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history, and the evidence for it is the same in kind: it differs in degree, indeed, for it rarely happens that any testimony is so continuously and so widely supported. More than this we have no right to expect.
It is still possible, of course, to raise further objections, at some of which we ought, for completeness' sake, to glance. For instance, it is possible to maintain that the chances in favour of men being deceived are greater than the chances that a supernatural1 event has occurred. That may be true, and yet not decisive; unless it be meant to imply that a supernatural event cannot occur. If that is what it means, no doubt it closes the whole question. But if it does not, if it simply means that supernatural events are uncommon, and therefore are not to be expected to occur often, it does not touch the point. If it be possible that such an event should occur, the question whether it has done so or not at a given time and place is one of evidence and testimony. It may have been unlikely, it may be still unlikely that it should occur again; but unless it is impossible the testimony must be treated on its own merits. Or again it may be argued that no testimony can reach to the supernatural-that we may believe on the evidence that the Apostles saw or imagined they saw certain appearances; but that their supernatural interpretation of them cannot be carried by their testimony. This, again, conceals the old difficulty of the possibility of the supernatural at all. If it means that, when men draw an inference from reports of their senses to a supernatural cause, it cannot be trustworthy, that is only the old objection to the possibility of the supernatural, and this we have set aside. But if it means that no testimony can reach 1 Cf. p. 71.
beyond the sensuous data, then it is within measurable distance of absurdity.1
We may now pass on from these minute questions, pausing first to characterize our results. We claim that the evidence for the Resurrection, so far as it is merely a historical event, is as great or greater than the evidence for any other fact in history; further, that this is such as to justify not only the easy acquiescence of which we have spoken but that reasonable assurance which historical evidence is calculated to produce. For the most part, the objections raised on the other side are of a theoretical or a priori character, and do not fall properly within historical inquiry at all. And when we come to discuss the Church and Sacraments it will be seen that there is a wide difference between the Resurrection and other historical facts, for the Resurrection is a living fact, present still in the Church and in the hearts of believers. It is not a mere event in history, but a present and operative force among men.
The Apostles accepted the fact of the Resurrection. as proving sufficiently our Lord's Divine claims were they right in so doing? We may not unnaturally ask the question, Where lay the connexion? Why should the Resurrection prove Christ's claims? It is clear that one of their great reasons for suspecting Him to be more than man during His earthly ministry was His power over the forces of nature. Disease and even death, the powers of wind and wave, and the spirits of evil—all alike owned His sway. He had miraculously increased the supply of bread with the 5000 and 4000, the supply of wine at Cana. That one possessing such powers over the material world should have no unusual character, no 1 Cf. Mozley, Bampton Lectures, Lect. v.
closer relation with the Creator than ordinary men, seemed incredible. Yet that He should save others, and yet be unable to save Himself from death, interfered sadly with this conjecture. But the Resurrection decisively proved that the risen One had power over His own life-power to lay it down and power to take it again. And then there was the evidence of prophecy, which the Resurrection, interpreted as the Apostles interpreted it, explained and made coherent. But more than anything the Resurrection, taken in connexion with the actual words and claims of Christ, left no doubt that He was what He claimed to be. The Resurrection then, was justly used by the Apostles in justification of their faith in Christ. Has it any special evidential significance for us? We think it has. It is the one miraculous event in Christ's life with which we are, historically speaking, directly in contact. True, the Church has borne continuous witness to the Crucifixion also, but that, apart from the Resurrection and all that it means, has no miraculous import. But through the Resurrection we may approach the other facts in Christ's life, to which there is no such continuous evidence, with an antecedent probability that some of them will be miraculous. That a Person who was to die and rise again should offer no sign during His lifetime of exceptional character would indeed be surprising. The Gospels tell of such signs, and their credibility on these points is the more easily established, since their character as witnesses is so fully maintained on the crucial fact of the Resurrection.
We have now considered, at considerable length, the position of the central doctrine of the Christian faith. in regard of Natural Religion and historical evidence,
and we hope to have made clear that it is coherent with the facts which we know of nature in the ordinary way, and has sufficient historical evidence to support it. It may, perhaps, be felt that all such discussions as these belong rather to a book on Apologetics than to a Manual of Elementary Theology. It is probable that in another age this might have been so-when there was less criticism upon the truths of Christianity, and agreement upon these, at least, might safely have been assumed. This state of things has ceased, and it is not possible any longer to start from the Christian standpoint without making plain at the same time how the faith is situated in regard of the rest of our knowledge. This must be our apology for the argumentative tone adopted hitherto. We disclaim the term Apologetics, because it seems to contain an inherent error. The Christian faith needs no apology and no defence: what it does require from time to time is statement— statement made with an eye to the intellectual conditions of the particular time. This is all that we have attempted to give.
Books on the Authenticity of the Gospels, etc.-
Lightfoot, Essays on Supernatural Religion.
Sanday, Authorship and Historical Character of the Fourth Gospel; Gospels in the Second Century; Essays in Expositor, January-May 1891, on the Synoptic Question. Zahn, Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons. Dale, The Living Christ and the Four Gospels.
Carpenter, The Synoptic Gospels.
Martineau, The Seat of Authority in Religion.
Miracles and the Order of Nature.-S. Ath., De Incarnatione. (On the general question of the Order of Nature and
of Grace.) S. Aug., Epp. cxx., cxxxvii., clxii., chs. 5, 6; c. Faust. Bk. xxi. 5, 6, xxvi. S. Thom. Aq. c. Gent. Bk. iii. ch. 100-105. Spinoza, Tract Theologico-Politicus, ch. vi. Hume, Essay on Miracles. Butler, Analogy, Pt. II. Mozley, On Miracles. Holland, Christ or Ecclesiastes. Gore, Bampton Lectures.
Historical Evidence.-Freeman, Methods of Historical Study, esp. Lect. iii. Stubbs, Lectures on Medieval and Modern History, No. v.