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Finally, Mr. English produces Origen to support his argument against miraculous testimony. “Origen, in his reply to Celsus, waves the consideration of the Christian miracles, for,” says he, “ the very mention of these things puts you heathen upon a broad grin.” Had Mr. English given us the reference to this authority, it would have been easier to admit or reject it. The only passage which bears any resemblance to it, which I have met in the eight books of Origen against Celsus, is the following: “Let Celsus or his Jew sneer at the assertion, it is true that many have become Christians, as it were in spite of themselves ; some spiritual appearance or vision moving them to give up their hatred, and be ready to die for the cause. Many cases like this I have known, which if I were to relate, I might set those upon a broad laugh, who, judging us by the practice of impostors, would suspect us of fiction."* As this has no reference to the miracles of Jesus Christ, I cannot but hope that it is not the passage which Mr. Eng. lish produces, as a resignation of them on the part of Origen, and shall gladly find that I have overlooked some other, which he meant to quote. Bụt it is at any rate a matter of extreme surprise, that Mr. English should have indulged himself in saying that this father waves the consideration of the Christian
Orig. contr. Cels. 1. i. § 46. The power of imagination, as exemplified in the history of enthusiasm in modern times, may account for this remark of Origen.
miracles in his reply," when it is notorious that he reverts to the consideration of them, and defends their authenticity and divinity, upon every occasion ; whole sections are devoted by him to asserting them against Jews and heathens, and his words are: “Celsus often, because he cannot deny the miracles which Jesus is recorded to have wrought, calumniously attributes them to magick and sorcery, but I on the contrary have as often defended them :"* and elsewhere, “ But Jesus openly showed himself to be the power of God among the Jews, by performing miracles, which Celsus ascribes to magick.”+ And in precise contradiction to Mr. English's hasty assertion, that in the two first centuries they were allowed very little weight, in proving doctrines,” Origen says,
66 Jesus raised certain from the dead, not only that the works he did might have their particular application, but also be the means of themselves of bringing many to the wonderful doctrine of the gos
passages, if more in so flagrant a case were needed, are referred to below.si
pel. I Other
* Contr. Cels. lib. ii. § 48. + Contr. Cels. lib. ii. $ 9.
# Contr. Cels. lib. ï. § 48. Vid etiam, lib. i. $ 38. ib. $ 45. ib. 8 68. lib. ii. $ 50, 51, 52, 53, &c. lib. iii. $ 3. ib. $ 23. lib. viii. $ 45.
§ It is a matter of some surprise, to find Mr. English placing Hierocles, a famous heathen philosopher and opponent of Christianity, among his Christian apologists of the two first centuries. “ Hierocles," says he, “speaks of the little tricks of Jesus.” But so do Voltaire, Paine, and Mr. English. And what reason was there for putting his name among his authorities from Christian apologists, unless lie wished to pass him off with the uninformed for a Christian? For an account of Hierocles see Lactant. Div. Inst. I. v. $ 2.
It easily follows therefore that if the question rested upon the authorities which Mr. English has produced, it must be decided against him. But let us not differ upon facts, lest we be thought to consult the authorities, with a design to find something more than the truth. Mr. English adopts a strange paradox of Collins, that prophetical testimony was the only testimony that could prove the Christian revelation ; and not only denies the miracles to be real, but also asserts them to be of no value if they were.
He finds in the fathers, as we will grant him, a preference given to prophetical testimony in the frequency and confidence with which it is quoted in controversy, and rashly or artfully seizes upon them, tells us that they are shy of appealing to miracles, and leads us to infer, by no distant implication, that they are really the patrons of his opinion. And yet this is not true. They did be. lieve in the miracles of our Saviour, they thought them to be divine works, they expressly tell us they were successfully wrought as the sanctions of his mission. Why then do they not rest the argument upon them? Because they believed also the agency of demons, and knew that the force of miracles would be evaded by the enemies of Christ, by ascribing them to infernal origin. Mr. English also is aware of these popular superstitions. Nay, he tells us they account for the indifference, as he styles it, which the primitive Christians manifested to miracles.* Why then does he
* Grounds of Christianity examined, p. 10, note.
pretend to make this indifference an argument for his views of miraculous testimony. Notwithstanding however the objection, to which the belief of the works of demons continually exposed the Christian miracles, we still find them for ever adduced by the apologists, and when the argument is turned from this ground to that of prophecy, it is often done, as we have seen, in the passage of Justin, with an express statement of the reason, viz. to avoid the reply which that belief would suggest.
It seems indeed to have been only where the Christian apologists were expressly meeting the objection to their arguments, which the heathens drew from the popular belief in the works of demons, that they resorted to this preference of prophetical testimony. For it is well known that miraculous testimony was a favourite one with the fathers, and that they suffered their attachment to it, and their confidence in it, to carry them into the wildest extravagancies of faith and practice.* And though one might think from the facts contained in Mr.English's note,t that they were backward in adducing this testimony, yet we find them alleging it on every occasion, and claiming for the orthodox church, the possession of powers beyond those which the heathen and hereticks could command.
But all these remarks upon the validity of miraculous testimony are not intended by me * Middleton's Free Inquiry, passim. Grounds of Christianity examined, note, p. 8.
as a preface to a dissertation on that testimony: Mr. English has made indeed a demand, that the merits of the question should rest 'upon one branch of evidence, (and that of necessity the least eligible,) where two are accessible. If I have succeeded in showing that this de. mand is impertinent and unphilosophical, it is enough; for if it be thought such, it can do no injury to any but him, who makes it. If he chooses to rest his own concern in a most mo. mentous question, upon a partial view of the testimony, we may wonder at his singularity, but the responsibility is his own. But what is the meaning of this obstreperous pertinacity, with which we are continually challenged to the prophetical argument in Mr. English’s book? Why, if the Messiahship as proved by prophecy, as he repeatedly says, is the question, and the main question, why is the greater part of his work filled
with extraneous and irrelevant discussions, upon the character of Paul, the gift of tongues, the historical testimony, the authenticity of the New Testament, and, as Mr. English ingeniously entitles one chapter, "Miscellaneous” matters. I do not say that he has not a fair right to discuss these, or any thing else; but certainly he has no right to make the clamour he does against the resort to miraculous evidence, when one chapter of his book is written expressly against Christian miracles ; and the greater part of it has no