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OF OUR LORD'S MIRACLES: AND OF SOME OTHER PROOFS THAT
HE WAS SENT FROM GOD.
MY subject now leads me to shew how wisely our Lord's miracles were circumstanced ; and how convincing a proof of his divine mission arises from them,
The Jewish history is full of miracles from the time of Abraham to the Babylonish captivity. But, after the restoration of that people, to the birth of Christ, there was an intermission of them for more than five eenturies. John the Baptist was “ a prophet, “yea, and more than a prophet;” but it is expressly said of him that he “b wrought no miracle.” After so long an interval, it was reserved for our Lord himself to raise the attention of his people by miraculous operations : which, though at all times awful and astonishing, must have struck men with additional force by the novelty of their appearance.
Our Lord's miracles were of various kinds. He converted water into wine : he made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak : he restored one who had been bent together, he cleansed lepers, made the maimed whole, and healed epilepsy, lunacy, madness, and every human malady: "he communicated such miraculous powers to his disciples as filled them with exultation and astonishment: he blasted a fig tree by his word, caused astonishing draughts of fishes to be taken, fed thousands with the subsistence of a very few, walked on the waves, stilled the winds and the sea, and raised the dead.
• Matt. xi. 9. 6 John X. 41. Jesus liberalis miraculorum.
c Grotius on John ii. 19. calls d Matt. x. 8. Luke x. 17.
And, under some of these kinds, his miracles were so many, that their number exceeds the sum of all which are recorded in the Hebrew scriptures as per. formed by God's prophets. Besides those distinctly transmitted down to us, there are numerous acts of supernatural power which are referred to in general terms. At the first passover f many believed in Jesus's name, when they saw the miracles which he did.” In his first circuit about Galilee, “he & healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria : and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those who were possessed with demons, and those who were lunatic, and those who had the palsy ; and he healed them.” In Capernaum“ when the heven [of the sabbath] was come, [for the Jews scrupled thus to employ the sabbath itself,] they brought unto him many that were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.” Before he taught his disciples on the mount, a i great multitude of people came to be healed of their diseases ; and they that were vexed
· Dr. Benson reckons about fifty places in the gospels where we have a distinct account of different miracles. Life of Christ, p. 351. .6 John i. 23. & Matt. iv. 23, 24.
hib, viii. 16. and p. p. i Luke yi. 17, 18, 19,
with unclean spirits ; and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him : for there went power out of him ; and he healed them all.” When two of John's disciples came to him, “ in that same k hour he had cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits ; and to many blind he had given sight.” He pronounced a wo on Chorazin and Bethsaida for remaining impenitent, notwithstanding “ the 'mighty works which he had done in them :” and yet the evangelists are silent on the miracles performed in Chorazin, and record the performance of only a single m miracle near Bethsaida. During his second perambulation of Galilee, he “ healed every sickness and every disease among the people.” There were “ many other women" besides Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, who followed Jesus and " ministered to him of their substance, because they had been ohealed of evil spirits and infirmities.” Before he fed the five thousand, Jesus “ was P moved with compassion towards them, and healed their sick.” When he and his disciples came out of a ship into the land of Gennesaret, they “ran through that region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages or cities or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment : and as ? many as touched it were made
k Luke vii. 21.
I Matt. xi. 21.
* Mark viii. 22, 23.
P Matt. xiy. 14
whole.” On a mountain in Galilee, “ great ' multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus's feet, and he healed them." And once more: after he had triumphantly entered Jerusalem, “ the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” We have also reason to think that " + Jesus did many other signs,” of which the evangelists have given no hint in their proper place.
The effects of Christ's miraculous interpositions were distinguished from the progressive operations of nature by being immediate, and almost always instantaneous : they were also lasting, where the case admitted it, and subject to general and scrupulous examination. The blind man near Bethsaida recov. ered his sight gradually. On the first imposition of Christ's hands he saw obscurely; and on the second imposition of them, he saw clearly. Lucas Brugensis and Macknight have assigned some reasons for this gradual cure ; which yet, in each of its stages, has marks of a preternatural rapidity. It is said that our Lord acted thus, because the faith of the blind man was imperfect, or to shew that he had various modes of dispensing his miracles. Perhaps one reason was, that the blind man might be conscious of Christ's power by his repeated touch ; the effect of his divine agency being thus sensibly impressed on whim. But
r Matt. xv. 30. sib. xxi. 14. * John xx. 30. a Mark viii. 22-26. w It is well known that, since our Saviour's time, the Jews have imputed his miracles to a charm, or magical word. But the limited, uniform and irresistible operation of a spell cannot be applied to a gradual miracle, to a miracle consequent on washing in the pool of Siloam, and to miracles wrought at a distance ; of which we have in. stances John iv. 46, &c. Mark vii. 29, 30. Add to which, that the very words, utiered by our Lord when be exercised his wonderful power, are often related in the gospels,
when Peter's wife's mother laboured under a great fever, and Jesus rebuked it, the fever left her, and she * immediately arose and ministered to her guests. When he said to a leper,
• Be thou clean ; as soon as he had spoken,' immediately the leprosy departed from him.” When he commanded a man sick of the palsy to rise and take up his couch,“ } immediately he rose up before them.”
When“ a woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years, came in the press behind, and touched his garment, immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up.” When he said to “one who was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech, Be opened ; immediately his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.” When the demoniac, whom the apostles could not heal, was brought to Jesus, “ he rebuked the demon, and he departed out of him : and the child was healed from that hour.” It is true that, at Jesus's word, “ the d impure spirit cried out, and rent him sore, and left him as it were dead.” On the approach of Jesus, the disease had appeared with a great degree of violence; and its extreme malignity was thus further evidenced to the spectators. When our Lord blasted the barren fig
presently withered away. And when the
tree, it "c
* Luke iv. 39. y Mark i. 42. z Luke v. 25. • Mark v. 29. bib. vii. 35. c Matt. xvii, 18.
# Mark is. 20, 26. • Mait, xxi. 19, 20.