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his apostles, prove the credibility of the wonderful facts from which they took their rise. The pretence to these facts, if they had not been true, would have extinguished Christianity in its birth.
4. But let the account itself of each of the supernatural actions, as recorded in our books, be examined, with all the attendant circumstances, and the credibility of them will appear. Take the New Testament into your hands and read it. Observe the inimitable simplicity and truth of the respective narratives. Notice how indissolubly they are connected and interwoven with the whole history. See how naturally they arise out of the preceding circumstances, and join on upon those which follow. Observe the impression which the extraordinary events made, the surprise and astonishment of the attendant multitudes, and their direct ascription of them to divine power.5 Mark how essential they are to the consistency of the whole story. You discover no art, no patch-work, no second thoughts. The time, the persons, the events before and after, the consequences, the objections raised, all the most minute details, are so exquisitely given, that the veracity of the whole shines out con
5 See some striking thoughts in Mr. Penrose's late work on the IMPRESSIon made by our Lord's miracles.
spicuously at every turn. They cannot be forgeries. Things which might tend to lessen the greatness of the facts, especially the ascription of them by our Lord's enemies to evil spirits, are faithfully narrated. The inability of the disciples to cast out an unclean spirit is noted. The peculiar dignity and reserve, and what I may call the propriety of our Saviour's conduct, his authoritative and yet simple and unaffected manner of doing his mighty works, are beyond imitation. There is no colouring, no amplification, no study of effect, no eagerness to strike wonder, no anxiety to be believed. The evangelists write as those who give a faithful narrative of a wonderful, but real course of action. Nor is it a slight corroboration of all these arguments, that the undesigned coincidences so admirably adduced by critics in proof of the general credibility of the gospel narrative, fall as frequently upon the miracles as on any other events.
The wonderful deeds then of the New Testament really occurred. To resist such accumulated evidence, borne by such witnesses, attested by all their contemporaries, admitted by their bitterest foes, corroborated by existing monuments and public usages, and strength
6 See Mr. Blunt's Veracity: where the remark is first made, and illustrated with admirable judgment.
ened by all the marks of truth in the accounts themselvesI say, to resist such evidence, not to speculative opinions, but to distinct matters of fact, is to overthrow the very foundations of truth, and to involve men in one bewildering maze of scepticism and absurdity.
And yet this is coolly attempted by modern infidels, not by going into an examination of our arguments, or by producing counterevidence; but by general insinuations against the fallibility of human testimony, by asserting that miracles are contradictory to experience, and by alleging that the proof of remote history is weakened and extinguished by the lapse of time.
But what has the general fallibility of human testimony to do with the strong, unshaken evidence of upright men to specific events which fell under their own notice? For we are now only considering miracles as to the facts on which they rest. What the cause of them might be, that is, whether they are properly miraculous or not, we do not now enquire ; we adduce testimony to the naked facts. Were the water-pots filled with water? Did it become wine? Here are two facts. Was Lazarus dead? Did Lazarus live again after four days? Was Bartimeus blind? Did he receive
his sight? Was our Lord crucified ? Did he live again on the third day? These are the questions.
Now what can general insinuations against human testimony avail in a case like that before us, when every caution has been taken against this very fallibility, and the evidence of twelve unimpeached beholders, with the suffrages of a whole nation, excludes all possibility of mistake? As well might we enter a court of justice, and, when a jury of twelve men upon their oath, under the direction of a learned and impartial judge, have brought in a verdict, upon the testimony of numerous credible witnesses to a specific fact-whisper the fallibility of human testimony.
It is further objected, that these wonderful works are contrary to experience? To what experience? To that of the objector merely ? Then he will shut out all facts of which he is not himself the eye-witness; and the Indian who should refuse to believe on any testimony the fact of water being frozen, would be in the right. But does the objector mean the experience of others? Then he must come to testimony. Thus his objection does not apply. Opposite experience is not necessarily contradictory. In order to oppose experience to iniraculous facts, the objector should contrast the testimony of those who professed to have
seen miracles, and considered them divine; to the testimony of those who, under similar circumstances, saw the same actions, and considered them not divine, but mere impostures.?
Again, it is urged, that the transmission of remote facts is weakened till it becomes extinct. But we are not speaking of a loose, undefined transmission by oral testimony. We are speaking of written testimony, and where a series of separate and credible witnesses, in each age from the present, may be traced up, step by step, till we come to the apostolic. In this view, the Christian church is a society which never passes away, nor leaves a void in the transmission of testimony. The generations of it change only gradually and imperceptibly. The new age of Christians has been baptized into the faith of the great and striking facts of Christianity, and received the distinct testimony of them, long before the old age has passed off. Twenty or thirty individuals joining hands, as it were, across the lines which divide the centuries, form an unbroken chain from the apostles' time to our own. The successive generations of witnesses imperceptibly passing away in the Christian society, are only like the successive changes in the matter of the same human frame, which possesses always
7 See a fine remark to this purport in Bishop Van Mildert's Lect: on Infidelity in loc.