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the incorrigibly wicked, who evaded the justice of his claims, by plunging in atheism and idolatry. The signs exhibited by our Lord, and the consequent diffusion of christianity, awakened expectation, and produced disputes and convulsions, which could proceed from no other causes; and the certainty of these convulsions, recorded by Philo and Josephus, as having occurred not only in Jerusalem, but in Alexandria, Rome, and all the cities of the empire, absolutely prove the reality of those causes. If we judge of the efficacy and propagation of the gospel from the facts recorded by these writers, it is impossible not to infer, but that its teachers were actually invested with the miraculous powers ascribed to them in the New Testament. Thousands and tens of thousands, supposed to this day to have been strictly Jews, embraced it solely by virtue of those powers; and, being determined to support and to promote it, suffered death in attestation of its truth.
Thirdly, as Philo and Josephus defend the Christians under the name of Jews; so we may conclude, that Apion, Helicon, and others, who opposed and defamed the Jews, were opponents and defamers of the Christians and their cause. The works of those adversaries, who were contemporary with Philo and Josephus, and whose malice and misrepresentations contributed to call
forth their writings, have unfortunately been lost; but we clearly see, in the language and quotations of their illustrious antagonists, the nature of those arts, to which they had recourse, in order to defeat the gospel. Modern sceptics, in arguing against christianity, derive their arguments from its abuses, or from the unworthy inconsistent character of its professors, or from some errors and obscurities in its records, or finally from the incredible nature of miracles, the chief pillars on which it rests. Gibbon insinuates, that the miracles performed by Christ and his apostles were not real, because in the succeeding ages impostors arose, bearing the christian name, who affected to imitate them. Hume maintains, that miracles are incredible, because contrary to experience; and Paine, adding vulgarity to sophistry, pleads that men were more likely to tell lies, than the laws of nature to change. The sole grounds of modern sceptics, therefore, are ignorance, misrepresentation, the presumption of measuring the operations of God. by their own experience, or of resting in their own want of experience, rather than believe the actual experience of former ages. Are these the grounds, on which the enemies of the gospel proceeded on its first promulgation? The question well deserves the attention of mankind,
and the reply to it affords abundant cause for joy and triumph.
The wonderful works done by our Lord and his apostles were so notorious, unequivocal, and incontrovertible; they were followed by conse quences so palpable and permanent, not only on individuals, but in the world at large, that their enemies in no instance called them in question. They, therefore, conceded the truth of the christian miracles, and endeavoured to invalidate or explain them away, by referring them to the arts of magic, by vilifying their Almighty author as an evil Being, by ascribing similar wonders to the votaries of other gods, and finally, by ridiculing and defaming the Jews in general, and the Christian Jews in particular, thus imputing the foulest immoralities to the fairest patterns of virtue, and stigmatizing, as disturbers of society and haters of mankind, the benefactors of the world. The friends of the gospel in modern days cannot have a wish more gratifying, than to see it attacked on these grounds, and these grounds alone; and we may be assured, from the zeal and abilities of those who conducted the attack, that they could not erect their batteries against it on stations more advantageous to themselves. The rising church of Christ had nothing to support it, but the wisdom and the works of its
founder; and all the violent passions of men, as so many convulsive elements, conspired to shake it to pieces. If any impression could have been made upon it, Apion and his coadjutors would not have failed to produce it, in circumstances so favourable. They had wit, learning, eloquence, reputation, and all the powers of the world on their side; they had every opportunity to ascertain the real truth, and every advantage for bringing to light any falsehood or imposture in the cause which they undertook to combat. Yet, if we look to the dispute between them and Philo and Josephus, we can venture to pronounce that the victory is signally on their side; we see them characterized by sobriety of mind, by a zeal for truth, by the reasonableness and importance of the system which they defended, as well as by very superior learning and talents. Indeed, so far are they raised in these respects above their antagonists, as is the pole above the centre of the earth. Upon these, in their attempts to bind mankind anew in the fetters, which had long held them in vice, ignorance, and superstition, we look down, as weltering in an abyss of folly and depravity; while Philo and Josephus invite our views upwards, arrayed in the purest, serenest light. They stand on an eminence with the gospel in their hands, under the name of the Mosaic law, above those
clouds of corruption and obscurity, which have since gathered around it, and tarnished its native lustre. They defend it, and hold it forth to the world as a system of divine philosophy, worthy of God to impart, and necessary for man to receive; as simple, rational, without mystery or error, and beneficial in its effects on the hearts and understandings of mankind, as the dews which fertilize, or the breeze that fans the sum
Fourthly, as Josephus and Philo are christian writers, and have described the institutions and opinions of the first christian converts, we have new and authentic sources to ascertain the doctrines of the gospel, as first delivered to the saints. Striking and important will appear the information which they suggest on this interesting subject; and the development of it will exclusively occupy the succeeding volume in these Researches.
J, 6. BARNARD, SKINNER-STREET, LONDON.