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istry of the apostles, from having been Jews or heathens, and enemies of the gospel, became its devoted followers and heroic confessors. They bore witness, by word and deed, in torture and death, to the great fact that the miracles of Christ were true. And what is their testimony worth? What possible motive can you assign for the total change which took place in all their habits, attachments, manners, and affections, when they became Christians, other than that of deep, solemn conviction? To suppose they were not convinced, is to suppose that they made the most tremendous sacrifices not only without motive, but in direct opposition to the most powerful motives of the human breast. They well knew the poverty and persecution and martyrdom to which they exposed themselves. Why, then, did they become Christians? When afterwards pursued as the off-scouring of all things, and pests of the world; when no name was so odious as that of Christian; when to bring those who bore it to torture was universally accounted meritorious; when it was the study of magistrates and soldiers to invent new modes of tormenting them; when thousands of all ranks and ages were daily slain for the testimony of Jesus, who, by the act of a moment, could have stilled the storm to perfect peace, why did they persist and die? To pretend to explain their steadfastness, except on the supposition of their having firmly believed what they professed, were perfectly absurd. But did they not know? they not know? Living in the same age with the apostles-living in the very places where the miracles were performed, they, if
any on earth, must have possessed the opportunity of discovering the truth with regard to them. We have, then, the impressive facts of hundreds of thousands of the adversaries of the gospel, in the first century of Christianity, Jews and Greeks and Romans, many of whom had been persecutors of Christians, bearing the most positive testimony to what they had every opportunity of investigating, the reality of the miracles of Christ; and sealing their testimony by renouncing all that was dear to them by birth, habit, or education, and embracing Christianity at the expense of the keenest reproach and the most painful death. Testimony stronger or more undeniable than this, I cannot imagine. If this be not sufficient to prove a plain matter of fact, such, for example, as that Lazarus was seen alive after he was known to have been dead, then farewell all history and all knowledge. Nothing can be reasonably believed, except on evidence of sense, and hardly then, after rejecting this.
We have now arrayed as many of the materials of the argument for the gospel miracles as our time would permit. It only remains that we put them together into one view, so as to enable you to appreciate their united strength. I know not how to do this in a better way, than to take the supposition that all the miracles of Christ and of his apostles were fictions, and consequently their authors deliberate deceivers; and then consider how far the supposition will carry us. Let us do so. You understand the supposition. What must be believed by one who will maintain it?
He must believe that Jesus and his apostles, being obscure, unlettered Jews, without a single circumstance to give them influence, were so perfectly silly and mad as to flatter themselves that they could set up a scheme of religion, which, though in utter contradiction to the habits, passions, prejudices, and institutions of all the world, should succeed in overturning the religious systems and institutions of the most enlightened nations; and yet that, with this unaccountable infatuation, they were so singularly wise as to maintain throughout all the miracles which they professed to work in proof of their system, the most perfect consistency with the dignity and disinterestedness of the office they assumed, and with the majesty, holiness, and goodness of that God in whose name they professed to come.
He must believe that Jesus and his apostles were so wicked as to attempt an imposture which involved not only continual dishonesty, but downright blasphemy, and this from motives of mere ambition or avarice; and yet, that during the space of seventy years they kept up such an invariable show of eminent goodness and disinterestedness, as in al! their works to manifest not the smallest appearance of selfishness or any evil design; but, on the contrary, the utmost evidence of self-denial, of self-humiliation, of purity, of holiness, of the tenderest compassion, and the most laborious benevolence, so that even their enemies never brought inconsistency to their charge. He must believe the apostles to have been so strangely in love, either with wealth, or honor, or
power, or something else, as to be willing even out of their obscurity and weakness to seek it by such a desperate scheme as that of Christianity, and yet that, when honors were offered, they earnestly refused them; when they saw the triumph of their enemies in the crucifixion of Christ, and that nothing awaited his followers but disgrace, poverty, and persecution, they persisted in advocating the cause of their fallen leader; and when the storms of persecution grew darker and darker, and ruin and death were the certain consequences of perseverance, and one word of confession would have saved them, such was their infatuated attachment to this scheme of imposture, such their singular devotion to self, to honor, or wealth, or power, or something else, that they drove on from suffering to suffering, from shame to shame, ending at last their pursuit in a bitter death, with the full belief, as Jews, that in eternity they should be condemned to an awful retribution for their whole
He must believe, that while the apostles were so utterly destitute of common ingenuity that they selected precisely that kind of credential which it was the most difficult to forge, and instead of seeking, as other impostors would have done, private or confined or solitary places for their miracles, chose those of the greatest resort and publicity, and then placed and left their miracles directly under the senses of the multitude; that while they had so little contrivance, that instead of selecting a few masked friends, or the most ignorant of the populace for witnesses, they
seemed rather to prefer having hardly any witnesses but enemies, and those frequently of the highest, most literary, and powerful classes; that while so utterly wanting in the common cunning of impostors, that instead of keeping their doings to one or a few places, they performed them anywhere, upon any subjects, however suddenly or confusedly presented, and instead of ceasing when they had done a few with success, continued the hazard for many years, in innumerable instances, and while they were widely separated from one another-I say it must be believed, that Christ and his apostles, with all these evidences of extraordinary idiocy or lunacy, were yet so wonderfully ingenious, wary, and wise, so singularly skilled in imposture, so learned in human nature and the world, such a marvellous match for the combined efforts of the wise and mighty and diligent of Judea and Greece and Rome, laid their plans so deeply, concerted their movements so skilfully, kept their secrets so closely, carried on the whole complicated plot for many years so consistently, that though ever watched while together and while separated, and continually scrutinized by all sorts of witnesses and of enemies, none could ever detect the least flaw in their pretensions-none could discover that the blind did not see, that the lame did not walk, that the Idead did not rise. On the contrary, the people of Bethany were so deceived as actually to believe that they daily saw one of their townsmen, whom they knew to have died, living and eating among them. The people of Jerusalem were so deceived as to be