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the New Testament, without finding it stated, that the multitudes followed him not for his doctrines, but for the loaves and fishes," or to have their sick healed.
But let us proceed in our comparison of the theory of prior reverence, with the Gospel history. Our author would have us believe that the temptation in the wilderness immediately followed the Baptism—this is not true. St. Matthew says, it was after, but he does not say it was immediately after that event,—the first, be it ob served, in the public ministry of Christ. It is said to have been accompanied by a signal testimony of God's approbation. Two days after, Jesus gives an instance of his supernatural knowledge, by unfolding to Nathaniel his most secret actions. Three days after he turns water into wine in Cana of Galilee ; and during the next Passover, many believed on his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.” John ï. 23. Yet our author tells us, even after his return from the wilderness, “ that, up to this time, there is no word of any miracle having been performed by him," p. 31. We suppose, we need not pursue this theory any further. . There is not the slightest ground for it, except in the author's own imagination : so we may as well shortly turn to Mr. Chubb's exploded objection about Methodism, which seems, strangely enough, to have caught strong hold on his mind. We say, " strangely,"for weare astonished how an intelligent man could gravely set himself to compare Methodism and Christianity. Did it never strike him that their doctrines were one and the same? Did it never strike him, that those, whom Wesley and Whitfield addressed, already believed the miracles, and acknowledged the doctrines, as the word of God? They were not setters forth of strange doctrines, but they preached " the truth as it is in Jesus ;" and it is our glory, that, wherever the truth, as it is in Jesus, is preached in plainness and sincerity, it will make a strong and a powerful impression. People may not listen,—they may speedily forget,—they may hate even while they admire ; —yet wherever it is heard, it will cause itself to be felt. But if the religion owed its progress to this cause alone, how happens it, that Missionaries, generally speaking, are so unsuccessful? Putting miracles and inspiration out of the question, in what other respects are they inferior to the fishermen of Galilee ? not in learning; witness Martyn, and Carey, and Marshman : not in zeal ; witness Brainerd and Elliot, and a host of others : not in labours; witness the Moravians : not in worldly wisdom; witness the Jesuits: neither are the Hindoos and Mussulmans superior in pride, in acuteness, in civilization and knowledge, to the haughty Roman, the subtle Greek, or the bigotted and stubborn Jew: yet in less than 40 years, twelve men nearly converted the world, while we have been labouring for hundreds comparatively in vain.
At last, however, and after all, our author is driven to miracles, for he sees plainly enough that something of this kind there must have been. We shall allow him to state in his own words the last two points of his hypothesis,
" In establishing the fact, then, that a prior religious enthusiasm existed in favour of Jesus, a point has been reached, from which it will be seen that I shall proceed hand in hand with the most eminent Christian advocates and divines, to the full extent of the conclusions I have to deduce ; these are, that all the miracles attributed to Jesus are severally resolvable, either, first-into real, though exaggerated cures, and a delusive persuasion, both on his own part and that of the surrounding eye-witnesses, that the extraordinary effects produced on body and mind by strong religious belief and veneration, were actual manifestations of divine agency; or, secondly--into imposture on the part of the pretended patient; or, thirdly -into subsequent popular or apostolical invention," p. 86.
The first thing that strikes us, on reading over this classification, and the list that follows, is, that our belief must be in an inverse ratio to the strength of the evidence before us. In the cases of cures performed, often in the presence of but few individuals, and of which one only was the subject, the evidence rises to probability* : when the miracle is more surprising, the risk of detection greatly increased, and crowds of friends and foes are its spectators, as in the case of Lazarus, it falls to imposturet ; but when thousands are its subjects, when they are appealed to as living witnesses, when they seal their testimony with their blood, it vanishes into mere invention. This seems a little unfair ; but let it pass. We shall see how the rule works. Now we admit at once, as a well established fact, that the imagination has a wonderful influence over the body, and has often wrought very surprising cures. But, while it is a powerful, it is also a most capricious agent; and its effects are rarely permanent. This is proved by the phenomena of animal magnetism, and by the pretended miracles at the tomb of the Abbé Paris. These last, being particularly insisted upon by our author, and certainly the most favorable for his hypothesis, we shall notice at present : because they seem to us to tell with immense force against his own theory. Indeed, when the argument attempted to be drawn from them failed in the hands of Hume, it argues considerable self-sufficiency in another to take it up again. Great numbers came to the tomb, who experienced no benefit at all; many poor people were discovered to have feigned diseases, a fact proved by their own confessions ; several were thrown into dread
* The cure of the leper, p. 90 ; of palsy, p. 93 ; of fever, p. 95, &c. &c.
# In this way he accounts for the cures of the blind, the deaf, the dumb, for the raising of the dead ; in short all those, for which imagination cannot account.
This class includes the feeding of the 4000, and of the 5000,—the multitude of cures mentioned by all the Apostles, and the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord.
ful convulsions ; in certain cases, the disease was cured in a day, at other times, the cure went on for weeks, and sometimes even, for months : at the time many declared the alleged miracles to be false : twenty-two cases of fraud were distinctly pointed out in an ordonnance of the Archbishop of Sens, after a public judicial inquest : and finally, the thing was at once crushed by the interference of the Government. The man who can discern any similarity between these, and the miracles of Jesus Christ, needs not blame others for their credulity! For many years Jesus and his Apostles went about through all the earth : they performed miracles innumerable: the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, the blind saw, the withered were made whole, disease fled before them : the lunatic was restored to his sound mind, devils were cast out, the dead rose from the grave : there were no half cures, no delays or lingerings :, all was done by a word speaking. They were in the midst of a hostile and persecuting priesthood, counted the “ filth of the earth;” pursued by Government with its fiercest vengeance. Was the power crushed ? was the fraud discovered ?
Where is the enemy, Jew or Gentile, who, then or for ages after, contradicted or disproved their testimony? The priests searched and the Government threatened in vain ; the Roman, the Jew, and the Greek believed the evidence of their own eyes. Thousands died, affirming with their last breath the truth of the miracles ; and not one, though many drew back from the loss of life, though they numbered among them youth, womanhood, and old age, ever confessed the imposture. The writer is fond of quoting passages from Dr. Chalmers.
In reference to one of these quotations, he argues that the Apostles were influenced by interest and ambition to invent falsehoods, and to die in their defence. We shall not now insist on the strange nature of an ambition, which brought scorn, misery, and death here, and the punishment of a just God hereafter : we shall content ourselves with quoting a passage from Dr. Chalmers, in which, with his own nervous and straightforward simplicity of argument, he sets that question for ever at rest.—“ To the truth of Christianity we have the concurrence of two parties, the teachers and the taught. Abandon the teachers of Christianity to every imputation, which infidelity on the rack for conjectures to give plausibility to its system can desire, how shall we explain the concurrence of its disciples ? There may be a glory in leading, but we see no glory in being lel. We know that some of the disciples were driven, by the terrors of persecuting violence, to resign their profession. How should it happen that none of them ever attempted to vindicate their apostacy, by laying open the artifices of their Christian brethren ?" Evidences, pp. 98, 100. We do not intend to enter on the particular cases of miracles mentioned by our author : the explanations he gives are altogether unworthy of his talents, and fitted
only to provoke a smile. What argument is there in saying, that a lunatic became calm under Wesley's eye, therefore many
lunatics were cured without a miracle ? that some cases have been known of cures wrought by the imagination, therefore it was no miracle to cure the halt, the withered, the deaf and dumb, even the absent, by a word speaking and without one failure ? that a girl rose from a trance, and therefore it was quite natural for our Lord, when he met by accident, and in a part of the country he had never visited before, a dead body carried on a bier, to bid it rise and walk ? Is there even the appearance of reasoning in meeting such miracles, as the feeding of the five thousand, (of which the account was written when the witnesses were living, and, if false, would have ruined its authors,) by merely saying “ this is invention ?" or, putting argument and reasoning out of the question, is there even verisimilitude in representing our Saviour at one time as a holy and virtuous man, at another, as an impostor wandering about Judea, bribing some, cheating others, and so convincing himself and others, that he could work real miracles, and was the Son of God? “There can be no doubt,” says he, p. 10, “ that the sufferings of the first Christians are proof, that in a part at least, and that the main part of their story, they spoke what they really believed." We take him at his word, accounting as such the resurrection and ascension of Christ. When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, he gave them the sign of the prophet Jonah, explaining it by saying that he should be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. He said also, “ Destroy this temple (his body), and in three days I will build it up :” and foretold to his disciples, that he should be crucified, and rise again the third day. His apostles invariably refer to his resurrection as the crowning proof of his mission. St. Paul says, “ If Christ be not risen, then is our faith vain :" and again, Rom. x. 8, 9. “ This is the word of faith which we preach, " that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and
shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from “ the dead, thou shalt be saved ;” and ever since, all Christian divines have held it as the main pillar of their belief. But they might as well have been silent. They do not know their own faith, argues the author of the Human Origin of Christianity ; it is not, and it shall not be, a main part of their story, and, not being so, may therefore be false! As to its circumstantial evidence, the work of Gilbert West is not very likely to be shaken by a ' may
be. We have now done. It was shown before, that the hypothesis, even if tenable, was good for nothing ; we trust, we have now shown that it is not tenable, by any combination of may bes.' The writer allows that there is not a shadow of positive evidence against Christianity: he has done us a further service, by showing that an ingenious and intelligent man, skilful in the use of his weapons, and with all the experience of nineteen centuries of warfare, is unable to make out even a possible case against our faith. M.
For the CALCUTTA CHRISTIAN OBSERVER.
BY CHARLES MULLER, Esq. Mighty Magician! that with secret spell,
Transformest beauty into ugliness, Wrecking the many hopes and fears, that swell Life's mystic sphere. How cold and comfortless,
Young, high-hoped hearts are left
When life's fresh ties are reft!
Eclipser of the sun of human glory!
Yet how many years
Majestic spirit ! in dread quietude
Spreading thy secret influence thro' earth.
And where the earthly place
That owns no living race?
Calm and bright: Ocean on its rough breast,
In the all-quiet deep
How many millions sleep
Her eyry,—there, thy influence is felt?
In silence workest thou,
Making existence bow.
Lovely in its own light! Death! dwell'st thou there?
And there where beauty's brightest,
The link of life is lightest.
That e'en the sinless flower fades and dies,
But what would being be,