Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

56 the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in: other

tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."-Now surely this communication of the Spirit of God, con nected with the facts and the promises which prepared the apostles for its reception, and with the effects which testified its reality, stands on the clearest ground of certainty.

[ocr errors]

Could enthusiasm persuade them to believe that they had suddenly acquired the knowledge of languages, which they had never learned ? that they possessed the gift of healing, and exercised it upon multitudes ?.. Still further, could enthufiasm persuade them, that by “prayer and laying on of hands” God enabled them to obtain for 2 others, a portion of that supernatural knowledge and power which they themselves possessed; and all this not for a short time, but for the whole re. maining period of their lives ?-how wholly incredible that in this they could be mistaken.

In a truth we must admit the testimony of the apostles to all the facts they relate, or deny it in, all--all were ini separably connected-all equally, submitted to the ex: amination of their senses, with this difference, that the miracles which determined them to maintain the divine authority of their crucified Lord, must have excited their attention more strongly than any other parts of his life, because in these they were most interested

2 Acts viii. 14 to 17.. xix, 6.

a Vid. Campbell's,

Discourse, p. 45.

not

not to be misled; since error here involved them in the extremest persecution and distress. Can we then believe they were enthusiasts in asserting the miracles, the resurrection, the ascension of their Lord, when they were as fully judges of these events, and had the very same opportunities of observing them, as his life, his actions, and his death?

What enthusiasm could so compleatly blind and subvert, not merely the reason, but every faculty, and every sense, of such a number of men, for such a length of time, that they should imagine that multitudes of diseased persons were instantanea oufly restored to health, who never were restored; that the lame were made to walk, the dumb to. speak, the blind to see, and even the dead to rise to life; nay, imagine not only that all this was done, but that they were themselves the persons at whose word, and by whose agency - these things were done.

[ocr errors]

To believe that any degree of enthusiasm could de. lude men to fancy these things for a series of days, and months and years, in the most public towns and places, surrounded by crowds of friends and enemies to be. lieve this is surely the enthusiasm of credulity-utterly inconsistent with all truth and foberness of mind.

[ocr errors]

On this part of the argument it is, I trust, evinced that the apostles were at first attached to their Lord, not by the blind impulse of enthusiasm, but the strong attraction of reason and evidence. That they every day were more firmly united to him by perpetually accumulated proofs of his stupendous power; and that they finally were conscious of becoming themfelves the agents, by whom he dispensed his mercies to mankind. When therefore they were commanded by the high priests not to “speak at all, or preach in the name of Jesus”-well did they reply, not with the heat of enthusiasm, but the calm steadiness of conscious truth. " Whether it be right in the fight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God judge 6 ye ; we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

CHAP.

CHAPTER II.

Containing arguments to prove that the apostles were not

enthusiasts, from their not requiring faith in others without supplying fufficient evidence to justify it.

SECTION I.

The apostles convérted men not by enthusiastic delusions,

but by working public and indisputable MIRACLES.

In the first chapter religious enthusiasm has been described as perpetually discernable by two primary and essential characters ;-the ift. credulity in believing without any, or at least without sufficient evidence, that a man's own mind is enlightened by divine inspiration ;--the 2d: presumptuous dogmatism in demanding the submission of others to the dictates of this supposed divine authority, without exhibiting any clear or satisfactory proofs of its reality.

That the apostles and evangelists were free from the first of these characters, I endeavoured to estaa blish, by enumerating those striking proofs of divine wisdom and power exhibited by their Lord, which first induced his disciples to attend his instructions, and acknowledge his sacred mission; and by stating

the

the evidence addressed to their senses and their reason, which supplied such a firm conviction of his resurrection and ascension, that they devoted their lives to the promulgation of his gospel, and did not hesitate to die as martyrs to its truth.

[ocr errors]

The very charge of enthusiasm implies sincerity; and such sacrifices as the apostles submitted to, infallibly prove they were sincere; admitting therefore that they believed the facts which they attest, the only question as to the source of their own conviction is, whether as to these facts they could have been deceived by any enthusiastic delusion? and that this was impoffible, I trust, has been evinced.

Let me now pass to the second character of enthu. siasm, that of demanding afsent on insufficient evidence. In afcribing this character to it, I am confirmed by the authority of the same profound reasoner on the habits of the human mind, whom I have before quoted. Speaking of enthusiasm he observes, that « b the assuming an authority of dictating to others, “ and a forwardness to prescribe to their opinions, *6 is a constant concomitant of this bias of our “ judgments; for how can it be otherwise but that 66 he should be ready to impose on other men's be...' “ lief, who has already imposed upon his own ?”— Here again he distinguishes between the delusions of

b Lock on enthusiasm, s 2.

enthusiasm,

« EdellinenJatka »