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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 discs o o
tance 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,
* Mr. Hume's abstruse and sophistical argument against miracles, has been completely refuted by Drs. Adams, Campbell, and Paley.
I 4 Luke, 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*."
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 j 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 anything they relate. Nor is there any reason to doubt whether the writings we now have under their names 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 confuted.
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 point, by many who were hostile to the Christian religion. Even the emperor Julian himself, that most bitter adversary of Christianity, who had
openly openly apostatized from it, who professed the most implacable hatred to it, who employed all his ingenuity, all his acuteness and learning, which were considerable, in combating the truth of it, in displaying in the strongest colours every objection he could raise up against it; even he did not deny the reality of our Lord's miracles*. He admitted that Jesus wrought them, but contended that he wrought them by the power of magic.
3. Unless we admit that the Pounder of our religion did actually work the miracles ascribed to him bv his historians, it is utterly impossible to account for the success and establishment of his religion. It could not, in short, to all appearance, have been established by any other means.
* Julian apud Cyrillum, L. vi. viii. x. Celsus also acknowledged the truth of the gospel-miracles in gene^ ral, but ascribed them to the assistance of demons. "The Christians, says he, seem to prevail, $at//.ovuv tivw ovofiao-i Km K.a.ToaCKntjKn., by virtue of the names and the invocation of certain demons." Orig. contra Celsum.. ed. Cantab. 1. i. p. 7.
Consider only for a moment what the apparent condition of our Lord was, when he first announced his mission among the Jews, what his pretensions and what his- doctrines were, and then judge what kind of a reception he must have met with among the Jews, had his preaching been accompanied by no miracles. A young man of no education, born, in an obscure village, of obscure parents, without any of those very brilliant talents or exterior accomplishments which usually captivate the hearts of men; without having previously written or done any thing that should excite the expectation, or attract the attention and admiration of the world, offers himself at once to the Jewish nation, not merely as a preacher of morality, but as a teacher sent from heaven; nay, what is more, as the Son of God himself, and as that great deliverer, the Messiah, who had been so long predicted by the prophets, and was then so anxiously expected and so eagerly looked for by the whole Jewish people. He called upon this people to renounce at once a great part of the religion of their forefathers, and