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feeling, but all reverence for truth that abides in the human breast.
The only theory that deserves to be seriously examined, is that which denies that Christ ever did or claimed to do anything miraculous, and that all the miracles recorded in the New Testament are the accretions of a later age that have gathered round the central figure. We are invited by this school to conceive of an ideal Christ, who taught moral truth, and exerted such influence by the purity of His life that His followers canonised Him, and surrounded Him, in after ages, with a corona of miracle, and put into His lips language He never uttered.
This theory finds favour with many who have never weighed the excessive improbabilities it involves, or who shut their eyes to these improbabilities because they are blinded by prejudice. We venture to say that if they were to take the New Testament in their hand, and run the pen through every passage that would need to be cxpunged or altered on this theory, they would be astonished to find the consequences it involved them in, and if they would go further and re-write the Gospel narrative on this improved pattern, we venture to predict that few honest men could avoid one or other of these alternatives—either reject as hopeless nonsense a book and religion so charged with falsehood, or reject the theory that involved such dreadful conclusions.
THE CHIEF MIRACLE OF ALL—THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST—THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY.
D UT we will go into the matter more minutely,
and attempt to show, in detail, some of the consequences that must be faced, if all the miraculous and supernatural element be expunged from the New Testament; and we will first deal with that foundation-stone of the Christian religion
—the alleged resurrection of Christ. We are willing to take this as a crucial test, believing that if it be untrue, the whole fabric of Christianity falls to the ground, and if it can be established, the other miracles recorded become both natural and credible.
Now, if it be untrue that Christ rose from the dead, the following difficulties must be faced. The four Evangelists all give a minute and particular account of the Resurrection, differing, it is true, in some trifling details, but agreeing in all the lead
ing features, and bearing every internal evidence of truthfulness. The very discrepancies show that there was no collusion between the writers, but that each described what he had seen or heard from his own point of view. The Evangelists themselves were either apostles who knew Christ intimately, or companions of the Apostles, and perfectly familiar with all that these knew about their Master, and who evidently wrote from the fulness of their knowledge. We are to suppose, then, that these godly men invented this pious fraud, and somehow palmed it off on the multitudes who embraced the Christian faith a few years after Christ's death; and we are further to believe that all the Apostles themselves conspired to propagate the fiction, and that they went about narrating everywhere that they had seen Christ repeatedly after His resurrection, that they had eaten and drunk with Him, handled Him, listened to His voice, and finally beheld Him, with their own eyes, ascending to Heaven from the Mount of Olives. We are further to believe that they invented a whole system of doctrines, based upon the resurrection of Christ, and that they went about the world proclaiming this as essential to the salvation of men, appealing to God, in the most solemn manner, to sanction the falsehood, and willing to endure persecution, and to lay down life itself in attestation of the lie. We are further to believe that they taught this fabulous story so connectedly and harmoniously that their followers never detected any disagreement, or suspected them of inventing it. Though Peter and Paul and James are recorded to have differed on ceremonial questions, and to have had sharp disputes, yet we are to believe that they never suffered a hint to escape them in one unguarded moment, that their story of the resurrection was a myth; nay, that they kept the secret so well during their whole lives that a great multitude of believers, in all parts of the world, received it as the corner-stone of their religion, many of whom suffered and died for it, and not one of whom that we know of ever doubted it; and the countless millions of believers who have followed have all shared this delusion, lived in the belief that the risen Saviour was at God's right hand, and had given them in His resurrection a pledge that they would likewise rise from their graves.