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effect; they would not be moved either by his exhortations or his miracles ; “they would not be persuaded though one rose from the dead *.” And in fact we find that several of the pharisees, men abandoned to vice and wickedness, did actually resist the miracles of Christ, and the resurrection of a man from the grave; they ascribed his casting out devils to Beelzebub; they were not convinced bythe cure of the blind man, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, though they saw them both be'fore their eyes, one restored to sight, the other to life. This plainly proves how far the power of sin and of prejudice will go in closing up all the avenues of the mind against conviction; and how wisely our Saviour acted in calling upon his hearers to repent, before he offered any evidence to their understandings. But the way being thus cleared, the evidence was then produced, and the effect it had was such as might be expected; for St. Matthew tells us, that his fame went throughout all Syria; and that there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judæa, and
* Luke xvi. 31.
from beyond Jordan*; that is, from every quarter of his own country and the adjoining nations.
And indeed it can be no wonder that such multitudes were convinced and converted by what they saw. The wonder would have been if they had not. To those who were themselves eye-witnesses of his miracles, they must have been (except in a few instances of inveterate depravity of heart) irresistible proofs of his divine mission. When they saw him give eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, health to the sick, and even life to the dead, by speaking only a few words, what other conclusion could they possibly draw than that which the centurion did, truly this was the Son of Godt. To us indeed who have not seen these mighty works, and who live at the distance of eighteen hundred years from the time when they were wrought, the force of this evidence is undoubtedly less than it was to an eye witness. But if the reality of these miracles is proved to.us by sufficient testimony, by testimony such as no ingenuous and unprejudiced mind can withstand, they
* Matth. iv. 24, 25,
- * Matth. xxvii. 54...
ought V. 119 ought still to produce in us the firmest belief of the divine power of him who wrought them *.
It must be admitted at the same time that these miracles, being facts of a very uncommon and very extraordinary nature, such as have never happened in our own times, and but very seldom even in former times, they require a much stronger degree of testimony to support them than common historical facts. And this degree of testimony they actually have. They are supported by a body of evidence fully adequate to the case ; fully competent to outweigh all the disadvantages arising from the great distance and the astonishing nature of the events in question. .
1. In the first place these miracles are recorded in four different histories, written very near the time of their being performed, by four different men, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ; two of whom saw these miracles with their own eyes; the other two had their account from them who did the same ; and affirm, that “ they had a perfect knowledge of every thing they relate *."
* Mr. Hume's abstruse and sophistical argument against miracles, has been completely refuted by Drs. Adams, Campbell, and Paley. I 4
They were plain artless men, without the least appearance of enthusiasm or credulity about them, and rather slow than forward to believe any thing extraordinary and out of the common course of nature. They were perfectly competent to judge of plain matters of fact, of things which passed before their eyes, and could certainly tell, - without the least possibility of being mistaken, whether a person whom they knew to be blind was actually restored to sight, and a person whom they knew to be dead - was raised to life again by a few words
spoken by their master. They were men, who, from the simplicity of their manners, were not at all likely to invent and publish falsehoods of so extraordinary a nature ; much less falsehoods by which they could
* Luke i. 3.
gain nothing, and did in fact lose every thing. There is not therefore, from the peculiar character of these persons, the least ground for disbelieving the reality of any thing they relate. Nor is there any reason to doubt whether the writings we now have under their name are those which they actually wrote. They have been received as such ever since they were published; nor has any one argument been yet produced against their authenticity which has not been repeatedly and effectually cons futed,
; 2. It is a very strong circumstance in favour of our Saviour's miracles, that they were related by contemporary historians, by those who were eye witnesses of them, and were afterwards acknowledged to be true by those who lived nearest to the times in which they were wrought; and what is still more to the poịnt, by many who were hostile to the Christian religion. Even the emperor Julian himself, that most þitter adversary of Christianity, who had