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state of him, unless it were true that he spoke them. He would be apt to think, it would rather degrade, than add any thing of impor tance to him as the minister of peace. But the testimony of succeeding ages has proved these words true. His professed ministers have preached peace, but made war; they have preached endless division to be in the world to come, and divided many families here. The doctrine of christianity with all its blessings, has been attended with much mischief in our world, which the Savior foresaw and mentioned, and his faithful historian recorded. If these be thought to make against his benevolence, they plainly establish his character as a prophet, (for they have been fulfilled,) and his honesty in telling the bad as well as the good effects of his mission; likewise, the fidelity of his historian. But his benevolence is as clearly seen as his honesty, when we learn that these things were not taught by his example or doctrine, but come by a perversion of his instructions; occasioned by good principles, perverted by wicked hearts.
Impostors are careful to secrete all the disastrous consequences of their undertakings from their followers that are possible; and their followers generally are careful to exclude them from the historics of their masters; because these are always judged to be detrimental to the maintaining of supernatural powers. Impostors generally manifest themselves as
far as they think they can maintain in the public mind, in promising happy results to the efforts of their followers in all things. Human prudence conceives this the natural spur to action and zeal. Without it they know they must soon fall, because what is begun with fraud, must be maintained in deceit; for open truth destroys it as light destroys darkness. But Christ and his disciples used no care to secrete any calamity or mischief that has attended him or his followers ; and many failings and weaknesses of the disciples, are recorded. All these are marks of faithfulness in the histories of Christ. In short, I think it is fair to state, no history, in internal marks of faithfulness, can exceed the gospels, and it is a matter of doubt whether any can be found to equal them. Now though a history may be believed without so many strong marks of faithfulness as the gospels contain, a small part of which I have now noticed, can any be false that has them?
The histories of Christ could not since be very materially corrupted, without discovery and detection. The learned inform us that a variety of copies, written long before the art of printing, have been found in countries remote from each other, and among a multitude of small differences, but very few make any alteration in the sense, and a still much less number in which jealousies are excited of interpolations or expungings. Besides, many ancient authors have quoted from the Evan
gelists, which quotations agree with the reading of our modern copies. Thus it appears that our histories of Christ are substantially correct. We will therefore, attend to the second statement, that the resurrection of Jesus was of such a nature, that the original witnesses were able to judge, whether it was true or false.
Had it been our privilege to have been acquainted with a personage of noted character, like that of Jesus Christ for any considerable length of time; had we travelled with him from town to town, and from city to city, daily conversing with him, and hearing his public performances, which were in a manner so original that none could imitate them, for he taught, not as the scribes; had we been with him when he was taken, seen him tried, heard the witnesses against him, beheld him executed, and knew the place of his burial; then in three days had he shown himself alive, should we not consider ourselves capable of judging, whether or not, it was the same person? If we had the opportunity of handling him, conversing with him in the same familiar way as formerly, seeing the same original manner, which we never saw in any other man, and that for a satisfactory length of time, frequently for the space of forty days, could we suspect, for a moment, any room for deception? It is believed such a transaction is sufficient to convince the most incredulous, who should be an eye witness of its performance. As the
Jews were enemies to the progress of christianity, it is not likely, if it were possible, they would work any prodigy to make the disciples believe Jesus was alive when he was not. They would rather work a thousand to convince them he had not aros
We find no evidence to suppose the disciples were more inclined to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, than we should of any one that should now rise from the dead. They could not, therefore be easily imposed upon. They supposed all was lost when Jesus gave up his spirit, though they had trusted, it should have been he who should have redeemed Israel.
Thomas, we learn, withstood to the last. Refusing the testimony of his beloved companions, he declared he must have more than ocular demonstration. He must put his finger in the print of the nails that tore his hands, and by a thrust of the hand the wounded side must examine. But Thomas asked too much. An address to the senses of seeing and hearing were sufficient for him, though he would not trust to these faculties of his brethren's. This circumstance occasioned the words of our text. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
This part of our subject that the disciples could not be deceived, appears as clear as any reasonable person could wish. They must
know as well as men can judge of any thing by their senses, whether Jesus arose from the dead, and showed himself by many infallible proofs. Now as we are dependent on the original witnesses for the truth of Christ's resurrection, we shall have our faith strengthened by finding a competent number. This introduces our third statement, that there was a sufficient number to authenticate the relation.
Should unbelief require thousands, reason teaches us that such a number is not needed. For the same methods that would invalidate the evidence of forty, would destroy the evidence of as many hundreds or thousands. There could no advantage arise from the testimony of a multitude over that of a few in a case like the subject we are considering, unless the multitude were divided into separate companies, and it was known, that each company had no knowledge of what the others had seen and testified. It is generally the case that there is less individual and independent examination where there is a multitude, than where there are few; for the separate individual in such large society is inclined to yield something to the voice of many, without the care in examination to which he would be inclined, if sensible the whole sub. ject depended on the testimony of a few or his own individual asseveration. The account of Christ's resurrection represents the witnesses as having excellent advantages in this respect. One or two women first saw him alive, and