Imágenes de páginas

a thing in any one case, I will allow it in this also. But till then, as this story is credibly related, I shall continue to pay a regard to it.

Our author has several other things under this observation; but as they do not properly belong to this, of the length of time these persons are said to have been dead, but rather to his sixth observation, of the circumstances of the narrations, I shall take no notice of them here: I have already spoken to some things here, which might have been let alone till we come to that observation.


Answer to Mr. W's Fifth Objection.

[ocr errors]

5. The consideration that none of these raised persons did or could after their return to their bodies, tell any tales of their separate existence; otherwise the evangelists had not been • silent in their main point,' &c. 32. • None of these persons,'

, Mr. W. says, “told any tales of their separate existence.' So I suppose with him. As for the two first: how should they ? being only, as Mr. W. says, an insignificant boy and girl,' of twelve years of age, or thereabouts. Or if they did, the evangelists were wiser than to take any notice of their tales. As for Lazarus, I would suppose he was a wiser man than to indulge a vain inclination of amusing people with idle stories of no use. Besides, 1 presume he had been a follower of Jesus before he died. And when he had been raised from the grave, it is likely he was yet farther confirmed by that wonderful work wrought upon himself in the belief that Jesus was the Messias : and that instead of pretending to be wise above what Jesus taught, he would exhort men, and especially his neighbours, to attend him, and hear him, who had the words of eternal life.

The evangelists have recorded no tales told by any of these three raised persons. I much admire this objection. I am very glad they have not mentioned any such things. Jesus himself, who was from above, who was in the bosom of the Father, has not delivered any profound unintelligible theory of the separate state of existence. The great apostle Paul, who was “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but Jesus Christ, and God the Father who raised him from the dead,” Gal. i. 1: who had been “caught up into the third heaven,” and “into paradise;" who had “ abundance of revelations,” has not attempted any such thing: but declares that the things he heard were “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter,” 2 Cor. xii. 2—7. He treats with the utmost contempt every thing that has a show of wisdom without real advantage: exhorts his dear son Timothy to refuse “profane and old wives fables, and exercise himself rather unto godliness," 1 Tim. iv. 7: to " shun profane and vain babblings,' 2 Tim. ii. 16: and requires him to “ charge (men] before the Lord, that they strive not about words to no profit,” v. 14.

Jesus and his apostles have made known the certainty of a resurrection of the just and unjust; a general judgment, wherein men shall be judged in righteousness; when the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal. What they say of the different recompenses of good and bad is great and awful, sufficient to affect the minds of all ; but they have not entered into a detail of needless particulars, above the capacity of men in the present state.

Religion is the concern of all. That is the most perfect religion, which is suited to all. This is the Christian doctrine, which, as it was preached to the poor, and to every creature under heaven, is wonderfully suited to all capacities.

To the immortal honour then of the evangelists be it said, that when they wrote the history of the preaching and miracles of Jesus, who knew all things, they have not recorded dreams and visions, or abstruse theories of a separate state, for the amusement of mankind, but important certain truths, taught by Jesus for their edification.

· Was any person, in this age, to be raised to life, that had been any time dead; the first thing that his friends and acquaintance would inquire of him, would be to know where his soul . had been, in what company,' &c. p. 32. Not impossible: vulgar minds might show such weakness even now. And the greatest minds, while in an uncertainty about another life, might

have acted in this manner. Thus some of the greatest men of antiquity, justly admired by all the world, have actually told dreams, or accounts of departed men, and doubtless with a good intention. But he who has the sum needs not the light of a candle. The evangelists, keeping close to their master, are vastly superior to the greatest men that were before them.

Our author is pleased to trifle so much, as to put questions about the place where the souls of these persons had been, between their death and their being raised up again; and particularly the soul of Lazarus. • But the thought, that any of Jesus's friends should go to hell, will

not be borne with. And if Lazarus's soul had been in paradise, it was hardly a good work in • Jesus to recall it,—to the troubles and miseries of this wicked world,' p. 34. Suppose Lazarus's soul to have been asleep, or in paradise, or in heaven itself, it might be a very good work in Jesus to recall it into this world for a time. It was much for the spiritual benefit of many, who might be induced by the great miracle of raising him to life, to believe in Jesus, and receive his doctrine, which, when heartily embraced, is fruitful of the greatest benefits. Nor could the soul of any good man be unwilling to return for a time to the troubles and miseries of this wicked world, how grievous soever, in order to serve the great design of saving his fellow creatures; for which end Jesus his Saviour descended from the height of glory he had with tho Father, took flesh, and underwent the troubles and sorrows of this mortal life. And it might issue in the end to the advantage of Lazarus himself: as no man can doubt, who believes a future judgment, and that Jesus will preside therein, which is the doctrine of the New Testament.


Answer to Mr. W's Sixth Objection.

6. And lastly, Let us consider the intrinsic absurdities and incredibilities of the several stories of these three miracles, p. 36. As to Jairus's daughter, and her resurrection from the dead, St. Hilary · hints, that there was no such person as Jairus ;—and he gives this reason, * and a good reason it is, why he thought so, because it is elsewhere intimated in the gospel

that none of the rulers of the synagogues confessedly believed on Jesus,' John vii. 48, and xii. 42.

St. John's words in the last quoted text are these : “ Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also

many believed on him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” This text is no ways to our author's purpose. The rulers here mentioned by St. John probably were members of their great council at Jerusalem, or of the lesser councils in some other cities : but Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue. But supposing Jairus to have been one of that same sort of rulers which St. John speaks of, here is no inconsistency. Jairus might believe in Jesus and come to him to heal his daughter, and yet not publicly “ confess him to be the Christ."

• But why did Jesus say, this girl was but in a sleep?' p. 36. Mr. W. had before affirmed this : Jesus himself says, she was but asleep.' And it is true that our Lord, “ when he came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels,-he said unto them, Give place, for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” But by this our Lord did not intend to deny that she was expired, but to assure them in a modest way, that she would be raised up as it were out of sleep. That this is our Saviour's meaning, is most evident from his use of these same expressions in St. John concerning Lazarus. See John xi. 4, &c. Lazarus's sisters sent to Jesus to inform him that their brother was sick. “ When Jesus heard that, he said,” to his disciples, “ this sickness is not unto death,” that is, to his final death, to a lasting death. (So the words must be understood, because, according to St. John, Lazarus did actually expire and die of that sickness.)

Afterwards St. John says: “ These things said he, and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said the disciples, Lord, if he sleep he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death.Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” Where in formal express terms St. John a In loc. Matt.

Vid. Grot. in Matt. ix. 18.

[ocr errors]

assures us, that by sleep our Lord meant death. No critical reader will dcult, that this is the meaning of Christ's words, which he spoke of Jairus's daughter. Nor will any lover of virtue endure to be robbed of so singular an instance of such charming virtues as humility and modesty. Instead of these modest expressions, “ Give place, for the maid is not dead but sleepeth:” had Jesus been a juggler and impostor, as is pretended, or had this history been a forgery, we had had some such silly boasting speech as this : Ay! the young woman is really dead, and your lamentations are well grounded: but let me only look upon her, and say a few words over her, and depend upon it, you will see her alive again, and as well as ever.

• If he were going to work a miracle in her resuscitation, he should not have called death SLEEP; but if others had been of a contrary opinion, he should first have convinced them of • the certainty of her death,' p. 36, 37. That is, Jesus should have spent time, and taken pains to convince them of what they were convinced of before, and were so positive in, that when they understood him to say the maid was not expired, but only sleeping in a natural sleep, they laughed him to scorn.”

It follows in our author : “ And why did he charge the parents of the girl not to speak of * the miracle ?'. There might be many reasons for this, and those founded not upon the falsehood or uncertainty of the miracle, but on the certainty and greatness of it. This prohibition then was partly owing to the humility and modesty of Jesus, who, instead of ordering men to proclaim his works, often desired them to be silent about them. It was partly owing to prudence, that he might have opportunity during the short time his ministry was to last, for teaching men the will of God, and for instructing his disciples; that he might avoid the suspicion of setting up for a ruler and governor, or attempting any disturbance, which suspicion might have arisen in men's minds, if the concourse of men to him had been too numerous.

These prohibitions therefore may be understood to be only temporary or for the present. Thus our Saviour forbid his disciples to speak of the transfiguration on the mount, “ until the son of man be risen from the dead,” Matt. xvii. 9. It was not long before he was to be taken out of this world: and then they on whom he wrought any miracles might speak freely of them, without giving any occasion to suspect his designing a temporal kingdom, to the prejudice of the civil government then in being.

Besides, though the parents of this maid were to be silent of this miracle, here were many others that might speak of it. All her friends who knew she was dead, were witnesses of her resurrection, when they saw her alive again.

And rather than suspect any bad design in this prohibition, which is so contrary to the whole character of Jesus; I would conceive that he might have some regard to the character of Jairus, as a ruler of the synagogue; and since he was an honest man, who had entertained a faith in Jesus for working so great a miracle, he by this advice of silence dispensed with his speaking publicly of the miracle, which might have been much to his prejudice, and was not at present absolutely necessary. This I'am sure is more consonant to the ineekness and goodness of Jesus, upon many other occasions, than any suspicion of fraud or imposture.

. And why,—did he turn the people out of the house before he would raise her?' p. 37. Why, perhaps, partly for the reasons of silence just mentioned. If many had been actually present at the raising her up, they might have been more excited to spread abroad the miracle, and thereby make too great a concourse; which might have given umbrage, and been a handle to his enemies to charge him with innovations in the state.

Another reason is this ; that no more might thrust into the room wbere the young woman lay dead, than those he took with him; that there might be no disturbance in the house; that the persons he took along with him, might have no interruption of any kind; that they might be sedate and composed, and attend only to the work he was about to perform before them; and that they might have a near, clear, distinct and full view of it; and that they might afterwards (his disciples especially) report it to others, upon the fullest assurance and conviction.

There were the parents of the young woman, and three of our Saviour's disciples, which are witnesses enough of any action; and being with our Lord six in number, might be as many as could have, in the room where she lay, a clear sight without interrupting each other. Five close witnesses, at full ease, are better than forty witnesses in a crowd and confusion. This action then of our blessed Lord in clearing the house of hired musicians and other people is no exception in the least to this miracle.


2 Z

There is still a reflection of Mr. W.'s relating to this miracle to be considered, which he places under one of his former observations; which I passed by then, only that it might be considered here in its proper place. • And it is not,' says he, p. 27, 'impossible, but the passionate • screams of the feminine by-standers might fright her into fits, that bore the appearance of

death; otherwise, why did Jesus turn these inordinate weepers out of the house, before he could • bring her to her senses again ?' If Mr. W. by the • feminine by-standers' means any persons different from “ the minstrels and the people making a noise,” [Matt. ix. 23.] which Jesus saw when he came into the house; and would insinuate, that these persons by passionate screams Inight fright her into fits ;' this is mere fiction, and contrary to the history of this event. This young woman was near expiring when her father left her, and when he came to Jesus he says she was then at the point of death. This supposition of the father must have been owing to the nature of her case, which he had seen before he left her, and not to any passionate screams which he could know nothing of. Besides, who make passionate screams when people are well, and in no danger? And if made when persons are desperate, would rather be of service than otherwise. These screams then to fright her into fits and an appearance of death, are mere fiction, and an

If by passionate screams Mr. W. intends the lamentations of the minstrels and other people making a noise, whom Jesus found in the house: I should have thought Mr. W. might know very well, that it was not possible they should hurt the young woman; unless they could fright her after she was dead. If her friends had not known she was dead, they would not have suffered these musicians to enter their house, and make lamentations, and put them to charge without any occasion. The music of these minstrels is alone a sufficient proof she was dead. But there had before come some from Jairus's house, which said, “ Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the master any farther ?Mark v. 35.

I think I have now considered all the objections against the history of raising Jairus's daughter.

* As for the story of the widow of Nain's son,' says Mr. W. p. 37, 38, excepting what is • before observed of the shortness of the time in which he lay dead, and of the unfitness of his • person to be raised—I have here no more fault to find in the letter of it. These objections I have spoke to already. But under one of them Mr. W. placed some objections to the circumstances of this story, which I will now consider. He then says, p. 28: · And who knows but • Jesus, upon some information or other, might suspect this youth to be in a lethargic state, and • had a mind to try, if by chafing, &c. he could not do what successfully he did, bring him to his

senses again: or miglit not a piece of fraud be concerted between Jesus, a subtil youth, and • his mother and others; and all the formalities of a death and burial be contrived, that Jesus, • whose fame for a worker of miracles was to be raised, might here have an opportunity to make • a show of a grand one. The mourning of the widow, who had her tears at command, and • Jesus's casual meeting of the corpse upon the road, looks like contrivance to put the better • face upon the matter. God forbid, that I should suspect there was any fraud of this kind here; • but of the possibility of it, none can doubt.'

To all this I answer, that the character of Jesus and his doctrine prevents all suspicion of so vile a thing as that of contrivance. His doctrine is as holy and excellent (to say no more) as that which the best men ever taught. He is in his whole behaviour innocent, meek, and undesigning It is not possible, that such a person should form or countenance a contrivance to deceive or impose upon men.

If he had entertained a thought of contrivance, yet it was not possible he should succeed therein. How was it possible, • that a piece of fraud might be here concerted between Jesus, a • subtil youth, and his mother, and others; and all the formalities of a death and burial be con• trived? Such a scene could not be acted without a great many persons being in the intrigue (as is apparent from the objection itself) who must have known the fraud. Jesus, who had so many enemies, and those men of power, was the most unlikely of any to succeed herein. Besides, when men form contrivances, they are not of such public open scenes as this was, but are attended with some circumstances of secrecy. When was there ever such a contrivance as this scene is? so public, so open ? Jesus entering into a city, many of his disciples with him, and much other people; a public funeral, in day-time, attended with much people of the city!

Moreover, none could be under any temptations to enter into a contrivance with him. For Jesus was poor, and subsisted on the voluntary contributions of his friends; and therefore could give no bribes. Men must be some way or other tempted to such an action, because they thereby would incur the censure of the civil magistrate, and expose themselves to some very heavy punishment. If you say here, that Jesus did at last suffer death, and therefore he must certainly have been convicted of some such fault as this: I answer, that it appears from the history of his condemnation that he was innocent; that there was no crime proved against him; and that Pilate himself saw clearly, that it was only out of envy and malice that the chief priests and Pharisees accused him. But not to insist now on this: there were no persons punished, or taken up, as accomplices with Jesus; not his disciples, nor any other persons whatever; which: is a demonstration that no imposture was proved upon Jesus, nor suspected concerning him.

As to what is urged in the first place: · Who knows but Jesus, upon some information or other, might suspect this youth to be in a lethargic state, and had a mind to try, if by chafing, • &c. he could not do what successfully he did, bring him to his senses again:' this likewise con-tains an intimation of a fraud, which, as I said, is absolutely inconsistent with Jesus's character. It also supposes vile and selfish people to be in a combination or correspondence with him, which is entirely inconsistent with the mean and poor circumstances of our blessed Lord in this world. Lastly, all the circumstances of the relation, the tears of the mother (who was the most likely of any to know whether her son was in a lethargy or not) the great number of the people at this funeral; the great company with Jesus (who, if the meeting of the corpse was not casual, must have known it) our Lord's coming up to the bier and touching it, without asking beforehand any questions, concur together to induce us to believe that it was a real miracle. To whichi might be added, that the company present were fully convinced, it was neither a contrivance, nor a cure performed by a successful and fortunate chafing, but a great and awful miracle: For “ there came a fear on all, and they glorified God, saying, that a great prophet is risen up amongst us, and that God hath visited his people,” Luke vii. 16.

We may now proceed to the story of Lazarus, which the author calls long, and says, Is « brimful of absurdities. He will single out only three or four of them at present, reserving the • rest for another opportunity, when the whole story of this miracle will appear to be such a cona • texture of folly and fraud in its contrivance, execution and relation, as is not to be equalled in * all romantic history,' p. 38. Let us however examine the three or four pretended absurdities. First then, says Mr. W. Observe that Jesus is said to have wept and groaned for the death of • Lazarus. Patience and resignation unto God upon the death of our dearest friends and rela* tions is what all philosophers have rightly taught; and Jesus, one would think, should have 7. been the most heroical example of these graces. A stoical apathy had better become him than • such childish and effeminate grief,' p. 38.

It does not appear from St. John, that Jesus did weep and groan for the death of Lazarus. He says indeed that “ Jesus wept: then said the Jews, behold how he loved him.” But it does not follow, that in this they judged right, any more than in some other reflections passed on Jesus at other times; which though the evangelists knew to be false, they do not concern themselves to refute them. But supposing, de did out of love for Lazarus weep for his death; there is nothing in this inconsistent with patience and resignation to God. Nor is there any thing therein weak and effeminate. The ancients, who by many are thought best to have understood human nature, did not think tears unmanful, or disgraceful to a man of true fortitude; as might be amply shown, if needful. For my own part, I never loved stoical principles or dispositions, and I believe Jesus had as tender sentiments as any man. Supposing then the death of Lazarus, and the affection Jesus had for him to have been the cause of these tears, I see no absurdity in them. But there were other things before Jesus of an affecting kind, which might have drawn forth these tears of compassion. He might at that time be affected with the thought of the many afflictions, to which human nature is liable in this state: or he might be affected with the excess of sorrow, which the sisters of Lazarus and other persons then present seem to have showed on this occasion..

As for the groans of Jesus, they were not owing to the death of Lazarus, but to somewhat else, as is very plain from the account; which is this: . “ Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if' thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which

· See Dr. Harris's Remarks on the Case of Lazarus, p. 75.

2 2.2.2

« AnteriorContinuar »