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2dly, The impression made by this discourse of St. Peter would naturally be the stronger, on account of the miracle which preceded it; that is, the gift of tongues, which was shed upon the Apostles.
And of this miracle they could have no doubt, since it had every mark of a true miracle. For,
1st, It was above human power, and differed from the ordinary and known laws of nature. There is no species of knowledge more incapable, according to the established counection of cause and effect, of being acquired in an instant, than that of tongues. Some men indeed may, by the strength of superior genius, with ease attain to that, which others cannot acquire without labour and difficulty: but the knowledge of tongues must unavoidably be in all a work of time and study: for the rules of every language being arbitrary, complex, numerous, and varying according to the genius, customs, and manners of every nation; a man might as well pretend to know the transactions of past ages by the strength of natural parts, as to speak a variety of languages without practice and previous in : struction. And yet the Apostles, who were known to be illiterate men, and without education, in a moment clearly understood and rea
dily expressed all those arbitrary signs of language, which those, who were gathered together out of so many remote nations, made use of to convey their thoughts. Này, what is still more, they offered to communicate the same miraculous gifts to others, who believed their doctrine; so as effectually to remove every suspicion of fraud and collusion, and to evidence the co-operation of a power more than human.
1. Another mark of the truth of this miracle, was, that it was done in the presence of those, whose interest it was to investigate the truth of it; without which it could not induce them to embrace the religion it was intended to support. For, had it been done clandestinely, or in a corner, like the pretended miracles of the Romish church, men might naturally have suspected some deceit and imposture: but when it was done in the face of the sun, before enemies as well as friends, there could be no room for suspicion or contradiction. Indeed it is a maxim ·among the members of the Romish communion, that the presence of a heretic hinders the working of a miracle : but this was so far from being St. Paul's opinion, that he expressly says, that c" tongues are for a sign;"—to whom?-not to
" them that believe, but to them that believe ." not;" that is, to those, who, like the multitudes assembled upon this occasion from every nation, were not yet convinced of the truth of the Gospel. No wonder, then, when they saw the hand of the Deity, thus plainly stretched out in the miraculous effusion of the gift) of tongues, they should be thereby disposed to attend to the words of his messenger and ambassador.
But, 3dly, To the power of miracles the Apostle added the greatest strength of reasoning
:. Now the surest way of reasoning is to argues upon an adversary's own principles; so that though what we say should be false, yet he cannot deny it, if it has the same foundation' and the same degree of probability with what he believes to be true. But when we can prove, that his arguments are likewise a proof of ours, then it adds such strength as no reasonable man can resist.
The first of these methods was used with great success against the heathens, and the second against the Jews.
Thus Justin Martyr, in his Apology for the Christians, very justly tells the heathens, that
they had no just cause to hate them, or to reject the doctrines they taught: for, by declaring the first-begotten of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to be born of a pure virgin, to be crucified, dead, to have risen again, and ascended into heaven, we say no more, says he, than what yourselves say of those whom you call sons of Jupiter; one of whom ye worship as his inters préter and your divine teacher*, and another ye declare to have been smitten by a thunderbolt, and afterwards to have ascended into heavent; so that if ye believe these things, ye inay as easily believe what we, on inuch stronger grounds of evidence, say concerning Jesus Christ, and his i'esurrection and ascension,
The second method of reasoning was more successfully employed by the Apostles against the Jews. For by that they clearly proved to them, that they ought to believe in Christ for the same reason that they believed in Moses, and that the same arguments, which obliged them to be of the Jewish religion, equally obliged them to þelieve Christianity: as if they had said, “What proof can you bring of the “ truth of your religion, which will not like* wise conclude in favour of that which we
" preach? Do you allege the high authority of " the lawgiver? We will own to you, that Moses “ talked with God in the holy mount, as a man " talketh with his friend: but has not the “ Christian Lawgiver a still higher authority, “ whom God raised from the dead, and set him 66 at his own right hand for evermore?
“ Again, you say, that your religion is so " pure, that its only end is to bring men to “ God, to turn them from idolatry, and fill “ them with piety to God and charity to man. “ Now that which we teach does the same, and " in a still higher degree: we exhort you to “ repent of your sins, that you may be meet “ partakers of the promise made unto you and ss to your children: we exhort you to love all " mankind, and to put on that excellent bond
of charity, which so unites us, that we sell our "s possessions, and have all things common.
“ If, again, you allege miracles as a confir" mation of your religion, we have also the “ șame 'confirmation of ours: for, behold! “ through the name and power of that Jesus, “ whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree, the “ dumb speak, the deaf hear, the blind see, the “ lepers are cleansed, and the dead raised ; and “ greater miracles than these ye cannot have.