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fellow-creatures and relieve their woes, it must have been some object of ambition or of gain which they were pursuing. We do not pause now to show what perfect idiots they must have been to select such a scheme out of ambitious or pecuniary motives. But since, on the supposition that their works were fictitious, we can imagine no other, the question arises, How do these miracles correspond with the idea that the agents were impostors, and their motives ambitious or covetous ?
Now I maintain, that considering how many and various are the miracles recorded in the New Testament, in what various circumstances and by what various agents they were performed-not for a month or year only, but many years, in full assemblages of enemies-it would have been quite miraculous, supposing them false, had they been in every instance garnished with a concealment so perfect that nothing low, or mean, or undignified, nothing betraying the spirit of designing, ambitious, or covetous men, should ever have been manifested. Take up the accounts of any confessedly fictitious miracles, in any age or country, and you will soon detect the handwriting of the spirit and motives that produced them. But most singularly, contrary to all experience and all law, on the assumption that the miracles of Christ. and his apostles were fictitious, you discover nothing in them but what is entirely worthy of the majesty, holiness, justice, and goodness of that God by whose power they professed to be wrought. The most perfect correspondence appears between the exalted and
holy character and office in which the Saviour and his apostles claimed to be received, and the works by which their claim was sustained. Propriety, dignity, disinterestedness, benevolence of the loveliest spirit, and compassion of the tenderest sensibility, distinguished them. Not the least trace is marked on them of any ambitious or other suspicious motive. Though the Lord Jesus and his apostles were compassed about with reproachful and persecuting enemies, you discern nothing vindictive or resentful. Though always in personal poverty, "despised and rejected of men," their miracles discover nothing ostentatious, nothing to gratify curiosity, no anxiety for repute, no aim at wealth or temporal power. While feeding the hungry by thousands, Jesus continued in poverty. While, as the good shepherd, ever following the lost sheep through suffering and want, that he might administer to their necessities, he showed no sign of any care for himself. Now, if Jesus and his apostles did not work miracles in truth-if their high claims were false, and they consequently were prosecuting a scheme of imposture with selfish purposes, either of ambition or gain, there is something in all this singularly unaccountable-very unlike the laws of nature-exceedingly miraculous.
13. But that the miracles of the gospel were not fictitious, but genuine and undeniable, we have the plainest and strongest confession from the primitive adversaries of Christ and his cause. In the first place, we have a very conclusive and impressive confession, though silent, from the whole Jewish nation
and the whole gentile world. It consists in this unquestionable fact, that no individual among them ever detected, or was supposed to have detected, an imposture. You are to remember that these miracles were addressed to the senses, performed in open daylight, with all possible publicity; that they were exceedingly numerous and various, wrought by many different agents, in many and remote countries, before citizens of the most enlightened cities, and in the most enlightened age of the Roman empire; that those of the apostles did not cease until nearly seventy years from their commencement, during all which time they must have endured the very closest scrutiny that the combined forces of learning, enmity, and political authority could institute. You are to remember, also, what kind of men were those who performed them, and that the accounts of them which we now possess were published far and wide in the very places where the works were done, and among the very people who are said to have witnessed them. You are to remember, for example, the miracle of the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem; how it was published abroad in Jerusalem and the whole empire, that on that day an immense multitude of people of all languages were amazed at hearing the twelve apostles, who were well known as unlettered Jews, preaching the gospel in so many different languages; that all, whether Cretes, Arabians, Mesopotamians, or of any other name, all heard in their respective tongues the wonderful works of God.
You are to consider, that in publishing an
account of this astonishing transaction, as was done by the apostles in all their preaching, and a few years afterwards by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, an open, honest appeal was made to all the hundreds of thousands who had been assembled on that day in Jerusalem, to come forth and deny that these things did then and there occur. Thus was every possible facility afforded for the detection of imposture. Without a miracle for its concealment it could not have escaped. Had there been a detection with regard to but one of all the miracles, we should have heard of it. Judea and Greece and Rome would
have rung with the news. The books of Jewish and heathen adversaries would have reiterated its publication in illuminated pages and golden capitals. All the generations of succeeding adversaries would have quoted it as one of the dearest bequests of classic antiquity. Is there any such thing? I sound the inquiry through the whole region of Jewish and Grecian and Roman history, and I hear nothing in answer but the echo of my own voice, "Is there any such thing?" I must answer it myself. There is no such thing, in all that has come to us from antiquity, as even a pretence to the detection of imposture in the gospel miracles.
This I think you will join me in considering a very impressive and conclusive confession, though a silent one, from the whole Jewish nation and gentile world, to the undeniable reality of the miracles of Christ and his apostles. It is all the evidence we could with any reason expect from enemies. When
Deists bid us produce the testimony of enemies as well as friends, it is perfectly unreasonable to require that we should find enemies, in those days of bitter hostility to Christianity, positively acknowledging that it was attested by miracles. That they did not deny it, that Jews and Gentiles, that the Mosaic and the Pagan priesthoods, that the Pharisees of Jerusalem, and the philosophers of Corinth and Ephesus and Rome were silent on this head, one would suppose, is a great deal to get from such adversaries.
But we can go further. Unreasonable as it is to demand more positive testimony from enemies, we can meet the demand. Having in a previous lecture ascertained the credibility of the gospel history, we may now appeal to it for the acknowledgment of enemies. Peter on the day of Pentecost assumed the fact that the multitudes of Israel, to whom he was speaking, acknowledged that Jesus of Nazareth had approved himself among them by "miracles, and wonders, and signs."*"This man doeth many miracles,"t was the confession of the chief priests and Pharisees, in council, relative to Jesus. "What shall we do to these men?" said the Jewish rulers in relation to Peter and John. "For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it." You know that the only way of escape the Jewish rulers could find, while they could not deny the miracles, was to ascribe them to magic, or the power of demons. "He casteth out devils by Beelzebub." But we
*Acts 2: 22.
↑ John 11: 47.
# Acts 4 16.