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his doctrines. To suppose that God, in such a ease, should enable an impostor to perform these stupendous works, or should perform them for him, is contrary to all our ideas of his moral character. All moral evidence depends on the veracity of God. They who saw Christ cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, still the tempests, only by a single word; and afterward. yield himself to death ; and then, exactly according to his prediction, rise from the dead, ascend into heaven, and shed down on his disciples the promised gifts of the spirit ; could not rationally doubt, that he was, what he declared himself to be, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world ; and that, consequently, all his doctrines were true, his precepts pure, and his whole reli. gion a heavenly institution.

II. As these signs were evidence to those who saw them, so the record given of them is evidence to succeeding ages. This the evangelist teaches us, when he says, “ These signs are written that ye might believe.” For if they could be evidence on. ly to those who saw them, there was no reason why they should be written; nor would the writing of them be a mean of faith.

The apostle observes, that Christ performed them in the presence of his disciples. Most of them indeed, were wrought in the presence of multitudes : But as the disciples were to be witnesses of them to the world, the evangelist particularly mentions this circumstance, to give credibility to their testimony. That which they saw and heard, they de. clared to others. They did not relate Christ's miracles on fame or report, but from their own immediate knowledge. They testified that which they saw, and their testimony is worthy of belief..

The disciples of Jesus were credible witnesses of the facts which they related ; because it was not possible that they should be deceived ; they could be under no possible temptation to deceive others; nor was it in their power to have deceived mankind, even if they had formed such a design.

1. They could not be mistaken themselves in the matters, which they relate, but must infallibly know whether they were true or not.

The miracles, which they have recorded, were matters which fell under their own observation, and were subject to their own senses. Whether they saw the dead rise; the sick and lame healed; storms composed ; thousands fed with a few loaves; and, besure, whether they were themselves able to work miracles and speak with divers tongues; whether Jesus, who was crucified, actually rose and appeared to them ; whether they conversed with him, saw his wounds, and heard him communicate his instructions to them; were facts in which they could not possibly be mistaken. If their senses, in such plain, obvious matters, could deceive them, we cannot trust our senses in

any case.

If their relation of facts is not true, they must have aimed to deceive mankind. But,

2. They could be under no temptation to relate these things, if they had not known them to be true, because, by their testimony, they exposed themselves to the loss of every thing that is desirable, and to the suffering of every thing that is terrible, in this world. Poverty, reproach, persecution and death, were the consequences of their perseverance in their testimony, and consequences which they foresaw, and which Christ had warned them to expect. And it can never be imagined that a number of men, in cool blood, should combine together to sacrifice every thing that is dear in life, for the sake of imposing a falsehood on the worldshould all steadily persevere in this design, after they began to feel the consequences of it, and should even persist in it till death, and none among them

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should desert the cause and discover the fraud. Such a combination, so executed, was never known, or heard of, nor is human nature capable of it. And,

3. If they had been disposed to deceive mankind in these facts, it was not in their power to do it, nor could it be in their thoughts to attempt it. The facts which they relate, and the doctrines which they deliver, are so great and wonderful, that it is absurd to suppose a number of men should frame, them out of their own invention. Had not the things which they declare been true, they could not have maintained that uniformity and consistency which appear in their testimony : Much less could such a number of persons have been consistent with one a. nother. And if their testimony had not been true, it was, in the time of it, easy to detect the fraud and prevent it from spreading. The facts which they relate they declared were done publickly ; in the view of the world ; and then very lately. And had there been no such miracles, there would have been no credit given to their report. The disciples had enemies who wished to confound them. The Jews, especially their rulers, spared no pains to suppress the christian cause. Their enmity to it would have prompted them to convict the disciples of false. hood, if they had not known, that the facts related were indisputable. Had they discovered any im. posture, they would immediately have made it publick. And since they never denied the facts assert. ed by the apostles, but rather denied the consequences of them, they must undoubtedly have been convinced, that they were real, and not fictitious.

Had not the miracles, said to have been wrought by Jesus and his disciples, been real, the gospel never could have gained so extensive credit, as in fact it did ; and if it had not been then received, it would have been more difficult to introduce it, and give it a spread afterward : For it is always more

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easy to establish a scheme when it is new, than to revive it, after it has been rejected and proved to be false.

The sacred writings carry in them an air of honesty and impartiality. They are of a holy nature and beneficial tendency. The pious and exemplary lives of the apostles proved them to be un-der the influence of the religion which they taught ; and their dying in defence of it shewed, that they firmly believed it to be divine. Its wonderful suc. cess, without the support of human power, de monstrates, that it was patronized by heaven. The gospel history comes down to us with the passport of all former ages, and with every circumstance of credibility that can possibly attend any history.

There are four men, who have professedly written memoirs of the life of Jesus Christ. Two of them were his attendant disciples; the other two were contemporary and conversant with his disciples. Four others have written epistles to particular societies of christians, or to christians in general. In these epistles they recognise the character, assert or allude to the miracles, and teach the doctrines of Jesus, as they are related in those me. moirs. So that this history stands on the credit of eight different persons, most of whom were the immediate disciples of Jesus, and all of them his. contemporaries. They wrote separately, on different occasions, without the least appearance of concert or collusion ; and yet all substantially agree. To some of the principal facts there is the concurrent testimony of heathen writers. These memoirs and epistles were received as genuine, in the apos. tolick and next succeeding age, and from age to age

down to the present ti e. In short the gospel history, if considered merely as human, is better authenticated than any other ancient history extant. If we doubt its truth, we must doubt the truth of

all history, and believe nothing, but what we see with our own eyes. I proceed to observe,

III. Though the evangelists have not written ev. ery thing which Christ did and taught, yet, they have written as much as is necessary to the establishment of our faith. Saint John says, Many other things truly did Jesus, which are not written in this book, but these are written that ye might believe. He says afterward, There are many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written, every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. A particular narrative of every thing which Christ did and spake, would have swelled the sacred volume beyond bounds. Few or none would have found ability to procure it, or time to read it. So that it would have been much less useful to the world, than the concise, summary account which is now given us. They who can re. ject the gospel, after all the evidence which arises frum the miracles written, might as well reject it, if the number were ten times as great. And though every discourse which our Saviour delivered is not given us at full length, yet we have a summary view of all the doctrines which he taught. Though many things which he spake are omitted in the history, yet no essential and important truth is suppressed.

The observation here made, may be applied to the works and sermons of his apostles. It is not necessary to suppose, nor indeed is it probable, that the New Testament contains all their transactions. It is certain that we have only a summary account of the sermons which they preached; and, in some instances, there is only men. tion made of their preaching at such a place, without any particular detail of the matters on which they spake. Nor is the supposition unreasonable,

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