Outline of Sermon on the Divinity of Christ
By W. E. Penn
When compared with the subject we have before us to-day, all other subjects sink into utter insignificance. It is the one great subject upon which all future hopes depend — upon which all future happiness hangs. It is my purpose to so present this subject to-day that every man and woman who are really, truly sceptical, will be compelled, if honest, to admit that I have dealt fairly and honestly with the subject.
That a man called Jesus Christ — and sometimes, by way of reproach, Jesus of Nazareth — once lived upon the earth is an undisputed fact with all who place any reliance in history, either sacred or profane. The ground of dispute concerns divinity. Was He man? just such as we are, and no more? or was He what He claimed to be — what the Bible declares He was, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world? I assume the affirmative; that is, that He was and is just what He claimed to be — the Son of God, far more than man — though born of the Virgin Mary, and I propose to establish it in the mind (not in the heart) of every man who has not come into court with his verdict in his pocket.
In speaking of things that belong to this time, the most important to which we could refer would
be a trial for life. When such a trial comes before the court, our wisest jurists and ablest law-makers have determined that, in order to give the accused a fair and impartial trial, a venire shall be summoned from the body of the county, and that each man so summoned shall be sworn, in the presence and hearing of the accused, that he will true answers make to all questions asked him by the court, or its authority, touching his qualifications as a juror in the case of the State, or Commonwealth, as the case may be, against A. B., the defendant.
Something like the following questions are asked: "Have you expressed or formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant? " If the man answers in the affirmative, a second question is asked, which is: "Is there fixed in your mind such a conclusion that the same could not be removed by the hearing of the evidence and the charge of the Court?" If he answers in the affirmative, he is turned aside as incompetent to do justice in the case. My hearers are the venire summoned for jurors in the trial of a case of far more importance to each man and woman before me than if they were on trial for their lives, because upon the decision of this case hangs the destiny of the soul for a never-ending eternity.
In testing your competency to sit as jurors in the case we have before us, I will not ask the first question; that is, "Have you formed or expressed an opinion as to the truth or falsity of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ? " for it is but reasonable to
suppose that all have done the one or the other, and perhaps both, but I deem it proper and right that I should ask the second question: "Is there formed in your mind, from prejudice or otherwise, such a conclusion that the same cannot be removed by logical reasoning and stern facts?" In other words, have any of yon come into court with your verdict in your pocket? If any shall be compelled to answer in the affirmative, it must be admitted that such are incompetent jurors, and should be turned aside as wholly incapable of rendering a correct decision.
It is but candid to admit that every unbeliever's mind is more or less prejudiced, but it might be very profitable for each one to inquire as to the cause of this prejudice. First, I will say that it cannot be based upon the religion taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, because every honest man is bound to admit that if the whole world would admit their teachings there never would be another crime committed, but that this would become the paradise of God. The only reply that skepticism can make to this is that man is wholly incapable of attaining to this high estate. In this reply they admit two great gospel truths, to-wit: Man's total depravity and his utter inability to extricate himself. There are two causes for real skepticism. I say real, because I believe that there are real skeptics, men and women, who are really honest.
A blind man put in the midst of a garden of the prettiest flowers that ever grew on the earth, may
hear his wife and his mother praising them for their beauty and sweetness, and yet, as he walks among them, he is continually being pricked by the thorns hidden by the flowers, and much pain is all that he finds; and that man almost doubts the honesty of his own wife and his old mother. When the natural man who is spiritually blind walks into the beautiful garden of flowers — the Bible — he is continually pricked with the thorns — the great truths, which remind him that he is a sinner — that he is a lost soul — that he must repent of and give up all his sins, and in all these things he cannot see any beauty; but these thorns of truth continually prick him, until he is led to doubt whether his wife is honest, or his mother and his friends in their expressions of delight in the Word. The real skeptic is always a man of shallow thought on this subject, though of great mind generally, and thoughtful on other subjects. Being accustomed to rely on his natural wisdom in all earthly matters, and knowing no other source of wisdom, he is led astray in this matter. He overlooks that passage in the word of God which says: "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, because they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
He loses his soul in trying to reason his way to God.
Others become skeptical because of the samples of Christianity we too often furnish them to look at.
Infidel Hypocrits Strange, but true, we have what I would call Infidel Hypocrites. They are men (sometimes women) who profess to be infidels, but they are not. Whenever you find a young man professing to be an infidel, you will find one who will never die of brain fever, but will be almost certain to die of the "big-head." You will never find one such with brains enough to attract the attention of any respectable fever. The little fellow is trying to impress some old man's girl that he has some sense — that he is "edicated " — but the fact is that he could never get an appointment to a lightning-bug convention.
And if by any fraudulent device he could get such an appointment, the lightning-bugs would laugh themselves to death at his little light. The committee on credentials would swear that he was a gnat, and that his little light was fox-fire, and he would be sent home. If he ever gets married the woman he gets will wish that she had married a gnat in less than a week, for she could kill the gnat and not be charged with murder, but if any woman should kill such a fellow in any of the States where murder is defined to be "The killing of any reasonable creature in being,'' I am of the opinion that she could make a good strong fight on the point that the thing she killed was not a reasonable creature in being, but only a two-legged creature in being.
Another class of so-called infidels is represented by the fellow who manages to get credit in the North and East, and goes up there and buys a large
stock of goods, wares and merchandise — all on credit — and brings them down to this country and sells them out and gets the money and puts it in his wife's pocket, and then goes into a bankrupt court, or some other court, and swears that he has been swindled out of all he had, or that it was burned up in the house (which he set on fire), and then he makes a settlement with his creditors, and it is not long until he is in business in the name of his wife, or some other person; and so, when the big meetings come along, he feels his sins so much and a good deal more than any one else, except the coldblooded murderers, but knowing that a just God cannot forgive his sins unless he will pay back his-ill-gotten money — the money he stole — and not being willing to do that — he must give some reason for at least not trying to become a Christian, and so he looks as wise as an owl and says, "I'm an infidel." Poor fellows tries to hide under an infidel umbrella, which is made of a very thin article of mosquito-bar goods.
Honest Skeptics It is to this class I will now address what I have to say. In attempting to establish the divinity of Christ the custom has been to ASSUME that the Bible is of divine origin, and then to turn to its pages for proof of the position. But the honest skeptic says: "This is taking an unfair advantage of me; if I admit that the Bible is what it professes, to be — that it is worthy of credit — I will then have.
admitted all that could be required of me, and as the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I would be a fool to deny his divinity." And he further says: "I deny the divinity of the Bible; I deny the credibility of your witness." I propose to use the Bible in discussing this subject, but I propose to establish its divinity before I put it on the stand as a witness.
I will present the subject in the nature of a bill in Chancery. I file the bill for, and represent the complainants — those who are contending and claiming that Jesus Christ is what he professes to be — against all who deny his divinity as respondents.
The only way to handle any subject fairly and honestly is to begin at the bottom; and so I will begin at the very bottom of this.
My first proposition is that there is more or less uncertainty as to the authorship of every book on earth, the book called the Bible alone excepted. To state the proposition in another way : The Bible is the only book on earth the authorship of which can be ascertained and determined by reading its contents.
First It must be admitted that this book was made by some intelligent being, or beings, at some time, or times, in the past of the world's history.
Secondly It must be admitted that it was not made by any lower order of intelligence than man.
It must be admitted that there is no higher order of intelligence known in the world than man. Here we find that we are irresistibly FORCED to the conclusion that this wonderful book called the Bible was
Made by Manor by some higher order of intelligence than man, of which we know nothing at all outside of the Bible, except what we learn from the great Book of Nature around us. My next proposition is that it is wholly
Impossible for Man, or Men, to have been the Authors of the Bible If I make this point then my case is gained, for I will have established the divinity of the Bible, and have made it a competent witness, entitled to full credit for all that it says, whether you or I understand it or not. If men made this book we call the Bible, they must have been of a much higher order of intelligence than any now living, or who have lived in the past 1800 years, because no one has been found able to fathom its depths or to scale its heights. If such an order of intelligence ever existed among men, is it not passing strange and most unaccountable that they never made Their Mark or Left their Impressupon anything else, except to make and hand down '-to their posterity this wonderful book — the Bible? Is it not the strangest thing beneath the sun that
these great men — the authors of the Bible — never left any other evidence of any kind whatever of their superior intelligence, their great learning, their wonderful vision, except in making and handing down to their posterity this, the most wonderful of all books now upon the whole earth? It must be admitted that nothing short of a very intelligent being, or beings, could have been the author, or authors, of the Bible, and that an intelligent being, or beings, would have had some very important end :in view — would have had reasonable ground for believing that they would be remunerated, compensated in some way, for this immense labor in thus making or handing down to their posterity such a book as we find the Bible to be? Let us go back to the age, or ages, in which the Bible must have been written, if we place any confidence in history, either sacred or profane. The art of printing not yet being known in the world, it could not have been to get gain by its sale, because they could not have written them fast enough; and because they would have been so unpopular there would have been no demand for them.
It could not have been to get unto themselves a great name at the expense of bringing everlasting infamy and disgrace upon themselves and their posterity, because it is recorded in the Bible that all men are conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity — that all men go forth from infancy speaking lies — that none doeth good, no not one — that all have gone astray, that the heart is deceitful above
all things and desperately wicked — that the thoughts of the heart are evil, and that continually — that the tongue is set on fire of hell — that man is of his father, the devil — that he is filled with all unrighteousness, and many other Scriptures on the same line teach that man is a cesspool of iniquity, and all of which applies to and includes ALL MEN, which must of necessity include the author, or authors, of the Bible — if man be its author. It is impossible to believe that any man or men could have written thus about themselves, and their children, and their children's children, without a very fair prospect of great gain in some way; and as I have shown that it was utterly impossible for them to have even expected any remuneration whatever, it is impossible that man could have been the author of the Bible.
Good or Bad If men were the authors of the Bible, they must have been either good or bad men. They could not have been good men, because good men could not have originated and palmed off on the credulity of their own children and their children's children, without any hope of being benefitted thereby, such a miserable fraud as the Bible must be if man be its author. They could not have been bad men, because bad men — men of such wicked and depraved hearts as all men are declared to be in their natural state, in the book called the Bible — never could have conceived of such pure and exalted principles of morals as we find laid down and taught in the
Bible — so pure, upright and holy that no man can be found in all the earth who can live up to, keep and observe, in letter and spirit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Here the most skeptical, if not under a fatal delusion, must ground their arms, must make a complete surrender, and make the honest confession that it is wholly impossible for man to have been the author of the Bible.
If man was the author of the Bible, it must be admitted that it is the basest fraud upon the whole earth, and it must be also admitted that this stupendous fraud — this fountain source of lies, this cesspool of iniquity has remained uncovered — has baffled the skill and ingenuity of thousands of the wisest men that have lived in the past 1800 years, because no man has ever professed to understand it.
Is the Religion of Christ of Man or of Good? It cannot be of man, because it is not within the range of possibility that any institution or organization of man could have passed under the dark clouds — could have crossed the stormy seas — could have crossed the rivers of blood — could have withstood the unceasing war of its millions of enemies, among whom have been many of the most learned men in all the professions and avocations of the last 1800 years, and far more than this, could have survived the seemingly internal divisions and strife, often ending in some of the most cruel and bloody wars; and, even more than this, could have survived the miserable conduct of the hosts of traitors — black-hearted
HYPOCRITES — the religion of Jesus Christ has always had within her camps, from Judas Iscariot down to the present time. Could that time-honored institution — Free Masonry — have withstood one-hundredth part as much and still have maintained its existence? Every honest man must answer with an emphatic "NO, NO; Free Masonry would be a stench in the nostrils of a thief." But in the face of all these things combined, and many others I could mention, destroying, exterminating from existence this religion, or even lowering its standard of excellency, or in any manner marring its purity, it has come out from it all without the smell of any or all of these terrible hot fires upon its garments; and to-day it presents a smoother surface than at any age of its existence, and is the pride and admiration of the entire civilized world — the few skeptics alone excepted — and even they do not wish to see the Bible destroyed. Gamaliel, one of the shrewdest men who lived in the Apostolic times — and who was an unbeliever, a skeptic — said: "If this religion be of man it will come to naught;" and now, if Gamaliel could come to life, he certainly would say: "This religion cannot be of man, because it has stood for over 1800 years the severest tests that anything on earth ever written has stood, and has a firmer hold on mankind than it has ever had." Yes, it is a fact that the glorious principles of this religion are falling upon the minds and hearts of the heathen nations of the earth like the small rain upon the mown grass. To-day her blood-stained banner
is unfurled in every land beneath the sun. The religion of Jesus Christ cannot be of man, because, in the hour of death, all man's institutions have been renounced as insufficient to give peace, solace and comfort in that trying moment; but not one professor of the religion of Jesus Christ was ever known, to renounce it upon a deathbed; and this is the more worthy of note since it is a fact that this religion has, had within its camps many of the weakest minds, and that many of them have endured the severest tests, such as being tortured in stocks, being sawn asunder, and burned at the stake, etc.
My last witness is that peculiar people, scattered among all the nations and tribes of the earth, called Israelites, or Jews. They once lived together as other nations — had their civil, laws and all the paraphernalia of government as other people, but something over two thousand years ago they were overpowered by the Gentiles — their land was taken from them — the walls of their beautiful Jerusalem was beaten down, and they were led away captive and scattered among the nations and tribes of the earth, and so have they remained until this day.
During all these long years of captivity, long and weary years of exile from their fatherland — years to uncalled-for abuse and bitter persecution, even to the shedding of the blood of their wives, mothers, old men and little children, they have strictly maintained their nationality, and the same form of worship observed by their fathers over three thousand years ago. No nation or tribe that has ever existed
upon the earth can furnish a history like unto the Jews. None so remarkable, so wonderful, so very mysterious. Without the Bible the history of the Jews presents a problem, a mystery, that no human wisdom can solve. The intelligent mind knows that there must be a reason — that there must be a cause for the Jews being, for more than 1800 years, in this scattered condition, and yet maintaining their nationality and their religion intact. Other nations have been broken up and scattered over the earth, and some have become extinct; the Jews alone are the same, whether under their king in their own land, living in their gilded palaces, or homeless wanderers among the nations and tribes of the earth — hated, despised, and often persecuted even unto death. Can the wisdom of this world,
Unaided by the Bibleaccount for these things? Where would human reason begin? Would you attempt to account for it because of the ignorance of the Jews? You would utterly fail, because, if all the Jews were gathered together from all the nations and tribes of the earth, and colonized upon some of the islands of the sea, you would see the most intelligent nation of all the earth. If you will bring me one Jew or Jewess who cannot read or write, I will bring you five that can speak five different languages.
Poverty Would you say that it was because of their poverty?
When you colonize them let them carry with them just what belongs to them, and you will have the wealthiest nation in the world.
Outside of the lids of the Bible these things must be and remain a profound mystery until the death-knell of time shall be sounded. A Bill of Discovery In the Chancery Court, when the opposite party are in possession of documentary evidence, or of facts that cannot be obtained from any other source, the party desiring the information, or evidence, may file what is called a Bill of Discovery, representing that the other party are in possession of the documents, or facts, and that they cannot be had from any other source, and ask that they may be required to bring them into court, to be used in the trial of the case. I here file a Bill of Discovery, and ask that the Jews, who are a portion of the respondents, come into court and bring with them the Old Testament. My request is granted and I obtain an interlocutory order, or decree, and the Jews come into court and bring the Old Testament; and now let me read a little from it and see if we cannot have the mystery explained.
If in this old book we find that a correct history of the Jews was written over four thousand years ago; that is, that God caused a man, or that a man four thousand years ago did write a correct history of the Jews for four thousand years to come, will not every honest man be compelled to admit that the
Old Bible is not of man alone, because it would be impossible for a man to look through the dark vale of the future for four thousand years and tell with perfect accuracy what should occur with a nation of people during this time? If we shall find that it is true that a correct history of the Jews was foretold 4000 years ago, and that it is recorded in the Bible — the Old Testament — will you not, as an honest man, admit that the Old Testament is of divine origin,
That it is of God? And if you are compelled to admit that the Old Testament is of God, you are bound to admit that the New Testament is of God, and if you admit that the New Testament is of God, you are bound to admit that
Jesus Christ is the Son of God,just as He is represented in both the Old and New Testaments. Moses said, over three thousand years ago, of and concerning the Jews: "Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field; cursed shalt thou be in thy basket, and thy store; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land; cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee until He shall have consumed thee from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And thou shalt grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways. And
thou shalt be only oppressed, and spoiled ever more, and no man shall save thee. And thou shalt become an astonishment — a proverb, and a by-word among all the nations whither the Lord shall lead thee; and the Lord shall scatter thee among all people from one end of the earth, even to the other, and among these nations shalt them find no ease — neither shall the soul of thy foot find rest, but the Lord shall give thee these, a trembling heart, a failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and them shalt fear, day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, would God it were even, and in the evening them shalt say, would God it were morning." This being written by Moses, we know that it was written before the children of Israel — the Jews about whom Moses was speaking — had entered the promised land. How could Moses have known the history, the destiny of this people, when it all lay deep hidden in the womb of time? Every intelligent being is bound to admit that nothing short of the mighty God could have known these things, and that He must have communicated them to Moses. Now, if in searching this Old Testament, we shall find that not only has the history of the Jews been foretold with perfect accuracy, but that we have the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ foretold with equal accuracy — all the prominent things connected with Him, and all foretold by men of God — the Prophets from 487 to 400 years before His birth, what will you then say of His divinity?
Hear What the Prophets Say One of them tells us, 4000 years before his birth, that He would be born; 1921 years, the nation, tribe and family He would descend from; 1689, the time when he would be born; 1452, the place he would be born; 698, that he would be worshiped by the wise men; 606, that there would be a massacre at Bethlehem; 740, that he would be carried into Egypt; 713, that He would be known by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him — that he would work miracles — that He would cast the buyers and sellers out of the temple; 712, that He would be hated and persecuted; 1000, that the Gentiles and Jews would conspire to destroy Him; 518, that He would ride triumphantly into Jerusalem; 487, that He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver; 1000. that He would be betrayed by one of His own familiar friends; 485, that His disciples would forsake Him; 1000, that He would be accused by false witnesses; 712, that He would not plead upon His trial; 1000, that He would be buffeted, insulted and spit upon; 700, that He would be scourged; 1000, that He would be crucified; that they would offer Him gall and vinegar to drink; that they would part His garments, and cast lots for His vesture; that He would be mocked by His enemies; 487, that His hands, feet and sides would be pierced; 700, that He would be patient under His sufferings; 1000, that He would pray for His enemies; 713, that He would die with malefactors; 500, that there would be an earthquake, and remarkable darkness at His death;
700, that He would be buried with the rich; 780, that He would arise from the dead; 1000 that His betrayer would die suddenly and miserably.
Born of A Virgin By three different Prophets — by one 4000 years before His birth; by one 712, and by another 606, it was foretold that He should be born of a virgin. Now, add to all this the prophesy of Jesus about the Jews. Just before His crucifixion He said: "They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Now, is it not a fact that within less than forty years after he said this that the prophesy was fulfilled to the letter? Is it not a fact that they have been thus scattered among the nations and tribes of the earth for more than 1800 years, and that they are so scattered at this moment? These are stubborn facts, which no intelligent man or woman will attempt to deny, and, being beyond refutation, will establish the divinity of Christ beyond the shadow of a doubt, for no mortal man could write the future history of a nation of people, with perfect exactness and precision, for more than 1800 years. Leaving all other points I have established, this alone establishes the fact that Christ is all that he claimed to be, THE SON OF GOD, THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD.
Second Coming Christ has told us that the Jews would remain in this scattered condition until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, at which time they shall be gathered to the land God gave them, and He shall come and reign over them. "He whose right it is to reign" shall come in clouds and great glory. Then shall every eye behold him, and they also who pierced Him, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son. ==================
[From Ben M. Bogard, editor, Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, 1900 - jrd
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