« PreviousContinue »
cle proves any thing as to the point itself, but because the man's declaration is authorized by him who wrought the miracle in confirmation of his doctrine ; and therefore miracles are directly a proof of the authority of persons, and not of the truth of things.
To apply this to the present case. If the apostles had wrought miracles, and said nothing of the resurrection, the miracles would have proved nothing about the resurrection one way or other; but when, as eyewitnesses, they attested the truth of the resurrection, and wrought miracles to confirm their authority, the miracles did not directly prove the resurrection, but they confirmed and established, beyond all suspicion, the proper evidence, the evidence of
eyewitnesses; so that here is no change of the evidence from proper to improper ; the fact still rests upon the evidence of sense, confirmed and strengthened by the authority of the Spirit. If a witness calls in his neighbours to attest his veracity, they prove nothing as to the fact in question, but only confirm the evidence of the witness; the case is here the same, though between the authorities, brought in confirmation of the evidence, there is no comparison.
The second objection was, that this evidence, however good it may be in its kind, is yet nothing to us; it was well, the gentleman says, for those who had it; but what is that to us who have it not ?
To adjust this difficulty, I must observe to you, that the evidence, now under consideration, was not a private evidence of the Spirit, or any inward
light, like to that which the Quakers, in our time, pretend to, but an evidence appearing in the manifest and visible works of the Spirit ; and this evidence was capable of being transmitted, and actually has been transmitted to us upon unquestionable authority ; and to allow the evidence to have been good in the first ages, and not in this, seems to me to be a contradiction to the rules of reasoning; for if we see enough to judge, that the first ages had reason to believe, we must needs see, at the same time, that it is reasonable for us also to believe. As the present question only relates to the nature of the evidence, it was not necessary to produce from history the instances to shew in how plentiful a manner this evidence was granted to the church; whoever wants this satisfaction, may easily have it. Gentlemen of the jury, I have laid before
the substance of what has been said on both sides : you are now to consider of it, and to give your verdict.
The jury consulted together, and the foreman
rose up. Foreman. My lord, we are ready to give our verdict.
Judge. Are you all agreed ?
Judge. What say you? Are the apostles guilty of giving false evidence in the case of the resurrection of Jesus, or not guilty ?
Foreman. Not guilty.
Very well. And now, gentlemen, I resign my commission, and am your humble servant.
The company rose up, and were beginning to pay their compliments to the judge and the council, but were interrupted by a gentleman, who went up to the judge, and offered him a fee. What is this? says the judge. A fee, sir, said the gentleman. A fee to a judge is a bribe, said the judge. True, sir, said the gentleman ; but you have resigned your commission, and will not be the first judge who has come from the bench to the bar without any diminution of honour. Now Lazarus' case is to come on next, and this fee is to retain you on his side. There followed a confused noise of all speaking together, to persuade the judge to take the fee: but as the trial had lasted longer than I expected, and I had lapsed the time of an appointment for business, I was forced to slip away; and whether the judge was prevailed on to undertake the cause of Lazarus, or no, I cannot say..