« AnteriorContinuar »
and the illusions of impostors, in the same rank, proceeds to observe, that the force of truth is very Strong ; be declares very clearly himself, as I learn from your books, that others will present themselves before you, and do the same miracles that he did, and yet be declared them to be wicked impostors. He likewise mentions a certain Satan, by whom his miracles would be imitated. This is confessing, that they had not any thing divine in them, and that they were the produtions of an impure cause. In endeavouring to caution his followerś against the wickedness of others, he could not avoid laying open the deceit which he practised himself. Was it not á piece of folly to regard him as a God, and at the same time regard others as wicked impostors who did the same miracles which he did ? If we are to form our judgment from thence, what reason had be to condemn others, and not condemn þimself upon his own testimony? For it is be who has declared, that all the miracles which he did, are the certain marks, not of the virtue of a God, but of the fraud and wickedness of men.
Celsus has here asserted a falsity, and then he pretends to reason upon it, as if it was a tsuth. Jesus Christ never told his disciples, that others would come and do the same miracles which he did, and yet they would be only wicked cheats. On the contrary, he says, “ Many will say unto
me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name and in thy name have “ cast out devils ? and in thy name done many ” wonderful works? And then I will profess unto
them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye
fk that work iniquity.” And again, “If any man « shall say unto you, Lo, here is Chrift, or there, u believe it not. For there shall arise many false " Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great
signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were poffible, they shall deceive the very elect. Be
hold I have told you before *.”-The objection of Celsus would undoubtedly have had fome weight, . if Jesus had absolutely ordered his disciples to be upon their guard against those who prețended to worķ miracles, and had not added any other thing, But, seeing that he ordered his followers to be so particularly upon their guard only against those who declared themselves to be the Chrift; which was not the case of those impostors who supported themselves by the ordinary arts; and that it would be in his name that they would cast out devils, and do many wonderful works, although they were otherwife workers of iniquity; this is not at all the mark of magic or illusions; on the contrary, it banishes every suspicion thereof in Jesus Christ, and in his disciples, and powerfully proves their divine authority; which must have been very great indeed, when not only the Apostles and their followers, but also that wicked and disorderly persons should be able to do
miracles through the name of Jesus Christ. If Celsus and his friends had well considered this argument, they would have omitted it entirely ; because it makes much against them; especially as they put it in the mouth • Matth. vii. 23. and xxiv. 23, 24, 25.
of a Jew, who regarded the miracles of Moses as the effects of the power of God; but declares those of Jesus Christ, the truth of which he never attempts to deny, to be worked by the power of magic, and to have nothing divine in them : thereby imitating the Egyptians, who declared that all the miracles that Moses did in Egypt, were done by the power of magic, although they confess that their magicians could not stand before him. However, if we may judge by the success, we cannot avoid saying, in favour of Moses, that he was guided by the power of the Divinity, without which he could not have drawn the Israelites out of Egypt, and established them in the land of Canaan ; especially as he had to do with an obftinate and rebellious people, who were desirous to adopt all the idolatry and wickedness of the neighbouring nations. Jefus Christ likewise, who came into the world to declare the will of his heavenly Father to mankind, which they could not discover clearly by the lights of nature, had to combat against all the idolatrous customs of the Gentiles, the obstinacy and hypocrisy of the Jews, and the imaginary systems of the different sects of philosophers, which had been many centuries a forming, and which were become like a second nature among those people respectively. If, therefore, Moses was obliged to work miracles to make known his Divine mission, not only to the leaders of the Israelitish nation, but also to the people in general; why should this Jew think it strange, that Jesus Christ should do the same, or even greater miracles, before a people who were accustomed to demand such signs? As he would prove himself to be greater than Moses or any of the prophets, before those people, who only judged of men and things from what they at the instant appeared to be, it was absolutely necessary that he should do greater works than ever were done before upon earth.
Celsus's Jew proceeds, in the next place, to ask the Christians, What was it then that persuaded you to embrace Christianity? Was it because that this deceiver foretold you, that, being dead, he would rise again? And then he tells them, That he was ready to believe, as they did, that Jesus bad foretold this thing ; but that there were many other impostors who made use of artifices of this nature, to establish their credit in the world, and to gain by the credulity of the simple : which was the case of Zamolxis, the slave of Pythagoras among the Scythians ; of Pythagoras himself in Italy; and of great numbers of others, whose history is extant in Greece. But it is a question, whether there ever was a person, who, being really dead, rose again with the same body. You pretend that all the biftories related by the Greeks and others reSpeating these things, are only fables, and not to be believed; but do you imagine that the catastrophe which is laid open in your history, has more the appearance of truth, notwithstanding all the imaginary circumstances with which you have enriched it; by the cries which your crucified God made, when he was dying ; by your earth.
quakes ; and by your darknesses? You say that he rose again after his death, when he could not help himself during his life ; and that be sewed the marks of his punishment upon his body. But who saw them? If we may believe your history, a mad-woman, and some other person of the same cabal : who perhaps substituied. a dream for the reality; or who, having his imagination struck with the idea of the resurreĉion, forned himself the objeet of bis illufion, upon the plan of his own defiresas it has happened to a great number of other persons ; or, which is the most probable, who would surprize mankind by this supposed miracle, and give other cheats the idea of doing the same thing.
This is another of Celsus's arguments, which has been copied, and illustrated, by some of our modern philosophers, and made a principal pillar to support the spacious fabric of their reasoning against the doctrine of Jesus Christ; although it will be no difficult matter to make it appear to be false and absurd upon the face of it. In the first place, Celsus puts a number of Greek fables, and the Epicurean doctrine respecting the resurrection of the body, in the mouth of a Jew, whose religion taught him not to believe one word thereof; and then he makes the Jew ask the Chriftians, whether there was ever an example of a person, who, being really dead, rose again with the same body? when he must have known that - the Jew, by reading the history of their prophets, would have found two examples of this nature; the one, of Elijah raising the son of the