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soM ETH ING which should satisfy the world that he was the Son of God, and the delegate of heaven. And how could he do this so effectually as by performing works which it utterly exceeded all the strength and ability of man to accomplish, and which nothing less than the hand of God himself could possibly bring to pass : In other words, the proofs he gave of his mission were those astonishing miracles which are recorded in the Gospel, and which are here for the first time mentioned by St. Matthew, in the 23d verse of this chapter: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people.” This then is the primary, the fundamental evidence of his divine authority, which our Lord was pleased to give to his followers. His first application, as we have seen, was (like that of his precursor John the Baptist) to their hearts, “ REPENT YE,” lay aside your vices and your prejudices.
prejudices. Till this was done, till these grand obstacles to the admission of truth were removed, he well knew that all he could say and all he could do would have no effect; they would not be moved either by his exhortations or his miracles; “they would not be persuaded though one rose from the dead”.” And in fact we find that several of the Pharisees, men abandoned to vice and wickedness, did actually resist the miracles of Christ, and the resurrection of a man from the grave; they ascribed his casting out devils to Beelzebub ; they were not convinced by the cure of the blind man, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, though they saw them both before their eyes, one restored to sight, the other to life. This plainly proves how far the power of sin and of prejudice will go in closing up all the avenues of the mind against conviction; and how wisely our Saviour acted in calling upon his hearers to repent, before he offered any evidence to their
- under* Luke, xvi. 31.
understandings. But the way being thus cleared, the evidence was then produced, and the effect it had was such as might be expected; for St. Matthew tells us, that his fame went throughout all Syria; and that there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan”; that is, from every quarter of his own country and the adjoining nations. And indeed it can be no wonder that such multitudes were convinced and converted by what they saw. The wonder would have been if they had not. To those who were themselves eye-witnesses of his miracles, they must have been (except in a few instances of inveterate depravity of heart) irresistible proofs of his divine mission. When they saw him give eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, health to the sick, and even life to the dead, by speaking only a few words; what other conclusion could they possibly draw * Matt. iv. 24, 25.
draw than that which the centurion did, truly this was the Son of God”? To us indeed who have not seen these mighty works, and who live at the distance of eighteen hundred years from the time when they were wrought, the force of this evidence is undoubtedly less than it was to an eye-witness. But if the reality of these miracles is proved to us by sufficient testimony, by testimony such as no ingenuous and unprejudiced mind can withstand, they ought still to produce in us the firmest belief of the divine power of him
who wrought them +. It must be admitted at the same time, that these miracles, being facts of a very uncommon and very extraordinary nature, such as have never happened in our own times, and but very seldom even in former times, they require a much stronger degree of testimony to support them than COIIll]] Oh
* Matt. xxvii. 54.
+ Mr. Hume's abstruse and sophistical argument against miracles, has been completely refuted by Drs. Adams, Campbell, and Paley.
common historical facts. And this degree of testimony they actually have. They are supported by a body of evidence fully adequate to the case; fully competent to outweigh all the disadvantages arising from the great distance and the astonishing nature of the events in question.
1. In the first place, these miracles are recorded in four different histories, written very near the time of their being performed, by four different men, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ; two of whom saw these miracles with their own eyes; the other two had their account from them who did the same ; and affirm, that “they had a perfect knowledge of every thing they relate*.”
They were plain artless men, without the least appearance of enthusiasm or credulity about them, and rather slow than forward to believe any thing extraordinary and out of the common course of nature. . They were perfectly competent
to * Luke, i. 3.