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time, that philosophy, which proposed to cure the minds of men, was suspected and hated by the most, as a dangerous thing. Some sovereign princes have lost their lives in attempts of reformation. Many indeed are the instances of the unjust judgments of the most. A peaceable prince, who protects the estates, the commerce, the persons and consciences of his subjects, is barely beloved : a conqueror is adored; though he needlessly hazards the lives of his own subjects, and violates toward his neighbours all the laws of nations, and all the laws of honour and humanity.
But I am ashamed to give this argument its full force. I little expected to have ever seen this objection seriously produced against the miracles, or any other branch of the history of the New Testament, and called 'calm and sedate reasoning,' p. 55. An apologist for Christianity might have brought it forth and stated it, to adorn his triumph, after a confutation of other more plausible objections; but for any seriously to mention the enmity of the Jews against Jesus, as an objection against him, can be owing to nothing, in my opinion, but strange ignó. rance or prejudice, or a most contemptuous opinion of all the reason and observation of mankind.
Let is examine another passage in the Jew's letter. "Such a manifest miracle, let it be « wrought for what end and purpose we can possibly imagine, would strike men with awe and reve
rence, and none could hate and persecute the author of the miracle ; lest he who could raise \ the dead, should exert his power against themselves, and either wound or smite thein dead * with it. For which reason, the resurrection of Lazarus, on the certain knowledge of our an• cestors, was all fraud, or they would have reverenced and adored the power of him that did it,' p. 48. . And more such stuff has this Jew again and again to this same purpose.
I must therefore remind him of some examples in the books of the Old Testament. In 1 Kings xvii. is the history of Elijah's raising the widow's son. In the next chapter he works a great miracle at the altar, and after that obtaineth rain. Nevertheless it is said, chap. xix. 1, 2. “ And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah," and solemnly swears she would destroy him, “ saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time." Whereupon Elijah absconds, and in a prayer to God he says, “ They seek his life to take it away.” In the twenty-second chapter is mention of another prophet of the Lord, by name Micajah, of whoin Ahab says to Jehosaphat in plain terms: “ I hate him.".
Ahaziah, another king of Israel, fell « down through a lattice in his upper chamber, and was sick," 2 Kings i. Nevertheless, in this condition, (such stubbornness is there in the heart of man!) he sends officers, one after another, to Elijah, requiring him to come to him. Elisha also, successor of Elijah, raised a person to life and wrought divers other miracles, 2 Kings iv. Notwithstanding this, Jehoram, another king of Israel, says : ch. vi. 31. “ God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.”
One story more to our purpose out of the Jewish writings, 2 Kings vi. 11–13, but wherein a foreigner is concerned. The king of Syria is at war with Israel. Elisha informs the king of Israel of all his enemy's steps. The king of Syria is amazed, and complains to his servants that they discover his secrets: “ Will ye not show me, which of us is for the king of Israel ? and one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king; but Elisha the prophet, that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bed-chamber." This king of Syria believed what his servant said, otherwise he had not concerned himself about Elisha. But it follows there : “ And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him,-Behold he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses and chariots, and a great host, and they came by night, and compassed him about.” So that it is plain, miracles do not always fill wicked men with such awe and reverence, but that they can still hate and persecute, and break forth into rage against the authors of them.
This Jew says, p. 49: · That it is certain, according to Christian commentators, that some • of them did not believe the miracle.' Again he says, p. 51: · It is plain from the story in * John, that there was a dispute amongst the by-standers at Lazarus's resurrection, whether it * was a real miracle or not. I presume to say: this is a false account. It is not plain, that there was any dispute among the by-standers, whether it was a real miracle. It is plain those
people, who went to the pharisees, told them of a real miracle. And the pharisees, when met in council, say: “What do we? for this man doth many miracles.”
· Nor do I know, that any Christian commentators say," that some of them did not believe the miracle. They did not believe in Jesus indeed, but they knew the miracle. " Many of the Jews that came to Mary," says St. John, “ believed on him.” But some of them (which were present, who did not believe in Jesus notwithstanding the miracle) “ went their ways to the Pharisees." This is the sense of the place. So the Jews in the wilderness did not believe God, but no Jew sure will say, they disputed whether the things done by Moses were mira. culous..
• Perhaps,' says this Jew, they discovered some fragments of the food, that for four days • in the cave, he had subsisted on. There is no ground here for a perhaps. How should a man take any food, “ who was bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and whose face was bound about with the" so often mentioned “ napkin ?".
• As it is plain,' (says the Jew again) •from the story in John, that there was a dispute among • the by-standers at Lazarus's resurrection, whether it was a real miracle; so it is the opinion of • us Jews, which is of the nature of a tradition, that the chief priests and civil magistrates of -- Bethany, for the better determination of the dispute, required that Jesus should repeat the • miracle upon another person, there lately dead and buried. But Jesus declining this test of his • power, the whole multitude questioned the resurrection of Lazarus. And this was one reason • of that vehement and universal outcry and demand, at Jesus's trial, for his crucifixion,' p. 50, 52.
There is no reason to believe, that this is the opinion of the Jews; but supposing it to be so, it is groundless. · And here a present opinion is advanced into a tradition. This tradition is. set up against authentic history, written by witnesses and other well-informed persons, who lived near the event. Is that a good cause that needs such a defence ? will any man of sense and reason engage, in any other case, in so desperate a cause?
There are innumerable proofs in the evangelists, not only that the raising of Lazarus was a real miracle, but also that the Pharisees knew it to be so. Their not putting Lazarus or any other person to death, as an accomplice with Jesus, is demonstration that this and the other miracles of Jesus were known to be real, and not impostures. It is apparent from the trial of Jesus, that the truth of his miracles could not be called in question. If they had, the evange. lists, who have recorded so many charges against Jesus, and so many spiteful, scurrilous reproaches on him, would not have omitted this.'
That these three Miracles are well circumstanced.
I am now to show, that the histories of these three miracles are well circumstanced, and have in them the marks and tokens of credibility. But I have here very little to say.. Scarce any thing can be added to the perspicuity of the evangelists' several relations.
I shall however make two or three general observations, and then go over the particulars of the relation of each miracle.
a Grot. ad ver. 46. Impios hos fuisse necesse est ; quod genus hominum ne conspectâ quidem mortuorum resurrectione resipiscere solet. Luc. xvi. 31. Omnia enim potius, etiam absurdissima, comminiscuntur, quam sua commoda aut
hominum gratiam (quam istos venatos apparet) amittant. Et ad ver 47. Multa signa facit.' Adeo excæcati erant in vidiâ animi, ut, quod argumentum esse debuerat, quo ipsi cre: derent, eo in ipsius perniciem incitarentur.
SECTION I. .
In he came night she was a widow..whom it is said to ff brother a city called Naihe only son of his mothn only, the person shout fifteen furlongs of Lazarus,
The general observations I would mention are these :
1. There are in these relations proper circumstances of time and place, and the names and characters of persons. Of the miracle on Jairus's daughter, the time and place are sufficiently specified by St. Mark and St. Luke. It was soon after his crossing the sea of Galilee after Jesus had cured the men possessed with devils in the country of the Gergesenes, “ And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him, and he was nigh unto the sea. And behold there cometh one of the rulers,' &c. Mark v. 21. “ And it came to pass that when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him. And behold there came a man,” &c. Luke viii. 40.
Tlie character of the person on whom the miracle was perfornied is particularly described. She is the daughter of a ruler of a synagogue, whose name was Jairus. Matthew says, ch. ix. 18. " There came a certain ruler.” Mark, “ Behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name.” Luke, “ Behold there came a man named Jairus, and he was the ruler of the synagogue.” And by Mark she is said to have been of the “ age of twelve years."
Of the next miracle, related by Luke only, it is said to have been done the day after the cure of the Centurion's servant at Capernaum. The place is the city of Nain, the person is the only son of a widow there. Luke vii. 11, 12. “ And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow."
Of the last miracle related by St. John only, the person on whom it is said to have been done is Lazarus, of the town of Bethany, nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off, brother of Mary and Martha; friend of Jesus and his disciples; and on occasion of the death of Lazarus, Jesus came up from beyond Jordan to Bethany, and then retired into a city called Ephraim. Moreover it appears to have been done not long before our Saviour's death.
This specifying of time, place, and names or characters of persons, is an argument of a real story and not a fiction : for, if it had been a fiction, it might have been easily discovered.
2. These miracles were done at the usual place of the residence of those persons on whom they were performed; a much greater security, in this case, against cheat and imposture, than if they had been done on travellers, who were strangers in the places where such things are acted on them.
3. They were all very public miracles, as is apparent from the relation. It may be difficult to say, where there was the greatest concourse; but I am inclined to think, that the company at Lazarus's resurrection was the fewest ; and also, that the company which attended Jesus to the house of Jairus was the greatest concourse of the three. There were not indeed so many present at speaking the word, when his daughter was restored to life. Nor could the young woman's corpse be brought out of her chamber, and placed before the house, in order to raise her there before all the people, without ostentation; which is entirely unbecoming the character of Jesus; but all the numerous company then attending our Lord had full evidence of her death, and of her restoration to life, as has been shown in part already, and may farther appear presently.
We will now go over the particulars of the relation of each miracle, from which it will appear that these persons had been dead, and were raised to life by Jesus.
Jairus, ruler of a synagogue, came to Jesus and “worshipped him ;” or as Mark, and Luke, « fell down at his feet, saying, My daughter is even now dead,” or, “at the point of death, but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live."
It is not reasonable to suppose, that a ruler of a synagogue would come to Jesus, and ask: him to heal his daughter in so earnest a manner, and with such signs of high esteem and respect, and that before great numbers of people, unless his daughter's case was desperate, and past all hopes of remedy in an ordinary way. It was dishonourable to pay any respect to Jesus.
There were few or none of Jairus's character who publicly owned him for the Christ. His ap. plication to him must be very offensive to his brethren'; and therefore we may be assured, he had no prospect of help for his daughter any other way but this.
Moreover, the manner in which he comes to Jesus, shows an uncommon concern and earnestness. While Jesus is speaking in public, he comes and falls down at his feet, and “be. sought him greatly-I pray thee come and lay thy hands on her.”
The expressions he uses concerning his daughter, represent her to be in the utmost extremity; so that she must be near expiring when he left her. · Upon his earnest entreaty “Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples," Mat. thew: and much “ people followed him and thronged him," Mark : and from St. Luke it appears, that a “multitude thronged and pressed hiin.” From all the three evangelists, who relate this matter, it is plain, that when Jairus came to Jesus, much people was round about him. The request of Jairus, so noted a person, to come and heal his daughter, would also doubtless increase the number of people that were before gathered together about him. It was impossible for Jesus, surrounded by so great a crowd, to go in great haste to Jairus's house. . Moreover all these three evangelists are agreed, that as Jesus was going along, there came behind him a woman who had an infirmity of twelve years standing, who touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. St. Matthew assures us also, that Jesus had then some discourse with this woman: St. Mark and St. Luke, that Jesus perceiving virtue to have gone out of him, stood still, looked round him, asked who touched him. The disciples then express their wonder that he should ask such a question. The woman tells her case at length before him and all the people; and Jesus bids her go away in peace. This affair took up considerable time; and if Jairus's daughter lay dying when he left her, she may be supposed to be worse by this time, if not quite dead.
And accordingly, we are assured by Mark and Luke, “ that while he yet spake" with this woman, there came one or more persons from Jairus's house, saying, “ Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any farther?” This person came from Jairus's house, and very probably had been dispatched away by some of those who attended on the young woman. Would any of his servants or friends come with such a melancholy story to Jairus, that his daughter had died while he was abroad, if they had not known for certain that she was dead ?
By all these things we know, that Jairus's daughter died of sickness that made gradual ad. vances; not of a sudden fit, or fright, or any thing like it. She lay dying when Jairus left the house. Some persons come to him, and tell him that she was dead, and dissuade him from troubling the Master any farther: whereas, if she had only had something like a fit, it had been most unreasonable to dissuade Jairus from troubling Jesus any farther.
Let us go on : when Jesus came into the ruler's house, he saw “the minstrels and the people making a noise," Matthew: “ He seeth the tumult and them that wept greatly," Mark : « And all wept and bewailed her,” Luke. Here were friends, and public hired musicians, weeping and bewailing the young woman. They knew therefore that she was dead; she had been dead some time, or else these minstrels had not begun their lamentations. · Jesus says: “ Give place : for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” Whereupon, say all the three evangelists, “ They laughed him to scorn.” So sure were these persons that she was dead and not in a sleep; as they understood Jesus to say.
Jesus put forth out of the house these public mourners, and other strangers. When the disciples and all the people saw these minstrels come out, they had farther evidence hereby of the death of the young woman.
Jesus having removed all strangers, that the house might be quiet, enters into the room where the young woman lay, taking with him the parents, “ the father and mother of the maiden, and three of his own disciples;" a sufficient number of persons to attest any fact; yet not so iany, but that they might all have a clear and distinct view of the thing: the properest persons of any to be admitted; the father and the mother, as best knowing the young woman's case, the most unwilling of any to admit a deceit, and to take another person, a stranger who had not died, instead of their own daughter; three of hls own disciples, who were to be witnesses of his works, and who could not have been persuaded to undertake the difficult work of preaching the gospel after their Master's removal without good proof of his divine mission; who might also assure thor other disciples of this thing from their own sight.
And then all who ministrand
ext story is that of the
him » Luke vii. 11; that is, magte of the city, behol
These five persons Jesus took along with him; and now the three disciples saw the dead corpse of the young woman, whom her parents and friends knew to be dead before.
And " he took her by the hand, and said, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway, and walked." Upon Jesus's taking hold of her hand, and bidding her arise, she immediately arose. It was therefore evidently the effect of that power that accompanied his word. She also walked, so that life and strength were at once conveyed. He also is commanded to give her meat.” And then all who ministered food to her, and saw her eat, were witnesses of her perfect recovery.
They who were present were convinced it was a miracle. “ Her parents were astonished," says St. Mark: “ And they were astonished with a great astonishment," says St. Luke, meaning, it is likely, the three disciples as well as the parents. Lastly, St. Matthew says, “ The fame hereof went abroad into all that land.” So that whether the parents, and the three disciples present, were silent, according to Christ's direction, or not, the thing was known; many were persuaded of the miracle, and spoke of it. And indeed, the circumstances of her death were so public, that all who saw her alive again, though they were not in the room at the time she was raised, must know the miracle.
The three disciples present at this transaction were afterwards the most forward and courageous of any in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God, in the midst of dangers; whereas they must have been the most backward of all men in giving himn this character, if they had perceived this affair to be any thing but a real miracle.
The next story is that of the widow of Nain's son. « Jesus went into a city called Nain, and many of his disciples went with him,” Luke vii. 11; that is, of his followers, beside the twelve, and much other people. ". Now when he came nigh unto the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out.” This meeting of the corpse must have been casual, without any concerted design between Jesus and any people of Nain. For our Lord's life, during the course of his ministry, was very public. This event happened in a very noted part of it. He had but the day before cured the Centurion's servant at Capernaum. At this instant there were many of his disciples and other people with him. There could not have been any agreement transacted between him and any at Nain so privately but it must have been known.
The dead man carried out was the “only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and much people of the city was with her.” As sure as persons do not carry men forth to burial till they are dead, so sure are we that this was a dead corpse. The person was not one who had no friends to take care of him. He was the only son of a widow, therefore her only support, her husband being dead.
« There were much people of the city with her,” her neighbours. Could she have concerted a fraud for carrying out her only child, if he had been alive! It is observable, that there were “ much people of the city with her,” which is no unusual thing at the funeral of a person who leaves behind him so fond a relation as a widow-mother. But had there been any fraud, it is very unlikely that she should have carried out her son with much company of that place. She would have contrived some pretence to excuse their company at this time. Or rather, she would have said nothing of the matter to any one, but carried him out privately to burial as dead, without any previous notice. This “ much people of the city” with the mother, ruins all objections that can be raised..
If it had been said: it might be the contrivance of the young man, a subtle youth, without the knowledge of his mother: I answer, that is impossible. If he had been abroad in a strange country, he might have contrived such a thing with his comrades; but it is impossible he should transact such a matter in his mother's house without her knowledge. Would a widow let her only son be carried to burial out of her own house, without knowing whether he was dead or not?
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not." Jesus, before he had seen the corpse, 'without asking any questions, knowing the power he had of raising the dead to life, bid her forbear weeping; thereby intimating in a modest way, that she should soon see her son, whose death was the cause of her sorrow, restored to life.
" And he came and touched the bier (and they that bare him stood still) and he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise ; and he that was dead sat up, and began to speak: and he delivered him to his mother." Presently, upon the voice of Jesus commanding him to arise, he sat up,