Sivut kuvina



several propitious, but unknown deities, by whom the plague was stayed: In Epimenide, lib. i, cap. x, 8. 3.

Between Luke the largest writer of narrative in the New Testament, and Josephus the great historian of the Jews, who wrote during the first century, there have been discovered two or three apparent discrepancies of statement, which, were they irreconcilable, might be accounted for by the supposition of a slight degree of inaccuracy on the part of either historian; but which the indefatigable Lardner has in fact succeeded in reconciling. On the other hand, the accordances between the history of Josephus, and those of Luke and the other evangelists, in relation more especially to the various Jewish and Roman governors, whether princes, priests, or procurators, who lived in Palestine during the age of Christ and his apostles, are (as we have already observed) numerous, peculiar, and precise: see Lardner's Credibility, vol. i, part I.

If it be urged that the circumstances related in the Gospel history, which have thus received confirmation from Jewish and heathen authors, were not the miracles of Christ and his apostles—it ought to be observed that the accounts of those miracles in the New Testament are in so perfectly natural a manner wrought up with the rest of the narrative, and the events miraculous and not miraculous so intimately interwoven, that, on receiving a sufficient evidence of the truth of one part of the history, we cannot easily refuse to allow the authenticity of the whole.

The collateral testimonies of Jews and Gentiles to the miracles of Christianity are, however, neither scanty nor obscure. Josephus in a passage of his Jewish Antiquities, of which the genuineness, although doubted by some persons, is supported by numerous




critical evidences, has expressly mentioned the miracles and resurrection, as well as the life and death of Jesus : lib. xviii, ch. iii, $ 3.7 Pontius Pilate recorded the miracles of Christ in that journal of his government which, in conformity with a well known practice of the Romans, he appears to have transmitted to the metropolis, to be enrolled in the archives of the empire. These Acta Pilati are mentioned by Tertullian and Eusebius, and were expressly appealed to, as affording a proof of the truth of the Christian miracles, by Justin Martyr, in his public apology addressed to the emperor Antoninus and his senate: Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. ii; cap. 2. Tertull. Apol. cap. 21. Justin. Apol. I, pp. 65. 72, Ed. Ben. That the miracles of Christ and his apostles actually took place was, also, more or less directly allowed by Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, who, unable to refute the evidences of their reality, contented themselves with attributing these wonderful words to the power of magic; and a somewhat similar admission is made by those Jewish enemies of Christianity--the authors of the Talmud : THE CHRISTIAN WITNESSES NUMEROUS, 31 see Lardner, 4to. edit., vol. iii, 557, vol. iv, 113—149, 209–250, 311-348.

7 Γίνεται δε κατά τούτον τον χρόνον Ιησούς, σοφός ανήρ, είγε άνδρα αυτόν λέγειν χρή. ήν γάρ παραδόξων έργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ανθρώπων των ηδονή ταληθή δεχομένων και πολλούς μεν Ιουδαίους, πολλούς δε και του Ελληνικού επηγάγετο. ο Χριστός ούτος ήν. και αυτόν ενδείξει των πρώτων ανδρών παρ' ημίν, σταυρώ επιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου, ουκ επαύσαντο οί γε πρώτον αυτόν αγαπήσαντες. εφάνη γαρ αυτοϊς τρίτην έχων ημέραν πάλιν ζών, των 9είων προφητών ταύτά τε και άλλα μύρια θαυμάσια περί αυτού είρηκότων. εις έτι νυν των Χριστιανών από τούδε ώνομασμένων ουκ επέλιπε το φύλον. “ At that time there arose Jesus, a wise man, if, indeed, he ought to be called a man; for he was a worker of miracles, and a teacher of those persons who gave a willing ear to the truth; and he was followed by many persons, both Jews and Greeks. He was (or was called) Christ. And when Pilate, at the instigation of our leading men, had caused his crucifixion, those who had formerly loved him, still persevered in their attachment. For, on the third day, he again appeared to them, alive ---the inspired prophets having declared these and a multitude of other wonderful things respecting him. Up to the present day, the people, who from him have derived the name of Christians, continue to subsist.” This passage is found in all the copies of the works of Josephus now extant, whether printed or manuscript, and also in certain ancient translations of them: and it is quoted by Eusebius and many other fathers in the fourth century. The objections to its genuineness are ably answered in Horne's Introd., vol. ii, p. I, chap. 7.

VI. In the preceding sections, our attention has been almost exclusively directed to the credibility of the four historical writers of the New Testament Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These writers, however, were far indeed from being the only Christian witnesses of the truth of that miraculous history which is recorded in their Gospels. All the twelve apostles (Matthias having been substituted for Judas) and others of the earliest followers of Christ, persons who had heard his doctrine and beheld his actions, were engaged in the same work. They proclaimed the principles of Christianity, and adduced the miracles of Christ, as well as their own, in proof of the divine origin of the religion which they taught: see Acts x, 39, &c. That preeminent miracle, the spontaneous resurrection of their Divine Master from the dead, was more especially a fact to which they all appealed, and with the truth of which (according to their own account of the matter) they were all personally acquainted: for the apostle Paul assures us, that the risen Jesus had appeared first to Peter, then to all the apostles together, and afterwards “to five hundred brethren at once :" I Cor. xv, 6. Now, the numerous individuals who were thus engaged in bearing their testimony to the miraculous history of the Gospel, went forth as preachers of Christianity into every part of those very countries where the miracles of Christ are said to have taken place, and at a period when the whole circumstances of the case were fresh in the recollection of their hearers : and, although they were surrounded by a host of inveterate enemies, were carried before many formidable tribunals, and

[blocks in formation]

were subjected to the most severe examinations, (see for example, Acts iv, xxiv, xxv, xxvi ;) no want of consistency appears to have been discovered in their testimony, nor is there the slightest ground to suppose that their wonderful story met with any refutation.

To consider this branch of the subject with somewhat more of precision, it is plain that these earliest propagators of the Gospel, in their capacity of witnesses of the miracles and resurrection of Christ, were neither deceived nor deceivers.

That they were not deceived, appears from two considerations. First, that the apostles—the principal persons thus engaged, and who had been present with Jesus during the whole course of his ministry—were no enthusiasts or fanatics : for the four Gospels (considered as genuine and generally credible histories) afford abundant evidence that they were simple, sober, and unsophisticated persons; that, so far from being distinguished by eager credulity, they were full of fears, prone to distrust, and peculiarly slow and cautious in the reception of Christian truth. Secondly, that the very numerous miracles to the performance of which they bore testimony, are described as having been subjected to their frequent yet cool and deliberate observation, and as being at the same time of far too decided a character, to admit of any mistake or delusion. When, for example, the Lord Jesus, after he had publicly expired on the cross, and had been as publicly watched in his grave, repeatedly appeared alive in the midst of their company, conversed with them, ate with them, and shewed them bis woundswhen they saw him, heard him, and handled him, Lit is certain that they could not be deluded, when they admitted the fact of his resurrection.

[merged small][ocr errors]


That the apostles were not deceivers, is a point equally susceptible of moral demonstration. The entire candour and honesty manifested by two of their number, in recording the humiliation of their master, as well as their own faults and those of their brethren, have already been noticed; nor can any thing be more evident than the simplicity and godly sincerity which distinguish the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John. Jesus himself was denominated the Truth; and from various passages of the New Testament it is manifest, that a deep sense of the importance of truth was one principal characteristic of his followers. The personal virtue of the apostles is indeed indisputable; they were engaged in propagating the strictest code of morality which had ever been heard of in the world, and they were thus engaged, under sanctions and motives of unspeakable weight and moment. More especially, it was a doctrine explicitly recognized among them, that Satan was the father of lies, and that liars were exposed to eternal punishment in the world to come : see John viii, 44; Rev. xxii, 15.

The veracity of the apostles may also be justly measured by their disinterestedness. They sought no temporal advantages; they pursued no outward emoluments; they engaged in a career fraught with inconveniences, dangers, labours, and sorrows; they gave up all that was naturally dear to them, and sacrificed their pleasures, their comforts, and their worldly hopes, to the welfare of mankind and to the service of a crucified Redeemer. Their cause was the cause of righteousness, and in the support of that holy cause they exposed themselves, without reserve, to “cruel mockings and scourgings,” to “ the spoiling of their


« EdellinenJatka »