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frequently as might have been expected." Paley1 solves the difficulty as far as it is a fact, by observing, as I have suggested, that "it was their lot to contend with magical agency, against which the mere production of these facts was not sufficient for the convincing of their adversaries:" "I do not know," he continues," whether they themselves thought it quite decisive of the controversy." A claim to miraculous power on the part of Christians, which is so unfrequent as to become an objection to the fact of their possessing it, can hardly have been a principal cause of their success.

4. And how is it possible to imagine with Gibbon that what he calls the "sober and domestic virtues" of Christians, their "aversion to the luxury of the age," their "chastity, temperance, and economy," that these dull qualities were persuasives of a nature to win and melt the hard heathen heart, in spite too of the dreary prospect of the barathrum, the amphitheatre, and the stake? Did the Christian morality by its severe beauty make a convert of Gibbon himself? On the contrary, he bitterly says, "It was not in this world that the primitive Christians were desirous of making themselves either agreeable or useful." "The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty and ignorance." "Their gloomy and austere aspect, their abhorrence of the common business and pleasures of life, and their frequent predictions of impending calamities, inspired the Pagans with the apprehension of some danger which would arise from the new sect." Here we have not only Gibbon hating their moral and social bearing, but his heathen also. How then were those heathen overcome by the amiableness of that which they viewed with such


1 [See note at p. 147.]

disgust? We have here plain proof that the Christian character repelled the heathen; where is the evidence that it converted them?

5. Lastly, as to the ecclesiastical organization, this, doubtless, as time went on, was a special characteristic of the new religion; but how could it directly contribute to its extension? Of course it gave it strength, but it did not give it life. We are not born of bones and muscles. It is one thing to make conquests, another to consolidate an empire. Before Constantine, Christians made their great conquests. Rules are for settled times, not for time of war. So much is this contrast felt in the Catholic Church now, that, as is well known, in heathen countries. and in countries which have thrown off her yoke she suspends her diocesan administration and her Canon Law, and puts her children under the extraordinary, extra-legal jurisdiction of Propaganda.

This is what I am led to say on Gibbon's Five Causes. I do not deny that they might have operated now and then; Simon Magus came to Christianity in order to learn the craft of miracles, and Peregrinus from love of influence and power; but Christianity made its way, not by individual, but by broad, wholesale conversions, and the question is, how they originated?

It is very remarkable that it should not have occurred to a man of Gibbon's sagacity to enquire, what account the Christians themselves gave of the matter. Would it not have been worth while for him to have let conjecture alone, and to have looked for facts instead? Why did he not try the hypothesis of faith, hope, and charity? Did he never hear of love towards God, and faith in Christ? Did he not recollect the many words of Apostles, Bishops, Apologists, Martyrs, all forming one testimony? No; such thoughts are close upon him, and close upon the truth; but he


cannot sympathize with them, he cannot believe in them, he cannot even enter into them, because he needs the due preparation of mind. (“Grammar of Assent," p. 451.)


THE Gospel, as contrasted with all religious systems which have gone before and come after, even those in which God has spoken, is specially the system of faith and "the law of faith," and its obedience is the "obedience of faith," and its justification is "by faith," and it is a "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." For at the time of its first preaching the Jews went by sight and the Gentiles by reason; both might believe, but on a belief resolvable into sight or reason-neither went simply by faith. The Greeks sought after "wisdom," some original and recondite philosophy, which might serve as an "evidence" or ground of proof for "things not seen." The Jews, on the other hand, "required a sign," some sensible display of God's power, a thing of sight and touch, which might be "the substance," the earnest and security "of things hoped for." Such was the state of the world, when it pleased Almighty God, in furtherance of his plan of mercy, to throw men's minds upon the next world, without any other direct medium of evidence than the word of man claiming to be His; to change the face of the world by what the world called "the foolishness of preaching" and the unreasoning zeal and obstinacy of faith, using a principle in truth's behalf which in the world's evil history has ever been the spring of great events and strange achievements. Faith,

which in the natural man has manifested itself in the fearful energy of superstition and fanaticism, is in the Gospel grafted on the love of God, and made to mould the heart of man into His image.

The Apostles then proceeded thus:-they did not rest their cause on argument; they did not rely on eloquence, wisdom, or reputation; nay, nor did they make miracles necessary to the enforcement of their claims.1 They did not resolve faith into sight or reason; they contrasted it with both, and bade their hearers believe, sometimes in spite, sometimes in default, sometimes in aid, of sight and reason. They exhorted them to make trial of the Gospel, since they would find their account in so doing. They appealed to men's hearts, and, according to their hearts, so they answered them. They appealed to their secret belief in a superintending Providence, to their hopes and fears thence resulting; and they professed to reveal to them the nature, personality, attributes, will, and works of Him "whom they ignorantly worshipped." They came as commissioned from Him, and declared that mankind was a guilty and outcast race, that sin was a misery, that the world was a

1 Vid. Acts xvii. 23, xxiv. 25. Paley, whose work on the Evidences is founded on the notion that the miracles wrought by Christ and His Apostles are to be the ground of our faith, feels the difficulty that in fact they were not so accounted in early times. After quoting passages of the Fathers in his favour, he adds, “ I am ready, however, to admit that the ancient Christian advocates did not insist upon the miracles in argument so frequently as I should have done. It was their lot to contend with notions of magical agency, against which the mere production of the facts was not sufficient for the convincing of their adversaries. I do not know whether they themselves thought it quite decisive of the controversy.”—Part iii. c. 5, fin. Then on what did they believe? Again: Are not philosophical objections as cogent now against miracles as the belief in magic then?

snare, that life was a shadow,-that God was everlasting, -that His Law was holy and true, and its sanctions certain and terrible;-that He also was all-merciful,-that He had appointed a Mediator between Him and them, who had removed all obstacles, and was desirous to restore them, and that He had sent themselves to explain how. They said that that Mediator had come and gone; but had left behind Him what was to be His representative till the end of all things, His mystical Body, the Church, in joining which lay the salvation of the world.

So they preached, and so they prevailed; using indeed persuasives of every kind as they were given them, but resting at bottom on a principle higher than the senses or the reason. They used many arguments, but as outward forms of something beyond argument. Thus they appealed to the miracles they wrought, as sufficient signs of their power, and assuredly divine, in spite of those which other systems could show or pretended. They expostulated with the better sort on the ground of their instinctive longings and dim visions of something greater than the world. They awed and overcame the passionate by means of what remained of heaven in them, and of the involuntary homage which such men pay to the more realized tokens of heaven in others. They asked the more generousminded whether it was not worth while to risk something on the chance of augmenting and perfecting those precious elements of good which their hearts still held; and they could not hide what they cared not to "glory in,” their own disinterested sufferings, their high deeds, and their sanctity of life. They won over the affectionate and gentle by the beauty of holiness, and the embodied mercies of Christ as seen in the ministrations and ordinances of His Church. Thus they spread their nets for disciples, and caught thousands at a cast; thus they roused and inflamed

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