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suasion on the part of St. Paul, or enthusiasm in themselves, could induce the Corinthians to believe they had received from him the power of speaking languages they had never learned.
Edward. And yet this must have been the case, since the Corinthians received it as genuine, and endured every suffering in consequence, rather than renounce Christianity.
Mr. B. The conclusions which Paley draws at the end of his Horæ Paulinæ, are all that is necessary to state on this subject.
1. That Christianity was not a story set on foot, amidst the confusions which attended, and immediately preceded, the destruction of Jerusalem; when many extravagant reports were circulated; when men's minds were broken by terror and distress; when, amidst the tumults that surrounded them, inquiry was impracticable. These letters show incontestibly, that the religion had fixed and established itself before this state of things took place.
2. Whereas it hath been insinuated, that our Gospels may have been made up of reports and stories which were current at the time, we may observe, that, with respect to the Epistles, this is impossible.
3. These letters prove, that the converts to Christianity were not drawn from the barbarous, the mean, or the ignorant set of men, which the representations of infidelity would sometimes make them.
4. St. Paul's history, I mean so much of it as may be collected from his letters, is so implicated with that of the other apostles, and with the substance indeed of the Christian history itself, that I apprehend it will be found impossible to admit St. Paul's story (I do not speak of the miraculous part of it) to be true, and yet to reject the rest as fabulous.
5. St. Paul's letters furnish evidence (and what better evidence than a man's own letters can be desired?) of the soundness and sobriety of his judgment?
6. These letters are decisive, as to the sufferings of 1973 What are the two first conclusions of Paley on this subject?-74 What are the third and fourth ones?-75 What are the fifth, sixth, and seventh conclusions drawn by him?
the author; also as to the distressed state of the Christian church, and the dangers which attended the preaching of the Gospel.
7. St. Paul in these letters, asserts in positive and unequivocal terms his performance of miracles, strictly and properly so called.
Mr. B. The conversion of St. Paul, and his continuance in the faith of Christ till death, with the evidence collected from his letters, would alone be sufficient to establish the reality of the miracles of the New Testament to any reasonable mind; but beyond this we may extend the proof, and from the Gospels themselves defend the truth of those parts of their contents which relate miraculous events.
Maria. There is a peculiar interest attached to the miracles of our Lord.
Mr. B. That the other apostles were neither deceivers nor deceived, is equally certain with the case of St. Paul. Out of twelve whom he selected, one indeed proved false, but instantly bore melancholy testimony to the truth, by putting an end to his life. The remaining eleven, with one elected in the place of the traitor, continued till death firm in the faith of their Master. Most of them sealed their testimony with their blood; and if any did not, the expectation of a cruel death was at least common to all.
Maria. They could hardly have had this fortitude, but from the conviction that their labours were acceptable to God; which from their own doctrines they could not have, if they “handled the word of God deceitfully.
Mr. B. They could not: nor is it by any means conceivable that they believed otherwise than they taught.
1 What does Mr. B. consider sufficient of itself to establish the reality of the miracles of the New Testament?-2 But from what other source may additional proof be drawn?—3 What is said of the sincerity of the twelve apostles?—4 How does Maria look upon them, so far as sincerity is concerned?
Edward. Can there be no supposition of a secret doctrine only known to themselves? Many sects have had two sets of opinions, one for themselves, and one for the public.
Mr. B. That there is no trace of any secret doctrine distinct from that avowed, is certain; and if it had ever existed, we must have had some vestiges of it left. If such were held by the apostles, how could it be concealed from Timothy, Titus, and their fellow-labourers? and if revealed to them, why not to their successors? and if so, when did this secret doctrine first cease to be transmitted? If fraud were necessary at the commencement, was it less necessary hereafter? If it ever existed at all, is it credible that, among the numbers who were liable to martyrdom, none should reveal it—that, amidst the rage of conflicting parties among themselves, no hint of it should be found?
Maria. There is certainly no trace of it in the Scriptures, which is of most importance.
Mr. B. In St. Paul's Epistles to Timothy and Titus, where we might have expected to meet with it, if any where, we only find the same language. Every thing is still directed to be done, as of a pure conscience, and faith unfeigned;" and the end of the commandment is charity" here as elsewhere. In St. Paul's other Epistles, and in the Epistles of St. John, St. Peter, St. Jude, and St. James, the same integrity, the same purity of heart, are required: nor is there any passage which can be tortured into any thing like an insinuation of the reverse of “simplicity and godly sincerity.”. Every portion of their writings exhibits them as men of the deepest piety—as men who would abhor the wickedness of recommending a course of life as of divine authority which they knew was not so.
Edward. But might not their real sentiments be altogether concealed ? Prosperity and adversity exhibit the same characters under very different lights.
5 What does Edward suppose, as to a secret doctrine?–6 In what way does Mr. B. refute such an idea ?–7 Do the epistles to Timothy and Titus have any bearing upon this point?—8 What is said of the other epistles upon the same matter?-9. What question does Edward ask, respecting their real sentiments ?
Mr. B. But that we have their real sentiments we may rest assured, from the degree of intelligence which we perceive in them, and our knowledge of their situation in life. Their works prove to us, that they could not have entertained the chimerical thought of establishing the religion they preached without Divine aid. They had, unless the miracles of our Lord were real, no motive for attempting it; they were, unless supported by Divine power, manifestly unfit for it; they were by education, and the circumstances of birth, wholly indisposed towards it. Their Master had preached in Palestine, and been crucified in consequence. Were they so infatuated as to think they should escape, and that out of Judea, where their nation was hated, they should meet with a better reception?
Edward. It does not appear probable, but men sometimes run great risks for the chance of great gains.
Mr. B. But what could they gain? If any hope of gain did exist, it must have been founded on the chance of success, and without Divine aid they had no chance. They made all men their enemies, and that not indifferent, but violent enemies. They attacked the vices and prejudices of men in such a manner, that no chance remained for their party, but by the obstinate perseverance of their converts; and unquestionably the apostles were the most likely to fall first. Hear St. Paul: “ For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the
10 What is proved to us by the works of the apostles in relation to this subject ?-11 How would they have been affected from an apprehension that the miracles recorded of our Lord were not real?–12 How were their worldly interests to be affected by preaching Christianity?-13 What is said by St. Paul himself in relation to the effect on these interests?
offscouring of all things unto this day.” 1 Cor. iv. 9—
Maria. But did they always expect suffering?
Mr. B. Not before the resurrection of our Lord. We previously find them sanguine in their hopes of advancement, and calculating upon the future. Yet they tell us that from the beginning they were warned, that “ in the world they should have tribulation.” Afterwards we find they not only professed to expect this for themselves, but even inculcated the same upon their converts. " We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren,” says St. John. “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings,” says St. Peter. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations,” says St. James.
Maria. Language like this could never have been used by impostors. It is contrary to common sense to suppose that any one would attempt to establish a religion, when he inculcated such precepts, unless he was supported by the integrity of his intention, and the consciousness of the approval of his Maker.
Mr. B. If it be supposed that the apostles were deceivers, they must be allowed to have had some of the qualifications of deceivers. But the whole of the New Testament is so found in opposition to all that was then most likely to succeed, that this opinion cannot be retained with the least regard to consistency. No deceiver would run in all things counter to prejudice, would neglect to lay hold on some failing, or to avail himself of some prevailing passion. No impostor could venture upon such an undertaking without securing some present aid, or holding out to his followers the expectation of future support.
14 Did the apostles expect suffering from the beginning?-15 What were their views, subsequently to the resurrection, on the subject ?-16 How does Maria look upon the expressions of the apostles on the subject quoted by Mr. B. ?-17 If the apostles were deceivers, what must we suppose of them?-18 How does it appear that this could not have been true of them?