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we possess much stronger evidence in the former case. For example, we have far more solid grounds for believing what is recorded in the New Testament concerning the life and death of Jesus Christ, than for believing what is written concerning the contest at Thermopyla between Xerxes and Leonidas, or the warlike exploits of Julius Cæsar in Three litera- Gaul. We have no fewer than three distures unite to tinct literatures meeting, so to speak, in a point-in one focus-and shedding their united light on the transactions that occurred during the life of Christ and the early progress of Christianity. have the Grecian literature, the Roman literature, and the the Jewish literature, all illustrating that important period.

shed light on


Now, many important statements in history are received on the credit of only one of these literatures. Nay, sometimes, events which no one ventures to dispute, are recorded by only one writer. The "Retreat of the ten command of Xenophon, is

thousand Greeks" under the fully described by only one historian; and yet the narrative is universally received as true, interesting, and important.

The credibility, then, or trustworthiness, of the New Testament history is most remarkable. It is confirmed by evidences which are uncommonly clear, numerous, and powerful. Any ancient book may be disbelieved rather than this. Such are the feelings with which every young Native should commence the study of the New Testament. When, accordingly, he does proceed to peruse the New Testament, his attention will soon be arrested by the very extraordinary nature of many of the facts which it records. He will find


nary nature
of many facts
recorded in

the N. T.

it asserted that Jesus Christ performed a vast number of wonderful works, such as healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and even raising the dead to life, and that Christ himself rose from the

These and many simi

dead and ascended into heaven. lar occurrences which are recorded in the New Testament are exceedingly unlike any thing which we ourselves have ever witnessed. In a word, the New Testament mentions the occurrence of many miracles. Let us see whether we can give a simple explanation of what a miracle is.

When we survey the objects that exist in the world around us, we cannot fail to be convinced

Miracle explained.

that GOD is, and also that He is possessed of the attributes of power, wisdom, and goodness. Farther, we perceive that all the works of God are characterized by order, regularity, harmony.. Night and day— the various seasons-the revolutions of the Sun and Moon-and a thousand other things, follow according to a fixed order, in beautiful unvarying succession. The rock, loosened from the precipice, will roll down into the abyss. The rivers invariably flow from a higher to a lower level. Thus it is that, on seeing one thing, we can often predict others. We call this regularity the order of Nature; and we say that all these things happen in accordance with certain laws which God has been pleased to establish among the works of His hand.

But the New Testament expressly declares that things have been done, which deviate from the ordinary course of Nature. For example, when it is said that Christ raised dead men to life, every one knows that this is entirely different from any thing that we have seen happen-since the dead have never (so far as our experience extends) returned to life.

A miracle, then, denotes an exercise of power adequate to control, and change, the usual order of Nature.

I shall reduce under three propositions all the remarks that we require to make respecting miracles in general, or the miracles of Christ in particular.

I. We must not too hastily believe that miracles were



In most

Excessive credulity


We must test wrought; we must believe them only when full and satisfactory evidence is afforded. nations of the world men are too credulous. An uneducated Hindu will believe any miraculous event you please to relate; and all the Hindu books are filled with extraordinary stories in which things are said to have occurred, which are quite contrary to the experience of men in our day. Educated Hindus do not believe one hundredth part of the wonderful tales they hear of the gods and their doings in past or present times. In like manner, the writings of Greek and Roman authors contain many wonderful narratives which no one now regards as entitled to any credit. The historian Livy records a great many prodigies. Even Tacitus, who is justly regarded as one of the most judicious writers that Roman literature can boast of, is not free from this blemish;-for example, he relates that the Emperor Vespasian cured two men, one blind and one lame, at Alexandria,—and although we are not entirely certain that the historian himself believed that these wonderful cures were real, yet we know that in the time of Vespasian some did actually think so. Now-a-days, no reader of Tacitus has any hesitation in saying that no miracle was wrought in this case. Indeed, in reading the histories of Greece and Rome, we generally weed out (so to speak) all such extraordinary narratives, and attach credit only to the remainder.

We do this, because, in the vast majority of cases, we can find no satisfactory proof that the wonders ever really took place. When we call for the witnesses, and crossexamine them, as is done in a court of justice, the evidence in support of the asserted miracle seems to melt entirely away. Let us take an example. The Muhammadans believe that many miraculous events occurred in

connexion with Muhammad. They tell us that he was always overshadowed by a cloud; that food and fruits were brought to him from heaven; that animals, mountains, trees, and stones, paid homage to him and proclaimed his praises; and so on.* The question, then, is whether we have satisfactory proof that these things actually occurred. On inquiry we find that they are included among the traditions that are recorded concerning Muhammad. We find, farther, that no traditions respecting Muhammad were written until more than one hundred years after his death, and that a very large number of them cannot be traced back more than three or four hundred years. We then call to mind the fact that oral tradition is a most variable thing, and that even in the space of one hundred years from Muhammad's time it must have sustained great alterations. Lastly, we find that different classes of Muhammadans entertain exceedingly different opinions on the subject of these traditions, some acknowledging one hundred thousand of them to be true,-others acknowledging seven thousand two hundred and seventy five, others, five thousand two hundred and sixty five,others, four thousand four hundred and eighty four,-and others expressing considerable doubt as to the perfect accuracy of any of them. In this case, then, we are involved in inextricable confusion; and he must be a credulous man indeed, who would believe a story simply because it is recorded among the Muhammadan traditions.

From this you will easily see the necessity of the principle mentioned above, viz. that one must carefully examine the evidence that is adduced to establish the reality of any supposed miraculous occurrence. In regard to the miracles recorded in the New Testament, we are most willing and anxious that precisely the same thing should

* From the Hayát-ul-Kúlúb. Pfander's Remarks on Muhammadnism, p. 17.

be done. Let the matter be thoroughly sifted. Let nothing be believed without suitable and sufficient proof. Christianity herself demands the inquiry. Her language "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

In the preceding letter, we considered the question of the credibility of the New Testament history in general. We are now to consider the credibility of its miracles in particular. The arguments that must be brought forward are necessarily very much the same in both cases; and therefore, in order to avoid running into much repetition, I shall set them down in this place, with the greatest possible brevity, begging you, however, to read Letter IV over again, and apply the explanations it contains to the special question we are now discussing.

II. We possess full and satisfactory evidence that the We have full evi- miracles ascribed in the New Testament dence that Christ

wrought miracles.

to Jesus Christ were really performed.

The following considerations afford such evidence. 1. Christ himself distinctly appealed to his miracles as evidence that he had been commissioned were public. by God, and he publicly challenged inquiry into their reality.

His miracles

Clear and palpable.

2. His miracles were of a very clear and palpable kind, so that their truth or falsehood could easily be tested. Farther, Christ performed his works in the presence of multitudes, not only of friends, but of enemies.

3. His disciples believed the miracles to be real, and

His disciples died in at- died in attestation of their truth. testation of their truth.

4. Vast numbers of people, both Jews and Gentiles, were convinced of the reality of Christ's Many Jews and Gentiles miracles, and they also cheerfully submitted did the same. to death in attestation of their truth.

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