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• stories, to be merely romantic or parabolical ; and there were no such persons raised from the · dead ; or we must have heard somewhat of their station and conversation in the world afterwards.'
If I may speak my mind freely : this, and all that follows under this observation, is mere idle and impertinent harangue. I have so good an opinion of the generality of mankind, as to suppose them wiser than to be capable of being moved by it, to admit any doubt of the truth of these histories.
We are not concerned to know, what became of those persons whom Jesus cured or restored to life. A miracle on the body does not mend the dispositions of the mind. Some of those whom our Saviour healed were ungrateful. Of the ten lepers who were all cleansed as they were going to shew themselves to the priests, according to our Lord's direction, there was but one « that returned to give glory to God,” Luke xvii. 12. Others there were, who published every where the things that God had done for them. Some of these the evangelists have mentioned. But were they or ecclesiastical writers after them obliged to write the lives of all whom Jesus and his apostles healed ?
For the truth of these miracles we have the testimony of the evangelists, honest and credible men. Their testimony is confirmed by the event. The gospel of Christ had not had the mighty progress in the hands of the apostles, which it had, if these things had not been true. What they did, who were the subjects of these works, we do not need to know particularly. But the event, or the great progress of the gospel in a short time, renders it highly probable, that many of these persons by modest and humble acknowledgments of the benefits they had received, by satisfying inquisitive persons, and by other means, according to their several stations, helped forward the work of the apostles and others engaged in spreading the doctrine of Christ.
Our author, speaking of Lazarus, who is said by · Epiphanius, (though without any certainty) to have lived thirty years after he was raised, 'asks, p. 16: “ How did he spend his time * all that while ? Was it to the honour of Jesus, to the service of the church, and propagation • of the gospel ?
Why very probably, so long as he lived, he spoke, upon all proper occasions, of this miracle wrought on himself, and of the other miracles performed by Jesus upon others; and exhorted men, suitably to his station and circumstances, to believe on him as the Messiah. But it is most probable, that our Saviour did not give him a special commission, like that of the apostles, to go preach the gospel. I believe our Lord had a greater regard to the decorum of things, or, if you please, to the rules of modesty and prudence. There was nothing better, than for Lazarus to stay at home, to be ready to answer inquirers, who might come to Bethany to know the truth of the fact reported concerning him. Abroad the testimony of others was more worth than his own. And St. John's short account of his resurrection is more valuable than a history of it written by Lazarus himself would have been. · And of Jairus's daughter, and of the widow of • Nain's son, which is astonishing, we read nothing at all,' p. 17. Not astonishing in the least. Women are seldom admitted to public posts. The apostles did not allow women to speak in the church. It is no wonder, therefore, that Jairus's daughter has been no where mentioned, but on occasion of the miracle wrought upon her. Should her private conversation afterwards have been recorded ? I think it was not necessary. And after all, she may have been eminently useful some way or other, though we have heard no more of her. The memory of
many great actions has been entirely lost. We have no authentic accounts of the preaching of many of the apostles of Christ. As for the widow of Nain's son: he may have died soon after, or he
may have been a very useful person, or he might not be qualified for public service. We know nothing of these matters, nor was any body obliged to inform us of them.
Answer to Mr. W's Third Objection. Our author says, p. 19.
• By way of objection to the latter of these three miracles, let us • consider the condition of the persons raised from the dead. Where then was his wisdom and
* Quin & illud inter traditiones reperimus, triginta tum an- idem ille postea triginta aliis annis vixit. In Hæres. lxvi. sect. nos natum fuisse Lazarum, cum a morte excitatus est ; atque 34. Note 15. of Mr. W's fifth disc. p. 16.
prudence to choose these three persons above others to that honour?' p. 20. I answer, that Jesus did not ordinarily choose the subjects of his miracles, but healed those chiefly who earnestly implored his mercy, or who pressed on him to be healed, or importunately desired it of him by others, when they could not possibly come to him themselves. It was great wisdom and prudence in him not ordinarily to choose persons, or to do a miracle without being first earnestly sought to for it. If he had acted otherwise, it would have been made use of as an exception against the truth and reality of the miracle, and the extent of his power. Indeed the widow of Nain's son was in some sense chosen ; but since he was publicly carried forth to burial, and the meeting of the corpse was perfectly casual, this choice is unexceptionable.
• Jairus's daughter was an insignificant girl of twelve years old.-The widow of Nain's son • too was but a youth, and whether older than the girl above is doubtful,' p. 21.
Never the worse at all, on any account whatever. The power of raising a girl is as great as that of raising a woman; and a boy of twelve years old, as a man of forty. The suspicion of cheat and fraud is less; the benignity of Jesus is greater, in that he disdained not the meanest objects.
• But that an insignificant boy and girl (forsooth!) and the obscure Lazarus, are preferred by • Jesus to such public and more deserving persons is unaccountable.' p. 25.
The obscurity of Lazarus is no objection at all, as appears from what has been already said concerning the two others. The more inconsiderable Lazarus was, the benignity of Jesus is the greater. But they were none of them preferred to others. Were there any other dead persons proposed to Jesus to be raised, whom he refused to concern himself with, though he raised these? None at all. if by preferring is meant choosing out of the number of those who died in Judea during our Saviour's ministry; it has been answered already. Jesus could not ordinarily choose an object, without being desired. It might have had an appearance of ostentation, and enemies would have said, of fraud and deceit.
• Jesus raised the dead, and wrought other miracles say our divines often, not only to manifest his own power and glory, but his love to mankind: for which reason his miracles are * useful and beneficial, as well as stupendous and supernatural acts.-On this topic our divines are very copious, as if no more useful and wonderful works could be done, than what he did, p. 23. Instead of a boy and a girl, and even of Lazarus, who were all of no consequence to • the public, either before or since, I should think Jesus ought to have raised an useful magis' trate,' &c. p. 24.
Divines say very truly, that most of our Saviour's miracles were acts of beneficence to those on whom they were performed, and were in this respect suitable to the goodness and excellence of his doctrine, and to the goodness and meekness of disposition, that appeared in all the other parts of his life. But the main design of a miracle is not the profit of him, who is the subject of it, nor of others his friends and relations, who are interested in him. The great use of a miracle is to attest the divine mission of him who works it, and to give authority to the message or doctrine which he brings. And for this purpose the raising a poor day-labourer is as useful, as raising a prince; and opening the eyes of a blind beggar by the way.side, as curing a powerful magistrate, or a wealthy merchant.
It is not the intention of divines to strain the notion of our Saviour's beneficence toward all the miserable objects that were in Judea, as if he had been obliged to act to the utmost of his power for the temporal advantage of men at that time. Mr. W. acknowledges as much. · That Jesus
ought to have raised all that died, wherever he came during the time of his ministry, none, I presume, can hold,' p. 20.
That a miracle may be of use to confirm the character of a prophet, and the truth of his doctrine, it is necessary not only that it be done, but that it be known to be done by him, or the di. vine power concurring with him. Jesus, when at Jerusalem, might have healed a sick person in Galilee, without the person himself, or any other knowing who cured him. But this, though an act of goodness, would not have made known our Saviour's character. Let us give an instance. Jesus might have immediately healed the daughter of Jairus (as he did the centurion's servant, Matt. viii.) upon Jairus's coming to him, and desiring him to come and lay his hands on her. And this would have been perhaps an act of greater goodness to her, than to raise her after she was dead. But then we had not had the proof of his power and divine character, and of the truth of his doctrine, which we now have from the miracle of raising her from the dead.
might have healed her, before her case came to be so desperate as to oblige her father to come to him for help. This would have been a still greater act of goodness to her and her friends, if we measure goodness and beneficence purely with a regard to the temporal ease and advantage of men.
The spiritual interests of men are more considerable than their bodily, temporal interests. The spiritual interests of many are to be preferred to the temporal interests of a few others. Though therefore it might have been many ways more for the temporal advantage of Lazarus and his family, for Jesus to have cured that sickness of which he died, when his sisters first sent to him; yet it was infinitely greater benignity, with regard to the spiritual interests of mankind (of all the sincere and inquisitive, the children of wisdom at that time, and among them, of Lazarus and his sisters, and also of all such persons in future times) not to interpose at first, but to come up to Bethany, and there raise Lazarus from the dead, after he had been buried four days.
I will proceed to one thing more, without observing intermediate steps or gradations. Our blessed Saviour might have healed all the persons he cured during his ministry, and also many others, without their coming to him, or without their so much as thinking of him, and without any one else knowing that those cures were wrought by him : but then neither the men of that age, nor we, had had the proof we now have from his works, of the certainty of a future life, and of the other parts of Christ's doctrine, so admirably suited to raise men from sin to holiness, from earth to heaven, and to turn them from Satan to God: we had also lost that eminent and undeniable proof they now afford us of our Lord's great character: we had not been assured, as we now are, of that unspeakable instance of the love of God, in sending his Son into the world for our salvation.
How far Jesus may have extended his goodness even to the bodies of men, during his abode here on earth, beyond all those miraculous instances of his power for attesting his character, we cannot tell. But it was necessary that the exercise of his goodness in the way of working iniracles for the proof of his mission and doctrine should be chiefly confined to those who were disposed to ask help of him; whether they were poor or wealthy, mean and obscure, or learned and honourable: and that the exercise of his goodness should be also regulated in a great measure by the nature of their desires. This way his miraculous works are free from ostentation, and are unexceptionable.
But yet, when he had an opportunity of doing good, without incurring the suspicion of ostentation or concert, he readily manifested his compassion and benignity to the distressed; as he did in particular to the widow of Nain, whose son he raised to life when he was carried out to be interred.
And herein indeed appear wisdom and goodness, that those acts of beneficence performed by him on the bodies of men, and those perhaps chiefly poor and mean persons, such mostly having come to him, though some wealthy and honourable (all however who came to him, none having been refused, and some who never sought to him) have been made to subserve the great design of Almighty God in saving mankind; and give credit to that doctrine, which is of such admirable use and tendency to cure the minds of men of all evil habits and dispositions
: to cure, 1
say, the minds of men, not of one country or age, but of all the world in all time. This is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, and the goodness of God.
• I should think,' says Mr. W. p. 24. • Jesus ought to have raised an useful magistrate, whose life had been a common blessing; an industrious merchant, whose death was a public loss.'
The design of Christ in coming into the world was not barely to promote the temporal advantage of men, but for an infinitely higher end. For which reason, I should think, he should cure and raise those, whose cure or restoration would most serve this end. These are they only, who might be cured without suspicion of cheat or fraud; which are chiefly such as voluntarily came to him, or whom he casually met with ; whether magistrates or subjects, wealthy or poor.
Soon after he says, p. 25, •Such instances of his power would have demonstrated him to be a most benign as well as mighty agent; and none in interest or prejudice could have opened " their mouths against him, especially if the persons raised from the dead were selected upon the
recommendation of this or that city.'
Ridiculous! Should Jesus have gone to the magistrates and people of some town or city, and tell them: if they had lately lost any useful magistrate or worthy citizen, whom they wished to have restored again to life, and would be pleased to recommend such person to him, he would raise him up? I think no minister or messenger of God, endowed with the power of working miracles, would be guilty of such meanness. And if no such persons came to Jesus, it was not his fault. However there were some such, and they were not refused, but were as readily gratified as any others. Thus in the case of the centurion, whose servant was “ sick and ready to die,” we are assured, “ that when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, and when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, that he was worthy for whom he should do this,” Luke vii. 2, 3. And one of the persons raised to life by Jesus was the daughter of a ruler of a synagogue. And if any others had been recommended in a like manner by rulers or elders, there is no reason to doubt but they would have been received.
But certainly it was by no means needful, that the miracles of Jesus, of any kind, should be generally performed on magistrates and wealthy men, or at their recommendation. This method might have served indeed to stop men's mouths, but not to convince them. There is an observation of Origen in his answer to Celsus, which is much more judicious than any thing said by our author upon this subject. • It is not,' says Origen,' ' a number of impostors met together, who . in compliance with the orders of a king or emperor have decreed, that he (Jesus) should be • made a God; but the creator of the world himself,' &c. It is much more for the honour of Jesus, for the credit of his miracles and religion, and for the satisfaction of men in all times, that his miracles and doctrine obtained belief and esteem without the power and authority of magistrates, by the force of their own internal excellence and evidence.
. But now I am speaking,' says Mr. W. of the fitness and unfitness of deceased persons, to • have this grand miracle wrought on them; it comes into my head to ask, why Jesus raised not • John the Baptist to life again? A person of greater merits, and more worthy of the favour of
Jesus, and of this miracle, could not be. This is a very reasonable question,' p. 25. A very, silly one, most people will think. John the Baptist had performed his work, and finished his
If he had been soon raised to life again, the value and merit of his testimony given to Jesus had been much weakened. If it had been related in the history of Jesus, that John the Baptist had been raised again to life by him; Mr. W. might have said, it gave ground for suspicion of collusion between the principal and forerunner.
Answer to Mr. W.'s fourth Objection.
PAGE 26, he says, That none of these raised persons had been long enough dead to ampu* tate all doubt of Jesus's miraculous power in their resurrection. They have been long enough dead to assure us of a miracle, if they are raised, who have been so long dead that their nearest and most affectionate friends bury them, or carry them out to be buried: as have they also, who have on them such evident tokens of their being expired, that their friends hope no longer for help from those, on whose assistance they before depended, so long as there were any signs
of life. The former is the case of the widow of Nain's son, and of Lazarus; the latter of Jairus's daughter. When Jairus came to Christ, his daughter was expiring, for he says in Matthew,
My daughter is even now dead;" in Mark, “lieth at the point of death." Still he had hopes of help from Jesus, for he says: “But come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live.” But before Jesus got to the house she expired, and all hopes were gone. “ And there came (says St. Mark) from the ruler of the synagogue's house, certain which said, Thy daughter is dead, why troublest thou the Master any further?” ch. v. 25. This is good reason to suppose she was really dead. These messengers doubtless were dispatched away to Jairus, to acquaint him with the death of his daughter, by those persons that attended her during her sickness, and were convinced of her being expired. • Ου γαρ συνελθοντες γοητες, χαριν τινοντες ζασιλει τινι κελευοντι, η ηγεμονι προςασσoντι, πεποιηκεναι εδοξαν αυτον ειναι
Caov, ana' x. Tado Contr. Cels. 1. 3. p. 133. edit. Cantab.
Mr. W. says a good deal more about the time these persons ought to have been dead. Speaking of Jairus's daughter, he says, p. 27, Supposing she was really dead, yet for the sake “ of an indisputable miracle in her resurrection, it must be granted, that she ought to have been ' much longer, some days, if not weeks, dead and buried.' And of the event at Nain, he says, p. 29, “ All I have to say here, is, that if Jesus had a mind to raise the son of this widow, in * testimony of his divine power, he should have suffered him to have been buried two or three ( weeks first.'
Mr. W's first proposition here appears to me very strange, • That supposing she was really * dead, yet for the sake of an indisputable miracle—she ought to have been dead much longer.' If she was really dead (as she certainly was) and was restored again to lise, it is with all men of sense and reason an indisputable miracle.
As for the time which Mr. W. requires, that a person must be some days, if not weeks, dead and buried; buried' two or three weeks first: this is not needful. If we could not be certainly assured of the death of persons, by evident tokeils appearing in their bodies, in less time than Mr. W. prescribes here, we should not be justified in committing to the grave any man in less time. Much less could we endure to bury our dearest friends and relations under two or three weeks or more after they seem to have expired. We cannot justify burying men, but on a well-grounded supposal that they are really dead. We cannot justify the laying out of men's bodies, as we do very soon after visible tokens of death, if those tokens were not sufficient.
And since they buried their deceased friends much sooner in those warm countries, than we do here, this must doubtless have been, because dead bodies became also much sooner offensive there, than in our cold climate. This circumstance strengthens my argument: for how can we imagine that persons should, by burying their deceased friends so early, put them absolutely and entirely beyond any manner of possibility of reviving, unless they might well and safely depend upon some certain, experienced, and uncontestable proofs and evidences of their being already deprived of any remaining life?
There may have been mistakes made sometimes, though but very rarely; and even those accidents have chiefly happened in cases of sudden death. Where any dangerous distemper precedes, the possibility of mistake is very small, and can selciom happen. This was the case, we know, of Jairus's daughter, and of Lazarus : and this confirms us still more in the belief, that their friends were not mistaken in the persuasion of their death; upon which persuasion the one had been buried, and for the other the public mourners were come to make lamentations. And as for the young man at Nain; though we do not know how he died, whether suddenly, or of a gradual illness, we may rely upon the fondness of a mother, a widow too, that she would not have carried forth to burial her only son without knowing he was become a dead corpse.
It is so natural, and even unavoidable for men that argue against plain truth, to contradict themselves; that it is hardly worth while to take any notice of Mr. W's self-contradictions. I shall only just observe, that this story of Lazarus’s resurrection, which before was represented by him as the miracle of miracles, superlatively great, and monstrousły huge, as if nothing greater and more prodigious could be devised or thought of, is here pretended not to be big enough to assure us it was any miracle at all
. For he says, p. 31: It is plain that Lazarus * was not so long dead and buried, as that there is no room to doubt of the miracle of his • resurrection.'
Mr. W. says, p. 28, 29: · And where there is a possibility of fraud, it is nonsense, and mere * credulity to talk of a real
, certain and stupendous miracle, especially where the juggler and * pretended worker of miracles has been detected in some of his other tricks.' Perhaps there are few or no cases where there is an absolute impossibility of fraud. It is sufficient that fraud be improbable, unlikely, and next to impossible. In such a case (which is ours) it is not nonsense and mere credulity, but the highest reason to admit the truth of a relation, and to assert a real, certain and great, or if you choose, stupendous miracle. A fraud is as easy to happen in a person who has been dead and buried many weeks, as in one publicly carried out to burial.
Herein however I readily agree with Mr. W. that it is mere credulity to talk of such a thing, where a juggler has been detected in any other tricks. But where was he who is said to have raised the widow's son at Nain detected of any tricks ? When Mr. W. has detected such