Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

opinion, men mistake perpetually; and it is no reason for me to take up with another man's opinion, because I am persuaded he is fincere in it. But when a man reports to me an uncommon fact, yet such a one as in its own nature is a plain object of sense ; if I believe him not, it is not because I suspect his eyes, or his sense of feeling, but merely because I suspect his fincerity. For if I was to see the same thing myself, I should believe myself; and therefore my suspicion does not arise from the inability of human senses to judge in the case, but from a doubt of the fincerity of the reporter. In such cases therefore there wants nothing to be proved, but only the fincerity of the reporter; and since voluntary suffering for the truth is at least a proof of fincerity, the sufferings of the Apostles for the truth of the resurrection is a full and unexceptionable proof.

The counsel for Woolston was fenfible of this difference; and therefore he added, that there are many, instances of men's suffering and dying in an obstinate denial of the truth of facts plainly proved. This ob.. servation is also true. I remember a story of a man who endured with great constancy all the tortures of the rack, denying the fact with which he was charged. When he was asked afterwards, how he could hold out against all the tortures? he answered, I had painted a gallows upon the toe of my shoe, and, when the rack stretched me, I looked on the gallows, and bore the pain to save my life. This man denied a plain fact under great torture, but you see a reason for it. In other cases, when criminals persist in denying their crimes, they often do it, and there is reason to suspect they do it always, in hopes of a pardon or reprieve. But what are these inftances to the present purpose ? All these men suffer against their will, and for their crimes; and their obftinacy is built on the hope of escaping, by moving the compassion of the government. Can the gentleman give me any instances of persons who died willingly in attestation of a false fact? We have had in England some weak enough to die for the Pope's supremacy; but do you think a man could be found to die in proof of the Pope's being actually on the throne of England ?

Now the Apostles died in asserting the truth of Christ's resurrection. It was always in their power to quit their evidence, and save their lives. Even their bitterest enemies, the Jews, required no more of them than to be silente. Others have denied facts, or afferted facts, in hopes of saving their lives, when they were under sentence of death : but these men attested a fact at the expence of their lives, which they might have saved by denying the truth. So that between criminals dying, and denying plain facts, and the Apostles' dying for their teftimony, there is this material difference : criminals deny the truth in hopes of saving their lives; the Apostles willingly parted with their lives, rather than deny the truth.

We are come now to the last, and indeed the moft weighty confideration.

The counsel for the Apostles having in the course of the argument allowed, that more evidence is re- ' quired to support the credit of the resurrection, it being a very extraordinary event, than is necessary

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

in common cases; in the latter part of his defence sets forth the extraordinary evidence upon which this fact stands: this is the evidence of the Spirit; the spirit of wisdom and power, which was given to the Apostles, to enable them to confirm their testimony by signs, and wonders, and mighty works. This part of the argument was well argued by the gentleman, and I need not repeat all he said.

The counsel for Woolston, in his reply, made two objections to this evidence.

The first was this: that the resurrection having all along been pleaded to be a matter of fact and an object of sense, to recur to miracles for the proof of it is to take it out of its proper evidence, the evidence of sense, and to rest it upon a proof which cannot be applied to it; for seeing one miracle, he says, is no evidence that another miracle was wrought before it; as healing a fick man is no evidence that a dead man was raised to life.

To clear this difficulty, you must consider by what train of reasoning miracles come to be proofs in any case. A miracle of itself proves nothing, unless this only, that there is a cause equal to the producing the effect we see. Suppose you should see a man raise one from the dead, and he should go away and say nothing to you, you would not find that any fact, or any propofition, was proved or disproved by this miracle. But should he declare to you, in the name of him by whose power the miracle was wrought, that image-worship was unlawful, you would then be poffeffed of a proof against imageworship. But how ?! Not because the miracle proves any thing, as to the point itself; but because the man's declaration is authorized by him who wrought the miracle in confirmation of his doctrine. And therefore miracles are directly a proof of the autho. rity of persons, and not of the truth of things.

To apply this to the present case: if the Apostles had wrought miracles, and said nothing of the resurrection, the miracles would have proved nothing about the resurrection one way or other. But when as eye-witnesses they attested the truth of the resurrection, and wrought miracles to confirm their authority; the miracles did not directly prove the resurrection, but they confirmed and established beyond all suspicion the proper evidence, the evidence of eye-witnesses. So that here is no change of the evidence from proper to improper; the fact still rests upon the evidence of sense, confirmed and strengthened by the authority of the Spirit. If a witness calls in his neighbours to attest his veracity, they prove nothing as to the fact in question, but only confirm the evidence of the witness. The case is here the same; though between the authorities brought in confirmation of the evidence there is no comparison.

The second objection was, that this evidence; however good it may be in its kind, is yet nothing to us. It was well, the gentleman fays, for those who had it; but what is that to us, who have it

not?

To adjust this difficulty, I must observe to you, that the evidence now under confideration was not a private evidence of the Spirit, or any inward light, like to that which the Quakers in our time pretend to; but an evidence appearing in the manifest and

[ocr errors]

visible works of the Spirit: and this evidence was capable of being transmitted, and actually has been transmitted to us upon unquestionable authority: and to allow the evidence to have been good in the first ages, and not in this, seems to me to be a contradiction to the rules of reasoning. For if we see enough to judge that the first ages had reason to believe, we must needs see at the same time that it is reasonable for us also to believe. As the present question only relates to the nature of the evidence, it was not necefsary to produce from history the instances to shew in how plentiful a manner this evidence was granted to the church. Whoever wants this satisfaction may easily have it.

Gentlemen of the jury, I have laid before you the substance of what has been said on both sides. You are now to consider of it, and to give your verdict. The Jury consulted together, and the Foreman rose up.

Foreman. My Lord, we are ready to give our verdict.

Judge. Are you all agreed ?
Jury. Yes.
Judge. Who shall speak for you?
Jury. Our Foreman.

Judge. What say you ? Are the Apostles guilty of giving false evidence in the case of the resurrection of Jesus, or not guilty ?

Foreman. Not guilty.

Judge. Very well ; and now, gentlemen, I resign my commission, and am your humble servant.

[ocr errors]

The company rose up, and were beginning to pay

G g

« AnteriorContinuar »