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they, who spoke them, had ever learnt them: and the result was, not that they were detected, but that three thousand souls were added to them the same day *, and the number increased continually t.
In this chapter of the Acts indeed there is mention only of the single gift of tongues : as being the most remarkable in itself, and most immediately exercised. But from the whole of their history it appears, that the Apostles were entrusted, and doubtless at the same time, with various other supernatural endowments : as their Lord had promised them, that they should do the same, and even greater works than he, because he went unto his Father I. And besides the powers, of which many inferior disciples partook with them, there was one peculiar to them: that, by prayer and imposition of hands, they were able to communicate the gifts of speaking with tongues, and performing miracles, to whom they thought proper. Once indeed, in the extraordinary and new case of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost fell, without human interposition, on all which heard the word preached J, as he had done at first on the Apostles : that the whole world might be fully convinced of what the Jews were very backward to believe, that to the Gentiles also God had granted repentance unto lifel, since he had given his Spirit to them, even as he did unto others, putting no difference between them. And thus did the Comforter testify, not only the truth of Christianity in general, but our title, who are descended from heathens, to a share in the blessings of it: without which testimony perhaps we had sat to this day in darkness and the shadow of death **. But still, ordi
Acts ii. 41.
+ Acts ï. 47.
I John xiv. 12.
narily speaking, that the superior dignity of the Apostles might be preserved, and by its means the unity of the church, and the purity of the faith; these miraculous gifts were conveyed only through their hands, to such persons as, by illumination from above, they saw to be qualified for them.
Thus then, to speak in the terms of St. Paul, to one man was given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another faith, to another the gifts of healing, to another the working of other miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues : but all these wrought that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he willed *. And now, imagine a church of Christians under the conduct of some of our Lord's immediate disciples, and exhibiting to the world around them such gifts as these. Represent to yourselves, first, a number of plain unlearned men, delivering a doctrine, perfectly worthy of God, and suited to the nature and condition of mankind; evidently and vastly more so, than all the discoveries of unassisted reason, in all ages, put together, had been able to furnish; professing themselves to have received and been charged to spread it through the earth, by a person of a character absolutely faultless; whose birth and actions, and every thing material that befel him, had been gradually foretelling ever since the creation, and all came to pass accordingly: whom in farther confirmation of his authority, they had seen, for years, performing daily miracles of the highest power, and the tenderest goodness; whom they had seen supporting the reality of his mission by calmly delivering himself up, and suffering death on the cross; whom yet afterwards they frequently beheld alive and conversed with, till at length while they stood by him, a cloud received him into heaven : supposing them all to persist unanimously in this account, without any possible interest to serve by it, and with the hourly danger of being detected, if what they said was false; to have continually before their eyes, and one after another to undergo, at considerable distances of time, with the utmost cheerfulness, every thing that can be dreadful to human creatures, merely for asserting these facts, and behaving suitably to them : such a testimony to such a religion, must surely without any additional proof, appear thoroughly convincing to every honest and reasonable mind. But lest, after all, it should be thought possible, that these witnesses might either, by some strange means, be all deceived in every one of the above-mentioned evidences; or all agree (though one sees not why they should, or how with any success they could), to deceive others in them: let it be farther supposed, that from being ignorant and slow of understanding, as they notoriously were, they now of a sudden speak with a wisdom and a spirit, which their adversaries are not able to resist * ; that from being exceedingly timorous mortals, they are likewise of a sudden, when there is more ground for fear than ever, become totally void of fear, and rejoice to suffer in defence of their cause: that being well known neither to have enjoyed opportunities of learning in their own country, nor yet to have travelled out of it; well known to have had, a few weeks before, no other dialect, than their native rustic idiom of Galilee ; (which they had not skill enough to disguise,
1 Cor. xii, 8-11.
when they would have wished it most, but were betrayed by their speech, and found out for what they were); that these, quickly after, are qualified to discourse fluently and properly with men of all the different nations of the world, and that each hears them speak, in their own tongues, the wonderful works of God * : that, farther still, they can foretell things future, discern the very secrets of men's hearts, heal diseases, raise the dead, inflict miraculous punishments on their opposers ; in a word, can work all the wonders, which they affirm their Master to have wrought; and, which is more, enable others, altogether strangers to them, immediately on their believing, to work the same : what can there be wanting to satisfy every examiner completely; and whence can these things proceed, but from the power of the divine Spirit ?
Now such were the proofs on which the first Christians assert they received their religion : and their very reception of it, notwithstanding such prejudices of education against it, and threatening discouragements from it, is the strongest presumption, that the arguments urged to them were convincing, and their belief undeniably true. It is an acknowledged fact, that Christianity spread in a very few years through every nation then known, and that multitudes of every rank embraced it. Now by what possible means could a faith, so entirely opposite to the established superstitions of all countries, and the favourite vices of all the inhabitants of them, be thus propagated, in a knowing and inquisitive age, by a handful of men, without learning and without power, against all the learning and power of the world, vigorously and without delay
• Acts ii. 8. 11.
applied to withstand it, but by such testimonies of the divine Spirit in its favour, as the first Christians unanimously say attended its progress? These afford a clear explication of this wonderful change: and fair enquiry will show, that nothing else can. It is easy to pick out little cavils, nay indeed to raise very plausible objections here and there, against the evidence of any thing. It is easier still to get a few general phrases, of enthusiasm and bigotry and imposture and credulity, and throw them about at random. But let any unbeliever take only the undoubted facts, relating to Christianity in its first rise, and try to solve them upon his principles, entering into particulars; and he will find it impracticable, not only to give any account attested by history, how they did happen (though that he ought to do), but even any guess or imaginary supposition how they could happen, if our religion be false, that will not be full of infinitely greater difficulties and incredibilities, than he can pretend to allege against the truth of it. And therefore either the Gospel prevailed by these miracles, for which we contend, or its prevailing without them was the most amazing miracle of all.
But besides this way of reasoning, to prove, that there must have been such griefs, we have direct historical evidence, that there actually were such.
Indeed what you have already heard concerning them, from the Acts of the Apostles, carries with it very sufficient authority. For that book was the work of an author, who lived at the time, and had means of being well acquainted with what he relates, and could have no temptation to write falsehoods; and was allowed, by those who must know, to have written truth. But the argument from St.