William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

. (page 39 of 47)
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idir-icles ■'^^^^^^cles pafs upon them; I will only ask you, don't you
as others, think thef^ ordinary People had their common Senfes, as
well as other Men ? Could they not tell Wine from Wa-
ter, a blind Man from a feeing one, and a dead Man from
a live one ? And if they could do this, they might as
well judge of our Saviour's Miracles, as zny Phtlofepher or
Virtfiofo in the World.

PhtL There is another Thing in the Hifl:ory of Chrifl",
which I cannot digeft ; which is, that you cry him up
as the greatefl: Example of Patience, and yet he does not
feem to bear his Sufferings and Death with any tolerable
Courage. But hear what Celfus fays to you Chriftians :
If you wottld deify a Man for Bravery at his Death, joh have
the Example before yoH ^/Hercules, -^fculapius, andOv-
pheus. But there are yet braver than thefe, Anaxarchus*
when he 7vas thrown into a great Aiortar, and mofl cruelly
founded there, he defpifed the Torment, and faid this worthy
Thing indeed of the Divine Spirit : Beat the BellowSj or

' ' - - blown

Part III. "With ^Theist. 435

blown up Skin o^ Anaxarchm, for you do not bear him.
]Vow this Ahaxarchiis was no more than a natural Philofc-
fher* What ^/^Epi(5letiis do^ Why-, when his Mafierjuas
torturing his Leg^ 'without Concern he Jhnled in his Face,
and faid^ You will break my Leg : ^W 7vhen he had
byoken it^ he onlj faid^ Did not I tell you that you would
break it? Trnt what did jour God fay comparable to this\
Nay, I will add farther, That his praying that the Cup
might pafs fioni him, and his complaining of God's De-
fertion of him upon the Crofs, fcem to fhew a Fear and
Defpondency, unworthy of any great Mind under Afflic-

€red. Any one, who is acquainted with the Lives of Heathen
the Philofophcrs, knows it was a chief Part of their Study Fhilofi-
to invent fmart Sayings to be taik'd of, which was the \ ^"^ ^°^.
Thing they principally aimed at ,' but then it is obferva- 'entlrcot!^
ble, that thefe Sages who faid fo many fine Things, fel- ra.eous
dom did any good ohes. They did not fet half rhe Va- thmChrifl,
lue upon a good charitable Adion, as they did upon an
Apothegm; and Men of the nioft vicious Lives, have
ntter'd fome of the fined: Flowers of the Pagan Morality,
'Tis the Charafler of our Saviour, and his true Follow-
ers, JVon magna loquimur^ fed vivimus : JSfot to tall^ great
Things-, but to live them. And one good Acflion of Chrift
and his Apoftles, was worth an hundred of the Philofo-
phcrs Saymgs. If a Man had> been to look into the
Heart of one of thefe Philofophcrs •> when he was afferting
one of thefe Sentences, he might have read there a ^reat
deal of Pride refleded upon himfelf for the witty Thought^
a great deal of impotent Malice againft his Enemies, and
a great deal of Fear and Impatience, the* a predominant
Pride made him carry off all, with^a Jed. But wher>
Celfus fays. What didChrifl fay comparable to thefe? Origen>
anfwers admirably well. His Silence under the Whips and.
the Torments', fhewed a greater Courage and Patience than,
the mofl eloejuent Greek couldfieii^, by peaking in thofe Cir-
cumfiances. To which we may add one thino; more, but
fuch an one as eclipfes all the Glory of the Heathen Phi-
l^fophjy which is, that our Saviour, under his Sufferings,

F f prays

4^4 ^ Conference

prays for his Enemies, Father forgive them^ for they knoiP
fiot ivhat they do. Here is rhe greateil Degree of Love
and Ciiarity difcovered towards the moft inveterate Ene-
mies, whilfl: the Sayings of your fuffering Philofophers
carry in their Face an unregeneraue Malice, and fpightful
Reflection upon their Adverfaries.
v.e:tjon cf As to M^hat you objcd againfl our Saviour s Praying,
eurs^:^^!-^ j^Jj^^j the bitter Q^p might pafs from him; I cannot tell,
^Ithitnie '^^'^^O' y^^ ihould impute that to hisWant of Courage or
C/V^ckc. Patience. He made not paflionate Exclamations, he
iliew'd no defponding Grief, nor any other indecent Paf-
iion, under his Torments, but bore them all with as much
Tvlildnefs and Patience, as human Nature is capable of.
Suppofe, one of your Heathen Philofophers had been in our
Saviour's Place, and endured as much Pain in Mind and
Body, as He I He would perhaps have fiid, that Pain
Yv as no Evil, and that his Mind was fix'd upon fuch a
firm. Bails, that his Torments were infenfible; though,
at the fame Time, every Groan and Shrug would have
given the Lie to his Principles. But our bleffed Lord,
with all the Truth and Mcdefty of an innocent Perfon,
own'd the ImperfeU:io7i of human Nature-y and its being
Ihccked at fuch a direful Paffion,- but then, by the
Affiftance of Grace, he quickly overcoming thofe natu-
ral Struc^qlinj^s, with the ^reateft Meeknefs and Patience,
refigns himfelf perfedly to the good Pleafureof God. O
my Father^ if it be poffible^ let this Cup pafs from me; never-^
thelcfst not as I rdJill-, but as thouTvilt^yidiX.XK.Y'u ^^^

Nor does Chrift's crying out, £//, £//, lama fabach-'
thaniy make any thing for what you aflerr. For our Sa-
viour there repeats only a Part of a Pfalm, which was a
Prophefy of him, and applicable to his prefent Circum-
flances ; and therefore it cannot be expeded that every
Word of it fhould as exadlly agree to our Saviours Con-
dition, as if the Expreffions had been framed by himfelf.
Befides, we freely own, that our Saviour-, when he ufed
thefe Words, was under the Preffure of the greateft Pain
and Grief that ever v^as known; he not only felt the Tor-
ments of the Crofs in his Body, but had his Soul weigh-

Part III. ^ith a Theist. 435

ed down with the Grief of the whole World's Sins upon
it; and, if the Senfe of a Man's own Sins are apt, often-
times, to raife a Defpondency in him ; how like a perfed:
Derelidion mull our Saviour s Grief appear, whofe Soul,
at one Time, was opprelTed with Grief, for the Sins of fo
many Millions of Offenders ?

. Phil, My next Exception is againfl: the Story of Chrifi's
RefurreEiion, If it were true, it would not be fuch a
wondrous Miracle, as you make of it. For it would
not be the firft Time, that an executed Malefdior has
come to Life again.

And Hiftories make mention of feveral others, who
have returned to Life again aeon fiderable Time after they
were feemingly dead. As * ^rijleas Froconmfim menti-
oned by Herodotus I t Hermotimus Claz>omemHSi whofe
Soul did frequently go out of his Body, and return a-
g^ ; Epimenides of Crete^ who flept in a Cave for fifty
Years together ; and Harmonms Son, who lay dead for
ten Days, and revived upon the Funeral Pile. But, for
my Part, I do not find any Ground to believe this Rela-
tion of his Refurredion ; for the Matter is attefled only
by the Followers of Chrifl:, whofe Interefl it was to make
him alive again, or elfe People would have laughed at
them, for their believing a dead Man to be the MeJJias ,
befides, fome of the Witneffes were filly Women, one
of which had been a crazed Demoniac^ Now, who caa
believe a Matter of Fad, attefled after this rate? Befides,
what fhould be the Reafon of Chrifl's being fo fhy of
being feen after the Refurredion /* And why did he not
converfe as freely with his Difciples, as he did before ?
The Relation of his dropping in fo accidentally upon
them, and fometimes not to be known by them, and his
giving them only fbrac imperfed Views and Glances of
himfelf, over what he had done at other Times, ihcws
fomething in this Matter more than ordinary..

f Celfus apud Orig. lib. 3. Ed. Cant. p. iif,
■f Id. Lib. 2. p. 94. Sc p. 1 01.

F f 2 Crfd. I


A Conference

c.lrifi re- Cred, I wondcn Philologm, yen iliould be fo afraid of
iillydmd. believing a Matter fo well attefted as our Saviour's Refur-
redien, and yet you can fwailow down all the Impro-
babilities and Contradi(5^ions, which the contraiy Opi-
nion includes in it. What a Jeft is it to compare the Re-
furredion of Chrift with the Recovery of fome hang'd
Malefadors \ Do you think ferioufly, that the Death
upon the Crofs was any thing like our ordinary Sufpen-
fion? You know in that Punifhment, the miferable Cri-
minal was well nigh whipt to Death with Rods or Scour-
ges; the tendered Part of his Body, the Palms of his
Hands, and the Soles of his Feet, were pierced tiiro' with
Nails, and fo fuffered to linger out the little Remains of
Life in extreme Pain and Anguifh ; and was never taken
down from the Crofs, till he was dead, which the attend-
ing Executioners did makefure of, by breaking his Bones,
or ftabbing his Body. Now, though it may fometimes
happen, that, when a Man is executed only by Strangu-
lation, the Conftridion of his Throat may be abated,
and his Blood, when it is not quite cold and ftagnated,
may come to circulate again ; yet this is impollible na-
turally to happen in a Perfon, that was almofl: expiring
under the Lailies of the Whips, that for feveral Hours
•was torn by the Nails of the Crofs, and had at laft his
Heart pierced through by a Soldier's Spear. The Execu-
tioners, who were ufed to thefe Matters, knew very
well, when the Perfon was fully dead, and underftood
the great Severity they muft undergo, if they did not
inflid the utmoil: of the Sentence upon the Criminal.
Or if this was poffible to have happened, it muft be by
great Care of the Body, by keeping it warm all the
while, and cherifhing it; but our Saviour's Body had
the Funeral Rites immediately beftow'd upon it, and
laid only in a cold ftony Grave. The Chill and Damps
of fuch a Place would, probably, in all that Time, have
killed any one that was not of the hardieft Conftitution ;
but a Body fo miferably wounded and torn, as our blef-
fed Lord's was, could never have revived.^

' But

Part III. ipjith ^ T H E I s T. 4?7

But what are thefe Inftances of^ri/leas Proconnefimy8>ccMi^f^''^^^^ ^f
to the Purpofe? u4rifleas was a Man, who, HcrodotHs fays, /^^ 't^pfu.
dropt down dead in a Fuller's Houfe. The Fuller went f^^^.
to tell his Friends what happened, and when he came
back, no Ariffleai was to be found, and feveral Perfbns
faid they faw him at the fame Time at a diftant Place
Seven Years after he appeared at Proconnefms^ and made
Verfes. Many Years after, he appeared among the Adeta*
fontini in Itdj, and advifed tliem to build an Altar to
udpollo and him. Now is not this worthy Stuff to be
compared with^'the //^on'of ouriS'

Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 47)