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other, are for the most part set down very distinctly: and for this reason, among others, probably, was this place chosen ; that by passing over to the other side of that water, he could avoid that concourse of people his miracles might otherwise have occasioned, and which was necessary for preventing all umbrage of tumult or disturbance in the government: and this was a country at no great distance from Jerusalem : from whence the high priest and pharisees might easily send officers to see what was done, or was related to have been done there, and might inquire into the truth of matters. This country was likewise very near to Cesarea, at this time the seat of the Roman proconsul, and inhabited by great numbers of Jews, as well as Greeks and Syrians : “ And they came over unto the other side of the sea into the country of the Gadarenes; and when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs, a man with an unclean spirit,” Mark v. 1, 2. Him, our Saviour delivered ; after which upon our Saviour's permission, the evil spirits that came out of the man, entered into swine feeding there, which ran violently into the sea : “ and when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side,” ver. 21. hé cured the daughter of one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name.
There are accounts of miracles wrought, in which vast numbers were concerned, which must render inquiries easy. Five thousand men, besides women and children, were fed with five loaves and two fishes. This was done in a desart place, belonging to the city of Bethsaida. Luke ix. 10, 11.
Our Saviour is said to have been crucified at Jerusalem, at the time of the passover.
The gift of tongues is said to have been bestowed likewise at Jerusalem, at Pentecost; and at these two feasts, it is well known, there used to be at that time a resort of vast numbers of people, Jews and proselytes, to Jerusalem ; not only from all parts of Judea, but also from many other countries.
The first instance of the invitation of a heathen into the religion of Christ, was Cornelius, a Roman, an officer of Cesarea, a considerable person in a noted city. The mention of such facts as these, in this manner, if not true, must have laid them open to an easy confutation, and all the reproaches of imposture.
But there are other particulars related, which had a tendency to raise resentment in persons of figure and power, and, if false, must some of them have exposed them to punishment, without any grounds for pity or justification from any. The account given of the persecution of our. Saviour, by the high priests and pharisees, is of this nature; and his condemnation by Pilate, governor of Judea : of this kind is the account given of the beheading of John the baptist, and the occasion of it. Matt. xiv. Nor would it have been safe to have told such a story as is done, of St. Paul's being seized in the temple by a great number of Jews, and carried thence to be stoned by them; Acts xxi. of his being taken out of their hands by Lysias the chief captain ; of the Jews that devoted themselves afterwards, under a curse, to kill Paul ; of Lysias sending him afterwards under a guard to Felix, the governor of Cesarea, Acts xxii. or Paul's preaching before Felix and Drusilla ; and that Felix trembled when Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, and that he hoped to have had money given him of Paul, that he might lose him; and that Felix delivered over Paul to Portius Festus, his successor, willing to do the Jews a favour, Acts xxiv. 25, 26. nor would they have related an appearance of Paul before king Agrippa and Bernice, who came to Cesarea to salute Festus, Acts xxv. 13. nor the apology he made for himself before them. Such facts as these would never have been mentioned in this manner, if not true. This then is another argument of the credibility of this history.
9. Another internal testimony of the truth of this history is, the marks of honesty and integrity of the persons engaged in the first publishing the gospel, and who were the witnesses of thn main facts here related, which appear in the writings of the New Testament. These we may learn by nicely observing their conduct in the prosecution of this design.
There is indeed another way of making out the honesty of these persons; for the proving of that, and that the gospel was no invention, or cunningly devised fable, as the apostle's expression is in the text, but what they were fully persuaded of in their own minds, we might argue in this
Was it likely, that a few persons of an obscure birth in Judea, supported by no considerable alliances, should entertain a thought of subverting the religious worship and customs of their
own country, and of the rest of the world, unless they were fully persuaded they had special illuminations and extraordinary assistance from God, and should be supported by him with a power of working such miracles as this history relates they performed ? Were they ignorant of the bigotry and stiffness of their own countrymen, or of the circumstances of other people in the world, whose religions were supported by antiquity, great unanimity, by the power of the nations in which they obtained, by the influence and arms of the Roman empire, then spread over almost all the known parts of the world ; all which religions were very inviting and engaging, by the vast indulgence they gave to the corrupt inclinations of men ? Could they imagine they should be able by mere artifice, or bare force of argument, to propagate a religion entirely new, that would lay a disgrace on the rites and ceremonies instituted by Moses, as mean: and insignificant, that paid no honour to their temple, or their sacrifices, or their solemn feasts, and denied altogether the traditions of the elders, for which the Jews had so high a veneration : in a word, that retained scarce any part or principle of that religion, besides the one article of the one God, that made the heavens and the earth, and that would assert the gods of all other countries and people were devils, or senseless idols, and represent their religious principles and practices as absolutely absurd and abominable ?
Was it likely that any persons should, for the sake of a forgery, run the hazard. of all those sufferings and inconveniences they could not but expect in the prosecution of such a design ? What could they expect but disgrace and contempt at least, to be deemed madmen at best, that would propagate notions contrary to all the rest of mankind, perhaps to be treated as seditious and turbulent, men that had bad designs, contrary to the common belief of the civil constitutions of the world ? No advantage possible to be obtained without great fatigue and many dangers : they must encounter the passions as well as the sentiments of mankind. Would any men undergo this for the sake of a mere invention ? What is there so taking in being the head of a. party? especially, could it be likely that men of a low education, as most of these persons were, should be seized with this sort of ambition, and enter on a design encumbered with so many difficulties? Would they not rather choose peace and quietness at home, and a competence in the callings they were bred up in ? As for Paul in particular,, what temptation of gain or honour could he have in this undertaking? Was he not bred up in the most honourable and flourishing: sect in his own nation, under a master of considerable reputation, and must he not here have the fairest view of all that could Aatter his pride and ambition, if these were the principles that governed him?
But in answer to all this, it may be said, this does not seem very likely. However, it is not impossible, and can never be proved, that no men may form projects, which have not at first appearance any prospect of success; some men are fond of their own schemes, and have an high opinion of their own abilities, imagine they can surmount very great difficulties, and by address and artifice, break through a great deal of opposition. Some have engaged in great and hazardous designs, and have succeeded beyond what the most could have imagined ; and the few instances there have been of this kind, may give encouragement to others of a bold and pre-sumptuous imagination..
As to the mean occupations of most of the twelve, some such persons have had high spirits,. and have been carried by their ambition into vast designs: as for the pains they must take, the fatigues they must undergo; many persons will forego outward ease, and sensual pleasure, and be at a great deal of pains to carry a point they have once proposed to themselves. As for the sufferings and inconveniences they run the hazard of, all men do not judge alike of these things: the timorous and the daring are very differently affected by them. Some imagine difficulties in every thing; others reckon every thing they have a mind to, easy to accomplish. Some men's spirits are sharpened by the appearance of difficulties, and they are even fond of such undertakings. As to Paul's prospects of honour and advancement in his own nation and his own sect, it inight be so as has been represented; but perhaps he had met with some check, and his pretensions were not gratified, and in a disgust he might resolve revenge, and enter into: a design that should ruin the sect that had shown him unkindness. So that a great deal may be said on both sides, in this general speculation, on the passions, interests, views, and incli., pations of men.
I cannot say we need decline this way of arguing as if we had no advantage in it; for certainly, considering the state of the world at that time, the circumstances of Jews and Gentiles,
the apostles must have had a very unaccountable turn of mind, and have been very different from the rest of their species, it' by their own skill and contrivance they imagined they could bring any great number of persons over to their opinions, which were singular, and opposite to all others; and if they had not entertained hopes of ieaking a considerable number of proselytes, they could not act upon secular views and considerations. However, at present I do not insist upon this ; and the course of my argument leads me to the other method of surveying and examining their conduct, to see what marks they give of design, what of honesty and integrity. This seems to be more decisive than the other way. We have, in the writings of the New Testament, sufficient materials to go upon in this inquiry.
That they did not set out in this undertaking with secular views, and were not actuated by them in the prosecution of it, appears in all the parts of their conduct; they did not aim at pleasure and ease, at wealth or honour.
That they did not seek ease and bodily pleasure, appears from the fatigues they underwent, the journeys they took; and that imprisonment, stripes, and scourging, did not discourage them in prosecuting their design. But this is so evident that it need not be insisted on.
And if men propose the aggrandizing themselves by heaping up wealth, or by raising to them. selves authority and power, they will often forego and neglect bodily pleasure: but neither did they seek wealth, for they made no profit of the religious instructions they gave men, nor of the powers they claimed and put in practice, of healing distempers, and removing other bodily inconveniences men laboured under. They freely employed this power on the poor and necessitous, such as were able to make no requitals for it; though they were far from being possessed of any superfluous riches. Peter and John, of mere benevolence healed the lame man that was daily laid at the gate of the temple to ask alms of them who entered into it: and Peter said unto him, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk,” Acts iïi. 6. Men that are rich will give any part of their substance to recover their health, and preserve life, when under painful and dangerous illnesses; and any advantages might be made of this power, supposing it possible to be lodged in men of a sordid spirit, or a worldly mind; especially if we consider that the apostles are represented, not only as possessed of the power of healing themselves, but likewise of a capacity of bestowing gifts of the Holy Ghost on others. Selfish and covetous persons would have purchased such a gift at any rate: but the apostles detested such a thing as making profits of this part of their power. They met with temptations of this kind, but rejected them with the utmost abhorrence and indignation. When the gospel had been received by some at Samaria, and the apostles had conferred some gifts on some of the converts; “When Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands Ahe Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost; but Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought the gift of God may be purchased with money; thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter," Acts viii. 18—21.
In divers places where Paul spent a considerable time in sowing the seed of religious prin. ciples, in convincing and teaching, he refused all gratuities, though he did, it is true, accept of some supply from others. “ When I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man; far that which was lacking to me, the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied; and in all things, I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you:” 2 Cor. xi. 9; but all this appears, from the expression made use of, to have been only a supply for the present, and what could not last long. "And it is plain from what St. Luke relates, that during part of his stay at Corinth, he worked with his own hands for the gaining what was necessary for the support of life: “ After these things, Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth, and found a certain Jew, named Aquila, with his wife Priscilla ; and because he was of the same craft he abode with them, and wrought, (far by their occupation they were tent-makers”), Acts xviii. 1–3. At Thessalonica likewise this was the case : for he tells the Thessalonians: “You remember, brethren, our labour, and travail : for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God," 1 Epistle ii. 9. Nor did he suffer others to make any considerable advantages. “Did I make a gain of you, by any of those whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother : did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same steps ?” 2 Cor. xii. 17, 18.
Yea the apostle professed himself a loser on the account of this religion, which whether true
or not, might have been known. “ Yea doubtless, and I account all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” Phil. iii. 8.
It is evident they did not seek honour to themselves, the common charge against innovators, the great propensity, as it is supposed, of all who affect to be heads of a party. From those that continued their old affection for judaism or heathenism, they could expect nothing but contempt or aversion—to be thought inconsiderate, mistaken and deluded wretches, or else proud and selfopinionated, perhaps designing and wicked. As for them that came over to them entirely, or conceived favour for their doctrine, it is plain they sought not honour from them; for they refused all undue respects when offered them. We have an instance of this at Lystra. Paul aud Barnabas cured a man lame from his birth. When the people saw this, " they lift up their voices saying, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” The priest of Jupiter had prepared oxen and garlands, and would have done sacrifice with the people. It was even dangerous to oppose such an attempt of gratitude and respect. Yet the apostles with the greatest eagerness put by these offers, though they could not do it but in a way that must lay a disgrace upon the rites this people were devoted to; "they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, Sirs, why do ye these things? We preach unto you that ye turn from these vanities, unto the living God. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them,” Acts xiv.
They wrought no miracles in their own name: when they bestowed any extraordinary kindness upon any person, they did it in the name of Jesus Christ. And when any were ready to run into a mistake, and ascribe to them what did not belong to them, they were careful to rectify such apprehensions. When the people at Jerusalem flocked together about Peter and John, upon the cure of the lame man at the gate of the temple, "greatly wondering; when Peter saw it,” he said to them, “why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly upon us; as though, by our own power or holiness, we had made this man to walk? The God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus :” the use they make of it is, to magnify the goodness of God, and the power of Christ, and to bring them to true repentance, that they may all share in the favour of God: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord,” Acts iii. 19.
" Acts iii. 19. When Peter was entering in to Cornelius, and he met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him : “ Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man,'
” Acts x. 25, 26. They disclaimed likewise all undue respects among those that had acknowledged their commission, and received their doctrine. They detested all contentions about their own persons, owned their meanness, and referred all to the glory of God. “ Now this I say, that every one of you
saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided ? Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul ?" 1 Cor. i. 12, 13. They owned their own meanness; that God had “ chosen the foolish things of this world, and weak things, and base things of the world;" that he that glorieth might “ glory in the Lord,” chap. i. 27, 31. Again, “I was with you in weakness and in fear, and my speech was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit, and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God," chap. ii. 1. “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered: but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that wateretlı: but God that giveth the increase,” chap. iii. 5–7. « These things have I in a figure transferred to myself, and to Apollos for your sakes; that you might learn in us, not to think of men above that which is written," chap. iv. 6. “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy,” 2. Cor. i. 24 ; " for we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake," chap. iv. 5.
I might refer you to the appeals they have made themselves upon some occasions in behalf of their integrity : some of which at least are such as would not have been made, had they not been fully persuaded of their own sincerity, and that the persons to whom they made them, could give no proofs to the contrary, nay, must have such evidences of it before them as were undeniable. “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fieshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward,” 2 Cor. i. 12. " But even after that we had
suffered before, and were shamefully entreated at Philippi ; we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of Christ,” i Thess. ii. 2. “ Neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness. Neither of men sought we glory, nor of you, nor yet of others,” ver. 5. “ Ye are witnesses and God also, how holily and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe,” ver. 10. A greater regard may be had to these appeals, because there were in most of the churches different parties, some Judaising Christians and their teachers; and if there could have been any exceptions against them, it would have been in vain to make them.
But there are some other appeals of the apostle Paul, which we may certainly lay a great stress upon, considering the occasion of them, the persons to whom, and the places in which they were made, and which must absolutely vindicate him in particular from all suspicion of baseness, and from selfish and worldly views in this design of spreading the gospel. In Acts xx. 18, 19, is his parting speech to the elders at Ephesus: “ Ye know from the time that I came into Asia," i. e. that part of Asia which was then properly called by that name; “after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many fears and temptations.-I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel : yea, you yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and unto them that were with me, ver 33, 34. In Acts xxi. xxii. is an account of the seizing of Paul, by a multitude of Jews in the temple at Jerusalem ; of his being taken out of their hands by the chief captain, who came with a band of soldiers, and bound him with chains: and when Paul was going up into the castle, followed by a great crowd, and had obtained leave to speak to the people, he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue; “Men, brethren, and fathers - I am verily a man which am a Jew of Tarsus: yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day; and I pera secuted this way unto the death ;--as also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders, from whom also I received letters, and went unto Damascus, to bring them which were there, bound unto Jerusalem to be punished.” Then he proceeds to relate the extraordinary appearance he saw in the way, which was the means of his conversion. Now is it conceivable, that under such circumstances, when he was in the hands of the chief captain, the people of Jerusalem incensed and clamorous against him, he should give this account of himself, of the name of the person by whom he was educated in that city, and who was also living at that very time: appeal to the high priest himself, and the body of the elders, and tell them what was the real cause of his conversion ; if in all this there had been any falsehood, and if there had been any ill conduct in the former part of his life, for which he had been thrown off by his party, or if he had met with disappointment in any pretensions which might be matter of lasting disgust, had it not been easy to convict him? and would not a falsehood delivered by him at this time, have been much to his disadvantage? But nothing of this appears, there was no falsehood in it; they heard him patiently, till in the course of his speech, he comes to mention a design of God, to send him from hence to the Gentiles. “They gave him audience to these words :" but the bare mention of any
favour of God to the Gentiles, threw them into a rage that excluded all thought and consideration; then they cried out; “ Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.” This was the account he gave of himself upon many occasions; we find it in his speech to Agrippa : “My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among my own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews, which knew me from the beginning (if they would testify) that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a pharisee.” See Acts xxiii. 1 ; Phil. iii. 4, 5; and Gal. i. 13, 14. These are appeals which would not have been made, if they could have been refuted.
It is a strong proof of their integrity, and that they had no selfish designs in spreading a new set of religious principles, that they did not endeavour to accommodate the principles they delivered as from God, to the corrupt taste of Jews or Gentiles. It was not a religion made up partly of the one and partly of the other, modelled and contrived, and adjusted so as to please all. parties. The Jews were implacably incensed, yet they made no composition with them in favour of their temples, their sacrifices, or their priesthood. When the Jewish converts had a zeal for some part of the Mosaic law, and they were somewhat indulged as to themselves, yet they could never lay unnecessary burdens upon the Gentiles, or oblige them to submit to any of the distinguishing rites of that institution. This was the determination of the apostles and elders in a full