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He wrote the history of his nation, the Jews; the fiege, capture, and destruction of Jerusalem at which he was present. Several of the apostles were alive when he was in the prime of life, and St. John survived him. With these means for information with respect to the miracles exhibited by Jesus in his life-time, the phenomenons at his death, and the continued miracles after : how is . it that he doth not notice any of them? But if this were fo; is it not extraordinary that the learned and intelligent Pagans could resist such proo's of a divine miffion? they could not view such things with careless indifference; much less could they, as we find they did, laugh at the performers, detest their abettors, and abhor a religion so propagated. But the truth is, that it was not so: there were no such miracles performed. It inay be asked, how it was possible the fathers; men of respectable characters; and teachcrs of so pure a religion, could claim such power, record so many acts, and sometimes offer proofs, without some foundation, some ground to stand upon, some support? What these were, we are told by Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry, Julian and others : Lucian says Whenever any crafty juggler, expert in his trade, and who knew how to profit by it, went over to the Christians he was sure to grow rich, by impofing on their credulity.' Celsus represents all the Christian wonder workers, as meer .vagabonds and coinmon cheats, who

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rambled

Ommon

* rambled about to fairs and markets; not in the

circles of the wiser or better fort, for among (such they never ventured to appear ; but where

they saw a set of raw young fellows, slaves, or ( fools, here they obtruded themselves, and prac• ticed all their arts of deception. Cæcilius calls them- a lurking nation, shunning the light; • mute in public'; prating in corners. The charge of fraud and imposture was constantly urged against them by their opponents, and I think, with good reason. Did they ever exhibit their miracles among the learned, intelligent, or higher ranks of people ? No. To whom then ? To the lowest class, to the uninformed, weak and ignorant only. What were those miracles ? Such only as might easily be counterfeited, when aided by collufion--casting out devils, healing the fick, lame, blind, and causing the dumb to speak. It is observable that the primitive fathers, and their succeffors, the great advocates for the Christian cause; though they record so many miracles wrought in its support, never asserted that they themselves pofseffed a power of performing them: nor do the former give us the name of any particular person who did. They, craftily or ignorantly, content themselves with saying these miracles are done by us; by our

people; among us; by our exorcists. Igno. rant men : women : boys : or any simple Christian. The latter frequently assert that their prede

ce flors ceffors were endued with this power; and most of them were, in rotation, honoured in the same manner. There is one iniracle, which for its usefulness in propagating the gospel, would have been of more worth than all the rest; I mean the gift of tongues. And though we find upon record inftances of faints and martyrs, who spoke after their tongues were cut out, fome of them even better than before, yer we do not read a sin. gle instance wherein that gift was exerciled by any particular person; and the reason is obvious, it could not be counterfeited. Another miracle could not be counterfeited easily; and therefore, though much talked of, I prefume was never practiced. I mean raifing the dead lo life. From the time of the apostles, and in their time we read but of two in the Acts) throughout the three first centuries, we do not find a single record that this miracle was actually performed upon any particular occasion : enough offered in which the interests of Chriftianity would have been greatly promoted by this proof of its superior excellence. The Heathens, as Irenæus confesses, constantly affirmed, the thing was impossible; and there. fore I think it probable that a few real, undirguised, and open performances of this miracle, properly timed, would have influenced their greatest philosophers and most learned fceptics. We read that Autolicus, an eminent Heathen, in anfwer to the arguments of his friend Theo.

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philus, Bishop of Antioch, (the first prelate of the Eastern Church) who wished him to embrace the Christian faith, replied— Raife before me • one man from the dead, and I will immediately ' become a Christian.' Surely this was a reasonable request, if, as Irenæus afferts at this very rime, raising from the dead was frequently performed, and that men fo raised dwelt among them many years : here however, the Bishop wanted power : the Heathen faith. The doctrine of faith seems to have been the chief ground and support of the Christian religion : the Pagans affirmed the primitive Christians had no other. Celfus fays They neither chose to receive, or

to give any reason for their faith : but 'gene'rally replied-Do not examine, but believe

only, and thy faith will save thee." Julian affirins--that the sum of all their wisdom was como prized in this single precept-Believe. When we examine what they were required to believe, we cannot wonder at the ridicule which ensued. Tertullian (who wrote about the end of the sea cond, and died in the beginning of the third century) says The Son of God was crucified 'it is no shame to own it, because it is a thing to ''be ashamed of. The Son of God died: it is ' wholly .credible, because it is absurd. When buried, he rose again to life: it is certain, ben cause it is imposible. The pious St. Austin said L'He believed some things, because they were

' absurd

• absurd and impossible. When the absurdity, and even impossibility of a thing was thus urged as an argument, proof, or inducement for its belief, what serious answer could be given by sensible men? They plainly saw the fathers taught, practised, or encouraged, the greatest absurdities; the boldeft forgeries; the groffest impositions : and all these in so bungling a manner ; that they imposed upon none but the weak and ignorant. To such only could the said Tertullian address himself, when he said — The true disciples of • Christ have nothing more to do with curiotity or ' enquiry; but when once they are become be' lievers, their fole business is to believe on. Was he not warranted in saying this, by the great saint, Paul? Who, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians ; says—'We walk by faith, not by sight,'ch.v, V. 7*. We find, by the writings of Cicero, Lucian, and others ; that human reason had obtained an easy triumph over Paganism, as a religion ; ty detecting and exposing its extravagance, its follies, its deceptions : but as magistrates, they still conformed to it as a civil institution, useful to the state when subservient to it. After this could it be expected that men, thus enlightened ; would receive froin such men, and so inforced ; a faith which apparently was absurd in a much

* Another quotation from the fame Epistle, vide page and another from his Epistle to the Romans, vide page

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