను. ఇది నాల్గవ ప్రత్యక్షత (లూకా 24:13-31, మార్కు 16:12,13)
15 ) తరువాత పది మంది శిష్యులకు కనబడెను. ఇది శిష్యులకు మొదటి ప్రత్యక్షత (యోహాను 20:19-24, లూకా 24:36-41), ఇందులో తోమా లేడు.
16 ) 8 రోజుల తరువాత తోమాతో కలిపి పదకొండు మంది శిష్యులకు కనబడెను (యోహాను 20:26-29, మార్కు 16:14)
(Note: మార్కు 16:14 వచనం క్రీస్తు రెండవసారి శిష్యులకు ప్రత్యక్షమగుట గురించి చెప్పబడినది. ఎందుకంటే యేసు క్రీస్తు శిష్యులకు మొదటిసారి ప్రత్యక్షమైనప్పుడు 11 మంది శిష్యులు లేరు (తోమా లేడు)
17 ) తరువాత తిబెరియ సముద్ర తీరమున శిష్యులకు మరలా ప్రత్యక్షం అయ్యాడు. ఇది ఏడవ ప్రత్యక్షత శిష్యులకు మూడవది. (యోహాను 21:1-14)
18 ) పేతురు మరియు యేసుక్రీస్తు మధ్య సంభాషణ (యోహాను 21:15-23)
19 ) 500 మందికి పైగా కనబడెను. ఇది ఎనిమిదవ ప్రత్యక్షత (1 కోరింధి 15:6)
20 ) తరువాత యకోబుకు కనబడెను. ఇది తొమ్మిదవ ప్రత్యక్షత (1 కోరింధి 15:7)
(Note: ఏ యకోబునకు కనబడెను అనేది స్పస్టముగా తెలియదు. బహుశా యేసు క్రీస్తు సహోదరుడు అయి ఉండవచ్చు. [గలతీ 1:19])
21 ) యేసు క్రీస్తు పునరుత్థానుడయ్యిన తరువాత 40 రోజులు ఈ భూమి మీద ఉన్నారు (అపో. కార్యములు 1:3)
ఈ మధ్యలో మత్తయి 28:16-20, మార్కు 16:15-20, లూకా 24:44-49 లో వ్రాయబడిన సంగతులు జరిగాయి
22 ) పరలోకానికి వెళ్లేముందు చివరిసారిగా శిష్యులకు, మరికొంతమందికి కనబడెను (లూకా 24:50-53, అపో. కార్యములు 1:6-11, 1 కోరింధి 15:7)
మొత్తానికి యేసు క్రీస్తు ప్రభువు చనిపోయి తిరిగి లేచిన తరువాత 40 రోజులలో ఇంచుమించు 11 లేదా 12 సార్లు తనను ప్రత్యక్షపరచుకొనినట్లుగా బైబిలులో కనబడుతుంది, అంతకంటే ఎక్కువ సార్లు కూడా కనబడి ఉండొచ్చు. కనుక యేసు క్రీస్తు తిరిగి లేచాడు అనడానికి అనేక మంది సాక్షులు కలరు. ఆ సాక్షులలో కొంతమంది హతసాక్షులు అయ్యారు.
దేవుడు క్రీస్తును లేపెనని, ఆయననుగూర్చి మేము సాక్ష్యము చెప్పియున్నాము గదా? మృతులు లేపబడనియెడల దేవు డాయనను లేపలేదు గనుక మేమును దేవుని విషయమై అబద్ధపు సాక్షులముగా అగపడుచున్నాము. ఇప్పుడైతే నిద్రించినవారిలో ప్రథమఫలముగా క్రీస్తు మృతులలోనుండి లేపబడియున్నాడు. మనుష్యుని ద్వారా మరణము వచ్చెను గనుక మనుష్యుని ద్వారానే మృతుల పునరుత్థానమును కలిగెను. ఆదామునందు అందరు ఏలాగు మృతిపొందుచున్నారో, ఆలాగుననే క్రీస్తునందు అందరు బ్రదికింపబడుదురు. (1 కోరింధి 15:15,20-22)
సుమారు 100 సం||అ క్రితం ” విలియమ్ రామ్ సే ” అని బ్రిటిష్ యవ్వనస్థుడు బైబిల్ గ్రంథమందు వ్రాయబడిన లూకా సువార్త మరియు అపోస్తులుల కార్యములు రెండు గ్రంథములు సమయ సందర్భాములేని గ్రంథాలు , అవి శుద్ధ తప్పు అని నిరూపించవలెనని కంకణం కట్టుకొనెను .
అందు నిమిత్తం సరాసరి యెరూషలేము పరిసర ప్రాంతాలను క్షుణ్ణంగా పరిశీలించి లూకా సువర్తకు , అసలు చరిత్రకు పొంతన లేదని నిరూపించ చూచెను . చైనా ఆసియా మరియు గ్రీసు ప్రాంతాలు దర్శించి వారి దగ్గరున్న పురాతన ఆధారాలను ,కొలతలను , సమయ సందర్భాలను తెలిపే పురాతన పద్దతులను అన్ని స్వీకరించి లూకా సువార్తను , అపోస్తులుల కార్యములను బహు జాగ్రత్తగా పరిశీలించగా … లూకా భక్తుడు వ్రాసిన లూకా సువార్తను , అపోస్తులుల కార్యములలో వ్రాయబడిన సంగతులకు తాను స్వీకరించిన చరిత్ర వాస్తవాలకు యే మాత్రం తేడా లేకపోవడాన్ని చూసి బహుగా ఆశ్చర్యపడి , ఇంత ఖచ్చితముగా ఈ గ్రంథములు వ్రాయబడినవంటే ఇవి తప్పనిసరిగా దేవుని చేత వ్రాయబడెనని ఒప్పించబడి ఆనాడే తాను క్రైస్తవుడుగా మారెను . అంతేకాకుండా ఆ తర్వాత క్రైస్తవ చరిత్రలో విలియమ్ రామ్ సే లిఖించిన “నూతన నిబ్బంధన చరిత్ర మరియు వాస్తవాలు ” అనే పుస్తకం నేటికి చరిత్ర వాస్తవాలకు గీటురాయిగా పరిగణించబడుతుంది .
ఇది ప్రతి ఒక్కరి మదిలో ఎప్పుడో ఒకప్పుడు మెదిలే ప్రశ్నే. కష్టాలు వచ్చినప్పుడు వాటిని అనుభవించలేక దేవుడు లేడని కొందరు కఠిన నిర్ణయానికి వస్తుండగా దేవుడిని ప్రత్యక్షంగా చూడలేక ‘దేవుడు లేఢు’ అని బల్లగుద్ది వాదించేవారూ ఉన్నారు. దేవుడు ఉన్నాడా? లేడా? అని తెలుసుకోవడానికి దేవుడిని ప్రత్యక్షంగా చూడవలసిన అవసరం ఉందా? మనకున్న కొద్దిపాటి జ్ఞానముతో ఆలోచించి నిర్ధారించుకోలేమా?
‘‘ప్రతి యిల్లును ఎవడైన ఒకనిచేత కట్టబడును. సమస్తమును కట్టినవాడు దేవుడే’’. హెబ్రీ 3:3
దేవుడు ఉన్నాడా? లేడా? అనే సందిగ్ధములో ఉన్నవారికి, దేవుడే లేడని వాదించేవారికి ఈ వాక్యము ఓ కనువిప్పు. గుడిసె మొదలుకొని భారీ భవనం వరకు ‘‘వీటిని ఎవరూ నిర్మించలేదు, వాటంతట అవే నిర్మితమయ్యాయి’’ అని చెబితే ఎంతమంది విశ్వసించగలరు?. అవన్నీ ఓ క్రమపద్ధతిలో ఉంటాయి కాబట్టి వాటిని ఎవరో ఒకరు నిర్మించి ఉంటారనేది అందరి అభిప్రాయము. మానవుని శరీరము మొదలుకొని ఈ విశ్వము వరకు ఓ క్రమపద్ధతిలోనే నిర్మితమయ్యాయి. అది ఎలాగో చూద్ధాం.
తల, కళ్లు, ముక్కు, చెవులు, నోరు, చేతులు, కాళ్లు ఇలా బాహ్య అవయవములతో ఒక క్రమపద్ధతిలో మానవులు, మానవ శరీరాకృతిలో కొంచెం తేడాతో వివిధ జీవులు ఉన్నాయి. అలాగే జీవకోటి అంతా ఎంతో సంక్లిష్ఠమైన నిర్మాణముతో ఏర్పడ్డాయి.
మనం చూసేందుకు ఉపయోగపడుతున్న కంటిలో సుమారు 12వేల దృశ్యతంతులు ఉన్నాయి.
రుచిని తెలిపే నాలుకపై సుమారు 3వేల నుంచి 10వేల లోపు రుచి మొగ్గలు ఉంటాయి.
గుండె రోజుకు లక్షకు పైబడినసార్లు కొట్టుకుంటోంది. రోజుకు 13వేలకు పైబడిన లీటర్ల రక్తాన్ని పంప్ చేస్తోంది.
రోజులో సుమారు 11వేల లీటర్ల గాలిని పీల్చుకుని వదులుతున్నాము.
మూత్రపిండాల్లో సుమారు 10లక్షల నెఫ్రానులు ఉంటాయి.
బాగా ఎదిగిన మానవునిలో 7 ఆక్టిలియన్ (7 పక్కన 27 సున్నాలు) కణాలు ఉంటాయి.
మెదడులో 120 కోట్ల నాడీ కణాలు ఉంటాయి.
వెన్నెముకలో 1.35 కోట్ల నాడులు ఉంటాయి.
మానవశరీరంపై ఉన్న చర్మములో ఒక అంగుళ భాగంలో సుమారు 30 లక్షల కణాలు ఉంటాయి.
చుక్క రక్తపు బొట్టులో 2.50 కోట్ల కణాలు ఉంటాయి.
ఇంతటి సంక్లిష్ఠమైన శరీర నిర్మాణమును కలిగిన మానవుడిని ‘ఎవరూ చేయలేదు. దానంతట అదే తయారైంది’ అని విశ్వసించడం ఎంత వరకు సమంజసం.
అలాగే సౌరమండలంలోని గ్రహాలు ఒక నిర్దిష్ఠ కక్షలో తిరుగుతున్నాయి. ఆత్మభ్రమణం (తమచుట్టు తాము తిరుగుతూ) చేస్తూ సూర్యుని చుట్టు తిరుగుతున్నాయి. గ్రహాలు చుట్టూ ఉపగ్రహాలు తిరుగుతున్నాయి. ఇవన్నీ ఆత్మభ్రమణం, పరిభ్రమణాన్ని ఒక నిర్ధిష్ట వేగంతో చేస్తున్నాయి. వీటి నమూనాతో తయారు చేసిన యంత్రమే ఓర్రెరి (Orrery). ఈ యంత్రములోని నమూనాలన్నీ గ్రహాలు తరహాలోనే నికచ్చితముగా తిరుగుతాయి. ఈ యంత్రాన్ని ఎవరూ చేయకుండా వాటంతట అవే ఏర్పడి అలా తిరుగుతున్నాయి అని చెబితే ఎంతమంది విశ్వసించగలరు?. ఈ బుల్లి యంత్రం కన్నా కోటానుకోట్ల రెట్ల భారీ సౌరమండలం మాత్రము తానంతట అదే ఏర్పడిందని ఎలా సమర్ధించుకోగలము?.
అందుకే ‘‘ప్రతి యిల్లును ఎవడైన ఒకనిచేత కట్టబడును. సమస్తమును కట్టినవాడు దేవుడే’’. హెబ్రీ 3:3‘‘ అని లేఖనము చెబుతోంది.
‘‘అయ్యో, మీరెంత మూర్ఖులు?
కుమ్మరికిని మంటికిని భేదములేదని యెంచదగునా?
చేయబడిన వస్తువు దాని చేసినవాని గూర్చి-
ఇతడు నన్ను చేయలేదనవచ్చునా?’’
Bible History is about exploring the eyewitness accounts recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and comparing them with the history of ancient people and civilizations revealed by the spade of the archaeologist. Are you curious about the past, it’s people, customs and culture? Then you would probably appreciate those who’s curiosity drove them across the earth without the conveniences of modern travel, to dig up the empires buried within the earth to reveal the mysteries they contain.
Someone such as Austen Henry Layard, an archaeologist, politician, adventurer and excavator of ancient Nineveh, Nimrud and other Assyrian locations.
“During the autumn of 1839 and winter of 1840 I had been wandering through Asia Minor and Syria scarcely leaving untrod one spot hallowed by tradition or unvisited one ruin consecrated by history I was accompanied by one no less curious and enthusiastic than myself We were both equally careless of comfort and unmindful of danger We rode alone our arms were our only protection a valise behind our saddles was our wardrobe and we tended our own horses except when relieved from the duty by the hospitable inhabitants of a Turcoman village or an Arab tent Thus unembarrassed by needless luxuries and uninfluenced by the opinions and prejudices of others we mixed amongst the people acquired without effort their manners and enjoyed without alloy those emotions which scenes so novel and spots so rich in varied association cannot fail to produce.” Nineveh and Its Remains, 1849
In an age when God’s grace has uncovered beneath the sands of time what holy writ already affirmed, we can examine the evidence ourselves and perhaps make room for the Lord to add to us His touch upon our hearts. No amount of facts equal one simple touch by God upon the heart. But we can seek him knowing “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6.
So let us press on as Isaiah encouraged, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6 and avoid at all costs any congruence with the description of those who can walk by an amazing gift such as creation and life itself and never ask who gave it.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4
By humbling ourselves and questioning God and seeking Him we can invite Him to reveal and to deepen His extraordinary love…
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5
“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters covers the sea.” Isa. 11:9.
1. In what a condition is the world at present! How does darkness, intellectual darkness, ignorance, with vice and misery attendant upon it, cover the face of the earth! From the accurate inquiry made with indefatigable pains by our ingenious countryman, Mr. Brerewood; (who travelled himself over a great part of the known world, in order to form the more exact judgment;) supposing the world to be divided into thirty parts, nineteen of them are professed Heathens, altogether as ignorant of Christ, as if he had never come into the world: Six of the remaining parts are professed Mahometans: So that only five in thirty are so much as nominally Christians!
2. And let it be remembered, that since this computation was made, many new nations have been discovered; numberless islands, particularly in the South Sea, large and well inhabited: But by whom? By Heathens of the basest sort; many of them inferior to the beasts of the field. Whether they eat men or no, (which indeed I cannot find any sufficient ground to believe,) they certainly kill all that fall into their hands. They are, therefore, more savage than lions; who kill no more creatures than are necessary to satisfy their present hunger. See the real dignity of human nature! Here it appears in its genuine purity, not polluted either by those “general corrupters, kings,” or by the least tincture of religion! What will Abbe Raynal (that determined enemy to monarchy and revelation) say to this?
3. A little, and but a little, above the Heathens in religion, are the Mahometans. But how far and wide has this miserable delusion spread over the face of the earth! Insomuch that the Mahometans are considerably more in number (as six to five) than Christians. And by all the accounts which have any pretence to authenticity, these are also, in general, as utter strangers to all true religion as their four-footed brethren; as void of mercy as lions and tigers; as much given up to brutal lusts as bulls or goats. So that they are in truth a disgrace to human nature, and a plague to all that are under their iron yoke.
4. It is true, a celebrated writer (Lady Mary Wortley Montague) gives a very different character of them. With the finest flow of words, in the most elegant language, she labors to wash the Aethiop white. She represents them as many degrees above the Christians; as some of the most amiable people in the world; as possessed of all the social virtues; as some of the most accomplished of men. But I can in no wise receive her report: I cannot rely upon her authority. I believe those round about her had just as much religion as their admirer had when she was admitted into the interior parts of the Grand Seignior’s seraglio. Nevertheless, therefore, all that such a witness does or can say in their favor, I believe the Turks in general are little, if at all, better than the generality of the Heathens.
5. And little, if at all, better than the Turks, are the Christians in the Turkish dominions; even the best of them; those that live in the Morea, or are scattered up and down in Asia. The more numerous bodies of Georgian, Circassian, Mengrelian Christians, are a proverb of reproach to the Turks themselves; not only for their deplorable ignorance, but for their total, stupid, barbarous irreligion.
6. From the most authentic accounts we can obtain of the Southern Christians, those in Abyssinia, and of the Northern Churches, under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow, we have reason to fear they are much in the same condition, both with regard to knowledge and religion, as those in Turkey. Or if those in Abyssinia are more civilized, and have a larger share of knowledge, yet they do not appear to have any more religion than either the Mahometans or Pagans.
7. The Western Churches seem to have the pre-eminence over all these in many respects. They have abundantly more knowledge: They have more scriptural and more rational modes of worship. Yet two thirds of them are still involved in the corruptions of the Church of Rome; and most of these are entirely unacquainted with either the theory or practice of religion. And as to those who are called Protestants, or Reformed, what acquaintance with it have they? Put Papists and Protestants, French and English together, the bulk of one and of the other nation; and what manner of Christians are they? Are they “holy as He that hath called them is holy?” Are they filled with “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost?” Is there “that mind in them which was also in Christ Jesus?” And do they “walk as Christ also walked?” Nay, they are as far from it as hell is from heaven!
8. Such is the present state of mankind in all parts of the world! But how astonishing is this, if there is a God in heaven, and if his eyes are over all the earth! Can he despise the work of his own hand? Surely this is one of the greatest mysteries under heaven! How is it possible to reconcile this with either the wisdom or goodness of God? And what can give ease to a thoughtful mind under so low-spirited a prospect? What but the consideration, that things will not always be so; that another scene will soon be opened? God will be jealous of his honor: He will arise and maintain his own cause. He will judge the prince of this world, and spoil him of his usurped dominion. He will give his Son “the Heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.”The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” The loving knowledge of God, producing uniform, uninterrupted holiness and happiness, shall cover the earth; shall fill every soul of man.
9. “Impossible,” will some men say, “yea, the greatest of all impossibilities, that we should see a Christian world; yea, a Christian nation, or city! How can these things be?” On one supposition, indeed, not only all impossibility, but all difficulty vanishes away. Only suppose the Almighty to act irresistibly, and the thing is done; yea, with just the same ease as when “God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” But then, man would be man no longer: His inmost nature would be changed. He would no longer be a moral agent, any more than the sun or the wind; as he would no longer be endued with liberty, — a power of choosing, or self-determination: Consequently, he would no longer be capable of virtue or vice, of reward or punishment.
10. But setting aside this clumsy way of cutting the knot which we are not able to untie, how can all men be made holy and happy, while they continue men? While they still enjoy both the understanding, the affections, and the liberty which are essential to a moral agent? There seems to be a plain, simple way of removing this difficulty, without entangling ourselves in any subtile, metaphysical disquisitions. As God is One, so the work of God is uniform in all ages. May we not then conceive how he will work on the souls of men in times to come, by considering how he does work now, and how he has wrought in times past?
11. Take one instance of this, and such an instance as you cannot easily be deceived in. You know how God wrought in your own soul, when he first enabled you to say, “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” He did not take away your understanding; but enlightened and strengthened it. He did not destroy any of your affections; rather they were more vigorous than before. Least of all did he take away your liberty; your power of choosing good or evil: He did not force you; but, being assisted by his grace, you, like Mary, chose the better part. Just so has he assisted five in one house to make that happy choice; fifty or five hundred in one city; and many thousands in a nation; — without depriving any of them of that liberty which is essential to a moral agent.
12. Not that I deny, that there are exempt cases, wherein
The’ o’erwhelming power of saving grace
does, for a time, work as irresistibly as lightning falling from heaven. But I speak of God’s general manner of working, of which I have known innumerable instances; perhaps more within fifty years last past, than any one in England or in Europe. And with regard even to these exempt cases; although God does work irresistibly for the time, yet I do not believe there is any human soul in which God works irresistibly at all times. Nay, I am fully persuaded there is not. I am persuaded, there are no men living that have not many times “resisted the Holy Ghost,” and made void “the counsel of God against themselves.” Yea, I am persuaded every child of God has had, at some time, “life and death set before him,” eternal life and eternal death; and has in himself the casting voice. So true is that well-known saying of St. Austin, (one of the noblest he ever uttered,) _Qui fecit nos sine nobis, non salvabit nos sine nobis_: “He that made us without ourselves, will not save us without ourselves.” Now in the same manner as God has converted so many to himself without destroying their liberty, he can undoubtedly convert whole nations, or the whole world; and it is as easy to him to convert a world, as one individual soul.
13. Let us observe what God has done already. Between fifty and sixty years ago, God raised up a few young men, in the University of Oxford, to testify those grand truths, which were then little attended to: — That without holiness no man shall see the Lord; — that this holiness is the work of God, who worketh in us both to will and to do; — that he doeth it of his own good pleasure, merely for the merits of Christ; — that this holiness is the mind that was in Christ; enabling us to walk as he also walked; — that no man can be thus sanctified till he is justified; — and, that we are justified by faith alone. These great truths they declared on all occasions, in private and in public; having no design but to promote the glory of God, and no desire but to save souls from death.
14. From Oxford, where it first appeared, the little leaven spread wider and wider. More and more saw the truth as it is in Jesus, and received it in the love thereof. More and more found “redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins.” They were born again of his Spirit, and filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It afterwards spread to every part of the land, and a little one became a thousand. It then spread into North Britain and Ireland; and, a few years after into New-York, Pennsylvania, and many other provinces in America, even as high as Newfoundland and Nova-Scotia. So that, although at first this “grain of mustard- seed” was “the least of all the seeds;” yet, in a few years, it grew into a “large tree, and put forth great branches.”
15. Generally, when these truths, justification by faith in particular, were declared in any large town, after a few days or weeks, there came suddenly on the great congregation, — not in a corner, at London, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in particular, — a violent and impetuous power, which,
Like mighty wind or torrent fierce, Did then opposers all o’er-run.
And this frequently continued, with shorter or longer intervals, for several weeks or months. But it gradually subsided, and then the work of God was carried on by gentle degrees; while that Spirit, in watering the seed that had been sown, in confirming and strengthening them that had believed,
Deign’d his influence to infuse, Secret, refreshing as the silent dews.
And this difference in his usual manner of working was observable not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but in every part of America, from South to North, wherever the word of God came with power.
16. Is it not then highly probable, that God will carry on his work in the same manner as he has begun? That he will carry it on, I cannot doubt; however Luther may affirm, that a revival of religion never lasts above a generation, — that is, thirty years; (whereas the present revival has already continued above fifty;) or however prophets of evil may say, “All will be at an end when the first instruments are removed.” There will then, very probably, be a great shaking; but I cannot induce myself to think that God has wrought so glorious a work, to let it sink and die away in a few years. No: I trust, this is only the beginning of a far greater work; the dawn of “the latter day glory.”
17. And is it not probable, I say, that he will carry it on in the same manner as he has begun? At the first breaking out of this work in this or that place, there may be a shower, a torrent of grace; and so at some other particular seasons, which “the Father has reserved in his own power:” But in general, it seems, the kingdom of God will not “come with observation;” but will silently increase, wherever it is set up, and spread from heart to heart, from house to house, from town to town, from one kingdom to another. May it not spread, first, through the remaining provinces; then, through the isles of North America; and, at the same time, from England to Holland, where there is already a blessed work in Utrecht, Haerlem, and many other cities? Probably it will spread from these to the Protestants in France, to those in Germany, and those in Switzerland; then to Sweden, Denmark, Russia, and all the other Protestant nations in Europe.
18. May we not suppose that the same leaven of pure and undefiled religion, of experimental knowledge and love of God, of inward and outward holiness, will afterwards spread to the Roman Catholics in Great Britain, Ireland, Holland; in Germany, France, Switzerland; and in all other countries where Romanists and Protestants live intermixed and familiarly converse with each other? Will it not then be easy for the wisdom of God to make a way for religion, in the life and power thereof,into those countries that are merely Popish; as Italy, Spain, Portugal? And may it not be gradually diffused from thence to all that name the name of Christ, in the various provinces of Turkey, in Abyssinia, yea, and in the remotest parts, not only of Europe, but of Asia, Africa, and America?
19. And in every nation under heaven, we may reasonably believe, God will observe the same order which he hath done from the beginning of Christianity. “They shall all know me, saith the Lord;” not from the greatest to the least (this is that wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God;) but “from the least to the greatest;” that the praise may not be of men, but of God. Before the end, even the rich shall enter into the kingdom of God. Together with them will enter in the great, the noble, the honorable; yea, the rulers, the princes, the kings of the earth. Last of all, the wise and learned, the men of genius, the philosophers, will be convinced that they are fools; will be “converted, and become as little children,” and “enter into the kingdom of God.”
20. Then shall be fully accomplished to the house of Israel, the spiritual Israel, of whatever people or nation, that gracious promise, “I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts: And I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: For they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Then shall “the times of” universal “refreshment come from the presence of the Lord.” The grand “Pentecost” shall “fully come,” and “devout men in every nation under heaven,” however distant in place from each other, shall “all be filled with the Holy Ghost;” and they will “continue steadfast in the Apostles’ doctrine, and in the fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers;” they will “eat their meat,” and do all that they have to do, “with gladness and singleness of heart. Great grace will be upon them all;” and they will be “all of one heart and of one soul.” The natural, necessary consequence of this will be the same as it was in the beginning of the Christian Church: “None of them will say, that aught of the things which he possesses is his own; but they will have all things common. Neither will there be any among them that want: For as many as are possessed of lands or houses will sell them; and distribution will be made to every man, according as he has need.” All their desires, meantime, and passions, and tempers will be cast in one mould; while all are doing the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven. All their “conversation will be seasoned with salt,” and will “minister grace to the hearers;” seeing it will not be so much they that speak, “as the Spirit of their Father that speaketh in them.” And there will be no “root of bitterness springing up,” either to defile or trouble them: There will be no Ananias or Sapphira, to bring back the cursed love of money among them: There will be no partiality; no “widows neglected in the daily ministration:” Consequently, there will be no temptation to any murmuring thought, or unkind word, of one against another; while,
They all are of one heart and soul, And only love informs the whole.
21. The grand stumbling-block being thus happily removed out of the way, namely, the lives of the Christians, the Mahometans will look upon them with other eyes, and begin to give attention to their words. And as their words will be clothed with divine energy, attended with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, those of them that fear God will soon take knowledge of the Spirit whereby the Christians speak. They will “receive with meekness the engrafted word,” and will bring forth fruit with patience. From them the leaven will soon spread to those who till then, had no fear of God before their eyes. Observing the Christian dogs, as they used to term them, to have changed their nature; to be sober, temperate, just, benevolent; and that, in spite of all provocations to the contrary; from admiring their lives, they will surely be led to consider and embrace their doctrine. And then the Savior of sinners will say, “The hour is come; I will glorify my Father: I will seek and save the sheep that were wandering on the dark mountains. Now will I avenge myself of my enemy, and pluck the prey out of the lion’s teeth. I will resume my own, for ages lost: I will claim the purchase of my blood.” So he will go forth in the greatness of his strength, and all his enemies shall flee before him. All the prophets of lies shall vanish away, and all the nations that had followed them shall acknowledge the great Prophet of the Lord, “mighty in word and deed;” and “shall honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.”
22. And then, the grand stumbling-block being removed from the heathen nations also, the same Spirit will be poured out upon them; even those that remain in the uttermost parts of the sea. The poor American savage will no more ask, “What are the Christians better than us?” — when they see their steady practice of universal temperance, and of justice, mercy, and truth. The Malabarian Heathen will have no more room to say, “Christian man take my wife: Christian man much drunk: Christian man kill man! Devil-Christian! me no Christian.” Rather, seeing how far the Christians exceed their own countrymen in whatever things are lovely and of good report, they will adopt a very different language, and say, Angel- Christian! The holy lives of the Christians will be an argument they will not know how to resist: Seeing the Christians steadily and uniformly practise what is agreeable to the law written in their own hearts, their prejudices will quickly die away, and they will gladly receive “the truth as it is in Jesus.”
23. We may reasonably believe, that the heathen nations which are mingled with the Christians, and those that, bordering upon Christian nations, have constant and familiar intercourse with them, will be some of the first who learn to worship God in spirit and in truth; those, for instance, that live on the continent of America, or in the islands that have received colonies from Europe. Such are likewise all those inhabitants of the East Indies that adjoin to any of the Christian settlements. To these may be added, numerous tribes of Tartars, the heathen parts of the Russias, and the inhabitants of Norway, Finland, and Lapland. Probably these will be followed by those more distant nations with whom the Christians trade; to whom they will impart what is of infinitely more value than earthly pearls, or gold and silver. The God of love will then prepare his messengers, and make a way into the polar regions; into the deepest recesses of America, and into the interior parts of Africa; yea, into the heart of China and Japan, with the countries adjoining to them. And “their sound” will then “go forth into all lands, and their voice to the ends of the earth!”
24. But one considerable difficulty still remains: There are very many heathen nations in the world that have no intercourse, either by trade or any other means, with Christians of any kind. Such are the inhabitants of the numerous islands in the South Sea, and probably in all large branches of the ocean. Now, what shall be done for these poor outcasts of men? “How shall they believe,” saith the Apostle, “in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” You may add, “And how shall they preach, unless they be sent?” Yea, but is not God able to send them? Cannot he raise them up, as it were, out of the stones? And can he ever want means of sending them? No: Were there no other means, he can “take them by his Spirit,” as he did Ezekiel. (Ezek. 3:12,) or by his angel, as he did Philip, (Acts 8,) and set them down wheresoever it pleaseth him. Yea, he can find out a thousand ways to foolish man unknown. And he surely will: For heaven and earth may pass away; but his word shall not pass away: He will give his Son “the uttermost part of the earth for his possession.”
25. And so all Israel too shall be saved. For “blindness has happened to Israel,” as the great Apostle observes, (Rom. 11:25, etc..,) till the fullness of the “Gentiles be come in.” Then “the Deliverer that cometh out of Sion shall turn away iniquity from Jacob.”God hath now concluded them all in unbelief, that he may have mercy upon all.” Yea, and he will so have mercy upon all Israel, as to give them all temporal with all spiritual blessings. For this is the promise: “For the Lord thy God will gather thee from all nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” (Deut. 30:3, etc..,) Again: “I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them: And I will bring them again to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever. I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. And I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul.” (Jer. 32:37, etc..) Yet again: “I will take you from among the Heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezek. 36:24, etc..)
26. At that time will be accomplished all those glorious promises made to the Christian Church, which will not then be confined to this or that nation, but will include all the inhabitants of the earth. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:9) “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls, Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” Thou shalt be encompassed on every side with salvation, and all that go through thy gates shall praise God. “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: But the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” The light of the sun and moon shall be swallowed up in the light of His countenance, shining upon thee. “Thy people also shall be all righteous . . . . the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.”As the earth bringeth forth her bud, and the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Isaiah 60:18, etc..; and 61:11.)
27. This I apprehend to be the answer, yea, the only full and satisfactory answer that can be given, to the objection against the wisdom and goodness of God, taken from the present state of the world. It will not always be thus: These things are only permitted for a season by the great Governor of the world, that he may draw immense, eternal good out of this temporary evil. This is the very key which the Apostle himself gives us in the words above recited: “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” In view of this glorious event, how well may we cry out, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” although for a season “his judgments were unsearchable, and his ways past finding out.” (Rom. 11:32,33.) It is enough, that we are assured of this one point, that all these transient evils will issue well; will have a happy conclusion; and that “mercy first and last will reign.” All unprejudiced persons may see with their eyes, that He is already renewing the face of the earth: And we have strong reason to hope that the work he hath begun, he will carry on unto the day of the Lord Jesus; that he will never intermit this blessed work of his Spirit, until he has fulfilled all his promises, until he hath put a period to sin, and misery, and infirmity, and death; and re-established universal holiness and happiness, and caused all the inhabitants of the earth to sing together, “Hallelujah, the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever!” (Rev. 7:12.)
“For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8.
1. Many eminent writers, heathen as well as Christian, both in earlier and later ages, have employed their utmost labor and art in painting the beauty of virtue. And the same pains they have taken to describe, in the liveliest colors, the deformity of vice; both of vice in general, and of those particular vices which were most prevalent in their respective ages and countries. With equal care they have placed in a strong light the happiness that attends virtue, and the misery which usually accompanies vice, and always follows it. And it may be acknowledged, that treatises of this kind are not wholly without their use. Probably hereby some, on the one hand, have been stirred up to desire and follow after virtue; and some, on the other hand, checked in their career of vice, — perhaps reclaimed from it, at least for a season. But the change effected in men by these means is seldom either deep or universal: Much less is it durable; in a little space it vanishes away as the morning cloud. Such motives are far too feeble to overcome the numberless temptations that surround us. All that can be said of the beauty and advantage of virtue, and the deformity and ill effects of vice, cannot resist, and much less overcome and heal, one irregular appetite or passion.
^All these fences and their whole array, One cunning bosom-sin sweeps quite away.^
2. There is, therefore, an absolute necessity, if ever we would conquer vice, or steadily persevere in the practice of virtue, to have arms of a better kind than these; otherwise, we may see what is right, but we cannot attain it. Many of the men of reflection among the very Heathens were deeply sensible of this. The language of their heart was that of Medea: —
_Video meliora, proboque; Detertiora sequor:_
How exactly agreeing with the words of the Apostle: (Personating a man convinced of sin, but not yet conquering it:) “The good that I would, I do not; but the evil I would not, that I do!” The impotence of the human mind, even the Roman philosopher could discover: “There is in every man,” says he, “this weakness;” (he might have said, this sore disease;) “_gloriae sitis_, — thirst for glory. Nature points out the disease; but nature shows us no remedy.”
3. Nor is it strange, that though they sought for a remedy, yet they found none. For they sought it where it never was and never will be found, namely, in themselves; in reason, in philosophy: Broken reeds, bubbles, smoke! They did not seek it in God, in whom alone it is possible to find it. In God! No; they totally disclaim this; and that in the strongest terms. For although Cicero, one of their oracles, once stumbled upon that strange truth, _Nemo unquam vir magnus sine afflatu divino fuit_, — “There never was any great man who was not divinely inspired;” yet in the very same tract he contradicts himself, and totally overthrows his own assertion, by asking, _Quis pro virtute aut sapientia gratias dedit Deis unquam_? — “Who ever returned thanks to God for his virtue or wisdom?” The Roman poet is, if possible, more express still; who, after mentioning several outward blessings, honestly adds, —
_Haec satis est orare Jovem, qui donat et aufert; Det vitam, det opes: aequum mi animum ipse parabo._
We ask of God, what he can give or take, — Life, wealth; but virtuous I myself will make.
4. The best of them either sought virtue partly from God and partly from themselves, or sought it from those gods who were indeed but devils, and so not likely to make their votaries better than themselves. So dim was the light of the wisest of men, till “life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel;” till “the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil!”
But what are “the works of the devil,” here mentioned? How was “the Son of God manifested” to destroy them? And how, in what manner, and by what steps, does he actually “destroy” them? These three very important points we may consider in their order.
I. 1. And, First, what these works of the devil are, we learn from the words preceding and following the text: “We know that he was manifested to take away our sins.” (1 John 3:5.) “Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not: Whosoever sinneth, seeth him not, neither knoweth him.” (1 John 3:6.) “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8.) “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (1 John 3:9.) From the whole of this it appears, that “the works of the devil,” here spoken of, are sin, and the fruits of sin.
2. But since the wisdom of God has now dissipated the clouds which so long covered the earth, and put an end to the childish conjectures of men concerning these things, it may be of use to take a more distinct view of these “works of the devil,” so far as the oracles of God instruct us. It is true, the design of the Holy Spirit was to assist our faith, not gratify our curiosity; and therefore the account he has given in the first chapters of Genesis is exceeding short. Nevertheless, it is so clear that we may learn therefrom whatever it concerns us to know.
3. To take the matter from the beginning: “The Lord God” (literally, JEHOVAH, the GODS; that is, One and Three) “created man in his own image;” — in his own natural image, as to his better part; that is, a spirit, as God is a spirit; endued with understanding; which, if not the essence, seems to be the most essential property, of a spirit. And probably the human spirit, like the angelical, then discerned truth by intuition. Hence he named every creature, as soon as he saw it, according to its inmost nature. Yet his knowledge was limited, as he was a creature: Ignorance, therefore, was inseparable from him; but error was not; it does not appear that he was mistaken in any thing. But he was capable of mistaking, of being deceived, although not necessitated to it.
4. He was endued also with a will, with various affections; (which are only the will exerting itself various ways;) that he might love, desire, and delight in that which is good: Otherwise his understanding had been to no purpose. He was likewise endued with liberty; a power of choosing what was good, and refusing what was not so. Without this, both the will and the understanding would have been utterly useless. Indeed, without liberty, man had been so far from being a free agent, that he could have been no agent at all. For every unfree being is purely passive; not active in any degree. Have you a sword in your hand? Does a man, stronger than you, seize your hand, and force you to wound a third person? In this you are no agent, any more than the sword: The hand is as passive as the steel. So in every possible case. He that is not free is not an agent, but a patient.
5. It seems, therefore, that every spirit in the universe, as such, is endued with understanding, and, in consequence, with a will, and with a measure of liberty; and that these three are inseparably united in every intelligent nature. And observe: Liberty necessitated, or over-ruled, is really no liberty at all. It is a contradiction in terms. It is the same as unfree freedom; that is, downright nonsense.
6. It may be farther observed, (and it is an important observation,) that where there is no liberty, there can be no moral good or evil, no virtue or vice. The fire warms us; yet it is not capable of virtue: It burns us; yet this is no vice. There is no virtue, but where an intelligent being knows, loves, and chooses what is good; nor is there any vice, but where such a being knows, loves, and chooses what is evil.
7. And God created man, not only in his natural, but likewise in his own moral, image. He created him not only “in knowledge,” but also in righteousness and true holiness. As his understanding was without blemish, perfect in its kind; so were all his affections. They were all set right, and duly exercised on their proper objects. And as a free agent, he steadily chose whatever was good, according to the direction of his understanding. In so doing, he was unspeakably happy; dwelling in God, and God in him; having an uninterrupted fellowship with the Father and the Son, through the eternal Spirit; and the continual testimony of his conscience, that all his ways were good and acceptable to God.
8. Yet his liberty (as was observed before) necessarily included a power of choosing or refusing either good or evil. Indeed it has been doubted whether man could then choose evil, knowing it to be such. But it cannot be doubted, he might mistake evil for good. He was not infallible; therefore not impeccable. And this unravels the whole difficulty of the grand question, _Unde malum?_ “How came evil into the world?” It came from “Lucifer, son of the morning.” It was the work of the devil. “For the devil,” saith the Apostle, “sinneth from the beginning;” that is, was the first sinner in the universe, the author of sin, the first being who, by the abuse of his liberty, introduced evil into the creation. He,
— Of the first, If not the first archangel,
was self-tempted to think too highly of himself. He freely yielded to the temptation; and gave way, first to pride, then to self-will. He said, “I will sit upon the sides of the north: I will be like the Most High.” He did not fall alone, but soon drew after him a third part of the stars of heaven; in consequence of which they lost their glory and happiness, and were driven from their former habitation.
9. “Having great wrath,” and perhaps envy, at the happiness of the creatures whom God had newly created, it is not strange that he should desire and endeavor to deprive them of it. In order to this, he concealed himself in the serpent, who was the most subtle, or intelligent, of all the brute creatures; and, on that account, the least liable to raise suspicion. Indeed, some have (not improbably) supposed that the serpent was then endued with reason and speech. Had not Eve known he was so, would she have admitted any parley with him? Would she not have been frightened rather than deceived? as the Apostle observes she was. To deceive her, Satan mingled truth with falsehood: — “Hath God said, Ye may not eat of every tree of the garden?” — and soon after persuaded her to disbelieve God, to suppose his threatening should not be fulfilled. She then lay open to the whole temptation: — To “the desire of the flesh;” for the tree was “good for food:” To “the desire of the eyes;” for it was “pleasant to the eyes:” And to “the pride of life;” for it was “to be desired to make one wise,” and consequently honored. So unbelief begot pride: She thought herself wiser than God; capable of finding a better way to happiness than God had taught her. It begot self-will: She was determined to do her own will, not the will of Him that made her. It begot foolish desires; and completed all by outward sin: “She took of the fruit, and did eat.”
10. She then “gave to her husband, and he did eat.” And in that day, yea, that moment, he died! The life of God was extinguished in his soul. The glory departed from him. He lost the whole moral image of God, — righteousness and true holiness. He was unholy; he was unhappy; he was full of sin; full of guilt and tormenting fears. Being broke off from God, and looking upon him now as an angry Judge, “he was afraid.” But how was his understanding darkened, to think he could “hide himself from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden!” Thus was his soul utterly dead to God! And in that day his body likewise began to die, — became obnoxious to weakness, sickness, pain; all preparatory to the death of the body, which naturally led to eternal death.
II. Such are “the works of the devil;” sin and its fruits; considered in their order and connection. We are, in the Second place, to consider how the Son of God was manifested in order to destroy them.
1. He was manifested as the only-begotten Son of God, in glory equal with the Father, to the inhabitants of heaven before and at the foundation of the world. These “morning stars sang together,” all these “sons of God shouted for joy,” when they heard him pronounce, “Let there be light; and there was light;” — when he “spread the north over the empty space,” and “stretched out the heavens as a curtain.” Indeed, it was the universal belief of the ancient Church, that God the Father none hath seen, nor can see; that from all eternity He hath dwelt in light unapproachable; and it is only in and by the Son of his love that he hath, at any time, revealed himself to his creatures.
2. How the Son of God was manifested to our first parents in paradise it is not easy to determine. It is generally, and not improbably, supposed that he appeared to them in the form of a man, and conversed with them face to face. Not that I can at all believe the ingenious dream of Dr. Watts concerning “the glorious humanity of Christ,” which he supposes to have existed before the world began, and to have been endued with I know not what astonishing powers. Nay, I look upon this to be an exceeding dangerous, yea, mischievous hypothesis; as it quite excludes the force of very many scriptures which have been hitherto thought to prove the Godhead of the Son. And I am afraid it was the grand means of turning that great man aside from the faith once delivered to the saints; — that is, if he was turned aside; if that beautiful soliloquy be genuine which is printed among his Posthumous Works, wherein he so earnestly beseeches the Son of God not to be displeased because he cannot believe him to be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.
3. May we not reasonably believe it was by similar appearances that He was manifested, in succeeding ages, to Enoch, while he “walked with God;” to Noah, before and after the deluge; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, on various occasions; and, to mention no more, to Moses? This seems to be the natural meaning of the word: “My servant Moses is faithful in all my house. — With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of Jehovah shall he behold;” namely, the Son of God.
4. But all these were only types of his grand manifestation. It was in the fulness of time (in just the middle age of the world, as a great man largely proves) that God “brought his first-begotten into the world, made of a woman,” by the power of the Highest overshadowing her. He was afterwards manifested to the shepherds; to devout Simeon; to Anna, the Prophetess; and to “all that waited for redemption in Jerusalem.”
5. When he was of due age for executing his priestly office, he was manifested to Israel; preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God in every town and in every city. And for a time he was glorified by all, who acknowledged that he “spake as never man spake;” that “he spake as one having authority,” with all the wisdom of God and the power of God. He was manifested by numberless “signs, and wonders, and mighty works which he did,” as well as by his whole life; being the only one born of a woman “who knew no sin,” who, from his birth to his death, did “all things well;” doing continually “not his own will, but the will of Him that sent him.”
6. After all, “behold the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world!” This was a more glorious manifestation of himself than any he had made before. How wonderfully was he manifested to angels and men, when he “was wounded for our transgressions;” when he “bore all our sins in his own body on the tree;” when, having “by that one oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world,” he cried out, “It is finished; and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost!” We need but just mention those farther manifestations, — his resurrection from the dead; his ascension into heaven, into the glory which he had before the world began; and his pouring out the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost; both of which are beautifully described in those well-known words of the Psalmist: “Thou art gone up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, and hast received gifts for men; yea, even for thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among” or in “them.”
7. “That the Lord God might dwell in them:” This refers to a yet farther manifestation of the Son of God; even his inward manifestation of himself. When he spoke of this to his Apostles but a little before his death, one of them immediately asked, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?” By enabling us to believe in his name. For he is then inwardly manifested to us when we are enabled to say with confidence, “My Lord, and my God!” Then each of us can boldly say, “The life which I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20] And it is by thus manifesting himself in our hearts that he effectually “destroys the works of the devil.”
III. 1. How he does this, in what manner, and by what steps, he does actually destroy them, we are now to consider. And, First, as Satan began his work in Eve by tainting her with unbelief, so the Son of God begins his work in man by enabling us to believe in him. He both opens and enlightens the eyes of our understanding. Out of darkness he commands light to shine, and takes away the veil which the “god of this world” had spread over our hearts. And we then see not by a chain of reasoning, but by a kind of intuition, by a direct view, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their former trespasses;” not imputing them to me. In that day “we know that we are of God,” children of God by faith; “having redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sin.”Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ;” — that peace which enables us in every state therewith to be content; which delivers us from all perplexing doubts, from all tormenting fears; and in particular, from that “fear of death whereby we were all our life-time subject to bondage.”
2. At the same time the Son of God strikes at the root of that grand work of the devil, — pride; causing the sinner to humble himself before the Lord, to abhor himself, as it were, in dust and ashes. He strikes at the root of self-will; enabling the humbled sinner to say in all things, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” He destroys the love of the world; delivering them that believe in him from “every foolish and hurtful desire;” from the “desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life.” He saves them from seeking, or expecting to find, happiness in any creature. As Satan turned the heart of man from the Creator to the creature; so the Son of God turns his heart back again from the creature to the Creator. Thus it is, by manifesting himself, he destroys the works of the devil; restoring the guilty outcast from God, to his favor, to pardon and peace; the sinner in whom dwelleth no good thing, to love and holiness; the burdened, miserable sinner, to joy unspeakable, to real, substantial happiness.
3. But it may be observed, that the Son of God does not destroy the whole work of the devil in man, as long as he remains in this life. He does not yet destroy bodily weakness, sickness, pain, and a thousand infirmities incident to flesh and blood. He does not destroy all that weakness of understanding, which is the natural consequence of the soul’s dwelling in a corruptible body; so that still,
_Humanum est errare et nescire:_
“Both ignorance and error belong to humanity.” He entrusts us with only an exceeding small share of knowledge, in our present state; lest our knowledge should interfere with our humility, and we should again affect to be as gods. It is to remove from us all temptation to pride, and all thought of independency, (which is the very thing that men in general so earnestly covet under the name of liberty.) that he leaves us encompassed with all these infirmities, particularly weakness of understanding; till the sentence takes place, “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return!”
4. Then error, pain, and all bodily infirmities cease: All these are destroyed by death. And death itself, “the last enemy” of man, shall be destroyed at the resurrection. The moment that we hear the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, “then shall be fulfilled the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”This corruptible” body “shall put on incorruption; this mortal” body “shall put on immortality;” and the Son of God, manifested in the clouds of heaven, shall destroy this last work of the devil!
5. Here then we see in the clearest, strongest light, what is real religion: A restoration of man by Him that bruises the serpent’s head [Gen. 3:15], to all that the old serpent deprived him of; a restoration not only to the favor but likewise to the image of God, implying not barely deliverance from sin, but the being filled with the fullness of God. It is plain, if we attend to the preceding considerations, that nothing short of this is Christian religion. Every thing else, whether negative or external, is utterly wide of the mark. But what a paradox is this! How little is it understood in the Christian world; yea, in this enlightened age, wherein it is taken for granted, the world is wiser than ever it was from the beginning! Among all our discoveries, who has discovered this? How few either among the learned or unlearned! And yet, if we believe the Bible, who can deny it? Who can doubt of it? It runs through the Bible from the beginning to the end, in one connected chain; and the agreement of every part of it, with every other, is, properly, the analogy of faith. Beware of taking any thing else, or anything less than this, for religion! Not any thing else: Do not imagine an outward form, a round of duties, both in public and private, is religion! Do not suppose that honesty, justice, and whatever is called morality, (though excellent in its place,) is religion! And least of all dream that orthodoxy, right opinion, (vulgarly called faith,) is religion. Of all religious dreams, this is the vainest; which takes hay and stubble for gold tried in the fire!
6. O do not take any thing less than this for the religion of Jesus Christ! Do not take part of it for the whole! What God hath joined together, put not asunder! Take no less for his religion, than the “faith that worketh by love;” all inward and outward holiness. Be not content with any religion which does not imply the destruction of all the works of the devil; that is, of all sin. We know, weakness of understanding, and a thousand infirmities, will remain, while this corruptible body remains; but sin need not remain: This is that work of the devil, eminently so called, which the Son of God was manifested to destroy in this present life. He is able, he is willing, to destroy it now, in all that believe in him. Only be not straitened in your own bowels! Do not distrust his power, or his love! Put his promise to the proof! He hath spoken: And is he not ready likewise to perform? Only “come boldly to the throne of grace,” trusting in his mercy; and you shall find, “He saveth to the uttermost all those that come to God through him!”