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men, the purity of whose lives no one can impeach, persisted to the last in a firm, consistent, unshaken testimony to this miraculous history. Not only so, they go about and preach these specific facts, and the doctrines springing out of them, and live a self-denying, beneficent, holy life; and thus living and bearing witness, they bring upon themselves gratuitously, and with a full knowledge of the consequences, enmity, hatred, peril, and death. Such a testimony never can be disputed or disbelieved, except on principles which would destroy the validity of all testimony, and end in annihilating human intercourse. That such men should invent things entirely false, should then give them out as true, at the peril of life; and should suffer themselves to be put to death, all of them, for attesting that they had seen with their eyes what they did not see, is contradictory to all the known principles of human nature. This is the first point, the number and character of our witnesses prove that, as they are credible in their narrative generally, so they are most of all credible in what is the main part of it, the extraordinary actions performed.
2. Again : what did the converts of the first century believe, and what did they attest to those of the second, but the facts of the gospel
miracles, of the resurrection of their Lord especially, and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, on which Christianity rested its claims?
Their giving credit to a narrative founded on these wonderful operations, included, in the very first place, a belief in the account of those operations. If the works had not been performed, what would have availed all the fragments of the story? If Christ had not really wrought his miraculous works, really risen, really ascended into heaven, and by many infallible proofs assured his disciples of his divine mission ; if he had not really poured out the gifts of the Holy Ghost according to his promise, Christians would have had nothing to believe in; the whole of Christianity would have been a lie. But these facts were universally admitted as true by the contemporaries of the apostles. They rest not only on their testimony, as immediate witnesses, but on the suffrage of the whole Jewish nation, to whom they appealed. This is a most important circumstance in considering the truth of the extraordinary works recorded in the gospel narrative. For the credibility of contemporary history, be it remarked, when uncontradicted, springs not only from the personal qualities of those who write, but also from the suffrage of all their countrymen, friends and enemies, to whom the writings
are submitted. In reading the evangelical history, it is the nation, it is the whole age whom we hear. If the works said to be miraculous had not taken place, the cry of indignation raised in all the places where the false accounts came, would have resounded with a tremendous echo to posterity, and have left us in the present age no Christian religion to discuss.
3. I observe further, that monuments were set up in memory of the wonderful facts recorded in the scriptures at the time when they took place, and have continued ever since. This is one of the marks laid down with such acuteness by Leslie, We have already noticed that the institutions appointed by our Christian books, and still subsisting, prove their credibility generally; but we now apply the observation to the miraculous part of the history. For the mighty works of our Lord, his resurrection, his ascension, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the miraculous powers of the apostles, were accompanied with the propagation of a new religion, with the promulgation of divine laws; with all the institutions of a peculiar religious society, called the Christian church; with the celebration therein of the sacrament of bap
3 Frayssinous' Defense du Christianisme, i. 506.
tism, as a direct dedication of all its members to their Lord and Saviour; and of the sacred eucharist in commemoration of his death and passion; together with the solemn observance of the first day in every week to record and signalise his resurrection from the dead-in a word, with all the associations and usages which mark Christian nations. These monuments were set up at the time when the wonderful works were done, and as memorials of them. They owed their origin to them, and to them alone. Every individual in every age of the Christian church has known, and knows, that he was baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, as having established his divine mission by a series of wonderful operations; and that he celebrates the Lord's Supper in remembrance of his death, and observes as sacred the first day of the week, in express commemoration of his resurrection.
Now it was utterly impossible for an impostor to have invented the extraordinary facts of the New Testament, and then have written an account of them and imposed it on the descendants of the first Christians : because such impostor must not only have invented the wonderful facts, and forged the books recording them, but must have contrived also the public actions and monuments connected with these
facts; and must further have persuaded the people that they and their fathers had always believed them, and observed the usages from the time of Christ to their own; when every man, woman, and child would have risen up to contradict him.
A man might as well pretend, any day now, to produce an account of wonderful adventures achieved by some ancient saint or hero a thousand years ago, by Bede for example, or Alfred, and in confirmation of this, endeavour to persuade the Christian world that they had all along, from that time to this, been baptized in his name, and in belief of such wonderful works.—Is it possible that such a fraud could succeed?
Or he might with as much prospect of success, attempt at this day to invent a book of statutes or acts of parliament for England, and make them pass upon the nation as the old established laws of the country founded on Magna Charta, which they and their fathers had always received and been governed by, when not a creature had ever heard of them. The case refutes itself. In fact, there never was a book of forged laws palmed upon any people since the world began. So certainly do the public actions, usages, and habits of the Christian church, from the time of Christ and