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iind JiBitious, tho' these are as much to be depended on as other Miracles pretended to be wrought in favour of false Doctrines. But if he would offer any thing to the purpose, in order to run a Parallel between the Attestations pretended to be given to any false Doctrines, and those given to the Christian Dispensation, let him shew,
1. That the Miracles wrought or pretended to be wrought in favour of false Doctrines, or of Impostors, were Works plainly above all the Power or Art of Man to perform. For many wonderful things may be done by human Art or Skill, and a dextrous Application of natural Causes, which cannot properly be called Miracles.
Z. That these things were done, not in a single Instance, or in a very few Instances, in which case there might be some Suspicion of Management j but that there was a Succession of them in many Instances, and for a Course of Years together.
3. That these Miracles were wrought in professed Attestation to the Divine Million of the Persons by whom, or in favour of whom they were wrought, and to the Truth of the Doctrines they delivered. For strange things have happened from time to time in all Ages and Countries, from which no Consequence can be drawn, as not being wrought in declared Attestation to any Doctrines, or to the Pi vine Mission of any Persons.
3 4- That
4. That they were wrought not in secret or before a sew only, but in an open publick manner j wrought not merely in favour of the reigning Religion, when a very nice Examination would not be very sase; but in favour of a Religion contrary to the most inveterate Prejudices, and in the view of subtil and malicious Enemies, who had the Power in their hands, and who had all the Opportunities that could be desired to have detected the Imposture, if there had been any; and were strongly carried by their Inclinations and Interests to do it. And yet were not able upon the most diligent Examination to detect Fraud or Imposture in any one Instance, in which cafe it might have induced a Suspicion of the rest, that they were all owing to the same Causes.
5. That the Accounts of these Miracles were delivered by Persons, who themselves saw and knew him, and who by their whole Conduct gave all the Marks of disinterested Probity and Sincerity, and persisted in their Testimony with an unshaken Constancy, without ever falsifying in any one Instance, tho' they thereby exposed themselves to the most grievous Persecutions and Sufferings.
6. That even some of the most obstinate Adversaries that lived nearest those Times did not pretend absolutely to deny the Facts, tho' they endeavoured to attribute them to wrong Causes j and that great Numbers of Persons strongly prejudiced against the Religion thus
attested, attested, embraced it upon the Credit of those miraculous Attestations, in opposition to their former Prejudices, and to their worldly Interests, as well as to their favourite Appetites and Passions; and this in the very Age in which the Facts were done, and in Places where they had the best Opportunities of enquiring into the Truth of those Facts, and detecting them if they had been false *.
* The Jeivijk Story concerning 'Jesus's performing his wonderful Works by virtue of the ineffable Name which he stole out of the Temple and hid in his Thigh, is well known. And many both of thejews and Heathens ascribed his Miracles to his extraordinary Skill in Ma'jick: And among others, Celsus, as appears in several Passages of Origen's Work against him. All that can be truly gathered from hence is, That the Truth of the miraculous Facts was so evident, that they were not able to deny it. For as to the C arge itself, it is manisestly absurd and ridiculous, whether we consider the Nature and Circumstances of the Works themselves, or the End for which they were wrought, or the Character of 'Jesus, and the Nature and Design of the Religion he published to
the World. Pliny observes, that never was any Man
fonder of Magick than Nero, or did more to encourage and countenance it. and that he sent for the ablest Masters of it from all Parts, and yet that never was the Vanitv and Falshood of it more plainly discovered than
in his'Time. P/in. Hist. Nat. Lib. $o. dp. i. And
if the Favour and Encouragement given to it by a mighty Emperor could not hinder the Fallacy of it from being detected; can it be imagin'd, that if the Things done by our Saviour and h\s apostles, who had no Authority to countenance them, and so many watchful Enemies to observe them, had been of no higher kind than Magical Operations, the Folly and Imposture would not have been soon detected and exposed?
Lett. II. G If
If this Writer will please to produce any false Religion that had such Testimonials, and to whom all this may be applied, it mall be considered. In the mean time I affirm, that it is absolutely out of his power; and that therefore this Part of the Evidence for Christianity stands upon a firm and immoveable Basis; since k may be clearly (hewn, that all the above-mentioned Circumstances concur in it, in which it can never be equal'd by any false Religion. And tho' the Scripture warns us (as he observes) of lying Wonders and false Chrtjls) and to take the utmost care of what we give credit to of this kind j yet it certainly never supposes, that any false Christs should arise, who should be able to work such a Succession of glorious Miracles, as were wrought in attestation of Christianity.
The wonderful Works wrought by our Lord jsefus Christ in avowed Confirmation of his divine Mission were of such a nature, and so manifestly transcending all the Art and Power of Man, such as the restoring perished Limbs in a Moment, healing the most desperate Diseases by a Word, commanding the Winds and the Seas, and even raising the Dead; that they might be alone sufficient, as they were circumstanced, to give a convincing Proof of his divine Mission: but they received a wonderful Confirmation by his Resurrection from the Dead, which he himself had foretold, and to which he appealed, and of which there was all the Evidence that could
i be be reasonably desired *. And this was followed and farther confirmed by his Ascension into Heaven in the view of his gazing Disciples 5 and both were placed beyond all reasonable doubt, and received a mighty additional Force, by the extraordinary Effusion of the Holy Ghost soon
* Our Author gives a hint, that if our Saviour had but taken one Turn in the Market-place after his Resurrection, this would have been a more effectual Conviction to the Jtws than all the Evidence that was offered, and might have spared both thepainsulLives andLaboursofso many holyVouchers, who perijhed merely by the thing's being done in a Corner, p. 67. But certainly the Proof already given of Christ's Resurrection was a much stronger Evidence of it, than merely his taking a Turn or two thro' the Market-Place would have been, before a Croud of People, sew of whom could be supposed to be so intimately acquainted with him as to be absolutely sure that it was he: or if they had believed that it was like him, they would have been ready to think, as the Disciples at first did, that they had seen a Spirit, or some unaccountable Appearance in his form and Shape. Whereas, as the Case is now circumstanced, he /hewed himself alive after his Resurrection by many infallible Proofs, to Persons to whom he was persectly known, and who could not be imposed upon in this matter. They themselves were not forward to believe it, till they could no longer doubt of it without renouncing the Testimony of all their Senses. They saw him, they handled him, they eat and drank with him, they conversed samiliarly with him on many important Subjects for forty Days together. If it bad only been the eleven Apostles that testified this, the Number of the Witnesseswould have been very sufficient; but there were many others that saw him, and conversed with him. And at last he was seen, as St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians affirms, by above five hundred at once, most of whom were alive when he writ that Epistle. It canG 2 not