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we may presume, ever will. If the gospel did indeed, without the help of miracles, without any supernatural aid from above, gain such footing in the world ; this itself truly was, as St. Chryfoftom has remarked, the greatest of miracles .
The very idea, and design, of the first preachers of Christianity, can scarcely be accounted for, to the satisfaction of an impartial judge, on any other supposition, but that the facts, which they asserted, were true, and that they were commissioned from heaven to teach them. Twelve illiterate men, of mean birth, lately destitute of courage, undertake, with a full view of dangers and of death before their eyes, to make all nations believe, that a person, given up, by the Jewish rulers, to the power of the Romans, and by them condemned to an ignominious death, was risen from the dead ; that he died, not for his
* Tom. III. p. 272. 1. 14. Serm. V. in i Cor. iws de, e μη σημειου επoιεν, επειθον και και μεν γαρ επoιεν (επoιεν γαρ) Θις δυνάμις ην το γινομένου και δε μη εποιες και εκρατεν, πολυ θαυμασοτεροι give to oup@xv. Confer p. 276. 1. 9. et Serm. I. in Act. Apoft.
T. IV. p.611. I. 11. Kidder on Messias, P.I. p. 50. At-
own fins, but to make atonement for the fins of the whole world ; that he was the Son of God, and ordained to be the judge of all mankind. There are some parts of this plan, in appearance, so mean, and some so transcendently sublime ; there is something, in the whole, so much out of the road, and beyond the reach, of human invention, that it is, in the highest degree, improbable, it should have been devised by men; as, on the other hand, it is certainly impossible, that it could ever have been imposed upon the world, if it were not the contrivance of divine wisdom fupported by divine
What then is the issue? They proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus, in a place, where thousands could have contradicted them, had the facts not been true ; yet thoufands are convinced.
They go abroad, and publish the doctrine of the cross, in the most populous and most learned cities of the world; in Antioch', in Tarsus , in Athens, in Co
• Η μητροπολις εσι της Συρίας, μεγεθες τε ενεκα και της αλλης ευδαιμονίας, πιτον αδηριτως επι της υπο Ρωμαιοις οικεμενης εχεστε Tomov. Joseph. Bell. Jud. L. III. c. ii. $. 4. Confer Strab. L. XVI. p. 1089. ed. Amftel.
« Τοσαυτη δε τους ενθαδε [at Tarfus] ανθρωποις σπεδη προς το φιλοσοφιαν και την αλην εγκυκλιον άπασαν παιδειαν κανεν, ώσθ' υπερ
rinth, and in Rome. Unlearned and ignorant men, the most tenacious of ancient cura toms, and least capable of being taught fublime truths“, believe in the one true and only God, and Jesus Christ whom He had sent. The profligate forsake vice, and scorners embrace wisdom; nor are there wanting, among the sons of erudition and the men of opulence, those who join a persecuted sect, at the manifest hazard of wealth, of fame, and of life.
In the mean time, however, the soldiers of Christ did not, in order to secure their _conquest, overturn, or take poffeffion of, all the strong holds of the adversary, wherever they came. They erected their standard in the midst of their enemies ; yet the work, which they raised, in the light of the foe and the moment of danger, stood firm, as the rock of ages ; force could not break down the impregnable walls, nor cunning undermine the solid foundation'. Against the βιβληνται και Αθηνας, και Αλεξανδρειαν, και και τινα κλον τοπον δυνατον μπαν, εν ο χολαι και διατριβαι των φιλοσοφων κανα. Strab. L. XIV. p. 991.
• See Chryfoft. T. III. p. 288. 1. 17. T. IV. p. 813. 1.5.
* Ου γαρ στρατοπεδον ιδιον «χον, αλλα αυτους ανεμιγνυντο τους πολε. μιοις, και έτως αυτων εκραταν και εν μεσεις τους εχθροις ανατρεφομενος διωλιθαινον αυτων τας βλαβας, και περιεγινοντο και ενικων. Chryfoft. Serm. IV. in 1 Cor. T. III. p. 265. 1. 33. Confer Hom. 33. in Matt. T. II: p. 229. 1. 2.
united opposition of ingenuity and power,
of interest and prejudice, the faith of Christ crucified grew and prevailed ; and believers were, every where, added to the Lord. As long, therefore, as we can argue from effects to their causes, as long as the work theweth the workman, and the heavens and the earth declare the God that made them ; so long may we conclude, from the miraculous manner, in which the gospel was first planted in the world, that it was, indeed, the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
No, but, we are told, men died in its defence, and there is a wonderful propensity in human nature, which prompts us to espouse the persecuted party. Of this and other arguments, which have been framed to account for the success of Christianity, it may be observed, in general, that they by no mcans come up to the point. Whatever influence they might have, in promoting the subsequent propagation of the gospel ; they had certainly none at all, in effecting its first establishment. There were thousands converted, before any were benefited by the liberality of the faithful; or one martyr died, in support of the cause.
But why, after all, was martyrdom an argument, in favour of Christianity ? because it was true? or because it was false ? When Elijah New the prophets of Baal, why did not an host spring up from their alhes, to avenge the insulted honour of the god ? When Jezebel put to death the prophets of the Lord, why did not the true worshipers multiply in Israel ? and why was Elijah the only prophet left? What tends to the destruction of truth, as well as falsehood, cannot, in itself, be an argument for either .
Still we deny not, nay we infift, that the blood of the martyrs was, as it has emphatically been called, the feed of the church. If any one, in modern days, suffers death, rather than relinquilh his religious tenets ; this may evince the sincerity of his belief, but does not thew the truth of What he believes, He
& The insufficiency of the plea of martyrdom, fimply con. sidered, was seen and urged against the Montanists, in the se. cond century; when, their other arguments being confuted, they had recourse to this, as an irrefragable proof of their impious pretences: To di ssiv dege NS 80146 Favtos ruge mov 8x αληθες. και γαρ των άλλων αιρεσιων τινες πλασες όσες έχεσι μαρτυρας και και παρά τετο δηπε συγκαταθησομεθα, εδε αληθειαν εχειν KvT85 Sorey noousy. Afterius Urbanus ap. Euf. H. E. L. V. prope finem. F 2