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We may seem to have accumulated texts unnecessa rily; but beside that the point which they are brought to prove is of great importance, there is this also to be remarked in every one of the passages cited, that the allusion is drawn from the writer by the argument or the occasion? that the notice which is taken of his sufferings, and of the suffering condition of Christianity, is perfectly incidental, and is dictated by no design of stating the facts themselves. Indeed, they are not stated at all: they may rather be said to be assumed. This is a distinction upon which we have relied a good deal in former parts of this treatise; and, where the writer's information cannot be doubted, it always, in my opinion, adds greatly to the value and credit of the testimony.
If any reader require from the apostle more direct and explicit assertions of the same thing, he will receive full satisfaction in the following quotations.
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in pe rils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." 2 Cor. xi. 23-28.
Can it be necessary to add more? "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. 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 filth of the earth, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day." 1 Cor. iv. 9-13. I subjoin this passage to the former, because
it extends to the other apostles of Christianity much of that which St. Paul declared concerning himself.
In the following quotations, the reference to the author's sufferings is accompanied with a specification of time and place, and with an appeal for the truth of what he declares to the knowledge of the persons whom he addresses: "Even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention." 1 Thess. ii. 2.
"But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me." 2 Tim, iii. 10, 11.
I apprehend that to this point, as far as the testimony of St. Paul is credited, the evidence from his letters is complete and full. It appears under every form in which it could appear, by occasional allusions and by direct assertions, by general declarations and by specific examples.
VII. St. Paul in these letters asserts, in positive and unequivocal terms, his performance of miracles strictly and properly so called.
"He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles (eveрywv dvvaueic) among you, doth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Gal. iii, 5.
"For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders (εν δυνάμει σημείων και τεράτων), by the power of the Spirit of God: so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." Rom. xv. 18, 19.
"Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders and mighty
i. e. "I will speak of nothing but what Christ hath wrought by me;" or as Grotius interprets it, "Christ hath wrought so great things by me, that I will not dare to say what he hath not wrought."
deeds,” (εν σημείοις και τέρασι και δυνάμεσι). 2 Cor.
These words-signs, wonders, and mighty deeds (σημεία, και τέρατα, και δυναμεις), are the specific ap. propriate terms throughout the New Testament, employed when public sensible miracles are intended to be expressed. This will appear by consulting, amongst other places, the texts referred to in the note;+ and it cannot be known that they are ever employed to express any thing else.
Secondly, these words not only denote miracles as opposed to natural effects, but they denote visible, and what may be called external, miracles, as distinguished,
First, from inspiration. If St. Paul had meant to refer only to secret illuminations of his understanding, or secret influences upon his will or affections, he could not, with truth, have represented them as "signs and wonders wrought by him," of "signs and wonders and mighty deeds wrought amongst them."
Secondly, from visions. These would not, by any means, satisfy the force of the terms, "signs, wonders, and mighty deeds;" still less could they be said to be "wrought by him," or "wrought amongst them:" nor are these terms and expressions any where applied to visions. When our author alludes to the superna
To these may be added the following indirect allusions, which, though if they had stood alone, i. e. without plainer texts in the same writings, they might have been accounted dubious; yet, when cousidered in conjunction with the passages already cited, can hardly receive any other interpretation than that which we give them.
"My speech and my preaching 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." 1 Cor. ii. 4-6.
"The gospel, whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power." Ephes. iii. 7.
"For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles." Gal. ii. 8.
"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." 1 Thess. i. 5.
+ Mark xvi. 20. Luke xxiii. 8. John ii. 11. 23.; iii. 2.; iv. 48. 54.; xi. 49. Acts ii. 22.; iv. 3.; v. 12.; vi. 8.; vii. 16.; xiv. 3.; xv. 12. Heb. ii. 4.
tural communications which he had received, either by vision or otherwise, he uses expressions suited to the nature of the subject, but very different from the words which we have quoted. He calls them revelations, but never signs, wonders, or mighty deeds. "I will come," says he, "to visions and revelations of the Lord:" and then proceeds to describe a particular instance, and afterward adds, "lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh."
Upon the whole, the matter admits of no softening qualification, or ambiguity whatever. If St. Paul did not work actual, sensible, public miracles, he has knowingly, in these letters, borne his testimony to a falsehood. I need not add, that, in two also of the quotations, he has advanced his assertion in the face of those persons amongst whom he declares the miracles to have been wrought.
Let it be remembered that the Acts of the Apostles describe various particular miracles wrought by St. Paul, which in their nature answer to the terms and expressions which we have seen to be used by St. Paul himself.
Here then we have a man of liberal attainments, and in other points of sound judgment, who had addicted his life to the service of the gospel. We see him, in the prosecution of his purpose, travelling from country to country, enduring every species of hardship, encountering every extremity of danger, assaulted by the po pulace, punished by the magistrates, scourged, beat, stoned, left for dead; expecting, wherever he came, a renewal of the same treatment, and the same dangers, yet, when driven from one city, preaching in the next; spending his whole time in the employment, sacrificing to it his pleasures, his ease, his safety; persisting in this course to old age, unaltered by the experience of perverseness, ingratitude, prejudice, desertion; unsubdued by anxiety, want, labour, persecutions; unwearied by long confinement, undismayed by the prospect of death. Such was St. Paul. We have his letters in our hands;
we have also a history purporting to be written by one of his fellow-travellers, and appearing, by a comparison with these letters, certainly to have been written by some person well acquainted with the transactions his life. From the letters, as well as from the history, we gather not only the account which we have stated of him, but that he was one out of many who acted and suffered in the same manner; and that of those who did so, several had been the companions of Christ's ministry, the ocular witnesses, or pretending to be such, of his miracles, and of his resurrection. We moreover find this same person referring in his letters to his supernatural conversion, the particulars and accompanying circumstances of which are related in the history; and which accompanying circumstances, if all or any of them be true, render it impossible to have been a delusion. We also find him positively, and in appropriated terms, asserting that he himself worked miracles, strictly and properly so called, in support of the mission which he executed; the history, meanwhile, recording various passages of his ministry, which come up to the extent of this assertion. The question is, whether falsehood was ever attested by evidence like this. Falsehoods, we know, have found their way into reports, into tradition, into books; but is an example to be met with, of a man voluntarily undertaking a life of want and pain, of incessant fatigue, of continual peril: submitting to the loss of his home and country, to stripes and stoning, to tedious imprisonment, and the constant expectation of a violent death, for the sake of carrying about a story of what was false, and of what, if false, he must have known to be so?