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than what they have already (though not perhaps so clearly indeed to all capacities) from the evidence of right reason. Other doctrines are in their own nature necessarily false and impossible to be true ; such as are all abfurdities and contradictions, and all doctrines that tend to promote vice; and these can never receive any degree of proof froin all the miracles in the world. Lastly, other doctrines are in their own nature indifferent, or pollible, or perhaps probable to be true; and these could not have been known to be positively true, but by the evidence of miracles, which prove them to be certain. To apply this to the doctrine and Miracles of Christ. The moral part of our Saviour's doctrine would have appeared infallibly true, whether he had ever worked any miracles or
The rest of his doctrine was what evidently tended to promote the honour of God, and the practice of righteousness amongst men: therefore that part also of his doctrine was poffible and very probable to be true; but yet it could not from thence be known to be certainly true, nor ought to have been received as a revelation from God, unless it had been proved by undeniable miracles. And the miracles he worked did indeed undeniably prove it to be the doctrine of God. Nevertheless, had his doctrine in any part of it been either absurd and contradictory in itself, or vicious in its tendency and confequences, no miracles could then possibly have proved it to have been true. It is evident, therefore, that the nature of the doctrine to be proved must be taken into the confideration as a necessary circumitance; and yet, that only the miracles are properly the proof of the doctrine, and not the doctrine of the miracles. 4. OF THE PRETENDED MIRACLES OF APOLLONIUS AND
OTHERS. From hence it follows, that the pretended miracles of Apollonius Tyaneus, Arifteas Proconnefius, and some few others among the Heathens, even supposing them to have been true miracles (which yet there is no reason at all to believe, because they are very poorly attested, and are in themselves very mean and trifling, as bas been fully shewn by Eusebius in his book against Hierocles, and by many late writers; but fuppofing them, I say, to have been true miracles), yet they will prove nothing at all to the disadvantage of Christianity; because they were worked either without any pretence of confirm. ing any new doctrine at all, or else to prove absurd and foolish things, or to establish idolatry and the worship of false gods; and consequently they could not be done by the divine power and au. thority, nor bear any kind of * comparison with the miracles of
* Διά τι όχι και βέβασανισμένος της επαγ[ελλομένες τις δυνάμεις εξετάσομεν από το Eία και το ήθος και των επακολουθώντων ταϊς δυνάμισιν, ήτοι εις βλάβης των ανθρώπων, και siç n3qr én avóşbwsiv; Origen. adverí. Celf. lib. ll.
Μέσον τοίνυν σαυτόν τήσας των περί τα 'Αρισέα γινομένων, και των περί τα Ιησυ ισορ9μένων, έδε ει μή έκ τι αποζαν, και των ωφελουμένων εις ηθών επανόρθωσιν και ευλάβειαν την προς τον επί πάσι θεόν, έςιν ειπείν ότι τις ευλέον μεν ως εκ αθετί γενομένοις τούς σερί 'Inc ισορεμένοις, όχι δε τους περί της Προκοννησία 'Αριφέα. τι μέν γάρ βαλομένη και πρόνοια το σερί τον 'Αρισέαν παράδοξα έπραγματεύελο, και τι ωφελήσει το των ανθρώπων γενει βελυμένη, qi todoxavta (áis occi) émedeixvulo, ex ixoss aéyesy. Id. lib. lll.
Chrift, which were worked to attest a doctrine that tended in the highest degree to promote the honour of God and the general reformation of mankind.
To return, therefore, to the argument. The miracles (I fay) which our Saviour worked were, to the disciples that saw them, sensible demonstrations of his divine commission. And to those who have lived since that age, they are as certain demonstrations of the same truth, as the testimony of those first disciples who were eye-witnesses of them is certain and true; which I thall have occation to consider prefently. OF THE FULFILLING THE PROPHECIES, AS AN EVIDENCE OF
OUR SAVIOUR'S DIVINE COMMISSION. Secondly, the divine authority of the Christian revelation is pofitively and directly proved, by the exact completion both of all those prophecies that went before concerning our Lord, and of those that he himself delivered concerning things that were to happen after. OF THE PROPHECIES THAT WENT BEFORE, CONCERNING THE
Concerning the Mefiah, it was foretold Gen. xlix. 10. that he « should come before the sceptre departed from Judah ;” and accordingly Christ appeared a little before the time when the Jewish government was totally destroyed by the Romans. It was foretold that he should come before the deitruction of the second Temple, Hagg. ii. 7: “ The desire of all nations thall come, and I will filí “ this house with glory, faith the Lord of hofts; the glory of this « latter house fhall be greater than of the former ;” and accordingly Christ appeared some time before the destruction of the city and Temple. It was foretold that he should come at the end of 490 years, after the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which had been laid waite during the captivity, Dan. ix. 24. and that he should “be cut off;" and that, after that," the city and fanctuary fhould be destroyed 16 and made defolate;" and accordingly, at what time foever the beginning of the four hundred and ninety years can, according to any interpretation of the words, be fixed, the end of them will fall about the time of Christ's appearing; and it is well known how entirely the city and fanctuary were destroyed some years after his being cut off. It was foretold that he thould do many great and bene hcial miracles; that “ the eyes of the blind Ifai. xxxv. 5. « should be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; that « the lame man fhould leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb “ fing;" and this was literally fulfilled in the miracles of Chrift; « the blind received their fight, Matth. xi. 5.; and the lame " walked; the deaf heard, &c.” It was foretold that he should die a violent death, Ilai. liii. throughout, and that “not for himself,” Dan. ix. 26. but “ for our tranfgreffions," Ilai. liii. 5, 6, and 12. for “the iniquity of us all,” and that he might bear « the fin 1 of many;" all which was exactly accomplished in the sufferings of Christ. It was foretold, Gen. xlix. 10. that “to him should “ the gathering of the people be;" and Pfal. ii. 8. that God 3
would " give him the Heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost
parts of the earth for his position;" which was punctually fulfilled by the wonderful success of the Gospel, and its universal fpreading through the world. Lailly, nany minuter circumstances were foretold of the Mefliah; that he should be of the tribe of Judah, and of the seed of David ; that he should be born in the town of Bethlehem, Mic. V. 2; that he lhould "ride upon an ass" in humble triumpb into the city of Jerusalem, Zech. ix. 9; that he fhould be “sold for thirty pieces of silver,” Zech. xi. 12; that he should be “ scourged, buffeted, and spit upon;” Ifai. 1. 6; that « his hands and feet should be pierced," Psal. xxii. 16; that he should be numbered among malefactors, Ifai. liii. 12; that he Thould have “gall and vinegar offered him to drink,” Pfal. Ixix. 21; that they who saw him crucified, should mock at him, and at his “trusting in God to deliver him,” Pfal. xxii. 8; that the soldiers should i caft lots for his garments," Pfal. xxii. 18; that he should “make his grave with the rich,” Ifai. liii. 9; and that he thould rise again without “ secing corruption,” Pial. xvi. 10. All which circumstances were fulfilled to the great ft poftible exactness in the person of Christ : not to mention the numberless typical representations, which had likewise evidently their complete accomplishment in him. And it is no less evident, that none of these prophecies can poilibly be applied to any other person that ever pretended to be the Metliah. OF THE PROPHECIES THAT CHRIST HIMSELF DELIVERED
CONCERNING THINGS THAT WERE TO HAPPEN AFTER.
Further; the prophecies or predictions which Christ delivered himself, concerning things that were to happen after, are no less strong proofs of the truth and divine authority of his doctrine than the prophecies were which went before concerning him. He did very particularly and at several times foretell his own death, and the circumstances of it, Matth. xvi. 21. that the « chief “ priests and Scribes 1hould condemn him to death, and deliver him « to the Gentiles," that is, to Pilate and the Roman soldiers, to « mock and scourge and crucify him,” Matth. xx. 18 and 19; that he should be betrayed into their hands, Matth. xx. 18; that Judas Iscariot was the person who would “ betray him," Matth. xxvi. 23; that all his disciples would “ forsake him and “ Alee,” Matth. xxvi. 31 ; that Peter, particularly, would « thrice « deny him in one night,” Mark xiv. 30. He foretold further, that he would « rise again the third day,” Matth. xvi. 21; that after his afcenfion he would send down the Holy Ghoft upon his apostles, John xv. 26. which should enable them to work many miracles, Mark xvi. 17. He foretold also the destruction of Jerusalem with such very particular circumstances, in the whole 24th chapter of St. Matthew, and the 13th of St. Mark, and 2.ft of St. Luke, that no man who reads * Josephus's history of that
dreadful Very remarkable also is the history recorded by a Heathen writer, of what happened upon Julian's attempting to rebuild the Temple. « Imperii sui memoriam magnitadine
he Gold likewise of our
dreadful and unparalleled calamity, can, without the greatest obstinacy imaginable, doubt of our Saviour's divine fore-knowledge, Lastly, he foretold likewise many particulars concerning the future success of the Gospel, and what should happen to several of his disciples : he foretold what opposition and persecution they should meet withal in their preaching, Matth. X. 17: he foretold what particular kind of death St. Peter should die, John xxi. 18; and hinted, that St. John should live till after the destruction of Jerusalem, John xxi. 22; and foretold, that, notwithstanding all opposition and persecutions, the Gospel should yet have such suc.cels, as to spread itself over the world, Matt. xvi. 18. xxiv. 14. xxviii. 12 : all and every one of which particulars were exactly accomplished without failing in any respect.
Some of these things are of permanent and visible effects, even unto this day. Particularly the captivity and dispersion of the Jews, through all nations, for more than 1600 years; and yet their continuing a distinct people, in order to the fulfilling the prophecies of things still future : this (I say) is particularly a permanent proof of the truth of the ancient prophecies. But the greatest part of the instances abovementioned were sensible and ocular demonstrations of the truth of our Lord's doctrine only to those persons who lived at the time when they happened; the credibility of whose testimony, therefore, shall be considered presently in its proper place.
But, before I proceed to this, it may not be improper in this place to take notice of some objections, which have of late been revived and urged, against this whole notion both of the prophecies themselves, and of the application of them to Christ. The sum and strength of which objections is briefly this:
That all the promises supposed to be made to the Jews before Christ's time, of a Messias or Deliverer, were understood and meant of some « temporal deliverer” only, who should restore to the Ilraelites a mere worldly kingdom, “ without the least imagination of « a spiritual deliverance,” or of any such Saviour as is preached in the New Testament.
That, consequently, “ All the prophecies" in the Old Testament, applied to Christ by the apostles in the New, are applied to him in a fense merely “ typical, myftical, allegorical, or enigmatical ;” in a sense « different from the obvious and literal tense;" by new in« terpretations put upon them, not agreeable to the obvious and « literal meaning of those books” from whence they are cited. That is to say; that the prophccies were all of them intended concerning other persons, and other persons only; and thercfore are
" operum geftiens propagare, ambitiofum quondam apud Hierosolymam templum, quod « poft multa & interneciva cer arnina obfidente Vefpuliano posteaque cito regrè ei expug" datum, inftaurare sump:ibus cgitabat immodicis; negotiumque maturandum Alypio " dederat Antiochenh, qui olim Britannius curaverat pro p æfectis. Cum itaque rei idem • inftaret Alipus, juvaretque provinciæ rector; metuenti globi fiammaru n prope funda. *" menta crebris affultibus erumpentes fe ere locum exuitis aliquoties operantibus inac.
* cefTum ; hocque modo, elemento destinatiùs repellente, cessavit incep.um." Ammian. Marcellum. lib. XXII. fub initio.
falsely and groundlessly applied either to Christ in particular, or int general to the expectation of any such Meffiah as should introduce a spiritual and eternal kingdom.'
That there are several passages, cited by the apostles out of the Old Testament, which are either not found there at all, or elle are very different in the text itself from the citations alledged, and consequently are by the apostles either misunderstood or misapplied.
That even miracles themselves“ can never render a foundation « valid, which is in itself invalid; can never make a falle infer« ence, true ; can never make a prophecy fulfilled, which is not « fulfilled;" can never make thole things to be spoken concerning Chrift, which were not spoken concerning Christ. And, consequently, that the miracles said to have been worked by Christ, could not possibly have been really worked by him, but must of necessity, together with the whole system both of the Old and New Testament, have been wholly the effect of imagination and enthusiasm, if not of imposture.
Now, in order to enable every careful and sincere reader to find a satisfactory answer to these, and all other objections of the like nature, I would lay before him the following considerations.
1. I suppose it to have been already proved in the foregoing part of this discourse, that there is a God; and that the nature and circumstances of men, and the necessary perfections of God, do demonstrate the obligations and the motives of NATURAL RELIGION; that is, that God is a MORAL as well as natural governor of the world. Whoever denies either of these assertions is obliged to invalidate the arguments alledged for proof of them in the former part of this book, before he has any right to intermix Atheistical arguments and objections in the present question, it being evidently ridiculous, in all who believe not that God is, and that he is a moral judge as well as natural governor, to argue at all about a revelation concerning religion, or to make any inquiry whether it be from God or no.
2. As God has in fact made known even demonstrable truths, natural and moral truths *, not to all men equally; but in different degrees and proportions, to such as have a disposition and desire to enquire after them; so it is agreeable to reason and to the analogy of God's proceedings, to believe, that he may possibly, by revelation and tradition, have given some further degrees of light, to such as are sincerely desirous to know and obey him; so that they who will do his will may know of the doctrine whether it be of God. As our natural knowledge of moral and religious truths in fact is, so Revelation poflibly may further be, as it were, a light shining in a dark place.
3. It appears in history, that the great truths and obligations of natural religion have from the beginning been confirmed by a perpetual tradition in particular families, who, though in the inidft of idolatrous nations, yet ftcadfastly adhered to the worship of the God
. * See above, Prop. VII. $ 4.