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the king had been made acquainted with the subject before. He appears, therefore, to handle his subject like a powerful orator and a reasonable man.
While the doctrine of christianitry allows no excessive indulgences, it is careful not to impose unnecessary burdens. This is a point that few would undertake to dispute, and to which we believe enthusiasm did never strictly adhere. While the enthusiasm of religious sects says, come to us, we only have the truth, the reason of real christianity says, "Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." While enthusiasm requires the first born for the sin of the soul, reason asks, "What doth the Lord require, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" While enthusiasm judges who are saints and who are sinners, who are God's people and who are the world's, whom God loves and whom he hates, who will be forever saved and who eternally damned, the light of real christianity says, "Judge nothing before the time until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." To expatiate largely upon this part of our subject, would much exceed the limits of this discourse. The candid christian, who is acquainted with his Bible, needs not a labored disquisition to prove that it embraces a series of lessons of reason, temperance, moderation, and sobriety. In short, it may be
remarked, the tokens of enthusiasm are far from being seen in the doctrine and lives of the original witnesses of Christ's resurrection. The only method left us by which we can now suppose ourselves deceived in the resurrection of Jesus, is by accounting his disciples impostors. To this hypothesis we will now attend.
To attribute the character of impostors to the disciples of Christ, would make them greater villains than have ever come to our knowledge among the human family; because they must have exercised more art and worldly wisdom, than any other men. From history it appears, they were illy qualified for such an artful undertaking. When the boldness of Peter and John was seen on a certain occasion, it was perceived they were ignorant and unlearned men. James and John were fishermen, a calling by no means calculated to qualify them for such masterly exploits. Most of the disciples are said to be Galileans. Of one of the cities of Galilee where our Lord abode, the proverbial question was asked, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?"
The Jews were aware that Jesus foretold of his resurrection within three days, and therefore used every precaution to prevent an imposition of this kind. They were sensible, that could a story like this be started, and the people generally be made to believe it, it would prove more to the damage of their tra
ditions, than any thing that had then taken place. Had the disciples reported his resurrection without removing the body, the Jews would have been able to detect the fraud by producing it, and thus prevent a further spread of the report. To suppose they stole him by night, would be accounting the art of a few disappointed and disheartened individuals, to frustrate the power and policy of a combination of the first characters of the Jewish nation, who were before sensible of what the disciples would do. It seems it would take vastly more evidence to induce a rational man to believe this, than to believe the resurrection of Jesus with its present testimony. For the disciples to steal the body without the soldiers' perceiving it, would be impossible. The soldiers would not receive a bribe as that would endanger their lives; and besides, the poverty of the disciples would disable them from succeeding in such an attempt. Truly the soldiers are said to receive money to report the disciples stole him while they slept, but it was with a promise from the high priests to be secured. This account presents nothing irrational. It carries the evidence of probability from the circumstances that attended it.
The remarks which I made relative to the authenticity of the sacred histories of Christ by their evangelical authors, will equally apply to the candor and honesty of the authors themselves. As good fruit is the evident pro
duction of a good tree, so a history with internal marks of impartiality, carries within itself the evidence of being written by an im. partial historian. All, therefore, that said to prove the account of Christ's resurrection true, goes to prove that his disciples do not merit the opprobrious title of impostors.
A great manifestation of their honesty, which we believe was never known of an im. postor, in any cause whatever, is they voluntarily submitted to a series of difficulties, losses, and sufferings, without the least expecta tion of any temporal rewards. Whatever men may do in a cause which they had heretofore espoused, in suffering losses, and afflictions by the force of prejudice or an enthusiastic zeal, we have no reason to believe from what we know of the nature of man, or the precedent of any known transaction, that an impostor will voluntarily encounter such difficulties without the prospect of adequate temporal rewards. It matters not in what the rewards consist, if they only be such as are flattering to the carnal mind. When an impostor foresees a long train of impending evils, naturally accompanying the execution of a scheme which he may devise, and which is destitute of attaining the prospects of temporal rewards, he will, indisputably abandon it in the first outset. But being once engaged, once come to public notice, pride and passion might induce him to pursue to considerable length, to suffer much in his labors rather than
abandon the whole scheme, knowing that a failure in one, would render every succeeding one equally fruitless. But we can hardly believe he would pursue to the extent the apostles did. No man, we think, would consent to suffer the loss of all things, and death itself, for the propagation of what he knew was not true, and what was probable to subject many or most of the believers to privations of a similar nature.
These things are evident concerning the apostles:
1st. They voluntarily espoused the cause of Christ, being sensible in the beginning that cruel persecutions and afflictions would be their constant portion in time.
2d. They expected no such temporal rewards as are flattering to the carnal mind.
These two points we will notice particularly; for much depends upon them.
Perhaps some would imagine from the histories, that the disciples were rather unknowingly led into the difficulties-in which they afterwards found themselves; that they were engaged in the work before they were sensible what sort of opposition they had to encounter. When they were with Jesus it is to be acknowledged, they were ignorant of his doctrine, and how it would be received in the world. They did not realize the travail of their Master, nor the complicated sufferings of those who should faithfully follow him. Now if we implicate the disciples in the mat