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control the winds and the waves, the creation of matter, the transformation of matter and the suspension of the force of gravitation. In the realm of vital force in vegetable organisms, His power was shown by the fig tree instantly withering that received His curse; while in animal organism the most liberal exhibits of His power and His compassion also, were given in response to the appeals of diseased and maimed humanity. Even the dead sprang to life again at the word of His command. The frequent restoration of the disordered mind showed the intellectual faculties subject to His will. Only in rare instances did He venture to exercise the highest attributes of deity in the direct bestowment of spiritual blessings, and in the one notable instance where He said to the bedridden and palsied man, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," it may be with due reverence suggested, in the light of the completed narrative, that the impossibility of giving ocular proof of His power in spiritual things, as was his custom at all times when possible in other things, caused Him to refrain from their more frequent public bestowal.
When John sent to Him the inquiry: "Art thou He that should come or do we look for another?" Jesus referred the messengers to the evidences of their own senses for their reply, and said in substance:
You have heard the dumb speak,
You have seen the blind restored to sight,
You have seen the lame walk, the lepers cleansed and the dead raised to life and you have heard the gospel preached to the poor. John knows what has been prophesied concerning me. This will convince him of its fulfill
He did not, after the manner of imposters, seek a cred
ulous and ignorant audience. In stilling the tempestuous waves and the boisterous winds; in directing the casting of the nets for the marvelous draught of fishes, He was not surrounded by witnesses unfamiliar with the scenes and the conditions where these miracles were enacted. He demonstrated his power in the presence of experts-skilled boatmen and trained fishermen, whose experience had taught them the limits of human capacity in their special fields of action and fitted them to judge whether these results were natural or the products of superhuman power.
What could be more convincing as an object lesson in proof of divine power or more perfectly illustrate the scientific experimental method in demonstration than the feeding of thousands, faint with hunger, in a desert place, far removed from all sources from which food could be obtained, with but a morsel which was thought by His disciples hardly sufficient to meet their own necessities? Seemingly to avoid all possibility of error in the interpretation of the demonstration and to impress a lesson of economy as well, He directed the fragments to be taken up and they were found to be many times in excess of the original supply and yet all had eaten until satisfied.
Could thousands have been deceived as to the cravings of hunger?—or hungering, could they have had the pangs allayed with aught else than natural food? Like the control experiments of the physiologist or pathologist, the twelve baskets of fragments furnished, then, as it would now, irrefragable proof of the genuineness of the demonstration and the accuracy of the result.
The testimony of the senses again receives its sanction at His hands when, in proof of his resurrection, and without
rebuke, He calls the doubting Thomas to His side, in the presence of many witnesses, and bids him satisfy himself, by sight and touch, that what he beheld was not a vision but the self same body that had received the spear-thrust and the nails. But since modern science, as has been said, owes its very existence to Christianity, it should be a matter of no surprise to find abundant proof that its founder has everywhere exemplified its methods in his teaching.
In no small measure it may be said has science, in these latter years, cancelled the indebtedness which it owes to Christianity by the discoveries it has made, which have so notably confirmed the accuracy of Old and New Testament records. Through the labors of the archeologist and the philologist, the engineer, the physicist and the photographer, ancient cities have been unearthed, inscriptions restored, hieroglyphics interpreted, mummies and manuscripts discovered which have given new and valuable confirmation to the simple narratives of Moses and the four evangelists. Scientific methods applied to these researches have been fruitful in good results and in the interests of truth should be encouraged and applauded on every hand. Faithful research for historical evidences will not imperil the essential doctrines of Christianity. Even the so-called “ higher criticism” can do no harm, but, on the contrary, nothing but good when rightly comprehended. And it would be well for the apprehensive to recall, before they wield the cudgel of defense too vigorously, the wisdom of Gamaliel when he said, "Refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught, but if it come of God ye cannot overthrow it."
If Christianity is a life-process, designed to meet the
needs of man's spiritual nature, in submitting it to a test of its claims by the methods known to science, after all external evidence of its genuineness has been settled or made sufficiently sure, we must scrutinize the internal evidence or what it has to offer in its operation on the conduct of man himself when subjected to its influence. In starting on this investigation the observer must first acquaint himself with the nature of man; how he deports himself in his environment, what is the range of his activities, and how he responds to all influences brought to bear upon him, lacking only the regenerating influence which is claimed to be derived from God through Christ, It is a legitimate scientific proposition and one which must be met by the advocates of Christianity, that if any cause, other than that which they assume, can be chosen to account for the phenomena of man's action at all times the value of the Christian life as a transforming power is nullified.
Science may turn to historical evidences in its attempt to get a solution of this question according to its methods, or it may look about and gather its evidence from the men and women now living and apply its tests to the conduct which they manifest as adherents or non-adherents of the Christian faith. Whether it will or not, Christianity cannot escape the test. It is in daily and hourly application. Its historical evidences as they have been registered in the lives of men, women and children during the past eighteen and a half centuries, are open to inspection, and the life of every professing Christian is on the witness stand testifying to the truth or falsity of the doctrines of Christ, and to the degree to which the influence of those doctrines is affecting his own life.
As to the evidence from human lives in support of the
uniqueness and genuineness of this life the Christian need have no fears.
When we recur to history and call the roll of the noble army of martyrs and pass in review how frail women and young maidens, old men and children and youth in the full vigor of life, endured mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonment; how they were stoned and sawn asunder, tempted and slain with the sword; were forced to wander about outcast, in sheepskins and goatskins, in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, destitute, afflicted and tormented, all for the sake of loyalty to Him whose life had entered into theirs, and had taught them to count the sufferings of this life as nothing compared to the joy which was revealed, as in store for them that love Him; and when the scientific observer looks about him on every hand and beholds the doctrines of Christ directing human activity to the construction of cathedrals and asylums, churches and hospitals; and when he learns of the millions of money that is accumulated and expended in carrying the gospel of Christ to the remotest corners of the earth; and when, upon closer observation of the conduct of those about him who have felt the transforming power of this life upon their own, he sees that it is able to disrupt the closest family ties, and counteract the deepest affections of the human heart, that it robs ordinary self-interest of its motive power, and is capable of making any sacrifice that will secure another's good, and yet that such a life is attended by unmistakable evidence of the possession of a peace and joy which the world can neither give nor comprehend, he cannot but conclude that he has witnessed the operation of a force of a higher order than that which actuates the human heart without the realm of Christianity. Science