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of the resurrection of Christ came forth, as it immediately did ; when it was publicly . asserted by his disciples, and made the ground and basis of their preaching in his name, and collecting followers to his religion, the Jews had not the body to produce : but were obliged to meet the testimony of the apostles by an answer, not containing indeed any impossibility in itself, but absolutely inconsistent with the supposition of their integrity ; that is, in other words, inconsistent with the supposition which would resolve their conduct into en, thusiasm.
CH A PIŃ
The Propagation of Christianity.
In this argument, the first consideration is the fact; in what degree, within what time, and to what extent, Christianity actually was propagated.
The accounts of the matter, which can be collected from our books, are as follow: A few days after Christ's disappearance out of the world, we find an assembly of difciples at Jerusalem, to the number of " about one hundred and twenty* ," which hundred and twenty were, probably, a little association of believers, Inet together, not merely as believers in Christ, but as personally connected with the apostles, and with one another Whatever was the number of bea
lievers then in Jerusalem, we have no reason to be surprised that so small a company should assemble ; for there is no proof that the followers of Christ were yet formed into a society, that the society was reduced into any order, that it was at this time even understood that a new religion in the sense which that term conveys to us) was to be set
up in the world, or how the professors of that religion were to be diftinguished from the rest of mankind. The death of Christ had left, we may suppose, the generality of his disciples in great doubt, both as to what they were to do, and concerning what was to follow.
This meeting was held, as we have already said, a few days after Christ's afcenfion; for, ten days after that event was the day of pentecost, when, as our history relates *, upon a signal display of divine agency attending the persons of the apostles, there were added to the society
* Acts ii. I.
three thousand souls *.” But here, it is not, I think, to be taken, that these three thoufand were all converted by this single miracle; but rather that many, who were before believers in Christ, became now professors of Christianity : that is to say, when they found that a religion was to be established, a fociety formed and set up in the name of Christ, governed by his laws, avowing their belief in his mission, united amongst themselves, and separated from the rest of the world, by visible distinctions; in pursuance of their former conviction, and by virtue of what they had heard and seen and known of Christ's history, they publicly became members of it.
We read in the fourth † chapter of the Acts, that, soon after this, “the number of the men," i.e. of the society openly profeffing their belief in Christ, “ was about five thousand.” So that here is an increase of two thoufand within a very short time. And it is probable that there were many,
* Acts ii. 41.
+ Verse 4.
both now and afterwards, who, although they believed in Christ, did not think it necessary to join themselves to this society; or who waited to see what was likely to become of it. Gamaliel, whose advice to the Jewish council is recorded Acts iv. 34, appears to have been of this description; perhaps Nicodemus, and perhaps also Joseph of Arimathea. This class of men, their character and their rank, are likewise pointed out by St. John, in the twelfth chapter of his gospel : “ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him ; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, left they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”. Perfons such as these, might admit the miracles of Christ, without being immediately convinced that they were under obligation to make a public profession of Christianity, at the risk of all that was dear to them in life, and even of life itself*.
Christianity, “ Beside those who profeffed, and those who rejected and opposed, Christianity, there were, in all pro