Images de page
[ocr errors]

If then St. Paul and the church of Corinth were

not deceived, in afcribing to themselves this mira"culous power, but really had it, there is the "ftrongest reafon to think that neither were they "deceived in the other powers to which they pre"tended; as the fame Spirit which gave them that,

equally could, and probably would, give them the others, to ferve the fame holy ends for which that "was given; and by confequence St. Paul was no "enthufiaft in what he wrote on that head to the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Corinthians, nor in other fimilar inftances, when he afcribes to himself, or the churches which he founded, any fupernatural graces or gifts. Indeed they who would impute to imagination, effects "fuch as thofe which St. Paul imputes to the ઃઃ power of God attending his miffion, muft afcribe “to imagination the fame omnipotence which he "ascribes to God."

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


The arguments from PROPHECY adduced by the apostles could not derive their weight from the influence of enthufiafm-proved in this fection, fo far as relates to the prophecies of the old teftament, which the apostles afferted were accomplished in the person of our Saviour.

IF from miracles, we pass to the other mode by which the first preachers of Christianity convinced their disciples, even the argument from prophecy→→→ it will, I trust, appear that this was equally incapable of deriving its efficacy from any enthufiaftic delufion.

This argument, as used by the apostles, almost entirely confifted in appeals to the Jewish scriptures, in which the apoftles contended were clear prophecies, fulfilled by the life and fufferings of their Lord, who, according to them, united in himself all the characters by which the promised Meffiah was to be diftinguished.

It would be inconfiftent with the fubject of this effay, to enter into a detail of the arguments employed to prove this conclufion; but without any fuch. detail it is, I think, obvious that this was a fpecies of


argument which could not derive either its origin or fuccefs from the influence of fanaticifm.

The prophecies to which the first preachers of Christianity appealed, not only existed, at the latest, * two hundred and fifty years before their afferted accomplishment, but exifted in the hands of their inveterate enemies, the Jewish fcribes, priests, and Pharifees.-Over these records they had no power; they could not themselves believe, nor make their hearers believe, that these prophecies exifted, if they did not exist, nor could they alter the smallest item to adapt them to the events, by which it was afferted they were fulfilled.

And as the prophecies were in no degree in their power, so neither was it poffible for them to direct the correfpondent events; for thefe had all taken place before the apoftles began to preach the refurrection of their divine Mafter; and they had many of them been brought about by the agency of his enemies, who had been the authors of his fufferings and death, which the apoftles fteadily maintained were plain accomplishments of acknowledged prophecies. -Still further, thefe tranfactions were of fo public

z" Two hundred and fifty years," it is generally admitted that the Jewish scriptures were tranflated into Greek, at the defire of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and copies of them depofited in the Alexandrian library at least two hundred and fifty years before Chrift.

a nature

a nature, they had it as little in their power to mifrepréfent, as originally to direct them.

But what is most important of all, the apostles could find no pre-disposition in any Jewish mind to admit the coincidence of the prophecy and the event, instantaneously, and embrace it enthusiastically, because such an accomplishment was totally the reverse of that which Jewifh minds had long expected and ardently wifhed.-The interpretation which the apostles gave the prophecies, and the facts to which they applied them, were fuch as fhocked the national prejudices and the religious bigotry of their countrymen.

The Jews expected a temporal and triumphant Meffiah, who was to appear fuddenly in the temple, in the fplendor of divine Majefty, and to live for ever. The apoftles offered to their acceptance a peafant, the reputed fon of a carpenter, who lived a life of poverty, who had perifhed on the cross, and declared, as the event proved, that his kingdom was not of this world. The Jews expected that this Meffiah would extend and perpetuate the rites and ceremonies of the mosaic law. The apoftles contended that he had weakened or annulled its obligation, and substituted in its room, a religion abolishing these rites and ceremonies. The Jews confined to themselves the title and privileges of the chofen people of God. The apostles

apostles contended, that now the period was arrived, foretold by the prophets, when God fhould be "fought of them that asked not for him, when he "fhould be found of them that fought him not; "that he should fay, behold me, behold me, unto a "nation that was not called by his name."-When that was become true which was prophefied of Ifrael,

"I have spread out my hands all day unto a re"bellious people, which walked in a way that was "not good;" when their should be "no difference "between the Jew and the Greek; for the same "Lord over all, is rich unto all that call upon him; " and whofoever shall call upon the name of the "Lord, fhould be faved."

Now, without entering into any minute proofs to fhew the Jews were wrong, and the apostles right, in this interpretation of the prophecies, it feems to be clear beyond all reasonable doubt, that this mode of interpretation could not have been originally adopted by the apoftles, or received by the converts merely from the force of enthusiasm.

'Reason and experience prove, that those doctrines which fanatics embrace, are generally fuch as have been grounded on fome pre-conceived religious opinions, fuch as have been long the subject of attention,

a Ifaiah lxv. I, 2. Rom. x. 12 to 20.

Vid. Dr. Campbell's Difcourfe on Enthusiasm, p. 17, 18, and 19,


« PrécédentContinuer »