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PROP. tongue,* should ever think of attempting so extrava
gant a thing as to travel over all nations ? and not only so, but that they should be able also to accomplish their design, and establish their doctrine in all parts of the world? Consider, moreover, how remarkable a thing it is, that they should in no respect disagree one from another in the account they gave of the actions of Christ. For if, in all questions of fact, and in all trials at law, and in all ordinary disputes, the agreement of several witnesses is always accounted sufficient to determine satisfactorily the matter in question; is it not an abundant evidence of the truth in this case, that twelve apostles, and seventy disciples, and innumerable other believers, have borne witness to the actions of Christ, with the most exact and perfect agreement among themselves; and not only so, but have endured also all kinds of torments, and even death itself, to confirm their testimony ? Again, that illiterate'men, saith he,t should preach the name of Christ in all parts of the world, some of them in Rome itself, the imperial city, others in Persia, others in Armenia, others in Parthia, others in Scythia, others in India, and the farthest parts of the world, and others beyond the sea, in the British
* Κάκελο δε πώς και μεστόν έκπλήξεως, το πλάνες άνδρας και ιδιώτας, μήτε λαλείν μήτε ακέειν πλέον της πατρίε φωνής επισταμένες, μή μόνον διανσηθήναι τολμήσαι προελθείν επί την των εθνών απάντων περίοδον, αλλά και προελθοντας κατορθώσαι το επιτηδευμα ; Σκεψαι δε, όποιον εστί, και το μηδενα μηδαμά διάφωνον εξενεγκεϊν περί των πράξεων τ8 'Ιησε λόγον. Ει γαρ επί πάντων αμφιγνουμένων πραγμάτων, έν τε τους κατά νόμες δικαστηρίοις, και εν ταις κοιναΐς αμφισβητήσεσι, των μαρτύρων συμφωνία κυρού το αμφιγνομένον πως ουκ αν η αλήθεια και επί τώνδε συσταίη, δώδεκα μεν όντων Αποστόλων, εβδομήκοντα δε Μαθητών, μυρία σε πλήθους τέτων εκσός, απάντων θαυμαστην συμφωνίαν επιδεδειγμένων, και μαρτυρησάντων γε τους υπό το Ιησέ πεπραγμένους, ουκ ανιδρωτί, διά δε βασάνων υπομονής, και πάσης αικίας και θανάτου.-Euseb. Demonstrat. Evang. lib. 3. cap. 2.
t Κηρύττειν δύ αγροίκους άνδρας εις πάντας το το Ίησε όνυμα, και τες μεν αυτών των Ρωμαίων αρχών και αυτήν τε την βασιλικωτατην πόλιν νείμασθαι τες δε την Περσών, τες δε την Αρμενίων, ετέρους δε το Παρθών έθνος, και αν πάλιν το Σκυθών, τινάς δε ήδη και επ' αυτά της οικουμένης ελθείν τα άκρα, επί τε την Ινδών φθάσαι χώραν, και ετέρους υπέρ τον Ωκεανόν παρελθείν επί τας καλουμένας Βρεττανικάς νήσους ταύτα ουκ έτ' έχω γε ηγύμαι κατά άνθρωπος είναι, μήτι γε κατά ευτελείς και ιδιώτας, πολλά δεί κατά πλάνους και γόητας.-Ιd. ibid. cap. 7.
isles: This I cannot but think to be a thing far ex- PROP. ceeding the power of man, much more the ignorant and unlearned men, and still much more the power of cheats and deceivers. And again : No one of them, saith he, * being ever terrified at the torments and deaths of others, forsook his companions, or ever preached contrary to them, and detected the forgery. Nay, on the contrary, that one, who did forsake his master in his life-time, and betray him to his enemies, being self-condemned, destroyed himself with his own hands. And much more to the same purpose, may be found, excellently said by the same author, in the seventh chapter of the third book of his Demonstratio Evangelica.
3. It is very certain, that the apostles' testimony That the concerning the works and doctrine of Christ is truly apostle's
testimony and without corruption conveyed down to us, even had been unto this day ; for they left this their testimony truly conin their writings: Which writings have been de- downtous, livered down to us by an uninterrupted succession, through all intermediate ages. Their books were all translated very early into several languages, and dispersed through all parts of the world; and have most of them been acknowledged to be the genuine writings of those whose names they bear, even by the bitterest enemies of Christianity in all ages. Passages, containing the most material doctrines, have been cited out of them by numberless authors, who lived in every age, from the very days of the apostles unto this time, so that there is no room or possibility of any considerable corruption, such as might in any wise diminish our certainty of the truth of the whole. In sum; there is no matter of fact in the world, attested in any history, with so many circumstances of credibility, with so many collateral evidences, and in every respect attended with so many
• 'Ουδείς τε αυτών πώποτε τα συμβάντα τους προανηρημένους τρέσας, εξέστη της εταιρίας, έδυ αντεκήρυξε τοις άλλοις, εις φώς αγαγών τα συνδεθειμένα. "Αλλά και ο ζώντα πρoδέναι τολμήσας αυτόν, αυτοχειρία καθ' εαυτά παραχρήμα την δίκην έπεσπάσατο -Id, ibid.
PROP. marks of truth, as this concerning the doctrine and
works of Christ. Of the au.
And here, by the way, it is to be observed, that thority of the peculiar authority which we attribute to the of Holy
books of Holy Scripture contained in the New TestaScripture. ment, is founded in this ; that they were written or
dictated by the apostles themselves. The apostles were indued with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, at Pentecost: And this not only enabled them to preach the doctrine of Christ with power, but also effectually secured them from making any error, mistake, or false representation of it. And the very same authority, that by this singular privilege was added to their preaching, it is manifest, ought, for the same reason, to be equally attributed to their writ
Now, all the books of the New Testament were either written by the apostles; or, which is the very same thing, approved and authorized by them. Most of the books were uncontrovertedly written by the apostles themselves, St Paul having been made one of that number by a commission from heaven, no less visible and sensible than that which was granted to the rest at Pentecost. And those books which were written by the companions of the apostles were either dictated, or at least approved and authorised by the apostles themselves. Thus, Eusebius expressly tells us, that St Peter reviewed and approved the gospel of St Mark, and that* it was this approbation that authorised it to be received by the churches. And Irenæus ; that what St Mark wrote was dictated by St Peter ;ť and that the gospel of St Luke was only a transcript of St Paul's preaching.f And Tertullian in like manner ;|| St Mark was only St Peter's scribe, and St Luke St Paul's. And Eusebius ; that St John* PROP.
* Κυρώσαί τε την γραφήν εις έντευξιν ταϊς εκκλησίαις. -Euseb. Histor. 1. 2. c. 15.
+ Marcus, discipulus et interpres Petri, quæ à Petro annuntiata erant, edidit.-Iren. lib. 3. c. 1.
#Lucas, sectator Pauli, quod ab illo prædicabatur Evangelium, in libro condidit.-Id. ibid. Vide et Tertullian. adv. Marcion, lib. 4,
|| Licet et Marcus quod edidit, Petri adfirmetur, cujus interpres Marcus ; nam et Lucæ digestum, Paulo adscribere solent.-Tertull. adv. Marcion. lib. 4.
XIV. also reviewed the Gospels of St Mark and St Luke, and confirmed the truth of them. And, to mention no more, the same historian tells us, that (besides some smaller reasons drawn from some mistaken passages in the book itself) the chief reason why the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews was questioned by some, wast because they thought it not to be written by St Paul himself.
XV. Lastly ; They who will not, by the arguments and proofs before mentioned, be convinced of the truth and certainty of the Christian religion, and be persuaded to make it the rule and guide of all their actions, would not be convinced, (so far as to influence their practice and reform their lives,) by any other evidence whatsoever; no, not though one should rise on purpose from the dead to endeavour to convince them.
From what has been said, upon the foregoing that the heads, it is abundantly evident that men are not evidence called upon to believe the Christian religion without has affordvery reasonable and sufficient proof; much less are ed us of theyf required to set up faith in opposition to reason ; of our relior to believe any thing for that very reason, because gion is a, it is incredible. On the contrary, God has given us sufficient all the proofs of the truth of our religion, that the nature of the thing would bear, or that were reasonable either for God to give, or men to expect. And unless God should work upon men by such methods, as are wholly inconsistent with the design of religion and the nature of virtue and vice, which we are sure he will never do, nothing could have been done * "Ηδη δε Μάρκου και Λουκά των κατ' αυτές ευαγγελίων την έκδοσιν πε
을 ποιημένων, Ιωάννην αποδέξασθαι μεν φασίν, αλήθειαν αυτούς επιμαρτυρήσαντα -Euseb. Hist. l. 3. c. 24.
+ Τινές ήθετήκασι την προς Εβραίες, προς της Ρωμαίων εκκλησίας ως μη Παύλα σαν αυτήν αντιλέγεσθαι φήσαντες.-Ιd. lib. 3. c. 3.
#" Αλλοις δε, όση δύναμις, αποδεικτικώς δι ερωτήσεων και αποκρίσεων προσερχόμεθα· 'Ουδέ λέγομεν, (το μετά χλεύης υπό τ8 Κέλσου ειρημένον) ότι Πίστευσον, δεν εισηγούμαι σοι, τούτον είναι υιον Θεού, κάν ή δεδεμένος άτιμότατα, ή κεκολασμένος αισχιστα-Ουδέ φαμεν, ταύτη και μάλλον πίστευσον. - Orig. advers. Cels. lib. 1.
PROP. more than has already been done, to convince men XV.
of the truth of religion, and to persuade them to embrace their own happiness. And indeed no reasonable man can fail of being persuaded by the evidence we now have. For if, in other cases, we assent to those things as certain and demonstrated, which, if our faculties of judging and reasoning do not necessarily deceive us, do upon the most impartial view appear clearly and plainly to be true; there is the same reason why in moral and religious matters we should look upon those things likewise to be certain and demonstrated, which, upon the exactest and most deliberate judgment we are capable of making, do appear to us to be as clearly and certainly true, as it is certain that our faculties do not necessarily and unavoidably deceive us, in all our judgments concerning the nature of God, concerning the proper happiness of man, and concerning the difference of good and evil. And if, in other cases, we always act without the least hesitation, upon the credit of good and sufficient testimony, and look upon that man as foolish and ridiculous, who sustains great losses, or lets slip great opportunities and advantages in business, only by distrusting the most credible and well-attested things in the world ; it is plain there is the same reason why we should do so also in matters of religion. So that unless our actions, be determined by some other thing than by reason and right judgment, the evidence which we have of the great truths of religion ought to have the same effect upon our lives and actions as if they were proved to us by any other sort of evidence that could be desired.
It is true, the resurrection of Christ, and his other cause of mighty works, must, after all, be confessed not to be
such ocular demonstrations of the truth of his divine not want commission to after generations, as they were to those
men's unbelief is
men who then lived, and saw him, and conversed to prove
with him. But since the matters of fact are as clearthe great ly proved to us, as it is possible for any matter of religioo. fact, at that distance of time, to be; since the evi
of better evidence