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Sign or Miracle of him for their Satisfaction: and there1 fore we find him often appealing to his Miracles for the Truth of his Million, and calling upon the World to believe him, if not for his own, yet for his Work's fake. If 1 had mt done the Works among them (faith he) which no Man else did, they had not had Sin, i. e. in not believing me-, John 15. 24. It was not then the Expectation of Miracles, that our Saviour rebuk'd in them, but their desiring them for wrong Ends, and their being unfatisfy'd in the Kind and Nature of them: they mult have some Wonder done, more to please their Fancy, than to confirm their Faith ; all the Miracles he had done on Earth would not fatisfy, but they must have a Sign or Prodigy from Heaven -, that is, some blazing Sight or Shew in the Air, to feed their Eyes, and set the World a gazing. 'Twas their Hypocrisy and Unbelief, their Curiosity and Incredulity, that Christ there condemn'd, and therefore would not gratify their vain Humours in doing more, when he had done enough already for their Conviction, if they had any mind to believe \ for such as these, he tells them, he had but one Miracle more, and instead of a Sign from Heaven, they should have only one from the Earth, viz.. the Sign of the Prophet Jonas, who was a Token or Type of Christ's Resurrection from the Dead, the last and greatest of all Miracles: for as Jonas lay three Days bury'd in the Whale's Belly, and then came to Life again, so should the Son of Man lie three Days and three Nights in the Heart of the Earth, and then rise again from the Dead. And if that Miracle would not convince them, nothing could, and so they must be seal'd up under final Impenitence and Infidelity. This was the Case of the Scribes and Pharisees, those Monsters of Unbelief and Hvpocrisy.
But our Nobleman in the Text was not so faithless or unbelieving; he delir'd indeed a Sign, but he was convinc'd and converted by if, he did not ask it to gratify his Curiosity, but to strengthen his Faith, and to be the more firmly persuaded of his Power to heal his Son: And therefore he renew'd his Request unto him, faying, Sir, come down e'er my Child die. Christ perceiv'd the Increase of his Faith by the Earnestnels of his Suit, he found his Belief of his Power grew stronger and stronger, and that he was well afTur'd of his Ability to cure his Son, tho left by all Physicians i and without the Aid of his Divine Power, the Case was desperate, and without Remedy. Jesus perceiving alt this, and willing farther to encourage the Increase of his Faith, faith unto him, Go thy way, thy Son liveth; i.e. return home as speedily and cheerfully as thou canst, and when thou comest to thy House, thou shalt find thy Son alive and in good Health: Words full of Comfort to one prefs'd with Grief, and Feat* of losing his beloved Son.
But what Influence had these Words on the Nobleman, to whom they were spoken? Why, a very good one; for the next words tell us, that the Man believed the Word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way: He was fully persuaded of the Truth of what Christ had told him, and stagger'd not through Unbelief or Distrust concerning it, but went his way homeward with a Heart full of Joy, and free from all Doubts and Fears concerning his Son.
And the Event prov'd accordingly ., for at he was now going down, his Servants met him, and told him, faying, Thy Sonliveth: And when he came to his House, he found his Son not only recover'd, but perfectly found and well as he was before. And the better to fatisfy himself in the Circumstances of this extraordinary Cure, he enquired of his Servants the Hour when he began to amend, to fee whether it answer'd the Time in which he spake those words to him: And they said unto htm, It was yesterday mt the seventh Hour, that the Fever left him; by which Answer, The Father knew that it was at the same Hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy Son liveth: the Circumstance of Time making the Cure so much the more remarkable.
This is the Miracle here related in all its Circumstances, which was exceeding great, considering the extreme Sickness of the Person, who was at the point of Death, and so left for dead by all that acted by the natural and artisicial Ways of Medicine; so that the Recovery of him was the faving of one from the Grave, who was just dropping into it, and in a manner raising him from the Dead.
But what Effect had this Miracle upon the Nobleman, at whose Request it was done? Why, that the following words tell us; He himself believed, and his whole House: He concluded, that the Cure wrought upon his Son could not be done but by a Divine Power, and that likewise was a sufficient Demonstration, that the Doctrine deliver'd by him must be also Divine-, for Miracles being the Seal of a Divine Commission, he very well thought that God would never set it to an Impostor, nor impower any to do those things, but one that comes from him: And therefore he
-truly enough took him for the Messias, and believ'd in him, making an open Profession of his Faith in him* as the Son of God, and the Saviour of the World. And this he did not only for himself, in his own Person, but in the Name of all his Family, who embrac'd the fame Faith, and became Proselytes to, and Followers of our Saviour for so *tis faid, that he himself believed, and bis whole House. The like we read of Nicodemus, another great Man, and Ruler among the Jews, who was convinc'd and proselyted by the same Means, owning Christ to be a great Prophet sent from God: John 3.2. Rabbi (faith he) / know thou art a Teacher come from God, for no Man could do the Works that thou dost, except God were with him. And before him many of the Jews, that were at Jerusalem, believ'd in him, when they saw the Miracles which he-did; John 2.23. So vain was that Cavil of the People, Have any of the Rulers believed on him t since the Nobleman in the Text, and Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews, and Crispus, a Ruler of the Synagogue, with many others, became his Disciples Atts 18. 8. And indeed his Miracles were great enough to convince the World, that he was the Person r>rophesy'd of, and promis'd to come for the Salvation of Mankind. This was the End of all the Miracles he did, which far exceeded all that was done by Moses, or Elias, or any of the Prophets that went before him, both in the Nature, Number, and Manner of doing them. ,
As for the Nature of his Miracles, they consisted in raising the Dead, and doing other supernatural Works, which no mere Man ever did or could do, of which we have many Instances in the Gospel; but the Wonder of all Wonders was the raising himself from the Dead, after he had lain three Days in the Grave. This was foretold by the Prophets, and spoken of by himselF-before his Death, saying, Destroy this Temple, meaning his Body, and in three Days I will raise it up; which he accordingly did, to the Terror of his Enemies, and the Joy of all his Friends and Followers.
And as his Miracles exceeded those of Moses and the Pro. phets in the Nature of them, so did they in their Number too: Moses did some few Miracles, but Christ vastly more, as well as greater. Elias indeed rais'd one from the Dead, but Christ many, and among them one that had lain four Days in the Grave: beside which, he rais'd to Life the Widow's Son of the City of Naim t he restor'd to Life the , Da ughDaughter of jairus, a Ruler of the Synagogue; with many more, mention'd in some of the foregoing Gospels.
Lastly, Christ's Miracles exceeded all others in the Manner of doing them v^fbr he did them with a Look, with a Word, with a Touch, and many other ways, which could have no natural Force or Energy to the producing those Effects: He rais'd Lazarus from the Grave only by faying, Lazjirus come forthhe restor'd the Widow's Son at Nairn only by touching the Bier; he rais'd the Daughter of Jairus, by taking her by the Hand, and bidding her arise. Moses fed some of the Israelites with Bread from Heaven, but Christ multiply'd upon Earth a few Loaves and Fishes to the seeding of many Thoufands•, and there remain'd more after they were all fill'd, than was at first set before them. The Event of all which was, that many believ'd on him, as this Nobleman here did with all his House.
But the Atheists and Infidels of our Age have started two Difficulties about this Matter, that must be a little remov'd.
The one is about the Truth and Certainty of these Miracles.
The other is about the way of distinguishing true and real Miracles from those that are false and feign'd.
For the First, the clearest Evidence that can be given of any Matter of Fact, is the Testimony of such Persons as were Eye-witnesses of it; and this Evidence we have for the mighty Works and Actions of our Blessed Saviour: The things they attested were such as might be fully perceiv'd by them that faw them j they were no Illusions of the Senses, but real and visible Miracles. The Man that was born blind, was known to be so by all the Country where he liv'd; and his being restor'd to Sight was after as publick as his former Blindness, and was so acknowledg'd by all about him: insomuch that the blind Man faw more than the whole Sanhedrim; for when they faid, Moses we know, but for this Fe/low, meaning Christ, we know not from whence he is , he reply'd to them, Why, this is a marvellous things that ye know not whence he is, and yet he hath opened my Eyes: If he were not of God, he could do nothing, for God heareth npt Sinners •, hut if any be sent by God, and doth his Will, him he heareth: by which he plainly attested his Divine Commission. The dead Man at Naim was known to be so not only by the Bearers, who were carrying him to his Grave, but by the neighbouring People, who were at*
tending upon his Funeral; and his coming to Life again, upon Christ's touching the Bier, was as visible and attested by all that were present: and so St. Luke tells us, It wot done before much People. Luke 7. 12.
But the great Miracle of Christ's Resurrection, upon which the Truth and Certainty of all the rest depend, was attested by so many Eye-witnesses, as set it out of the reach of all Doubt and Contradiction. Of his Death and Burial both Jews and Romans were Eye-witnesses: The Soldiers that came to break his Bones, forbore it, because they found him already dead. That he return'd to Life again the third Day, was attested not only by his Apostles and Disciples, but by many other Witnesses, who faw and convers'd with him after his Rising from the Dead: That he was not a mere Phantasm or Apparition (as some objected) appear'd by the Disciples handling and seeing him j for a Spirit hath not Flesh and Bones, as they faw him to have: And that he rose in the fame real Body, in which he died, was evident by the great Incredulity of St.Thomas, who thrust his Hand into the Hole of his Sid#, and faw the Print of the Nails in his Hands and Feet^which fasten'd him to the Cross •, and so became no longer faithless, but believing. To all which, if we add the Number and Concurrence of these Witnesses, their great Care and Fidelity in relating them, their great Courage and Constancy in propagating them, notwithstanding all the Threats and Terrors to hinder them, together with the great Success and general Belief they have gain'd every where •, we may fafely conclude the Evidence of them to be set beyond all reasonable Doubts or Distrust of the Truth of them, and to cut off all the Pleas and Pretences of Infidelity.
But how may we distinguish true Miracles from false and counterfeit ones? For we read that the Magicians imitated the Miracles of Moses, and did many wonderful things like him. In the New Testament we are told that Satan and many false Prophets should come with Signs, and Miracles, and lying Wonders, and with that Deceivableness of Unrighteousness, as if it were possible to deceive the very Elect: 'Tis requisite therefore to give some Marks for the knowing one from the other, without which the Argument from Miracles would lose all its Force. In answer hereunto, regard must be had to the Doctrine which Miracles are brought to confirm: if they are brought to confirm no Doctrine at all, or a Doctrine that hath been tho
Vol. IV. Part z. G g , rowly