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nesses, and to them he afterwards appealed for what they saw and heard, viz. a light surpassing that of the sun at noon-day, and the found of a voice, though they did not diftinguish the words, that were directed to him.
As to the Gentiles, nothing can be imagined more unpromising than the mission of the apostles to them. The pride of the Jews, and the contempt with which they treated other nations, had given rise, as was natural, to an equal degree of hatred and contempt on their fide; fo that nothing coming from a Jew, was at all likely to be favourably attended to by them. The hcathens in gene. ral, and the Greeks and Romans in particular, were most strongly attached to the rites of their religions, and thought the observarice of them necessary to the prosperity of their several states. The graveft magistrates dreaded the discontinuance of them, and the profligate and licentious among the heathens, gave a loose, as I have shewn, under the fanction of religion, to their favourite vicious propensities, in the greatest latitude. The learned and philosophical among the heathens, looked with the greatest contempt on the 8
plainness and want of eloquence in the apostles, and other preachers of Christianity. In this state of things, then, was it to be expected that the heathen world in general, would be at all credulous, with respect to miracles wrought by such men? On the contrary, the preachers of Christianity had nothing to expect but the extreme of incredulity. In fact, great numbers could not be brought to give the least attention to any thing that was reported concerning them, or to look into any of their books. Dr. Lardner observes, that it is pretty evident that even Pliny, who gave
emperor Trajan an account of his proceedings against the Christians, and his examination of them, when they were brought before his tribunal (and he was a man of letters), had not read any of the books of the New Testament, or any other writings of Christians, which were unquestionably extant. If, therefore, the new religion did make its way, it must have been against every possible disadvantage, and history shews that this was the case,
5. In order to secure credit to accounts of miracles, there must be both opportunity and motive, for examining into the truth of the
facts. Now, the miracles being numerous, a circumstance on which I have already enlarged, gives opportunity for examination ; so also does that of their continuance fome space of time, and this was the case with respect to many, I may say almost all the miracles, which have been already mentioned, particularly the several plagues of Egypt, none of which were momentary appearances, but all were of some days continuance. Such, also, was the passage through the Red Sea, and the river Jordan, one of which took up a whole night, and the other a whole day. The same was the case with respect to the delivery of the ten commandments from mount Sinai, but more especially the miracle of the manna, and the pillar of cloud and fire, which continued forty years.
The cures performed by Jesus, though instantaneous, produced lasting effects, especially his raising of the dead, as of Lazarus, which, as we read, excited much curiosity to see him afterwards. Our Saviour's own appear. ance after his resurrection, was not like that of an apparition in the night, but always in the day time, and consequently repeated. His first appearance was when his disciples
had no expectation of any such thing, so that they could not have been deceived by their imaginations, and afterwards by particular appointment, so that they had time to recollect themselves, and to procure any kind of fatisfaction that they wanted; and this continued the space of forty days before his ascension, which appears to have been leisurely, so that they who were present stood gazing some time, while they saw him go above the clouds. He did not leave them in a private manner, and go they krew not whither,
But the best opportunity for examining the truth of any facts, is when some persons afsert, and others deny them, and when they are at the same time much interested in the event of the inquiry, as by having what is most dear to them depending upon it. And this was remarkably the case with respect to the resurrection of Jesus. With respect to his miracles, and also those of the apostles, there does not appear to have been any difpute about them, by those who were then in the country. They only ascribed them to a false cause. But Jesus not appearing to all persons after his resurrection, and especially not to his enemies, but only to his friends,
though in numbers abundantly sufficient for the purpose, his enemies denied that fact.
The fact, however, was of so very important a nature, that we cannot doubt but that it must have been thoroughly investigated, much more so than any other fact in all history, because infinitely more depended upon it, than upon any other fact whatever. For in a very short time, such was the rage of the rulers of the Jews against the rising sect, that not only were the peace, and the property, but the lives of the Christians at stake, and these they would not give up for an idle tale. At the same time their persecutors, who were the men in power, stimulated by hatred and opposition, would leave nothing untried to refute the story. This state of things began immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, and continued about three hundred years, during all which time the Christians, though exposed to grievous persecution, kept increasing in number, till at the time that Constantine was advanced to the empire, it was not only safe, but advantageous to him to declare himself a Christian. We may therefore be satisfied, that the great fact of the resurrec