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or a single conceivable motive, in making three thousand of them believe that he whom they had seen on the cross was indeed alive again; and believe it so fully, as to renounce every thing and be willing to suffer any thing for the sake of it, and this on the very spot where the guards that had kept the sepulchre were at hand to tell what was become of the body of Jesus. He must believe, moreover, that although, in attempting to propagate a new religion to the exclusion of every other, they were undertaking what was entirely new, and opposed to the views of all nations; although the doctrines they preached were resisted by all the influence of the several priesthoods, all the power of the several governments, all the passions, habits, and prejudices of the people, and all the wit and pride of the philosophers of all nations; although the age was such as insured to their fabrications the most intelligent examination, with the strongest possible disposition to detect them; although, in themselves, these infatuated men were directly the reverse of what such resistance demanded, and when they commenced were surrounded by circumstances of the most depressing kind, and by opposers specially exulting in the confidence of their destruction; although the mode they adopted was of all modes most calculated to expose their own weakness and dishonesty, and to imbitter the enmity and increase the contempt of their opposers, so that they encountered everywhere the most tremendous persecutions, till torture and death were almost synonymous with the name of Christian; although they had nothing to propose, to Jew or Gentile, as a
matter of faith, but what the wisdom of the world ridiculed, and the vice of the world hated, and all men were united in despising; although they had nothing earthly with which to tempt any one to receive their fabrication, except the necessity of an entire change in all his habits and dispositions, and an assurance that tribulations and persecutions must be his portion; yet, when philosophers, with all their learning and rank and subtlety and veneration, could produce no effect on the public mind, these obscure Galileans obtained such influence throughout the whole extent of the Roman empire, and especially in the most enlightened cities, that in thirty years what they themselves (by the supposition) did not believe, they made hundreds of thousands of all classes, philosophers, senators, governors, priests, soldiers, as well as plebeians, believe and maintain unto death; yea, they planted this doctrine of their own invention so deeply, that all the persecutions of three hundred years could not root it up-they established the gospel so permanently, that in three hundred years it was the established religion of an empire coextensive with the known world, and continues still the religion of all civilized nations. This, says the unbeliever, they did simply by their own wit and industry; and yet he well knows that preachers of the gospel with incomparably more learning, with equal industry, in far greater numbers, and in circumstances immeasurably more propitious, have attempted to do something of the same kind among heathen nations, and could never even approximate to their success. Still
the apostles had no help but that of their own ingenuity and diligence! Such is the belief of the unbeliever. To escape acknowledging that the apostles were aided by miraculous assistance, he makes them to have possessed in themselves miraculous ability. To get rid of one miracle in the work, he has to make twelve miracles out of the twelve agents of the work. The Christian takes a far different course. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. The weapons of their warfare were not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. To which solution genuine philosophy or common-sense would award the prize of rational decision, it is easy to determine.
The argument for the propagation of Christianity is not yet complete. Satisfactory already, it is yet to receive an immense accession of strength. "The wilderness and the solitary place," the immense regions of pagan and Mohammedan desolation, shall yet be glad for the blessings of the gospel, and "the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose." Every nation and kindred shall be brought "into captivity to the obedience of Christ;" for the word hath gone forth out of the mouth of the Lord, "I will give thec the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." How should every heart respond, Amen; and pray, "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
THE FRUITS OF CHRISTIANITY.
IN our preceding lectures we have followed the currents of three independent arguments, each of which was found sufficient to conduct us to a complete proof of the divine authority of the gospel of Christ. That to which we now proceed is especially capable of being "known and read of all men," and deserves to be ranked in the highest class of the evidences of Christianity. Our blessed Lord, speaking of false pretenders to divine revelation, delivered the following rule by which they might be distinguished: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." This is a test universally approved of, and necessarily employed. Its influence on our judgment is unavoidable, and when properly applied, its results are certain. The goodness of a tree cannot be doubted while we know the excellence of its fruit. No more reason have we to question the holy character and divine origin of religion, while its legitimate effects on the lives and hearts of its genuine disciples are holy. We may come to an erroneous conclusion by judging erro
neously of the fruit; by ascribing effects to causes which did not produce them; by charging upon religion a train of consequences of which it was only the incidental occasion, instead of the natural cause. But these are errors in the application, and independent of the correctness of the test. Whenever you have ascertained the true results of any system of doctrine, you have found a plain and certain expression of its intrinsic character. It is good in proportion as the fruit is good. If its fruit be godly, it must itself be of God.
Let infidelity be always tried by this equitable rule, so as to receive the full credit of all the evils which may easily be found to have grown upon its branches-let it be stripped of all those adventitious circumstances of a favorable kind for which it is indebted to the surrounding influence of Christianity, and few eyes will fail to see that the root is one of bitterness, and the tree fit only to be cut down as a cumberer of the ground. If men would judge Christianity also by the fair application of this rule, carefully separating from her genuine productions all those of which, however enemies may love to lay them to her charge, she is only the innocent occasion, it would require but little discernment to be convinced of her heavenly origin, and of the duty of all to spread the knowledge and acceptance of her divine revelation. Such will be the object of the present lecture. Christianity may be known by its fruits Christians are desirous that their faith should be judged by this test, as well as by every other that is