« AnteriorContinuar »
baseless fabric of a vision ?-Is it possible, that all the world could be deluded, when they saw such numbers possessed with devils, restored to their right mind, who before wandered about in frantic rage or gloomy despondency ?-But, why do I multiply words? There is not one of the miracles recorded in the Gospel, which can be fairly charged with any appearance of fraud; and many of them are done with such corroborating circumstances of truth and authenticity, as would call forth a blush, if denied, upon the hardened brow of infidelity itself.
But, 2dly, Some have pretended to object, that those, whom we call Dæmoniacs, fancied themselves possessed with devils, when in reality they were not. Should we allow this to have been true in some later instances, in a church notorious for its impostures, surely it can weigh nothing against those who were possessed with devils in the time of our Saviour. For where is the improbability that God, when he sent his Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil, should providentially so order it, that the devil and his angels should visibly possess the bodies of men, that Christ might openly triumph over the powers of darkness, and demonstrate that all power was given to him over things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under
the earth? But if we pretend to conclude, because some men have falsely fancied that they were possessed with devils, that, therefore, there never was any dæmoniacs; we might with equal propriety conclude, because some gloomy inortals torment themselves with imaginary maladies, that there never was any real sickness or distemper. Whereas the truth is, as men would never have been haunted with the terrors of imaginary maladies, if they had never known real ones; so they would never have dreamt of being possessed with devils, if there had been no real dæmoniacs. But, even if we should grant, that these, whom we call dæmoniacs were only epileptic, or otherwise disordered persons, this concession will no way affect either the greatness or credibility of the miracle wrought upon them: for surely to restore health to the sick, by a word, and without the application of human means, is as much a contradiction to the established laws of nature,—that is,, is as much a miracle, -as to cast out devils.
It is objected, thirdly, That since faith was required in those that were healed, it is likely, that as fancy occasioned the disorders of some, so fancy also accomplished the recovery of others. Should we allow this supposition, for once, not to be an absolute contradiction to the known laws of cause and effect; we may ask in return, what can be a greater miracle than to give a man such strength of imagination, as will immediately cure a stubborn and inveterate disease, without any danger of a relapse? But if, indeed, imagination has such power as is pretended over the bodies of men, it must surely seem a little strange, even to infidels themselves, that no similar effect was ever produced at any other period of time; that men still labour under a thousand tormenting disorders, and that no one unhappy sufferer has been able to restore himself to health and ease, by virtue of so pleasing and powerful a remedy as a strong and sportive imagination, which often falls to the lot even of the weakest of the human race.
But the folly of this, as well as of many other objections, against the truth of revealed religion, plainly shews the true spirit and genius of infidelity. Its advocates pretend that they receive or reject nothing through prejudice, but that they cannot embrace what they cannot comprehend. And yet they scruple not to attribute the miraculous cures of our Saviour to the power of imagination; as if it were easier to believe that mens' fancies can cure the most inveterate diseases, than that they were cured by the supreme God, as an infallible testimony to the
doctrine and mission of his Son. What is this but the most wilful opposition to God and truth! What is it, but, like the sinners of old, to prefer darkness to light; and, we may add, for the same reason too, because their deeds are evil !
But after all, though our Saviour generally required Faith as a necessary condition in them that were to be healed; yet we find that he wrought many miracles without this con . Thus, in a storm at sea, he rebukes the wind and waves; and immediately there is a great calm. This then surely will not be attributed to any faith or power of imagination in the elements that obeyed his voice.
Was it, again, the operation of fancy that made the barren figtree wither away at his word ?--Dead men surely were not raised to life by their faith ; nor can. we suppose that the faith of a father could operate upon a son, who never saw Christ, and yet was healed by him.-" () faithless and
perverse “ generation, how long shall I be with you, “ how long shall I suffer you,” were the express words of our Saviour to the multitudes that requested the performance of a miracle ; and yet he granted their request. Though faith, therefore, was generally required in those that came to be healed ; yet we see, that he could as easily work their cure without it: so that, when we
find it written, “ he did not many mighty ss works. in his own country, because of their
unbelief;" we are not to understand that their unbelief shortened the power of his almighty arm, that he was unable to do any miracle ; but that they wanted that condition, which might make it fit for him to do any; that teachableness and humility of disposition, which might render them proper objects for the exertion of his miraculous power and benevolence.
But, since the reality of those surprising operations, which we call miracles, cannot be denied; it has, 4thly, been pretended, that the persons, on whom these miracles seemed to be wrought, might be privy to the imposture, and concur with Christ in deceiving the world. But, what a wild and ridiculous supposition is this ! Did any man ever undertake or support an imposture without some temptation, some prospect of interest or advantage to himself? And what advantage could either Christ or his followers propose to themselves by imposing upon the world ? Did not they live in poverty, and die in misery? Did not they know and foretell, that all manner of sufferings awaited them, for the doctrines they professed ? Did not, again, those very doetrines expressly forbid all manner of lies, fraud, and imposture, under the penalty