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force, we know that Jesus never did make use; the unavoidable consequence is, that the miracles ascribed to him were actually wrought by him.
4. These miracles being wrought not in the midst of friends, who were disposed to favour them, but of most bitter and determined enemies, whose passions and whose prejudices were all up in arms, all vigorous and active against them and their author, we may rest assured that no false pretence to a supernatural power, no frauds, no collusions, no impositions, would be suffered to pass undetected and unexposed, that every single miracle would be most critically and most rigorously sifted and enquired into, and no art left unemployed to destroy their credit and counteract their effect. And this in fact we find to be the case. Look into the ninth chapter of St. John, and you will see with what extreme care and diligence, with what anxiety and solicitude the pharisees examined and reexamined the blind man that was restored to sight by our Saviour, and what pains they took to persuade him, and to make
him say, that he was not restored to sighť by Jesus.
“ They brought,” says St. John, “ to the pharisees, him that aforetime was blind ; ánd the pharisees asked him how he had received his sight. And he said unto them, Jesus put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and did see. A plain and simple and honëst relation of the fact. But the Jews, not content with this, called for his parents, and asked them, saying, is this your son who ye say was born blind ? How then doth he now see? His parents; afraid of bringing themselves into danger, very discreetly answered, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now seeth we know not, or who hath opened his eyes we know not; he is of age, ask him, he shall speak for himself. They then called the man again, and said to him, give God the praise, we know that this man (meaning Jesus) is a sinner. The man's answer is admirable : Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; but this I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see. Since the world began, was it not known that any man opened the eyes of
one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. And they answered him and said, Thou wast altogether born in sin, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. A very effectual way it must be confessed of confuting a miracle.
The whole of this narrative (from which I have only selected a few of the most striking passages) is highly curious and instructive, and would furnish ample matter for a variety of very important remarks. But the only use I mean to make of it at present is to observe, that it proves, in the clearest manner, how very much awake, and alive the Jews were to every part of our Saviour's conduct.' It shews that his miracles were presented not to persons prepossessed and prejudiced in his favour, not to inattentive or negligent or credulous spectators, but to acute and inquisitive and hostile observers, to men disposed and able to detect imposture wherever it could be found. And it is utterly impossible that the miracles of Christ could have passed the fiery ordeal of so much shrewdness and sagacity and authority and malignity united, if they had not been carried through it by the irresistible Vol. I. : K
force of truth, and of that divine power which nothing could resist.
5. The miracles of our Lord were not merely transient acts, beheld at the moment with astonishment, but forgot as soon as over, and productive of no important consequences. They gave birth to a new religion, to a new mode of worship, to several new and singular institutions, such as the rite of baptism, the sacrament of the Lord's supper, the appropriation of the first day of the week to sacred purposes, the establishment of a distinct order of men for the celebration of divine offices, and other things of the same nature. Now this religion and these institutions subsist to this day. And as the books of the New Testament affirm that this religion and these institutions were first established, and afterwards made their way by the power of miracles, they are standing testimonies to the truth and the reality of those miracles, without which they could never have taken such firm and deep root at the first, and continued unshaken through so many ages to the present time. The magnitude and permanency of .. . D : :
:: the the superstructure prove that it could not have had a less solid, a less substantial foundation.
6. And lastly, when we consider the great - sacrifices made by the first converts to Christianity, particularly by the apostles and primitive teachers of it; how many deep-rooted prejudices and favourite opinions they gave up to it; what a total change it produced in their disposition, their temper, their manners, their principles, their habits, and the whole complexion of their lives; what infinite pains they took to propagate it; how chearfully they relinquished for this purpose all the ease, the com fort, the conveniencies, the pleasures, and the advantages of life; and instead of them embraced labours, hardships, sufferings, perse. cutions, torments, and death itself; we cannot rationally suppose that such patience, resignation, fortitude, magnanimity, and perseverance, could possibly be produced by any less powerful cause than those evidences of: divine power exhibited in the miracles of Christ; which demonstrably proved that he and his religion had a divine original, and that therea fore the sufferings they underwent for his sake in the present life would be amply repaid