Billeder på siden


enthusiasm, and the clear evidence of divine revela, tion.“ “ The holy men of old,” says he, “ who were “ fent to convince others, had a power given them to “ justify the truth of their commission, and by visi, « ble signs to assert their divine authority."

On this ground the first teachers of the gospel stand far removed from every suspicion of enthusiasm.-Never did they claim assent merely on an unsupported assertion of being actuated by divine inspiration-of having been driven by a sudden and irrefistible impulse—of having seen a divine light infused into their souls, needing no evidence but its own brightness. They did not appeal to obscure and doubtful proofs, such as agitations of mind, or convulsions of body, visions by night, or secret whispers by day. No, they claimed the affent of mankind to doctrines established by facts-facts which were themfelves miraculous, and direct proofs of a supernatural interference; or which exhibited the accomplishment of prophecies, and thus evinced that divine Providence had introduced the scheme of which they formed a part. Of these facts they had been themselves eyewitnesses, but they had not been the only witnesses ; frequently the events were most public and undeniable.

-The resurrection of our Lord, his subsequent con. verse upon earth, and ascent into Heaven, with the descent of the holy Spirit on the apostles, seem to have been the only leading facts, of which numbers,

[ocr errors]

c Lock. ib. § 15.



besides Christians, had not been witnesses. Yet even these could not be termed private transactions ; five hundred perfons had seen our Lord at once, of whom, says St. Paul, addressing the 4 Corinthians, "the greater part “ remain unto this present."-And instantly on the descent of the Spirit, the apostles appeared in public; « e« and when it was noised abroad the multitudecame “ together, for there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, To devout men out of every nation under heaven, “ Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the “ dwellers in Mesopotamia and įn Judea, in Pontus “ and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in “ the parts of Libya about Cyrene, strangers of Rome, « Jews and Profelytęs, Cretes and Arabians, who

were all amazed hearing them fpeak in their own

tongues the wonderful works of God.”—Three thousand persons on one day added to the church, proved the certainty of the miraculous power which convinced their reason and established their faith.

[ocr errors]

If.a calm and steady appeal to plain and public events is such a proof of truth and soberness, as en, thusiasm never can produce, that proof the evangelists supplied.—Hear the language in which Peter address ed the assembled populace of Jerusalem : " Ye men “ of Ifrael hear these words—Jesus of Nazareth, à

man approved of God among you, by miracles, and “ wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the $ midst of you, as YE YOURSELVES ALSO KNOW: him


1. Corinth. xv. 6.

e Acts ii. i to 13.

“ being delivered by the determinate counsel and “ foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and with “ wicked hands have crucified and flain ; this. Jesus " hath God raised from the dead, whereof we ALL “ ARE WITNESSES '”. Exa&tly the same is their language before the Jewish people, again collected by the fame of a new miracle, before the priests and elders, the rulers and scribes, assembled in council, to try and punish them,- before Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, who dwelt at Cæsarea,

miles distant from Jerusalem, who had called together his kinsmen and near friends, to receive the glad tidings of the gospel. In every place, and before every audience, they repeat this language; and furely this is the language of manly reason and conscious truth, not of folly and fanaticism.

not many

Yet convincing and rational as was the appeal to past facts, it was not the only evidence from which the apostles claimed the assent of mankind to the gospel.—They had been chosen as peculiar witnesses of the resurrection of their Lord; the credit of this fact therefore must have rested solely on their own veracity; and in distant countries the whole series of fa&ts appealed to, must have been unknown. Now, though they undoubtedly established their veracity upon the firmest ground, by teaching a doctrine of piety and purity, and submitting to distress and dan

f Acts ii. 22–24 and 32. h Acts iv. 1-12.

& Aets iii. 13-18. i Acts x. 36-43.


ger of the severest kind in its support; yet they were frequently enabled to evince their truth, and divine mission, by proofs more striking than any past transaction however notorious; by present miracles; by a direct appeal to the senses of their hearers.

[ocr errors]

They appealed to the effufions of the holy Spirit, proved at the moment by the miraculous gift of

tongues—“ God, says the apostle, has fhed forth that 56 which ye now see and hear ;" they appealed to the man at that moment healed, whom all the people knew “ to be the same who had been daily laid at the

gate of the temple, to seek for alms, having been “ lame from his mother's womb; but whom they

now, full of wonder and amazement, faw walking and leaping, and praising God."

When Peter by a word restored to instant health, " Eneas, who for eight years had been confined to his 'bed"_" all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron faw “ him, who turned to the Lord.”—Not less public was his raising Dorcas from death", " which was known throughout all Foppa, so that many believed in the Lord.

When at "Lyftra, Paul with supernatural power, commanded one who had been a cripple from his birth, to rise and stand; and perfect strength was

k Acts iii. i.-16. from 36 to the end.

1 Acts ix. 32-35.

m Alts ix. a Acts xiv. from 8_18.

instantly instantly bestowed on him. So public and signal was the act, that the multitude of spectators exclaimed, the 6 Gods are come down to us in the likeness of

men,” and scarcely were restrained from offering to them facrifices as to Gods.

But these particular instances are but a few, incidentally recorded, from a multitude, owrought by different apostles in different countries, and for confiderable periods of time. By all the apostles at Jerufalem“ were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, so that there' came a multitude out of the citieś round about unto Jerusalem, bringing fick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits, and they were healed every one.

At Samaria, where Philip spread the gospel, p" and " the people with one accord gave heed to those thing's which he fpake, hearing and seeing the miracles which " he did.

At Ephesus, by Paul, for a period of two years, so that all they which dwelt in Afia heard the word of " the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks, and God

wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.At" Corinth, at Thessalonica, cities which were at that period most distinguished and enlightened,


Aets v. 12. 16. P Acts viii. 6. 9 Acts xix. 10. 12. r Vid. 1 Cor. ii. 4. with the 12th, 13th, and 14th chapters. * Vid. i Thefl. i. 5, 6. & v. 19, 20. and Benson's History of


« ForrigeFortsæt »