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by the apostles of Christ were precisely the contrary. But thus they repelled human nature.
Even with all these advantages in his favor, Mohammed at the end of the first twelve years of his enterprise had not extended his cause beyond the walls of Mecca, and had gained but few disciples within them, because his efforts had been confined to persuasion. While Christianity with all its disadvantages, in half the time from the beginning of the ministry of Christ, could number more than ten thousand disciples in Jerusalem, and churches throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria; and yet her efforts were also confined to persuasion. But Mohammed, after twelve years experience, discovered that even with all his indulgence to passion and pride, some argument much more cogent than that of persuasion was necessary to convince the nations. This was found at the edge of the sword. He sounded. the trump of war, promised the spoils of nations, the fairest of the captives, and the most luxurious arbor in paradise, to those who would join his standard. Then proselytes were multiplied. The roving Arabs, converted to the faith for the sake of the plunder, flocked to his cause. Death or conversion was the only choice of the idolater. "The Koran, the tribute, or the sword," was vouchsafed to Jews and Christians. Henceforward the demon of Mohammedanism was always seated on the hilt of the sword, and made its way by force and slaughter. How and why it prevailed both rapidly and extensively from this time, I am as little bound to explain as to account for the
martial prowess of Napoleon, or of the Goths and It was the success of the warrior, not of
But I may not leave this subject without turning what to some may have seemed almost parallel to the success of the gospel, into an auxiliary illustration of its superhuman power. It is a strong fact in evidence that God was on the side of the apostles, that when they had every thing on earth to contend with, they succeeded, by mere efforts of persuasion, in subduing kingdoms, and bringing innumerable multitudes to holiness of life; while Mohammed and his apostles, in the most favorable circumstances, were confined, as long as they used no weapon but that of persuasion, to a few followers, and had they never taken the sword would probably never have been heard of beyond the sands of Arabia.
But should it still be contended that the success of the apostles may be accounted for without reference to supernatural aid, let the question be answered why, when the same human means have since been employed in so many instances, nothing even approximating to the same results has ever ensued. Jews are found at present as numerous as ever. Some of the strongest obstacles which opposed the success of the gospel among them in the apostolic age, do not now exist. They have no religious establishment, no regular priesthood, no power to persecute. Christianity, on the other hand, is established. Instead of appearing to the Jew as a thing of yesterday, advocated but by a few obscure men, as she did of old, she now presents
herself under the sanction of eighteen centuries, illustrated by the learning of her disciples, professed by all civilized nations. It cannot be said that less human effort in the aggregate has been employed for the conversion of the Jews, than was used by the twelve apostles. Much more money has been expended; much more learning has been devoted; much more human power has been exerted; many more individuals have been employed. The same gospel has been preached. The same arguments have been urged. And why should not corresponding effects appear? "There is reason to think that there were more Jews converted by the apostles in one day, than have since been won over in the last thousand years." The simple explanation is and must be, that the great power of God was with the apostles for the establishment of the truth, in a degree far greater than that in which it is now vouchsafed to his ministers in promoting the wide extension of truth.
From the Jews turn to the heathens. There is no reason to believe that the heathenism of the present day is any more opposed to the propagation of Christianity, than that of the world in the age of the apostles. Instead of twelve, there are hundreds of laborers in this field-men of education, talent, indefatigable zeal, undaunted devotion. The art of printing has furnished them with facilities of which the apostles, unless it be conceded that they possessed the miraculous gift of tongues, were entirely destiThe Scriptures are now circulated in full; * Bryant on the Truth of Christianity.
while, in the days of St. Paul, the canon being incomplete, they were circulated only in parts. In addition to all this, Christianity is recommended among many heathen nations by the political importance of the countries from which its preachers have gone, and in some by the actual coöperation of Christian powers ruling in the midst of pagan institutions. With these important advantages, what is the success of present efforts among the heathen? Enough, indeed, to reward all the zeal expended in their support-enough to show that still the power of God is with the gospel, and that ample encouragement is given for all the increase of effort which Christians can ever bestow on the heathen, but nothing comparable with the success of the apostles. Paul was instrumental in converting more heathens in thirty years, than all modern missionaries in the last five hundred. Ex
plain this fact. It is absurd to attempt it, in view of all the circumstances of the case, except you admit the solution given by Paul himself: "I have planted, and Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." Without this grand truth, "God gave the increase," Christianity would have perished on the cross of its founder.
I have now set before you a miracle, the evidence of which no eye can be too blind to see: Christianity universally propagated, and yet propagated by no earthly influence but that of the apostles. This is the miracle. It is as directly contrary to the laws of nature and to universal experience, as if at the word of man the desert of Arabia should bud and
blossom like a fruitful garden, or the sepulchre give up its dead. As long as this one fact, the propagation of Christianity, shall remain, the gospel will be supported by a weight of proof which infidels can remove only by taking away the foundation of all inductive evidence, and bringing down the whole temple of human knowledge to their own destruction.
Now, in conclusion, let us see what an unbeliever must believe, in consistency with his profession. He must believe that the apostles were either such weak-minded men as to imagine that their crucified Master had been with them from time to time during forty days after his burial, had conversed with them and eaten with them, and that they had every sensible evidence of his resurrection, while in truth he had not been near them, but was still in his sepulchre; or else that they were so wicked and deceitful as to go all over the world preaching that he was risen from the dead, when they knew it was a gross fabrication. Suppose the unbeliever to choose the latter of these alternatives. Then he believes not only that those men were so singularly attached to this untruth as to give themselves up to all manner of disgrace and persecution and labor for the sake of making all the world believe it, knowing that their own destruction must be the consequence; but also, what is still more singular, that when they plunged, immediately at the outset of their ministry, into an immense multitude of those who, having lately crucified the Saviour, were full of enmity to his disciples, they succeeded, without learning, eloquence, power,