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expression of the evangelist, Matth xiii. 58. where it
First, That he wrought them by the power of the
To this I cannot render a better answer than our Saviour himself did, when this objection was first ftarted, which was twofold :
1. That it was very unlikely that the Devil should contribute to the ruin and overthrow of his own kingdom. Marth. xii. 25, 26. Every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation : and every city or house divided against itself, shall not stand.
And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself: how mall then his kingdom stand? The force of which argument is this, that it cannot be imagined, that he who preacherh a doctrine so contrary to the design which the Devil carried on in the world, and so destructive to his kingdom, as our Saviour did, should be assisted by him to confirm the doctrine by any miraculous effe&ts; especially such as did so dire&tly tend to the overthrow of his own kingdom, and to dispostess him of the advantage of tryrannizing over men, which he was so desirous to
Bút, 2. He tells them, that by the same reason that they attributed those miracles of his to the De. vil, all miracles that ever were wrought in the world, might be attributed to him. Did it appear by the tendency of his doctrine, or the course and design of his life and actions, or by any magical rites that
get and hold.
he used, that he had any familiarity with the Devil; or carried on any design for him? What colour of reason then was there to ascribe the miracles that he wrought to the Devil, any more than the miracles that Moses, had wrought; or any more than those dispossessions which were wrought by the children of their own nation, in the name of the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob? ver. 27. If I by Beetzebub cast out Devils, by whom do your children caft them out? therefore they shall be your judges. Several among your selves do, or at least pretend to cast out Devils, by the power of God, and you believe they do fo; why should you not think that I do it by the same power? what reason have you to fuspect me of correspondence with the Devil more than them? No answer could have been more satisfactory in itself, and more apposite to those that made the objection.
The second objection is grounded upon a fpite. ful and malicious perverting of those words of the Evangelist, Matth. xiii. 58. where it is said, that Je. sus, when he was in his own country, did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. From whence some atheistical persons, as CæsarVaninus, and a wretched man of our own nation, who, I suppose, stole it out of him, have collected, that credulity and strong imagination in the people, were the principal ingredients into our Saviour's miracles; and where he did not meet with persons so disposed, he could do no great matter.
This objection deserves rather to be abhorred' and detefted, as a groundlefs and malicious infinuation, than to be answered ; but because it seems to have fome colour as well as spite in it, I shall briefly return an answer to it, and that by giving a plain ac count of this passage in the Evangelist; and that is this : Our Saviour comes to Nazareth, the place where he had been born, and he began to instruct them in his doctrine, and, as he used to do wherever he came, he wrought some miracles for the confirmation of his doctrinę; but they, úpon an unreasonable prejudice taken up against hini, because they had
known the meanness of his parents, and of his education, despised both his doctrine and his miracles. Our Saviour perceiving that upon this prejudice they rejected the evidence of his miracles, the highest attestation that God can give, saw that there was no good to be done upon them; and therefore leaving them to their own obftinacy and unreasonable unbelief, he forbore to do any more great works a. mong them : For the text doth not say that he did no mighty works among them, because of their un. belief; but that he did not many mighty works among them; that is, finding them pofferred with this unreasonable prejudice against him, he found they were not to be convinced by any miracle that he could work; and therefore, though he had done some mighty works among them, yet
he forbore to do any more, as a just judgment upon them for their obfti. nacy and unbelief. And that this is the plain meaning of it, there needs no more to convince any man, but to read over this paslage of the Evangelist, Mat. xiii. 54, 55, 56, 57, 58. And when he was come into: bis own country, be taught them in their fynagogue, infomuch that they were astonished, and said, whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works .. Is not this the carpenter's son? . Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, Fames, and Fores, and Simon, and Judas ? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? and they were offended in him. But Fejus Said
unto them, A Prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. And now judge how little reason there is from these words, for any such foolish and malicia ous objection.
I might add further, if it were neceffary, that many of his miracles were such, as no credulity or strength of imagination could aflift in the working of them; as I could make evident from very many instances, particularly that of raising Lazarus, after he had lain four days in the grave. But enough of this.
Now to reflect upon this evidence of Christ's divine authority from the miracles which he did, and which were wrought to give testimony to him. What greater satisfaction can any one be imagined to have concerning any person, that he is fent from God, than the Apostles had, and the rest of those who conversed with our Saviour, and saw the miracles that were wrought by him, and on his behalf ? Suppose we had lived in our Saviour's time, and had conversed with him, what greater evidence could we have desired of his divine authority, than to have feen with our eyes so many strange things done by him, exceeding any natural power that we know of, and things fo beneficial to mankind; and all these wrought fo frequently, and so openly? To have feen this person put to death, and at that instant the whole frame of nature disordered and put out of its course? To have seen this person, after he had lain three days in the grave, raised to life again ; and to have the greatest assurance of this that our fenfes can give us of any thing ; by frequent and familiar conversation ; by discoursing with him; by eating and drinking with him; by touching and handling of his body; and afterwards to have seen this same person visibly taken up into heaven; and, according as he had promised before he left the world, to have found ourselves afterward endowed with a miracu. louş power of speaking all on a sudden all forts of languages; of healing diseases; of foretelling things to come; of cafting out devils ; of raising the dead; had we seen all this with our eyes, and ex: perienced this strange power in ourselves, could there have remained any doubt in us, but that this person was sent from God, and specially commiffioned from heaven, to declare the mind of God to the world?
If after all this, any man will say, that so many persons as were eye-witnesses of these things, might be deceived in a plain sensible matter ; I would desire that man to prove to me that he is waking, or to evidence to me by better arguments any thing else that he thinks himself most certain of.
IV. The fourth evidence which those who lived in our Saviour's time had of his divine authority, was the fpirit of prophecy proved to be in him, and made good by the accomplishment of his own predictions. This also was a clear testimony that he was from God; for God challengeth this as peculiar to the Deity, to foretel future contingents, Isa. xli. 23. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods. The oracles of the Heathen did give out some dark and doubtful conjectures about future things; but a clear and certain prediction of things was always looked upon as an argument that the person that could do it, was in. spired from God; and therefore the spirit of prophecy which was in our Saviour, and by him conferred upon the Apostles afterward, hath always been justly looked upon as a good testimony that he was from God. So the Angel tells St. John, Rev. xix. 10. that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Now the predictions of our Saviour were many ; and those very plain, pun&ual and particular; and such as all or most of them had their accomplishe ment in that age. That we may take a more di. ftinct view of them, I shall reduce then to these five heads:
1. Those that foretold his death, and the circumstances of it.
2. His resurrection, and the particular circumstances of that.
3. The descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, with the circumstances belonging to that.
4. The destruction of Jerusalem before the end of that age, with the signs foregoing it, and the concomitant circumstances of that.
5. Those that foretold the fate of the gospel in the world, the opposition it should meet with, and yet the admirable success it should have, notwithlanding that opposition.
1. Those that foretel his death, and the circum. stances of it. This he did very particularly, and at several times, Matth. xvi. 21, he told his disciples, That he must go unto Jerusalem, and there suffer many