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which miracles had obtained for the gospel in times past—should have neglected so powerful a means of proselyting the world? It was not for want of importunity on the part of others; for his opposers were constantly teasing him with their demands on this head. It was not because he could anticipate no favorable influence from a well-sustained pretension to miracles; for his adversaries assured him, even by oaths, that on the evidence of one such sign they would own his claims. Nor was it that Mohammed was too honest. The marvellous tales of the nocturnal visits of Gabriel, of his own nightjourney, and of the transmission, from time to time, of parcels of the uncreated book from heaven, prove what this impostor was capable of attempting when allured by a prospect of success. Nor was it that this unequalled adventurer was deficient in an unusual degree of craft and address for the management of bold imposture. His whole biography would refute such an opinion. Nor was it that he was surrounded with a people peculiarly prepared, by knowledge and cultivated discernment, for the detection of such frauds. The age was one of the darkest in the annals of man, and his country one of the darkest of that age. Nor could it have been that his cause needed no such auxiliary, for the fruits of his labor, during the first three years, were only fourteen disciples; and in ten years his cause had not advanced beyond, and had made but little progress within, the walls of Mecca. Then if Mohammed was neither too honest to attempt the forgery of miracles, nor too
unskilful to manage it with cunning and address; if his cause needed it, and his enemies demanded it, and the barbarity of the people and age favored it, no earthly reason can be given for his having disclaimed the attempt, except that he considered it too difficult and hazardous, too certain of detection, even among a barbarous, credulous, and superstitious race. The religion of the Bible is the only one that ever ventured on such evidence in proof of divine original. This single fact, united with the well-known truth, that however her miracles may have been derided and suspected by enemies, none ever pretended to have discovered an imposition, is strong presumptive evidence that they had a reality which no human device could rival-a truth which no human scrutiny could alarm.
In coming, therefore, to our present examination, we should feel that the religion of the Bible stands alone, not only as to the wisdom and grandeur of her communications, but equally so as to the boldness of her evidence, the sublimity of her credentials, and the godlike dignity with which she cometh to the light, that her deeds "may be made manifest that ́they are wrought in God."
We proceed to the testimony connected with the miracles of Christ.
1. We observe, in the first place, that supposing the works related of the Lord Jesus to have actually occurred, many of them must have been genuine miracles. They cannot be ascribed to natural causes. If five thousand men were fed, when all the food to feed
them with, prior to the act of Jesus, was a few loaves and fishes; if the centurion's servant was healed at the word of Jesus, while the latter was nowhere within the sight, or hearing, or knowledge of that servant; if the man born blind was made to see by no other physical act than that of Jesus putting clay on his eyes, and his washing it off in the pool of Siloam; if Lazarus, having been dead four days, did come forth from the sepulchre at the word of Jesus, then we have facts for which no natural causes can account. They are unquestionable miracles, and we are forced to the alternative of either denying, in the face of all evidence, the truth of the statements contained in the gospel history, or else acknowledging that miracles, in the fullest sense, were wrought at the word of Christ.
2. The miracles of Christ were such as could at once be brought to the test of the senses. It is essential to a rational belief in miraculous agency, that we be presented with facts of such a nature that the senses of those present could easily decide upon their reality and their supernatural character. Now, that the senses of the most ignorant were as competent as those of the most learned; that the senses of any man or woman in Judea were perfectly competent to decide whether the son of the widow of Nain, having been dead and carried out to be buried, did arise and sit up at the word of Christ, and continue thereafter to reside, a living man, in Nain; that any one's senses were perfectly competent to judge whether thousands of men were fed with a few loaves and
fishes, or the blind received their sight, or the lepers were cleansed, or those notoriously lame from their birth were enabled to walk at the bidding of Christ, it would be folly to doubt.
3. The miracles of Christ were performed for the most part in the most public manner. It is the detracting circumstance of all the most plausible pretensions to miracles, exclusive of those of the Scriptures, that they were done in a corner, or in the presence only of those already inclined to believe them, or under favor of circumstances calculated to prevent a free examination. Just the contrary is the fact with regard to a great portion of the wonderful works of Christ. Not only were they accessible to the senses of witnesses, but to the senses of multitudes of witnesses, of witnesses with the most eager and violent enmity to the claims of Jesus; witnesses from all ranks and classes in society-the learned and mighty, as well as the ignorant and feeble-the scribes and Pharisees, the priest and the centurion, as well as the publicans and beggars. It was in the synagogues, in the streets, in the open fields surrounded by thousands, in the midst of Jerusalem, and at the time of the great annual festivals, when an immense concourse of Jews, from all parts of the world, crowded the holy city, that almost all of the mighty works of Jesus were performed. In this way, as in other ways, he could say to his persecutors, "I spake openly to the world."
His miracles were wrought upon subjects so numerous, in so many places, and in such circumstances,
that none could suspect the cases to have been previously selected and prepared. What the condition of the subject had been before the miracle, thousands knew, and all could easily ascertain. What it was, for a long time after the miracle, was equally notorious. Those who were cured of blindness, or leprosy, or lameness, or palsy, or who had been raised from the dead, did not die immediately after, nor hide themselves from public inspection; but continued to go in and out among the people, as living examples of the power of Christ. The grave of Lazarus was surrounded with unbelieving Jews. They saw him come forth. They had as much opportunity as disposition to find out whether it was Lazarus or some one else whether the man was alive, or only pretending to be alive. Instead of being immediately snatched from their view, he was seated some time after as one of the guests at a supper in Bethany; and so well known was the fact, that "much people of the Jews" came to the place to have a sight of one who had been raised from the dead. "The chief priests consulted that they might put him to death, because that, by reason of him, many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus."
4. The miracles of Christ and his apostles were very numerous, and of great variety. It has been a characteristic of all cases of imposture, that the wonderful works pretended to were but few in number, and of great sameness. The sect of the Jansenists, in the church of Rome, pretended to miracles at the tomb, and by the posthumous intercessions of the