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priests and Pharisees at once gathered a council to deliberate what they should do (John xi. 47 ; xii. 10, 11). Unable to deny it, as a last resource they determine to put both Christ and Lazarus out of the way by death. They would indeed have thought it worth while to contradict this miracle if they had the remotest possibility of doing so. Again, on the occasion of the alleged miracle of the cure of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple, the Sanhedrim is summoned to deliberate about it (Acts iv. 1-23). All the men of highest priestly rank assemble to confer upon a work alleged to have been wrought by two obscure fishermen of Galilee. They do not deny the work, solely because they could not deny the evidences of their own senses. Gladly, indeed, would they have denied it, for they felt that such work and the preaching that accompanied it were sapping their authority with a people heretofore obedient to it. For Mill's view that no one thought it worth while to contradict any alleged miracle of the Gospel there are opposing facts which show it wholly unfounded.

But there is one alleged miracle of the Gospel which, in its denial, shows us that it was not from any indifference on the part of the enemies of Christ that all His miracles were not denied. Of the numberless miracles of the Gospel one, and one only, was ever denied. It was the crowning miracle of the Gospel, the resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself from the dead, on the third day after His burial. This miracle, with its denial, is well worth our consideration, and throws a flood of light upon the subject before us.

Why was this miracle, and this alone, denied ? It was because it was the only one which could be denied without bringing on the deniers the general condemnation of the people. The resurrection of Jesus was peculiar in one respect, viz., that its truth was never submitted to any witness but that of His devoted friends. All other miracles were witnessed by the public. This only was seen by the men and women who loved the Lord. His enemies had sufficient means for refuting the friendly testimony if it was not true, for they were in possession of the dead body of Jesus, and could have produced it if He had not risen. But beyond this they had no power of testimony, for the risen Redeemer showed Himself only to those who loved Him. Here then was the only opportunity the enemies of the Gospel ever had of denying the truth of a miracle, and they eagerly laid hold of it (Matt. xxviii. 13-15). The story in denial was as poor and flimsy as it is possible to conceive; but, hollow as it was, it was concocted and propagated. A tale which only requires to be named to fall to pieces of itself, is put forward in denial of the resurrection of the Lord.

Now what does this case prove? It proves, beyond question, that Mill's theory of the state of feeling among the Jews relative to the miracles of the Gospel is unfounded. There was no indifference upon the subject. There was the keenest interest.

The only miracle that could by possibility be denied was denied, and so would

a

Accordingly, Mill's inferences from what he supposes to have been the popular idea of Satanic agency on miracle, are contradicted by fact. He tells us that, among the Jews in Christ's time, no one

thought it worth while to contradict” any of His alleged miracles or those of His apostles, and that it was believed that they all might be quite true, and yet their truth “proved nothing” in His favour. If it were supposed that Satanic power was equal to that of God in the working of miracles, Mill's inferences would be almost, if not altogether, justified. If it were not supposed equal, then those inferences could not be logically drawn. In fact, they

never were.

No one,” Mr. Mill tells us, in the time of Christ, “thought it worth while to contradict any alleged miracle” of his (237). There was never a more unfounded statement ! It is indeed a most remarkable fact that, with one exception, no one ever did deny any alleged miracle of Christ. This fact is allowed by Mill. Of all the works of Christ, claimed by Him as miracles attesting His Divine mission, not one was attempted to be denied in His day ! The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, and the deaf heard, the dead were raised up, and every imaginable malady healed by a touch or a word, and not one voice was raised among the innumerable spectators, comprising every rank and calling and shade of opinion among a very intelligent nation, that a single one of those works had not been wrought when and where and how it was asserted by the friends of Christ to have been wrought. That is certainly a most wonderful fact. How is it to be accounted for ?

Not, beyond any question, on the ground that "no one thought it worth while to contradict.The greatest, the most powerful, the most learned, the acutest parties in the Jewish nation, did “think it worth while” to contradict the miracles of Christ. These parties, with their headquarters in Jerusalem, had ramifications in every town and village where the works of Christ were wrought. There was never a people more inter-connected than the Jewish people, and especially their religious and ruling classes, in the days of Christ. The Pharisee and Sadducee, and Scribe and Lawyer had their eyes open everywhere, and their ears ready to catch every sound and whisper. These powerful parties did think it worth their while to contradict the miracles of Christ, for they examined them narrowly for this very purpose. There was never a closer scrutiny in any case than that of the Pharisees into the cure of the blind man, as related in John ix. They examined himself, his acquaintances, his parents, to see if by any possibility they could deny the reality of a work that they felt, if true, to be a work of God. It was certainly not from indifference, but from their inability, that they did not “contradict” this miracle. Again, on the reported raising of Lazarus, so far were the Jews from thinking it not worth while to contradict it that the chief priests and Pharisees at once gathered a council to deliberate what they should do (John xi. 47; xii. 10, 11). Unable to deny it, as a last resource they determine to put both Christ and Lazarus out of the way by death. They would indeed have thought it worth while to contradict this miracle if they had the remotest possibility of doing so. Again, on the occasion of the alleged miracle of the cure of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple, the Sanhedrim is summoned to deliberate about it (Acts iv. 1-23). All the men of highest priestly rank assemble to confer upon a work alleged to have been wrought by two obscure fishermen of Galilee. They do not deny the work, solely because they could not deny the evidences of their own senses. Gladly, indeed, would they have denied it, for they felt that such work and the preaching that accompanied it were sapping their authority with a people heretofore obedient to it. For Mill's view that no one thought it worth while to contradict any alleged miracle of the Gospel there are opposing facts which show it wholly unfounded.

But there is one alleged miracle of the Gospel which, in its denial, shows us that it was not from any indifference on the part of the enemies of Christ that all His miracles were not denied. Of the numberless miracles of the Gospel one, and one only, was ever denied. It was the crowning miracle of the Gospel, the resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself from the dead, on the third day after His burial. This miracle, with its denial, is well worth our consideration, and throws a flood of light upon the subject before us.

Why was this miracle, and this alone, denied ? It was because it was the only one which could be denied without bringing on the deniers the general condemnation of the people. The resurrection of Jesus was peculiar in one respect, viz., that its truth was never submitted to any witness but that of His devoted friends. All other miracles were witnessed by the public. This only was seen by the men and women who loved the Lord. His enemies had sufficient means for refuting the friendly testimony if it was not true, for they were in possession of the dead body of Jesus, and could have

produced it if He had not risen. But beyond this they had no power of testimony, for the risen Redeemer showed Himself only to those who loved Him. Here then was the only opportunity the enemies of the Gospel ever had of denying the truth of a miracle, and they eagerly laid hold of it (Matt. xxviii. 13-15). The story in denial was as poor and flimsy as it is possible to conceive; but, hollow as it was, it was concocted and propagated. A tale which only requires to be named to fall to pieces of itself, is put forward in denial of the resurrection of the Lord.

Now what does this case prove? It proves, beyond question, that Mill's theory of the state of feeling among the Jews relative to the miracles of the Gospel is unfounded. There was no indifference upon the subject. There was the keenest interest.

The only miracle that could by possibility be denied was denied, and so would

every miracle of Christ, except that they were wrought so openly, so publicly, so subject to every scrutiny and test that could be imagined, that their denial would only have subjected their deniers to ridicule and scorn.

We have thus seen how wholly unfounded Mr. Mill's view is that no one in the age of Christ thought it worth while to contradict any alleged miracle, no matter by whom said to have been performed. According to all contemporary history the very opposite to this was the general feeling of the times : that the miracles of the Gospel were most closely and jealously scrutinised for the purpose of denial, and that in the only instance where this was possible it was made.

Of course, when we reply to such statements we must put them into a more distinct form than Mill has adopted in his Essay on Theism. Expressing himself with much brevity, his language is attended with a certain amount of obscurity. When he says that it was the general opinion of the age of Christ, that miracles in themselves proved nothing, we must, in order to make his observation of any weight as against us of the Christian faith, suppose him to mean that it was commonly believed that such miracles as Christ and His apostles are alleged to have performed proved nothing. This, we affirm, is absolutely contradicted by fact. Anything less than this does not weigh against us at all.

Now we have not the smallest objection to allow that it was the general opinion of that time, probably shared by educated and uneducated, that some works reputed miraculous proved little, or even nothing, for the cause in favour of which they were said to have been wrought. We may, we suppose, readily allow that there were in those days many persons, both within and outside of Judaism, who claimed, and were by some at least supposed to possess, a supernatural power to a certain extent.

Such we should suppose to be the exorcisers of demons among the Jews, and Simon Magus among the Samaritans. Very probably there were here and there others who claimed similar power. Even with regard to these, it is going too far to say that it was the belief of the age that their supposed supernatural power proved nothing. For instance, the works of Simon Magus convinced very many in Samaria that he was the great power of God.” But still we do not doubt that such works were generally believed to prove little for their worker; and this especially where, as would appear to have been the case with most of such workers, they put them forth, not as the basis for an important change of religious opinion, but chiefly as bringing personal credit and emolument to themselves.

But all this does not affect in the smallest degree the miracles of the Gospel. Put forward invariably as a proof of the most startling doctrine ever proposed to man, viz., that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God to be the Saviour of His people and the Judge of all mankind, these miracles were never regarded in the general belief of the age as proving nothing. The simple proof of this is, that they were undoubtedly among the most powerful agencies by which very great numbers of persons, almost all of them most sincere in their faith, were led to believe in Jesus, and to live all their lives His devoted servants ; while vast numbers of others were powerfully moved by those works in various ways, some almost to accept Christ in the character He claimed, some to suppose Him a king as yet in disguise, and whom they sought to force into a position such as they thought His miracles proved that He ought to fill, and others to oppose Him with a fierce and fatal animosity. But indifference was never shown to these miracles.

The question most agitated among the Jews of that day, and one which interested every party most deeply, was the advent of a Messiah, or Christ, whom all expected about that time. So eagerly discussed was this question, that it even seems to have spread from Judea to the Gentile world. And now, with regard to this great question of their Messiah among the Jews, how does Mill's axiom that it was their belief that miracles proved nothing, accommodate itself? It is in flat contradiction to their universal opinion. So far from miracle proving nothing in their eyes, it was their belief that it was by miracle He was to establish His claim. Some of the prophecies which they applied to Him said, that when Christ came He was to work miracles, and even specified the very kind of miracles He was to work (Isa. xxxv. 5). Whether we think that such prophecies were correctly, or otherwise, applied to Him, there is no doubt that they were so applied. Accordingly in the time of Christ, it was the universal belief of the nation that, among the leading proofs of His Divine authority, the Messiah was to be a worker of miracles. Amid the many circumstances which served, through their ignorance, to blind the nation to the claims of Jesus, and which were eagerly laid hold of by His enemies for the purpose, His miraculous power was pointed to as all but the overpowering proof that, notwithstanding all, He was, and must be, the Christ (John vii. 31). Amid the charges of religious deception, amid the taunts as to His Galilean origin, which was pertinaciously put forward as more than counterbalancing any claims He might have, amid the poverty of external appearance, which shocked the mind that was expecting a magnificent king, still the miracles were appealed to as a convincing proof that, notwithstanding all these adverse appearances, He was truly the Christ. While the Pharisaical party, gnashing their teeth upon Him, sought His life because of His miracles, "many of the people believed on Him, and said, when Christ cometh will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done? So far from its being believed that miracle proved nothing, it was on the contrary believed that miracle was so convincing a proof of doctrine, that Christ's miracles proved Him to be the Messiah, notwithstanding that other circumstances weighed most gravely against His claim. Miracle overweighed a host of opposing arguments !

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