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you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he doth the works. Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very work's sake," ch. xiv. 10, 11.
Since then the first three evangelists appear not to have given an account of all the miracles of Jesus which they knew of, nor of all his greatest miracles, nor of all those which he had raised from the dead: since they have not filled up their gospels with accounts of miracles or other wonderful appearances, and have written all without any marks of affectation or ostentation ; it can be no prejudice to the credit of another later historian of Jesus, though he relate some few particular miracles not expressly mentioned by the foregoing:
3. Or else, that the latter evangelists have in their gospels betrayed a fondness to record more in number, or greater in degree, than those that went before: and thereby give ground for suspicion of forgery and invention.' Here St. John, the last evangelist, in point of number, is perfectly innocent; he not having related half so many miracles, as any one of the former. The offence therefore, if there be any, must be this, that later evangelists relate greater miracles than the foregoing. And this Mr. W. would insinuate to have been the practice of all in general. For he says, p. 11. • That the first was sparing and modest in his * romance; and the second, being sensible of the insufficiency 6 of the former's tale, devises a miracle of a bigger size;
which still not proving sufficient to the end proposed, ! the third writer, rather than his Prophet's honour should sink for want of a resurrection miracle, forges a story
of a monstrously huge one.' To this I answer, that a general conclusion ought not to be drawn from a particular instance or two: supposing that the raising of the widow's son of Nain, related by Luke, be greater than that of raising Jairus's daughter, recorded by Matthew; and that the raising of Lazarus recorded by St. John be greater than either of the two former, a suspicion of forgery and invention cannot be fairly admitted, unless an affectation of enlarging miracles appear also
other occasions. For which reason we will take a view of the conduct, first of all, of the three former evangelists, and then of St. John.
In the first place we will take a view of the conduct of the three former evangelists, Matthew relates a story of Christ's feeding a multitude in a miraculous manner. He says, there were five thousand of them fed with five loaves, and that twelve baskets of fragments were taken up, Matt. xiv. NeiLuke says:
ther St. Mark (ch. vi.) or St. Luke (ch. ix.) have related a greater miracle of this kind; but tell the same story with the same circumstances : whereas, if they had been disposed to invent, the two latter evangelists might have easily told a much greater miracle of this sort than Matthew had done. Again, St. Matthew bas given an account of raising Jairus's daughter, ch. ix, 18. St. Mark wrote after him, and yet he has not told
any greater resurrection story, but only the same, ch. v. 23. Nay, sometimes a later evangelist lessens a miracle that had been told by a former : so far are they from forging huge miracles, rather than their Master's honour should sink for want of them. Thus Matthew tells of Two possessed with devils in the country of the Gergesenes, healed by Jesus, ch. viii. 28. But Mark, who wrote after him, mentions but one of those men, ch. v. 1. Matthew also speaks of two blind men restored to sight near Jericho, ch. xx. 29; Mark mentions only Bartimeus, ch. x. 46, and St.
“ There was a certain blind man by the way side begging,” &c. ch. xviii. 35.
There is another thing very observable. One and the same evangelist, who has given an account of a very great miracle of a certain kind, does sometimes a good while after relate another miracle of the same sort, but a great deal less than the former.
Thus Matthew first gives a history of " five thousand fed with five loaves and two fishes,” and says there were “ twelve baskets of fragments,” cb. xiv. But when he afterwards speaks of another miracle of this kind, he mentions but “ four thousand fed with seven loaves and a few small fishes,” and but “ seven baskets full of fragments,” ch. xv. These miracles are in the like order recorded in St. Mark, ch. vi. viii. Nay, if the raising of the widow of Nain's son be a greater miracle than raising Jairus's daughter, as Mr. W. supposes, then St. Luke has given an account of his resurrection stories also in this method. For the former is in the seventh, and the latter in the eighth chapter of his gospel.
It is utterly unaccountable, that a forger of miracles should fall into such a method. He who forges stories of miracles knows they are false. His reader's mind must be humoured. By a lesser he may be prepared to receive a greater, which, if told first, had perhaps induced him to throw away the whole tale. Besides a forger of miracles certainly designs to entertain his reader, whereas in this way, instead of being entertained, he must be disappointed. And there can be no reason assigned, why the evangelists should have taken this
method, (as I have shown they have done, more than one of them, in several instances,) but that they had a strict regard to truth, and that the things they relate had been indeed so done. It serves to convince us also, that they had no undue desire to aggrandize their Master; that they have not used art in their compositions, or indulged their own fancy or invention; but have followed a certain train of real, though wonderful and surprising actions.
Now we will take a view of the conduct of St. John, the last evangelist. It is St. John in particular, that Mr. W. means when he
• The third writer, rather than his Pro• phet's honour should sink for want of a resurrection miracle, . forges a story of a monstrously huge one,' p. 11. But this is somewhat strange, that Mr. W. should impute such an action to St. John; since he has himself said, p. 7, That' to • aggrandize their Master, as a worker of miracles, was the • design especially of the three first. Moreover Mr. W. allows, p. 9, that one resurrection miracle is sufficient. Why then should it be thought, that St. John hath given an account of one raised from the dead, but that he knew it had been really done?
But not to rely on these observations of Mr. W. though so much in our favour: let us observe St. John's conduct on other occasions; one instance, as I said, not being sufficient. It is he who has informed us of the turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee, John ii. 1. I am fully persuaded this was a real miracle. But it appears to me, (and I suppose to others likewise, one of the least miracles any where ascribed to our Saviour. If St. John forged miracles, why did he put down here so inconsiderable an one? Why did he not tell an huge one? He had full scope here, as much as any where, the former evangelists not having begun so soon in their account of our Saviour's ministry: as is well known to those who are at all acquainted with the harinony of the gospels.
Nor may any say, that the reason of St. John's relating here so small a miracle was, that he judged it not proper to tell a great miracle at first, but to reserve such an one, and particularly the huge miracle of Lazarus's resurrection, for the last. For soon after this he relates a surprising miracle of a great cure wrought on a person at a distance, and that the son of a nobleman.
“ So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him, that he would come down and heal his son, for he was
at the POINT OF DEATH,
Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way, thy son liveth.”. And afterwards upon inquiry " when the fever left him, the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth. · This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee," John iv. 46–54.
Let us view St. John in another place. In the sixth chapter of his gospel he relates a story of Christ's feeding a multitude in a miraculous manner, which is, that he fed “ five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fishes,” and that they took up “ twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.” This is just the same with what the three other evangelists had told before. But why did not St. John, if he indulged invention, forge here, or somewhere else, a story of a monstrously huge miracle ? It had been altogether as easy for him to have told a story of about ten or twelve thousand men, or more, fed with two loaves and one small fish: and to add, that when all had eaten to satisfaction, there were twenty or thirty baskets full of fragments taken up.
There is no reason then to suspect the truth of the history of Lazarus’s resurrection, purely because it is a greater miracle than those recorded by the former evangelists. If the miracle recorded by St. John be greater than those recorded by them, it is not owing (for any thing that yet appears) to St. John's invention, but to truth and real matter of fact, and this regard to it, which was equally the concern of them all.
4. The last pretended ground of suspicion of fable and • forgery' to be considered is, • That the first evangelist's • omission of a miracle recorded by the last, if the miracle : had been really done, is absolutely unaccountable. Let us hear Mr. W. who is here very copious, in his way, saying the same thing over and over in different words; What • could be the reason,' he asks, p. 6, “ that Matthew, Mark, 6 and Luke, who all wrote their gospels before John, should • omit to record this remarkable and most illustrious mira. • cle of Lazarus ?-What then was the reason, I ask it again, • that the three first evangelists neglected to record this re* nowned miracle of Lazarus ? p. 8.
To which I answer, that we are under no obligation to account for the omission of the former evangelists. It would be no sufficient ground to refuse our assent to St. John's history of the raising of Lazarus, though we could think of no manner of reason at all for its being omitted by the three former.
However a variety of reasons for this omission offer themselves. I have already shown, the evangelists have not affected to increase the number of our Saviour's miracles, but passed by many, and those very great ones, which they * knew very well. Mr. W. himself allows, that one miracle of a resurrection is sufficient. He says likewise, p. 3, that • the restoring a person indisputably dead, to life again, is • a stupendous miracle.' (I hope to show hereafter, that every person said to have been raised to life by our Saviour had been certainly dead, and that therefore every one of these instances are stupendous miracles.) If then the least of these is a stupendous miracle, why should we cavil with the evangelists for not putting down every one of them, the greatest miracle of all, if indeed there be a difference? Is it not very reasonable to suppose, that an evangelist might content himself with the relation of one person raised from the dead, since one instance is sufficient, and is a stupendous thing?
Another very common occasion of omissions in writers is a regard to brevity. Mr. W. himself could not help thinking of this excuse, the studying brevity,' p. 9; but he would not allow it to the first evangelists. Nevertheless, I think, they have the best title to this excuse of any men that ever wrote. The four gospels bound together do not make a large volume: each one singly is a very small book. And yet the evangelists had before them the most copious and engaging subject. Beside the miracles of our Saviour, with circumstances of time and place, the names of the persons, occasions of working them, and divers other extraordinary testimonies given to him from heaven; they have actually inserted in these pieces an account of the wonderful manner of our Saviour's birth, the dangers of his infancy, the miraculous appearances of Divine Providence in his favour, and his removals and journeyings from one place and country to another. They have recorded the substance of his doctrine in plain terms, again and again. They have set down many parables spoken by him, together with their explications. Here is a mission of his twelve apostles and other seventy disciples. They have also given the cavils and questions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, and our Lord's answers to them; the observations and reflections of the people; our Lord's public discourses before all, and his more private instructions to his disciples; his predictions of his own sufferings, of the destruction of Jerusalem, and many other events; a long and particular account of our Saviour's prosecution, condemnation, and cru