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God, because he healed the lame and the blind ; and we are the more confirmed in this persuasion, by what is written in the prophecies: “ Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear, and the lame man shall leap as an hart.” But that he also raised the dead, and that it is not a fiction of those who wrote the Gospels, is evident from hence, that, if it had been a fiction, there would have been many recorded to be raised up, and such as had been a long time in their graves. But, it not being a fiction, few have been recorded: for instance, the daughter of the ruler of a synagogue, of whom I do not know why he said, She is not dead but sleepeth, expressing something peculiar to her, not common to all dead persons; and the only son of a widow, on whom he had compassion, and raised him to life, after he had bid the bearers of the corpse to stop; and the third, Lazarus, who had been buried four days.” This is positively to assert the mi· racles of Christ, and it is also to comment

upon them, and that with a considerable degree of accuracy and candour.

VOL. II.

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In another passage of the same authot we meet with the old solution of magic applied to the miracles of Christ by the adversaries of the religion. Celsus," saith Origen, “ well knowing what great works may be alleged to have been done by Jesus, pretends to grant that the things related of him are true ; such as healing dis, eases, raising the dead, feeding multitudes with a few loaves, of which large fragments were left*.” And then Celsus gives, it seems, an answer to these proofs of our Lord's mission, which, as Origen understood it, resolved the phenomena into magic ; for, Origen begins his reply, by observing, " You see that Celsus in a manner allows that there is such a thing as magict.”

It appears also from the testimony of Saint Jerome, that Porphyry, the most learned and able . of the Heathen writers against Christianity, resorted to the same solution: “Unless," says he, speaking to Vigilantius, “according to the manner of the gentiles and the profane, of Porphyry

* Orig. cont. Cels. lib. ii. sect. 48.

er's Jewish and Heath. Test. vol. ii.p. 294. ed. 4to.

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and Eunomius, you pretend that these are the tricks of demons*.

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This magic, these demons, this illusory appearance, this comparison with the tricks of jugglers, by which

many

of that counted so easily for the Christian miracles, and which answers the advocates of Christianity often thought it necessary to refute by arguments drawn from other topics, and particularly from prophecy (to which, it seems, these solutions did not apply), we now perceive to be gross subterfuges. That such reasons were ever seriously urged, and seriously received, is only a proof, what a gloss and varnish fashion can give to any opinion.

It appears, therefore, that the miracles of Christ, understood, as we understand them, in their literal and historical sense, were positively and precisely asserted and appealed to by the apologists for Christianity; which answers the allegation of the objection. * Jerome cont. Vigil.

I am ready, however, to admit, that the ancient Christian advocates did not insist upon the miracles in argument, so frequently as I should have done. It was their lot to contend with notions of magical agency, against which the mere production of the facts was not sufficient for the convincing of their adversaries: I do not know whether they themselves thought it quite decisive of the controversy. But since it is proved, I conceive with certainty, that the sparingness with which they appealed to miracles, was owing neither to their ignorance, nor their doubt of the facts, it is, at any rate, an objection, not to the truth of the history, but to the judgement of its defenders.

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CHAPTER VI.

IV ant of universality in the knowledge and re

ception of Christianity, and of greater clearness in the evidence.

Of a revelation which really came from God, the proof, it has been said, would in all

ages be so public and manifest, that no part of the human species would remain ignorant of it, no understanding could fail of being convinced by it.

The advocates of Christianity do not pretend that the evidence of their religion possesses these qualities. They do not deny that we can conceive it to be within the compass of divine power, to have communicated to the world a higher degree of the assurance, and to have given to his communication a stronger and more extensive influence. : For any thing we are able to discern, God could have so formed men, as to

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