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ter of the resurrection, we must suppose the fraud originated in their Master. Surely, if they were led unwittingly to espouse his faith. Allowing this, he could not support it, by his insinuations, longer, than till the time of his crucifixion. At that time, the disciples were completely frustrated in all their hopes concerning him, although he had before told them of the tragic event of his agonizing death. This eventful scene, in all human appearance, must, at that time, be the complete destruction of christianity. Had Jesus and his disciples been impostors, the disciples would have been likely to have thought at that time the fraud was stamped with everlasting infamy. They could not have entertained a hope, had it been ever so dear to them, of maintaining it to any advantage. At the best, they must know, that in engaging in the same cause, and opposing the same prejudices which their Master did, there was no proba. bility of their escaping a fate as disastrous and direful as was his. This was a new era in their undertaking. Their Master was gone. One had openly and solemnly denied him, another had betrayed him. They were few and feeble, and their cause publicly contemned. The dying groans of their Master, his blood, his wreathing and agonizing body, his corpse pale and languid, were scenes, fresh in their memory, living to their sight, and melting to their hearts.
It was not now the business of the disciples
to continue in defence of a religion in which they had been engaged, but to revive one that every believer had given up for lost. To for ever abandon it, could add no disgrace to what they had suffered. Therefore pride could not induce them to attempt to revive it. From such a feeble and dejected situation, and with such hazardous prospects, did the disciples of our Lord bear testimony to the resurrection of Jesus. They boldly and constantly maintained his doctrine. Under such circumstances was it ever known that impostors in the first outset hazarded so much in the prospect of their undertakings? Let an instance be brought, and this argument, which we now consider very powerful, will lose something of its force.
If the disciples were impostors, they knew that the progress of christianity depended wholly upon human exertion. Whatever might be their pretensions, in their hearts they could not expect any extraordinary interposi tion of divine providence in their favor. Every circumstance rendered it more improbable than otherwise. To hang their lives and whole fortunes in such a hazardous undertak. ing, upon a mere improbability, never could proceed from calculation. If their undertaking was not from calculation, it is difficult to conceive how they could be sufficiently cunning and artful to impose such a cheat upon mankind with so much success as christianity received. It is impossible it should be the
effect of mere enthusiasm. A blinded zeal in a deceptive cause, could not lead with sufficient art to establish what was established by the preaching of the apostles.
Should we find it necessary to grant the possibility of their imposing upon mankind the testimony of Christ's resurrection, which we do not, we will inquire, what did they expect that induced them to the practice of such a fraud? what in exchange for such a series of sufferings? If to others they promised immortality, and eternal blessedness in the world to come, they could not themselves be stimulated by these motives. Though the resurrection might be an animating and enliv ening theme to others, it could be but a fanciful one to them if they were impostors, and knew it was false, or were not persuaded it was true. "A city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; a crown of glory that fadeth not away," must be but visionary dreams to the first sufferers in the christian cause. All the rewards that they could look for, must be confined to their then present scene of suffering. Nothing else could possibly stimulate them to the arduous undertaking of commencing and building up the christian cause.
Can we conceive that a thirst for fame, would induce any villain under such circumstances, knowingly to hazard so much as the disciples did? But what fame had they reason to expect? The loud acclamations of millions? Rather disgrace and shame in a series
of suffering, terminating in some ignominious death. Their fame according to the most flattering of human prospects must be confined to the applause of a few obscure individuals. It would bear but a very small comparison with the infamy and suffering that the Jews in much malice would be likely to heap upon them.
All the rewards the apostles received, or according to their doctrine could expect, in this life, though such as would induce an honest man to do much, would flatter an impostor but very little. To account them honest, opens a large field of glory before them, when we connect their then present life with the future. But when we pronounce them impostors, we confine all their rewards to their temporal lives; and these are of such a nature as would not be likely to flatter a character of this description. Worldly wealth and grandeur were not their objects. If they were, they had no prospect of attaining them, and must have abandoned the idea before they had advanced far in maintaining christianity. Worldly indulgences in word or deed, were not the characteristics of this religion, and could not, therefore, promise rewards to the disciples in their deceitful allurements. If these were their objects, their calculations were extremely unfavorable. They savor not of that wit and cunning that must necessarily be employed to maintain the christian system on false principles. The reward of honesty,
fidelity to their Master, and eternal life, must, then, be what stimulated them to the arduous work in which they were engaged, and which they zealously pursued till death. It follows, then, they were not impostors, but honest men, testifying what they had seen and heard.
Another argument in favor of the apostles, is, they adopted a new mode of living, contrary to the desires of corrupt hearts. The language of Paley in his Evidences of Christianity, pages 22 and 23, is worthy of notice on this subject. "The nature of the case," says our author, "affords a strong proof, that the original teachers in consequence of their new profession, entered upon a new and singular course of life. We may be allowed to presume, that the institution which they preached to others, they conformed to in their own persons; because this is no more than what every teacher of a new religion both does, and must do, in order to obtain either proselytes or hearers. The change which this would produce was very considerable. It is a change which we do not easily estimate, because, ourselves and all about us, being habituated to the institution from our infancy, it is what we neither experience nor observe. After men became Christians, much of their time was spent in prayer and devotion, in religious meetings, in celebrating the eucharist, in conferences, in exhortations, in preaching, in an affectionate intercourse with one another, and