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gion) and that so great a change, as the oblivion of one story and the substitution of another, under such circumstances, could not have taken place; this evidence would be deemed, I apprehend, sufficient to prove concerning these books, that whoever were the authors of them, they exhibit the story which the apostles told, and for which consequently, they acted, and they suffered.

If it be so, the religion must be true. These men could not be deceivers. By only not bearing testimony, they might have avoided all their sufferings, and have lived quietly. Would men, in such circumstances, pretend to have seen what they never saw ? assert facts which they had no knowledge of bring upon themselves, for nothing, enmity and hatred, danger and death?



Our first proposition was, " that there is satisfactory evidence,

that many, pretending to be original witnesses of the Christian Miracles, passed their lives in labours, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undertaken and undergone, in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief of the truth of those accounts ; and that they also submitted, from the same motives, to new

rules of conduct.Our second proposition, and which now remains to be treated of, is, “ that there is not satisfactory evidence, that

persons pretending to be original witnesses of any other similar miracles, have

acted in the same manner, in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief of the truth of those accounts.

I ENTER upon this part of my argument, by declaring how far my belief in miraculous accounts goes. If the reformers in the time of Wickliffe, or of Luther; or those of England, in the time of Henry the Eighth, or of Queen Mary; or the founders of our religious sects since, such as were Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Wesley in our times, had undergone the life of toil and exertion, of danger and suffering, which we know that many of them did undergo, for a miraculous story; that is to say, if they had founded their public ministry upon the allegation of miracles wrought within their own znowiedge, and upon narratives which couid not be resolved into delusion or mistake ; and if it had appeared, that their conduct reaily had its origin in these accounts, I should have believed them. Or, to bor. row an instance which will be familiar to every one of my readers—if the late Mr. Howard had undertaken bis labours anu fourneys n attestation and in consequence of a clear and sensibie miracie. I should have believed him also. Or, to represent the same thing under a third suppositionIf Socrates rad processed to periorn public miracles at dtgens; i the iriends of Socrates, Phædo, Cebes, Crito, mu simmas, together with Plato, and many of his follower reiving upon the witestauon which these miracles afforded to us pretensions, had, at the hazard of their lives, and De certain expease of their ease and tranquillity, gone vuut Greece, uier bis jeath, to publish and propogate his jocurites; umu i these things had come to our kaowledge, a ne sume way, is that in which the life of Socrates is '* rauszitter O Is through the hands of his companoue wu ils pies that is in writings received without

Ouer a neurs jumde yen woich they were published po de pressi, savuiu tave believed this likewise. And TITY relei wound, neaca vase, be much strengthened, if the wieeine Disou were mportance to the conduct uin lappilless Ji Jumat lie: Tresured any thing which i veureu Mata nu o o rum suca authority; if the ditte vi wlai il ieivered require the sort of proof which it wileyed: the cusou wis adequate to the interpositival, the end wurchy vi the means in the last case, my tàith wvuid be much coodrned, it the etects of the transactua remained; more especially, it a change had been wrought, at the time, in the opinion and conduct of such numbers, as to lay the foundation of an institution, and of & system of dectrines, which had since overspread the greatest part of the civilized world. I should have believed, I say, the testimony, in these cases; yet none of them do more, than come up to the apostolic history.

It any one choose to call assent to this evidence credylity, it is at least incumbent upon bim to produce examples in which the same evidence hath turned out to be falla

And this contains the precise question which we i to agitate. ting the comparison between our evidence, and ir adversaries may bring into competition with ours,


we will divide the distinctions which we wish to propose into two kinds, those which relate to the proof, and those which relate to the miracles. Under the former head we may lay out of the case,

I. Such accounts of supernatural events, as are found only in histories, by some ages posterior to the transaction, and of which it is evident that the historian could know little more than his reader. Ours is contemporary bistory, This difference alone removes out of our way the miraculous history of Pythagoras, who lived five hundred years before the Christian era, written by Porphyry and Jamblicus, who lived three hundred years after that era; the prodigies of Livy's history; the fables of the heroic ages; the whole of the Greek and Roman, as well of the Gothic mythology; a great part of the legendary history of Popish saints, the very best attested of which, is extracted from the certificates that are exhibited during the process of their canonization, à ceremony which seldom takes place till a century after their deaths. It applies also with considerable force to the miracles of Appollonius Tyaneus which are contaibed in a solitary history of his life, published by Philostratus above a hundred years after his death; and in which, whether Philostratus had any prior account to guide him depends upon his single unsupported assertion. Also to some of the miracles of the third century, especially to one extraordinary instance, the account of Gregory, bishop of Neocesarea, called Thaumaturgus, delivered in the writings of Gregory of Nyssen, who lived one hundred and thirty years after the subject of his panegyric.

The value of this circumstance is shown to have been accurately exemplified, in the history of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the order of Jesuits. * His life, written by a companion of his, and by one of the order, was published about fifteen years after his death. In which life, the author, so far from ascribing any miracles to Ignatius, industriously states the reasons why he was not invested with any such power. The life was republished fifteen years afterwards with the addition of many circumstances, which were the fruit, the author says, of further inquiry, and of diligent examination: but still with a total silence about miracles. When Ignatius had been dead near sixty years, the Jesuits conceiving a wish to have the founder of their order, placed in the Roman calendar, began, as it should seem, for the first time to attribute to him a catalogue of

*Douglas's Criterion of Miracles, p. 74. M

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miracles, which could not then be distinctly disproved; and which there was in those who governed the church, a strong disposition to admit upon the most slender proofs.

II. We may lay out of the case, accounts published in one country, of what passed in a distant country, without any proof that such accounts were known or received at home. In the case of Christianity, Judea, which was the scene of the transaction, was the centre of the mission. The story was published in the place in which it was acted. The church of Christ was first planted at Jerusalem itself. With that church others corresponded. From thence the primitive teachers of the institution went forth ; thither they assembled. The church of Jerusalem and the several churches of Judea subsisted from the beginning, and for many ages* received also the same books and the same accounts as other churches .did.

This distinction disposes, amongst others, of the abovementioned miracles of Apollonius Tyaneus, most of which are related to have been performed in India, no evidence remaining that either the miracles ascribed to him, or the history of those miracles, were ever heard of in India. Those of Francis Xavier, the Indian missionary, with many others of the Romish breviary, are liable to the same objection, viz. that the accounts of them were published at a vast distance from the supposed scene of the wonders.t

III. We lay out of the case transient rumours. Upon the first publication of an extraordinary account, or even of an article of ordinary intelligence, no one, who is not personally acquainted with the transaction, can know whether it be true or false, because any man may publish any story. It is in the future confirmation, or contradiction of the account; in its permanency or its disappearance; its dying away into silence, or its increasing in notoriety; its being followed up by subsequent accounts, and being repeated in different and independent accounts, that solid truth is distinguished from fugitive lies. This distinction is altogether on the side of Christianity. The story did not drop. On the contrary, it was succeeded by a train of actions and events dependent upon it. The accounts which we have in our hands were composed after the first reports must have subsided. They were followed by a train of writings upon the subject. The historical testimonies of

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*The succession of many eminent bishops of Jerusalem, in the tree first conturies, is distinctly preserved, as Alexander, A. D. 212, who succeeded Narcissus, then 116

+Doug. Crit. p. 84.

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the transaction were many and various, and connected with letters, discourses, controversies, apologies, successively produced by the same transaction.

IV. We may lay out of the case what I call naked history. It has been said, that if the prodigies of the Jewish history had been found only in fragments of Manetho, or Berosus, we should have paid no regard to them: and I am willing to admit this. If we knew nothing of the fact but from the fragment; if we possessed no proof that these accounts had been credited and acted upon, from times probably, as ancient as the accounts themselves; if we had no visible effects connected with the history, no subsequent or collateral testimony to confirm it; under these circumstances, I think that it would be undeserving of credit.

I But this certainly is not our case. In appreciating the evidence of Christianity, the books are to be combined with the institution ; with the prevalency of the religion at this day; with the time and place of its origin, which are acknowledged points; with the circumstances of its rise and progress, as collected from external bistory; with the fact of our present books being received by the votaries of the institution from the beginning ; with that of other books coming after these, filled with accounts of the effects and consequences resulting from the transaction, or referring to the transaction, or built upon it; lastly, with the con. sideration of the number and variety of the books themselves, the different writers from which they proceed, the different views with which they were written, so disagreeing, as to repel the suspicion of confederacy, so agreeing, as to show that they were founded in a common original, i. e. in a story substantially the same. Whether this proof be satisfactory or not, it is properly a cumulation of evidence, by no means a naked or solitary record.

V. A mark of historical truth, although only in a certain way, and to a certain degree, is particularity in names, dates, places, circumstances, and in the order of events preceding or following the transaction: of which kind, for instance, is the particularity in the description of St. Paul's voyage and shipwreck, in the 27th chapter of the Acts, which no man, I think, can read without being convinced that the writer was there; and also in the account of the cure and examination of the blind man, in the 9th chapter of St. John's gospel, which bears every mark of personal knowledge on the part of the historian.* I do not deny

*Both these chapters ought to be read for the sake of this very observation.


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