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were done often in the public streets, scheme, which Peter and his associates in the sight of enemies, or the persons had thus endeavoured to establish. of such as were utter strangers to the But to come still closer to the apostles; but sometimes well known point: If the New Testament be to neighbours and spectators, as hav genuine, as I have already proved it, ing long laboured under those cala then it is certain, that the apostles mities, which to human skill were pretend to have wrought miracles in utterly incurable. Would impostors the very presence of those to whom have made such pretensions as these ? their writings were addressed; 'nay Or, if they had, must they not im- | more, they profess likewise to have mediately have been exposed and 1 conferred those miraculous gifts in ruined ?
some considerable degrees on others, Nor is there any room at all to ob even on the very persons to whom ject, that perhaps the apostles might they write ; and they appeal to their not undertake to do these things on consciences with regard to the truth the spot, but only assert that they had of it. And could there possibly be done them elsewhere : for even then, room for delusion here? It is exceed. it would have been impossible that ing remarkable to this purpose that they should have gained credit: and Paul makes this appeal to the Corinthey would have seemed the less cre thians, and to the Galatians, when dible, on account of such a pretence. amongst them were some persons disWhatever appearances there might affected to him, who were taking all have been of gravity, integrity, and opportunities to sink his character piety, in the conversation of Peter, | and destroy his influence. And could for instance, very few, especially such they have wished for a better opporas had known but little of him, tunity than such an appeal ? An apwould have taken it upon his word, peal, which, had not the fact it supthat he saw Jesus raise Lazarus from posed been certain, far from recoverthe dead at Bethany: but fewer yet ing those that were wavering in their would have believed it upon his affir esteem, must have been sufficient utmation, had it been ever so solemn, terly to disgust his most cordial and that he himself raised Dorcas at steady friends. The same remark may Joppa, unless he had done some extra. / be applied to the advices and reproofs ordinary work before them, cor- / which the apostle there gives, relating respondent at least, if not equal to to the use and abuse of their spiritual that. One may easily think of in gifts : which had been most notoriousvincible objections, which otherwisely absurd, and even ridiculous, had might have been made; and undoubt not the Christians, to whom he wrote, edly the more such assertions had been really possessed of them. And been multiplied, every new person, these gifts were so plainly supernatuscene, and fact, had been an additional ral, that, as it had been oftenobseryadvantage given to the enemy, to have ed, if it be allowed that miracles can detected and confuted the whole prove a divine revelation, and that
the first Epistle to the Corinthians be padocia, Asia, Bythinia, and many genuine (of which by the way there is Other places; Insomuch that one of at least as pregnant evidences as that the apostles could say, “That Christ any part of the New Testament is so) had so wrought by him to make the then it follows, by a sure and easy Gentiles obedient, not only in word consequence, that Christianity is true. or profession, but in deed too; that Nevertheless, other arguments are froin Jerusalem, even round about not to be forgotten in this survey. And unto Illyrium, he had fully preached therefore, as I have proved that had the gospel of Christ :” or as the word the testimony of the apostles been false, imports, “ had accomplished” the purit is not to be imagined that they could poses of it. And there is a great deal have gained credit at all ; especially of reason, both from the nature of when they had put the proof of their the thing, and from the testimony cause on such a footing, as we are sure of ancient history, to believe, that they did ; I shall now shew,
others of the apostles had considerable That it is a certain fact, the apostles
success elsewhere. So that St. Paul did gain early credit, and succeed
might without reason apply to them ed in a most wonderful manner; from
and their doctrine, what is originally whence it will follow, that their tes
spoken of the luminaries of heaven,
and the instruction they communicate, timony was true.
“ their sound is gone out through all That the apostles did, indeed, the earth, and their words to the end gain credit in the world, is evident of the world.” from what I before offered in order! So great was the number of those to prove the early prevalence of who were made proselytes to chris. Christianity in it, and this may be tianity by the preaching of the apofarther confirmed from many pas stles. And we have all imaginable reasages in the New Testament. And son to believe, that there were none here I insist not so much on express of all those proselytes but what were historical testimonies, though some fully persuaded of the truth of the of them are very remarkable; espe- testimony they bore; for otherwise cially that of the brethren at Jerusa- no imaginable reason to believe, lem, who speak of many myriads of that there were none of all those believing Jews assembled at the feast | proselytes but what were fully perof Pentecost, mentioned in chap. xxi. suaded of the truth of the testiof the Acts. But I argue from the mony they bore; for otherwise no Epistles written to several churches, imaginable reason can be given for which plainly prove, that there were their entering themselves into such congregations of christians in Rome, a profession. The apostles had no Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Thessa- secular rewards to bribe them: no lonica, Philippa, Laodicea, Smyrna, dazzling eloquence to enchant them; Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadel on the contrary, all these were in phia, Crete, Pontus, Galatia, Cap- a powerful manner pleading against the apostles ; yet their testimony was ' Admitting the facts which they received ; and their new converts testified concerning Christ to be true, were so thoroughly satisfied with the then it was reasonable for their coevidence which they gave them of temporaries, and is reasonable for us, their mission, that they encountered to receive the Gospel, which they great persecutions, and cheerfully ven have transmitted to us, as a divine tured estate, liberty, and life itself, revelation. on the truth of the facts they asserted; as plainly appears from the many pas. The great things they asserted, sages in the epistles, which none can were, that Jesus was the Christ: and think the apostles would ever have that he was proved to be so, by prowrit, if thoje first christians had not phecies accomplished in him, and by been in a persecuted condition.
miracles wrought by him and by others Nor will it signify any thing to in his name. Let us attend to each of object, that most of these converts these, and we shall find them no conwere persons of a low rank and ordi
temptible arguments; but must be nary education, who therefore might | forced to acknowledge, that, these be more easily imposed upon than premises being established, the conothers. For, not to mention Sergius clusion, most easily and necessarily Paulius, Dionysius the Areopagite, follows, And this conclusion, “ that or domestics of Cæsar's household, Jesus is the Christ,” taken in all its (with others of superior station in life) extent, is an abstract of the gospel it is sufficient to call to mind, that revelation ; and therefore is sometimes the apostles did not put their cause | put for the whole of it. on the issue of laboured arguments, in which the populace might quickly The apostles, especially when dishave been entangled and lost : but on puting with the Jews, frequently argusuch plain facts as they might judge ed from the prophecies of the Old of as easily and surely as any others; Testament, in which they say many indeed, on what they themselves things were expressly foretold, which saw, and in a part too, on what they were most literally and exactly fulfelt. :
filled in Jesus of Nazareth. Now, Now this might be sufficient to greatly to the evidence, confirmation, bring the matter to a satisfactory con and advantage of Christianity, so it clusion. It has been shewn, that there is that these prophecies are to this day
n to believe that the apo- extant in the original language ; and stles, who certainly knew the truth, this in the hands of a people most would have attempted a fraud of implacably averse to the Gospel. this kind-so if they had attempted | So that an attentive reader may still, it, they could not possibly have suc- in a great measure, satisfy himself as ceeded : nevertheless, they did suc- to the validity of the arguments drawn ceed in a very remarkable manner. | from them. Whence it plainly follows, that what they testified was true.
On searching these ancient and im
portant records, we find not only, in | brought to the knowledge of the true general, that it appeared the wisdom God, and a kingdom established of God to raise up for his people an amongst them, which from small beillustrious deliverer, who, among | ginnings should spread itself to the other glorious titles, is sometimes end of the earth, and continue to the called the Messiah, or the Anointed reniotest ages. One: but we are more particularly told, that this great event should Besides these most material circumhappen before the government ceased stances there were several others rein the tribe of Judah, while the second
lating to him, which were either temple was standing; and a little be- expressly foretold, or at least hinted fore its destruction, about four hun at; all which, with those already mendred and ninety years after a com tioned, had so evident an accomplishmand given to rebuild Jerusalem ; nient in Jesus, that we have no reason which was probably issued out in the to wonder that they should receive seventh year of Artaxerxes Longima- | the word with all readiness who search. nus, or at least within a few years be- ed the scriptures daily, whether these fore, or after it. It is predicted that things were so predicted there, as the he should be of the seed of Abraham, apostles affirmed? For we are persuad. born of a virgin, of the house of David ed that no wise and religious person in the town of Bethlehem; that he could imagine, that God would pershould be anointed with an extraordi. mit an impostor to arise, in whom so nary effusion of the divine Spirit ; great avariety of predictions, delivered in virtue of which he should not only | by so many different persons, and in be a perfect and illustrious example so many distant ages, should have an of universal holiness and goodness, exact accomplishment. but should also perform many extraordinary and beneficial miracles. When the apostles were preaching Nevertheless, that for want of exter to Heathens, it is indeed true, that nal pomp and splendour, he should be they might wave the argument from rejected and insulted by the Jews, prophecy, because they were not caand afterwards be cut off and slain by pable judges of it. But when they them. It is added, that he should rise insisted on another, which might as from the dead, before his body should soon captivate their belief, and as justbe corrupted in the grave; and should ly vindicate; we mean "the miracles be received up to heaven, and there performied by Christ, and those seated at the right hand of God; from commissioned and influenced by whence he should, in a wonderful him ;" many of these were of such a manner, pour out his spirit on his nature as not toadmit of any artifice or followers : in consequence of which, deceit; especially that most signal one though the body of the Jewish people of his resurrection from the dead, perished in their obstinate opposition which may be called a miracle perto him, yet the Gentiles should be formed by, as well as upon, Christ;
because he so expressly declares, that I have attempted to prove ; and here he had himself a power to resume his we should finish the argument, were life at pleasure. The apostles well it not for the confirmation it may reknew, that this was a fact of such a ceive from some additional consinature that those who believed this, derations, wbich could not properly will never doubt of the rest. They be introduced under any of the preoften, therefore, single this out, and ceding heads. lay the whole stress of their cause upon it. This they proved to be We therefore add, in the last place. true by their own testimony miracu- | That the truth of the Gospel has relously confirmed; and in proving this, ceived farther and very considerable they established Christianity on an confirmation, from what has happen. impregnable rock. For we may safe- ed in the world since it was first publy refer it to any judge, whether it lished. is an imaginable thing that God should raise the dead body of an im. And here we must desire the rea. postor, especially when he had so- | der to consider, on the one hand, lemnly appealed to such a resurrec what has been done to establish it, tion, as a grand proof of his mission, and on the other, the methods which and had expressly fixed the very its enemies have been taking to deday on which it was to happen. stroy it.
From these undeniable observations 1. Consider what God has been it is evident, that those who, on the doing to confirm the Gospel since apostles' testimony, believed that the its first publication : and we will prophecies of the Old Testament
venture to assert, that it will prove were accomplished in Jesus, and that a farther evidence of its divine oriGod bore witness to him by miracles, ginal. and raised him from the dead, had abundant reason to believe that theWe might here argue at large from doctrine which Christ taught was di- | its surprising propagation in the vine, and his gospel a revelation world :-from the miraculous powers from heaven. And if they had rea with which not only the apostles, but
ceeding preachers of the gospel, is plain that we, who have such satis- and other converts, were endowed ; factory evidences, on the one hand, from the accomplishment of the prothat the testimony of the apostles was phecies recorded in the Old Tesla. credible, and on the other, that this mént ;-and from the preservation was the substance of it, have reason of the Jews as a distinct people, also to admit this grand inference notwithstanding the various difficulfrom it, and embrace the Gospel as ties and persecutions through which a faithful saying, and well worthy of they have passed. acceptation. This is the thing we