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of the multitude; for John says, that the people then bare record of his having raised Lazarus. But here also they make not the slightest allusion to it.
It is impossible to conceive any plausible reason for this concealment,* when the same three Evangelists appear so willing to relate all the miracles they were acquainted with, and actually relate some which were said to be done in secret. That they had all forgotten this miracle
* The chief reasons which I have been able to find are, that the first three Evangelists studied brevity, and that they were afraid of exposing the family at Bethany to the persecution of the Jews. Schleiermacher says, “Only under one view does the omission of the raising of Lazarus and of the young man at Nain excite no surprise, but seem natural, that is, if we suppose that the first written accounts originated in the efforts and at the instance of persons who, not personally acquainted with Christ, and therefore not in the same sense his cotemporaries (as the twelve) sought for circumstantial accounts, and aimed at perpetuating by writing the voice of oral tradition before it died away. For, on the one hand, these persons had less courage to apply to the Apostles, who were busily engaged in the greater work of preaching and propagating Christianity, except in particular cases on an extraordinary inducement, and rather sought out friends and hearers of the second class : on the other hand, they of course directed their researches principally to places from which they might hope for the most abundant harvest, that is, to Capernaum and Jerusalem. At the latter place, now, the most recent occurrences naturally left the deepest impression on the memory of men; and hence the portions of the three Gospels, which are common to them, consist chiefly of incidents from the different periods of Christ's stay at Capernaum, and his last stay at Jerusalem. What occurred at other places could not so easily form a part of their common stock.” Crit. Essay on Luke, vii. 11–50. A very laboured excuse; for the raising of Lazarus was said to be done within half an hour's walk of Jerusalem, and shortly before the death of Jesus; and however modest or inattentive the writers might have been in their search for materials, it is hard to imagine how they could have avoided encountering what must have been talked of by so many, if it had really happened.
so completely that it did not once occur to them whilst relating the connected circumstances, cannot be imagined; and if any miracle deserved a preference in the eyes of narrators disposed to do honour to Christ, or even to give a faithful account of him, it was this.
The Acts and Epistles nowhere allude to this story, although it would have afforded Paul a very good instance of the resurrection of the body. 1 Cor. xv. 35.
The first mention, therefore, of the most public and decisive of the miracles, appears in a writing published at Ephesus sixty years afterwards;-a distance both of time and place which rendered it easy to publish fictitious statements without fear of contradiction. Supposing that Jesus had really visited the tomb of Lazarus, and told his sisters that he would rise again; supposing, also, that the question had been raised, “ Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have prevented Lazarus from dying ?” we may imagine how great was the temptation, to a writer intent upon making his readers believe, to enlarge the incident, by a few additional sentences, into a convincing miracle. That the story was written with such a view appears throughout. xi. 15, “I am glad I was not there, to the intent ye may believe;"42, “I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” And although much of the story appears very natural, some parts seem to indicate an intermixture of fiction. Mary's speech, ver. 32, on seeing Jesus, is in the same words as Martha's, ver. 21. Martha's first speech implies an expectation that Jesus will raise Lazarus—“I know that even now whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee;" but, on coming to the grave, she makes an objection to obeying the order of Jesus, which makes the story more dramatic, but is inconsistent with her previous expectation. The narration of what Martha said to Mary secretly, and of what took place in the house, in the same tone as the account of what was done where Jesus was, betrays the inventor rather than the eye-witness; for it can hardly be supposed that John went backward and forward to draw up a report of what happened at both places. The witness of a real event of such a kind could scarcely have refrained from entering into further particulars concerning the looks and words of Lazarus on receiving life again; but here the story stops short, as if the writer's purpose were accomplished in having related a miracle.
It is remarkable that the raising of Jairus's daughter, which was said to be done in secret, is related by three Evangelists; whilst the other two resurrections, which were said to be public, rest each on the testimony of one. The omission of an incident by one writer does not always invalidate the narration of it by another; but, considering the extreme importance of the last two miracles to the Christian cause, as well as their impressive nature, it does seem an insuperable objection that three out of the four Evangelists should have neglected or forgotten them.
GENERAL OBJECTIONS TO THE MIRACLES OF JESUS.
I. He himself put his miracles of healing upon a level with the performances of the Jewish physicians. Matt. xii. 27, “ And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out ? therefore they shall be your judges.” If his cures could not more fairly be attributed to Beelzebub than those of the Jewish doctors, neither could they more properly be considered miracles. But it is only in the present age that such an inference excludes the miracle, because in Christ's own time the arts of healing and magic were supposed to be closely related, and Josephus speaks several times of the casting out of demons as performed by miraculous means.
II. He recognized the attempts of others as real miracles, and made no distinction between them and his own. Mark ix. 38, 39, “ And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me." There have been many instances, in all ages of the church, of persons pretending to exorcise by merely using the name of some eminent saint or prophet; but no satisfactory proof of any thing miraculous is to be found in such stories, and in general they are considered undeserving of serious attention. Yet the performances of the pretender mentioned by
Mark are no more questioned on the score of genuineness than those of Christ himself.*
III. He admits that there was more difficulty in performing some miracles than others. Matt. xvii. 21, “ Howbeit this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting.”
IV. He generally required to see that the applicants fully believed in his miraculous power before he attempted the cure. Matt. ix, 27, “ Believe ye that I am able to do this?” ix. 2, “ Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy,” &c. Mark vi. 5, “ And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief." This throws much doubt upon the miracle; for, besides the physical influence which the belief itself might have, the applicant's own credit became in some degree pledged to vouch for its performance. When a man has solemnly protested that he believes a thing will happen, he is no longer a dispassionate observer, but he is ready to strain a point to make it appear
* Middleton says, (in the Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers of the Early Church,) the Fathers allowed the power of casting out devils to both Jews and Gentiles, as well before as after our Saviour's coming. Justin Martyr says, “ All devils yield and submit to the name of Jesus, when they would not to any other name of their kings, prophets, or patriarchs; yet if any should exorcise them in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they would in like manner submit. For your exorcists, as well as the Gentiles, use this art in exorcising, together with certain fumes and ligatures.” Dial. with Trypho, part 2.
“The Jews even now by this same invocation of the name of God drive away devils.” Irenæus, 1. 2, c. 5.
“If a man invoke by the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the devils will obey and do what they are commanded; but if he translate those names, according to their meaning, into any other language, they will have no force at all.” Origen con. Celsum, l. 5.