« PreviousContinue »
SER M.with all sorts of persons with so little guard and
4. He did all his miracles publicly, not in corners and among some select company of people, but before multitudes, and in the greatest places of concourse; fo that, if there had been any thing of impofture in them, he gave the faireit opportunity that could be to his enemies to have detected him. Mahomet's miracles were wrought by himself alone, without witness, which was the best way in the world certainly for one that could work no miracles, but yet could persuade the people what he pleased : but our SAVIOUR did nothing in private. His transfiguration only was before three of his disciples; and therefore he made no use of that as an argument to the Jews, but charged his disciples to tell it to none, till. after his resurrection, because that would give credit to it; after they were assured of that, they would easily believe his transfiguration: but all his other miracles were in the sight of the people. He healed publicly, and admitted all to see what he did. When he turned the water into wine, it was at a public feast; when he multiplied the loaves and the fishes, it was in the sight of four or five thousand people ; when he raised Lazarus from the dead, it was before a great multitude of the people. The works that he did durft abide the light, and the more they were manifested, the more mira. culous they did appear. .
5. His iniracles were generally beneficial, and for the good of men; so that they had those two characters of divinity stamped upon them, that they were effects both of power and goodness. Most of his miracles were such as tended to the benefit of mankind;
most of them were either healing, or feeding miracles, S ER M. or refreshing, as turning the water into wine; or tend
d. CCXXXVI. ing to the peace of human society, as the miracle that. he wrought rather than he would give offence by not paying tribute. It is true indeed he might have Thewn his power every way, he gave some instances of it in other kinds, which might seem more for his purpose, and for the manifestation of his power, as in his allaying the storm, and walking upon the water : but he wrought no miracles that were destructive, except only two, namely, his permitting the devil to enter into the swine, Matt. viii. 28. whereby the inhabitants of the place sustained a great loss. But our Saviour did this upon very good reason, as a reproof to that sordid temper which he saw to be in them; they were so immersed in the world, and wedded to their interests, that they would, rather than lose any thing in that kind, forfeit all the blessings that the Mesias brought with him ; and this. temper appeared afterward in them; for though they were convinced that he had wrought a miracle, yet because they had sustained some prejudice," they de" sired him to depart out of their coasts."
The other exception is his cursing of the fig-tree, Matt. xxi. 19. which had a moral signification to his disciples, and was a sharp warning to them, what they must look for if they were unfruitful. Our Saviour rebukes our Noth and barrenness in the fig-tree.
Secondly, next to the miracles of our Saviour's life, I mentioned those that were wrought at his death, which though they were not wrought by him, yet they were wrought to give testimony to him, that he was some extraordinary person ; for as
SER M.much as when he died, the frame of nature was put
VI. into such a trembling and melancholy posture. So
the history of the gospel tells us, Matt. xxvii. 45. that " from the sixth hour till the ninth, there was “ darkness over all the land ;” which, as learned men have calculated, could not be an eclipfe, according to the natural course of things. And, vet. 51, 52, &c. " The veil of the temple was rent “ from the top to the bottom, and the earth did “ quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves were “ opened.”
Thirdly, the great miracle which was wrought after his death, in raising him from the dead, together with those two that were consequent upon it; his visible ascending into heaven, and his sending the holy Ghost upon the apostles and primitive Christians, in such miraculous gifts and powers.
First, the great miracle of his resurrection, after he had lain three days in the grave. This was the miracle which was to be the chief attestation of his divine authority, and to give confirmation to the doctrine which he declared to the world. And accordingly we find that the chief office of the apostles was, to be witnesses of his resurrection; and the great evidence they were to give to the world of his divine authority was, “ that God raised him from “ the dead.” And we find the scripture every where laying the great stress of his divine authority upon this miracle. Acts xvii. 31. “ By that man " whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given “ assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised “ him from the dead." Rom. i. 4. “ Declared! “ mightily to be the Son of God, by his resurec- ! vtion from the dead." 1 Pet. i. 21. " Who by
“ him do believe in God, that raised him up from S ER M.
CCXXXVI. " the dead, and gave him glory.”
Now that this miracle was really wrought, I shall endeavour to shew, by producing such evidence for it, as the nature of the thing to be proved, (which is matter of fact) will bear. I shall therefore,
First, produce such testimony as we have for it.
Secondly, add some considerations that may serve
First, for the testimony we have of this. In
* See vol. X. ferm. ÇXCIII.
SERM. 1. În reference to the persons that give this testi ccxxxvi, mony, we may consider their with these three ad
(1.) That they are credible persons.
(3.) That the greatest sufferings could not make
(1.) For the credibility of the persons. Two things render a witness suspected, want of knowledge, or of integrity; if either he do not sufficiently know the thing which he attests; or there be a reason to suspect his fidelity in relating the thing. Now the witnesses in this case of the resurrection cannot be questioned, for either of these: not for want of knowledge, because they were eye-witnesses, as I said before ; nor for want of faithfulness. There are two things which ordinarily make us suspect the fidelity of a witness; if there be either an appearance of deceit in the mannes of the relation, or of design in the end of it: but the witnesses of Christ's resurrection are free from both these grounds of jealousy.
1. There is no appearance of deceit in the manner of their relating it. We suspect a relation that is either too general, or too artificial : buț the report of these witnesses cannot be charged with either of these. For,
(1.) They report the thing with all it's circum. stances of time and place; when he rose, what were the circumstances of it, where he was seen, and by whom, how often he appeared, what he did and said.
(2.) They use no art or insinuation in the man. ner of delivering, but report it with the greatest