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have similar testimony without recourse to the Scriptures. The Jewish rabbies, in the Talmud, acknowledge these miracles, and pretend that they were wrought by magic, or by the power attendant upon a certain use of the name Jehovah, called tetragrammaton, which, they pretend, Jesus stole out of the temple. But we have positive testimony also from heathens. Celsus, who wrote in the latter part of the second century, not only allows the principal facts of the gospel history, but acknowledges that Christ wrought miracles, by which he engaged great multitudes to adhere to him as the Messiah. That these miracles were really performed, so far from denying, he tries to account for by ascribing them to magic, which he says Christ learned in Egypt.†
Hierocles, president of Bythinia, and a persecutor of Christians, in a work written against Christianity does not deny the miracles of Christ, but compares them with those which he pretended had been wrought a long time before by one Apollonius of Tyanea, a heathen; complaining at the same time that Christians made so much ado about the works of Jesus as to worship him for God.
Julian the emperor, in the fourth century, ac
Quod Christus per hoc nomen quoque miracula sua ediderit, probavit ante multos annos Purchetus. Ejus tamen fabulæ illustrandæ causâ, hoc addo, quod apud Talmudicos reperi. Ut Christus in eâ historiâ refertur descriptum Shemhamphorasch, (id est, nomen expositum, quod est ipsum nomen
,) inclusisse in discissam cutem pedis, et ex templo eduxisse, ut sic per ejus vim miracula postmodum ediderit. Bux+ Ibid. 4, 254.
Lardner, vol. 4, p. 120-130.
knowledges the miracles of Christ, and contents himself with trying to depreciate their importance. "Jesus," he says, "did nothing worthy of fame, unless any one can suppose that curing the lame and the blind, and exorcising demons in the villages of Bethsaida, are some of the greatest works." He acknowledges that Jesus had a sovereign power over impure spirits, and that he walked on the surface of the deep.* Now, it is a matter of no little wonder, to say the least of it, that in this nineteenth century men should be so sagacious as to discover that Christ and his apostles did not attest their claims and doctrines with miraculous powers, when learned, sagacious, and sufficiently hostile unbelievers of the earliest centuries of Christianity, having opportunities for discovering the state of the case such as none in modern times can pretend to, were constrained to acknowledge precisely the contrary. I marvel that Celsus and Porphyry, and Hierocles and Julian, and the scribes and Pharisees, can rest in their graves, when such reflections are cast upon the zeal and ability with which they searched for imposture in the works of Christ!
14. But we have even better testimony than that of enemies. Had Celsus found himself not only unable to deny the miracles of Christ, but persuaded, by the mere force of their truth, to renounce heathenism, and consecrate his life, in the face of persecution and death, to the service of the gospel, would not his testimony have been greatly increased in importance? Lardner, vol. 4, pp. 332-342.
Would not the very fact of his becoming a Christian, under the power of evidence, be the consideration which, instead of injuring his testimony as that of a friend, would have given it peculiar force as that of a friend who was once an enemy? Then if I find cases precisely corresponding with this-if I present you with hundreds and thousands of such cases, and tens of thousands, will you not own that their positive testimony is far stronger than even that of the adversaries whom we have cited, and the strongest of which in the nature of things we could be possessed? I find precisely such cases in the apostles of Christ. They are regarded as interested witnesses, because they were friends. But what made them friends? Were they not men, like others? Jews, like others? Consider Paul, once a fierce persecutor of Christians. What made him a friend? Consider the three thousand converted from bitter, persecuting Judaism to the faith of Christ on the day of Pentecost. What made friends and disciples of them? Was it that they expected any earthly honors or gains from taking up the cross of a crucified Master, in whose wonderful works they did not believe? Was it that they coveted reproach, enjoyed suffering, and loved death; or because, by careful consideration, they were so convinced that the miracles of Christ, especially that of his rising from the dead, were true, that no certainty of persecution, no sacrifices of property, character, friends, or life were sufficient to prevent them from confessing him before men? To these add the hundreds of thousands who, during the min
istry of the apostles, from having been Jews or heathens, and enemies of the gospel, became its devoted followers and heroic confessors. They bore witness, by word and deed, in torture and death, to the great fact that the miracles of Christ were true. And what is their testimony worth? What possible motive can you assign for the total change which took place in all their habits, attachments, manners, and affections, when they became Christians, other than that of deep, solemn conviction? To suppose they were not convinced, is to suppose that they made the most tremendous sacrifices not only without motive, but in direct opposition to the most powerful motives of the human breast. They well knew the poverty and persecution and martyrdom to which they exposed themselves. Why, then, did they become Christians? When afterwards pursued as the off-scouring of all things, and pests of the world; when no name was so odious as that of Christian; when to bring those who bore it to torture was universally accounted meritorious; when it was the study of magistrates and soldiers to invent new modes of tormenting them; when thousands of all ranks and ages were daily slain for the testimony of Jesus, who, by the act of a moment, could have stilled the storm to perfect peace, why did they persist and die? To pretend to explain their steadfastness, except on the supposition of their having firmly believed what they professed, were perfectly absurd. But did they not know? Living in the same age with the apostles-living in the very places where the miracles were performed, they, if
any on earth, must have possessed the opportunity of discovering the truth with regard to them. We have, then, the impressive facts of hundreds of thousands of the adversaries of the gospel, in the first century of Christianity, Jews and Greeks and Romans, many of whom had been persecutors of Christians, bearing the most positive testimony to what they had every opportunity of investigating, the reality of the miracles of Christ; and sealing their testimony by renouncing all that was dear to them by birth, habit, or education, and embracing Christianity at the expense of the keenest reproach and the most painful death. Testimony stronger or more undeniable than this, I cannot imagine. If this be not sufficient to prove a plain matter of fact, such, for example, as that Lazarus was seen alive after he was known to have been dead, then farewell all history and all knowledge. Nothing can be reasonably believed, except on evidence of sense, and hardly then, after rejecting this.
We have now arrayed as many of the materials of the argument for the gospel miracles as our time would permit. It only remains that we put them together into one view, so as to enable you to appreciate their united strength. I know not how to do this in a better way, than to take the supposition that all the miracles of Christ and of his apostles were fictions, and consequently their authors deliberate deceivers; and then consider how far the supposition will carry us. Let us do so. You understand the supposition. What must be believed by one who will maintain it?