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at even,” says he, “ when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils,” Mark i. 32, 34. St. Luke has fol. lowed the same compendious way of writing. Having related a cure, in a synagogue, of a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and of Simon's wife's mother, he adds : “ Now when the sun was setting, all they which had any sick with divers diseases, brought them unto him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God,” Luke iv. 40, 41,
As they do not multiply their particular relations of miracl but omit great numbers which they knew of, so neither do they affect always to take the greatest in degree, or those that seem so. I do not pretend to understand all the various degrees of miracles. But it appears to me a more showy and affecting work to cure a demoniac, than to heal a person with a fever. But yet Matthew, in the chapter just quoted, at the same time that he relates the cure of Simon's wife's mother, omits all particular accounts of those which were that same day delivered from evil spirits though there were many such instances. There is in all the g'ospels but one particular account of any person cured by only touching the hem of Christ's garment, namely, the woman with the bloody issue. And yet there were many other such cases. St. Matthew says, that in the land of Gennesaret, they “ besought him, that they might only touch the hem of his garment, and as many as touched were made perfectly whole,” Matt. xiv. 35, 36. St. Mark assures us of the same thing. “ For he had healed many, insomucb that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues,” Mark iii. 10. And in another place he says: “ Whithersoever he entered,—they laid their sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch, if it were but the BORDER of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole,” ch. vi. 56. St. Luke also confirnis this account: “ And the whole multitude sbught to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.” Luke vi. 19.
Nay, there is a great deal of reason to think, that the evangelists did know of more persons raised to life by JeSUS, than those they have particularly mentioned. St. Luke, having given the history of raising up the young man, says immediately: “ And the disciples of John showed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come, or look we for another? Then Jesus answering, said unto them, Go your way, and telt John what things ye have seen and heard, how that the blind see, the lanie walk,the dead are raised,” Luke vii, 18, 19, 22. In St. Matthew our Lord
same thing in his answer to John's inquiry : “ The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk —the dead are raised up,” Matt. xi. 5.
66 The dead are raised,” in the plural number. St. Matthew therefore must have known of more than one, though he has given the particular history of the ruler of the synagogue's daughter only.
Farther, in answer to this assertion, that the design of all the evangelists was to aggrandize the fame of their Master, as a worker of miracles; I would observe, that the gospels, though but short histories, are not filled with accounts of miracles. There are whole chapters together containing nothing but an account of our Saviour's pure and heavenly doctrine. Other chapters contain nothing but parables, which are also interspersed here and there in other parts of the narration. Other chapters are taken up with the cavils of the Pharisees and others, and our Saviour's answers to them, with discourses to the disciples, and divers other matters. So that the miracles alone, separate from the discourses and arguings which they occasioned, make but a moderate part of the gospels. Many miracles undoubtedly the evangelists have related. Nor had Jesus proved him self to be the Messiah, if many miracles had not been performed by him. Such things were expected of the Messiah, when he came, by every body. Therefore it was, that, as St. John observes, “ Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did," John ï. 23. And in another place, “ Many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” ch. vj. 31. Nor is there any ostentation in the working of any of these miracles, or in the manner in which they are related : but they are done for the confirmation of that excellent doctrine which Christ taught, and that all men might know that the Father had sent_bim, and that the word he taught was not bis own but the Father's. 6 If I do not the works of
my Father,” says he to the Jews, “ believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him," John x. 37, 38. And to the disciples : “ The words that I speak unto
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 there• by 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 • 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 neral 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 upon 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
He says, there were five thousand of them fed with five loaves, and that twelve baskets of fragments were taken up, Matt. xiv. Nei
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 has 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,” ch. 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. IIis 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 regara 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
says: • 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,' 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, Tható 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 GaJilee. 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