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his encomiums, but by their own perceptions, that great numbers difcovered the features of divinity in his difcourfes.
He exhibited the proof of his miffion, arifing from miracles, with equal fimplicity; those miracles were of the most various and ftupendous kinds; having performed them, he entered into no laboured detail of the circumstances which fhewed their reality, he left them to speak for themfelves, and to fupport both their reality and their force by their internal characters of divine power. Thus alfo, he did not, at the time of working every particular miracle, alledge it as a proof of the truth of his doctrines, he laid claim to a divine miflion, and conftanttly delivered his doctrines as from God; but a general declaration of the intention of his miracles, with an appeal to them on fome particular occafions, was fufficient for rendering them vouchers of his miffion, and with this he was content.
Our Lord directed his disciples to use the very fame method. When he fent forth the twelve, his inftructions were "preach, faying, the kingdom of "heaven is at hand; heal the fick, cleanse the
lepers, raise the dead, caft out devils-freely ye "have received, freely give.”—To the feventy difciples he also gave fimilar instructions; instead of teach
9 Matt. x. 8.
ing them arguments, he commanded them to work miracles; this was the evidence he directed them to produce; and during the whole course of their ministry, the apostles were contented with fimply exhibiting the evidences of Chriftianity whenever fome very immediate and particular oppofition did not require their doing otherwise ;-they alledge the miracles of their Lord-they insist particularly on his resurrectionthey relate occafionally the circumstances which attended these facts, and which put their reality beyond doubt; but they do not argue on thofe circumftances, they speak of them as what they knew to be true, and what all fincere enquirers would certainly find to be true, and they seem to reckon this enough; they often appeal to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and barely appealed to them without any laboured application; they also themselves worked many miracles, they healed diseases, caft out devils, raised the dead, exercised various gifts of the Spirit ; they gave their miracles a connection with the gospel, by working them with a profeffed defign to confirm the doctrine which they preached, and by declaring, as often as it was neceffary, that they wrought them in the name of Jefus Chrift; but they do this with the greatest fimplicity, without any laboured arguments to fupport, or any strong affertions of the importance of these miracles.
Such was the original manner in which the evidences of the gospel were proposed to the impartial
and unprejudiced obferver; and it was certainly a mode which fobernefs only could dictate, and truth only render effectual. Our Saviour and his apostles wrought their miracles in fuch circumftances, as rendered men attentive to them, and forced them to perceive their reality by their own senses; and this was exactly the mode which the foundeft reason would prefcribe; without the evidence of fenfe the moft peremptory affertion that a miracle was wrought, will not fatisfy thofe who must have seen it if it had been wrought; and if it was certainly perceived by the fenfes, all affertions of its reality were fuperfluous.
The topics of doubt and difficulty, which occur to us in 'reasoning on the miracles now, could not fubfift at the time they were performed. We are under the neceffity of proving they were, in fact, performed by our Saviour and his apostles; but the fpectators faw this. We are prone to fufpect that we may be ignorant of fome circumstances of these 'facts neceffary for determining their real nature; but to those who were eye-witneffes of all these circumftances, if they rendered them plainly miraculous, this must be perceived by their senses-if they left the miracle equivocal, fcarce any arguments would prove they did not, at least the neceffity of using arguments would indicate strongly, that the miracles were of an equivocal kind.
Hence we account for circumstances which have been adduced to prove that Chriftianity was not founded on rational argument, but on blind enthufiafm; even the immediate affent which was demanded, without, as it is faid, "allowing time for " doubt or deliberation," and the "approbation with "which a ready acquiefcence in the gofpel was re"ceived," as well as the severity with which its "rejection, was fometimes menaced."-The evidence offered was not intricate reasoning in proof of each doctrine separately, which would have required long examination; miracles were wrought, and led men to conclude at once the divine miffion of those who wrought them, and confequently the truth of all the doctrines which they delivered in the name of God; if fuch evidence was fit to work immediate conviction, it was really commendable to attend to it without prejudice, and yield to it readily, fince its force might be perceived in an instant. Inattention or rejection could scarcely arise from any thing but an impious indifference to the will of God, or fome perverfion of understanding, the effect of a depraved and vicious heart.-But this plain and artlefs mode of propofing the proofs of Christianity, would have had no fuccefs if their evidence had not been folid.-Slender evidence will not fucceed, except it is fet off by specious reasonings, except fome method is used for giving the appearance of evidence
Vid. Christianity not founded on argument, p. 35 to 39.
where there is none, or of greater than there really is, by artificially diverting the attention of the mind from the want or the defects of the proofs; but in the propofal of the gofpel nothing of this kind took place, its proofs were prefented naked and unadorned; now, is it poffible this method could have fucceeded, if there had been no real evidence?-must not the defect have been quickly perceived when no means were employed to conceal it ?-Never was a falfehood successfully inculcated by a bare exhibition of pretended evidence, without any art or pains employed for concealing the defect, and impofing on the understanding. On the contrary, fuppofing the reality of the proofs adduced, this fimple method of propofing them was not only fufficient to induce men to believe the gofpel, it was alfo the fittest for this purpose; the more fimply evidence can be in any cafe propofed, confiftently with clearness, the more readily it will produce conviction; fubtle reafonings, if they are not abfolutely neceffary, only burden the proof and perplex the understanding. The fimple manner of propofing the evidence of Chriftianity was the best adapted to the generality of mankind, and therefore fpeaks itself, not obfcurely, to be the offspring of that wisdom which fixed the human conftitution.
In fine, this fimplicity of manner was equally inconfiftent with the artifice of impoftors, who labour to fet off the flight evidence, which only they can