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man, denying the truth of miracles, will attempt either to answer these plain questions, or justify his unbelief, without resorting to the folly and madness of denying the existence of God, and taking shelter in the fearful vortex of Atheistical infidelity.
I will now submit a few plain and simple inquiries to such as deny the miracles of the New Testament, which I trust will enable them to discover the feebleness of their attempts to overthrow their truth and divine authority. In looking over the history of these miracles, is it not evident that they were produced by a power infinitely superior to that of man? Were they not of a character, at once the most dignified, generous, disinterested, humane and benevolent? Were they not appealed to as an evidence of the divine authority of the doctrine of Christ and his apostles? Were they not performed in such an open and public manner as to preclude the possibility of any artifice or fraud? Did not those men who were convinced of the miracles and doctrine of Christ, abandon the pursuits of wickedness, conform to the most rigid rules of moral virtue and self-denial, and hazard both their lives, and their temporal prospects of interest and ease to become the disciples and followers of Christ? How is it possible, then, to account for all this change in their conduct and pursuits, unless they possessed the fullest evidence that these astonishing works were performed by divine power, and that the doctrine of Christ was stamped with the seal of divine authority? And finally, why did not the learned hosts of Jews and Pagans attack and refute the story of these miracles, which were immediately published to the world, constantly appealed to by the disciples, and urged as an ample justification of their faith in Christ, if it was in their power to disprove them, instead of resorting to persecution and death, as the only probable means which held out to them the most distant prospect of success in their opposition to the gospel? These are questions which the enemies of revelation will never approach with any design to furnish a single answer which reason or philosophy can approve. And now, with all these evidences of the truth and holy authority of the gospel of the Son of God, skeptics would fain attempt to persuade us to reject the only religion which
can direct us in the paths of innocence and peace, enlarge our hopes and purify our lives; and that too, without affording a particle of evidence that this religion is not based upon the revealed will and purpose of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
Passing from the miracles of the New Testament, we deem it expedient to notice a common and trite objection, which is urged against the gospel, on account of the difference which appears in the genealogical tables, recorded by Matthew and Luke. It is well known that there is a difference of several generations, in tracing them up to their original head. From this fact, modern infidels have taken the liberty to condemn the whole gospel history. But let us examine this objection fairly: Against what does it rest? Does it have any bearing against the narrative of the birth, life, labors, miracles, doctrine, death or resurrection of Christ? It is perfectly evident that it does not :-Nor will I insult your understandings so much as to adduce any arguments to refute such an inconsistent and gratuitous pretence. We again inquire, against what does this objection rest? I answer against nothing, except the tables of genealogy which were kept by the Jews, and from which the evangelists derived their authority for this part of their narratives.
Again, the difference of design, between these evangelists, will readily account for the disparity between their genealogies, which comprise a period of four thousand years, from Adam, to Joseph and Mary. Matthew's genealogy was obviously designed for the benefit of the Jews; it "therefore traces the pedigree of Jesus Christ, as the promised seed, downwards from Abraham to David, and from him through Solomon's line to Jacob, the father of Joseph, who was the reputed or legal father of Christ. Matt. i. 1-16. That given by Luke was evidently intended for the Gentiles it therefore reverses the order, tracing the pedigree upwards, from Heli, the father of Mary, through the line of Nathan, instead of Solomon, and from Nathan to Abraham, and from him, up to Adam, who was produced by the miraculous power of God. Whoever will take the trouble of tracing the genealogy recorded by St. Luke, will readily discover that he was tracing
the pedigree of Mary; while it is equally obvious that Matthew was tracing the pedigree of Joseph. Thus the mighty objection about which Deists and Atheists have harped with so much confidence, resolves itself either into the imperfection of those Jewish tables from which these evangelists drew their records, or the difference which really existed in the lines through which the genealogies of Joseph and Mary were traced. Of the imperfection of the record which St. Matthew used, there can be no rational doubt, since three generations are omitted in that genealogy, between Joram and Ozias, as may be seen by consulting the books of the Chronicles.
These are the principal objections which have been urged, and depended upon by modern skeptical writers, and it is easy to discover their weakness. They are objections which the Jews never thought it prudent to prefer, nor did the pagans venture to depend on their force, in opposing the progress of the gospel.
Before we dismiss the subject of objections, it is expedient to notice one which is founded upon the apparent difficulties attending the account of the resurrection of Christ. It is obvious that the historians harmonize in their relations concerning the time of the crucifixion, as also concerning the period in which the Saviour is said to have risen from the dead. The fact, however, of such an event, is both doubted and disputed. It has never been denied by the opposers of revelation, at least, by those who credit the voice of history, that Christ was crucified in a public manner, and that he expired upon the cross, as is set forth by the Evangelists. Nor can it be admitted by any man of sober reflection, that the envious Jews would permit him to escape from the suffering and death to which he was condemned, when he was fairly placed within their power.
It must appear evident to every reader of the New Testament, that a very great importance was attached to this single fact in the history of Christ. It had been the theme of ancient prophecy, and so clearly predicted by Isaiah, in the fifty-third chapter of the revelations which were made to him, that every attentive, inquiring and unprejudiced mind could easily discover that this event must
transpire, and that it was embraced in the mission of the Son of God. It was foretold by the Saviour himself, that he should be betrayed and crucified, and that on the third day he should rise again.
This declaration was remembered by his enemies, who had been actively engaged to procure his condemnation. They therefore adopted such measures and employed such means as they thought necessary to prevent the occurrence of imposture, and to preclude the possibility of any deception or fraud, on the part of his disciples. They had witnessed the tragical scene of his death, and appear to have been unmoved and unsubdued by all the astonishing phenomena which attended his expiring moments. For though the splendors of the king of day had been veiled for the space of three long hours, in which the Prince of glory hung upon the fatal tree; though the earth was moved with convulsive pangs, to witness the presence of the dread Sovereign of the universe, still their hearts remained under the fatal spell of moral darkness and revenge. They therefore repaired to the governor of Judea, declaring that they remembered hearing this immaculate sufferer, whom they branded as a deceiver, announce before his crucifixion, that in three days he should rise again And to counteract every deceptive purpose, they begged permission to seal the tomb, and place a guard at the door of the sepulchre, assigning as a reason, their fears, lest his disciples should come and steal him away, and report that he had risen from the dead.
They obtained permission to render all secure, to the utmost extent of human means: But mark the great event which frustrated all their dark designs and realized the truth of his predictions. The third, the appointed day, began to dawn upon the mountains of Judea, when the eventful moment of his triumph approaches! A messenger from God descends to earth, which trembles in convulsions at his approach? The ponderous stone removes from the entry of the tomb, and the Mighty Captive comes forth from the bed of death, with all the renewed energies of life, and exemplifies the glorious doctrine of immortality in his victorious conquest of the king of terrors ! Sentinels shrink at the presence of his glory and become as
dead men! The moment of triumph to the powers of darkness is ended in the indescribable confusion of his foes 5 and the friends of the suffering and innocent Redeemer again rejoice and experience a rekindling of all their better hopes; for HE that was dead, and alive again, afforded them the occular demonstrations of his triumphant resurrection from the tomb.
Recovered from their consternation and dread, the guards repair to the city and inform the chief Priests of the astonishing event which had transpired. These priests bribe them to report that his disciples had stolen him away while they slept! The temptation succeeded, and this strange report obtained such an extensive credit, that it is even employed in the nineteenth century, to delude the unwary, and to cast suspicion and odium upon the christian cause.
As weak and absurd as this wicked pretence must appear to every candid and reflecting mind; the circumstance of its being employed to oppose the divine authority of the Saviour's doctrine and mission, renders it necessary to treat it with sobriety, and meet and effectually explode it with facts which are afforded by the story itself. It is admitted on the part of our opposers themselves, that this guard was composed of Roman soldiers, who were under the discipline and laws of the Roman empire. These laws prescribed the punishment of death for a soldier on guard, who should be convicted of sleeping upon his post. The story itself affords sufficient evidence that these soldiers were aware of this fact; for in additon to the sum of money which they offered them as a reward for the propagation of this story, they found it necessary to use persuasion, and finally to promise them that if this accouut came to the ears of the Governor, they would persuade him and rescue them. Thus you see that the account itself refutes the idle story of his having been stolen by his disciples.
But let us examine this case still further, that we may investigate a little closer, the character of this testimony, as to its credibility. They come forward as witnesses to criminate the disciples of Christ, and directly charge them with stealing the body of Jesus from the sepulchre And is this report entitled to credit? Is it reasonable to sup