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convict him in the same breath of being a lunatic. We have difficulty in conceiving on what foundation they would plant morality at all, when they hold that the best religion may be taught on a basis of puerile fiction! In what respect is St. Paul to be placed above Joe Smith or Joanna Southcote, not to speak of Mahomet, if his story of the heavenly vision is nonsense, and all his teaching about the resurrection a fable? They will say that his morality is purer; but even that may be questioned, for, on their theory, he taught men to cast away their earthly goods, to face the disruption of family, to risk life itself—all for belief in a myth. As Demetrius the silversmith truly said, he turned the world upside down; and, as he himself said more truly still, “If Christ be not raised ... ye are yet in your sins ... and we are, of all men, most miserable.” He did indeed fill the world with confusion, and brought nothing but privation and earthly loss to the followers of the new religion, and it would be a strange sort of morality if it were to be held that all this could rightfully be accomplished by preaching the illusion of a fevered brain !
Nothing is more remarkable with this School of Scepticism than their Proteus-like habit of changing their front; no sooner are they dislodged from one position than they take up another, and when you think you have caught them on one or other horn of a dilemma—alas ! vain thought, they escape under a new disguise.
There are some who hold that the Apostles neither believed nor taught the resurrection at all, but simply repeated the moral teachings of Christ; and that the Gospel narratives are superstitious legends.
We feel, in contemplating this theory, as if history were dissolving into cloudland, as if the solid earth were leaving our feet, and all things melting into primeval chaos; we feel as though we were confronted by the assertion that Alexander never conquered Persia, or fought with Darius,-that his very existence was doubtful; that Curtius and Arrian, Plutarch and Diodorus invented the story of his career, as Homer may have imagined the adventures of Ulysses, or Tennyson the “ Idylls of the King”! But we dare not dismiss this last conceit with mere irony; we must probe it to the bottom and unmask its absurdity.
Two out of the four Gospels are professedly written by apostles, viz., Matthew and John; but as the authorship of the last is impugned by some modern sceptics, we will, for our present purpose, not insist upon it. The first Gospel has always been allowed to be the work of the apostle whose name it bears. But even that point we are willing to forego, for the purpose of this argument, and we will meet our opponents on their own ground, that the writers of the four Gospels are unknown. Their theory is, that those accounts are a mixture of truth and fable, and that all the miracles, and especially the resurrection, are creations of an age subsequent to the Apostolic. But the difficulty at once arises, how can the Gospels, and especially the first three, be the product of a late age, when we find them largely quoted by the earliest Church fathers—by men who flourished within a century to a century and a-half of the death of Christ? They were quoted as holy Scripture by men like JustinMartyr and Irenæus, who take it for granted in their writings that they were the recognised code of the Christian Church. It is self-evident that the three first Gospels at least belonged to a very early age. They must have been written, if not in the lifetime of the Apostles, at the very latest in the lifetime of those who succeeded the Apostles. This is a fact which it is impossible for men to deny who know anything of historical criticism. We can now measure the credibility of this theory, which imputes to the writers of those Gospels the fabrication of the story of the Resurrection, a story which, according to them, the Apostles never taught at all. We are to suppose that the whole Christian Church scattered round the shores of the Mediterranean, and formed by the personal teaching of the Apostles, and especially of St. Paul, should be unable to detect in the following generation so gross an imposition as this—that they should receive narratives as sacred, teach them as the Word of God, and make them the rule of the universal Church, which narratives were totally different from the oral teaching of the Apostles some thirty or forty before. Is it not preposterous to suppose that the teaching of the Apostles should be so entirely lost in their lifetime, that a fabulous version of it should gain ascendancy all over the Christian Church, and thắt the true
account should be so wholly lost that not a trace has come down to us? That is the consequence we must face if we are to suppose that the Apostles never taught the Resurrection of Christ nor the other miracles, and that these were invented by the mendacious writers of the four Gospels. But this is only one side of the case. The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul all testify to the truth of the Gospel narratives ; and the genuineness of most of them has never been seriously called in question. Indeed many of the Epistles of Paul can be proved to be his by a chain of evidence as clear as the Æneid can be traced to Virgil or the Commentaries of the Conquest of Gaul to Julius Cæsar. It is perfectly clear from them, even if the four Gospels be put out of court, that the resurrection was taught by the Apostles, and was, indeed, the corner-stone of their edifice. We can hardly bring ourselves to suppose that any man of intelligence and moral sense can really believe that the companions and Apostles of Christ did not teach the doctrine of the Resurrection; and we have only noticed this theory because it has been hastily put forward to shelter men from believing