« 上一頁繼續 »
wrought, not before a heathen nation, but before the Jewish, accustomed to judge of miracles and to weigh the evidence arising from them. At that very time they were expecting their Messiah, and therefore prepared to examine with care and jealousy the truth of the wonderful works; and were excited to bitter hostility against our Lord when they heard his doctrine; and scrutinized his miracles with eager desire to detect a fraud. Yet this people admit the miracles of Christ to be notable and decisive ; they ascribe them to a divine power; the impression made upon their minds, contrary to their wishes and prejudices, is evidently that which undeniable miracles could alone produce; their very endeavours to oppose and resist them, or to explain away the just inferences from them, proclaim aloud the truth of the supernatural operations.
4. Further, our Lord's mighty deeds include such numerous and various suspensions of the course of nature as, under the circumstances, constitute the most decisive proof of miraculous agency. It was not one or two or three professed miracles, with many failures and a long interval of time between each, which were performed, but a great number, without a single failure, during the whole of our Lord's ministry. His life was a life of miracles. He
went about doing good in the exertion of an abiding and unfailing miraculous power. More than fifty express instances are recorded whilst whole masses of them are registered in such words as these, And Jesus went about all Galilee healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people; and his fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought unto him all the sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy, and he healed them. And at the close of his history St. John adds, And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.
Again, these miracles of our Lord were of every sort; some less grand and stupendous, others more imposing. At one time he feeds an assembled multitude, at another he heals the trembling woman that came behind him and touched the hem of his garment. His power was universal. At Jerusalem, in several parts of Judea and Galilee, in streets and villages, in synagogues, in private houses, in the streets, in highways, in different manners, and on every kind of occasion, did he perform his mighty works. Some with preparation and a solemn prediction of what he was about to do, as in the case of Lazarus, and the daughter of Jairus; others without preparation and by accident, as we speak, as the widow's son at Nain.10 Some when attended by the multitudes, others when alone with the patient. Most of these works were performed at the earnest entreaty of a father, a mother, a master of a family on behalf of persons whom they loved; so that our Lord did not choose the subjects of his miracles, but displayed his power in cases where the attention would be most awakened, and the reality of the cures best ascertained. By this variety every attempt at explaining away the accounts is precluded. If some might overwhelm the senses of the beholders, as the transfiguration and the ascension ; others were submitted to the most sober, deliberate contemplation-as the calming of the sea, the turning water into wine, tbe feeding the five thousand. No fortuitous circumstances, no exaggeration, can solve the phenomena of miracles varied in every possible form, and which never in a single instance failed of their end.
10 In the one species of miracle, the raising from the dead, mark the gradations—the daughter of Jairus was just dead and lay like one asleep-the widow's son had been dead some little time and was being carried to the tomb-Lazarus had been dead four days, and corruption had taken place.
5. Consider, further, the miracles of which our Lord was the subject, as well as those which he himself performed." He was conceived and born by a direct, miraculous power. Three times during his life did a voice from heaven proclaim him to be the Son of God. At his death the rending of the vail, the earthquake, the supernatural darkness, the opened graves, were divine attestations. The greatest of all miracles was his own resurrection from the dead. I say nothing of his divine knowledge of the hearts and thoughts of men ; I omit the miraculous fast of forty days; I pass by various other demonstrations of superhuman operations. I confine myself to the remark that the distinct miracles I have mentioned, of which our Saviour was the subject, are calculated to strengthen our expectation of a truly supernatural character in his own mighty works.
6. Then the wonderful works of Christ produced such permanent effects on those who were the subjects of them, as to prove their supernatural character. They were most of them performed, indeed, instantaneously; but the effects remained, and were submitted to every one's observation. When Lazarus was raised, he did not merely move and speak and die again, or come forth out of the grave and vanish away. He returned to his family, and was visited by the Jews from motives of curiosity or malevolence. A momentary effect may be called in question ; the solid and lasting consequences of a cure, in the abiding health of the individual, attest the finger of God.
11 This is one of the fine thoughts with which Franks's Lectures abound.
7. Lastly, the miracles of the New Testament were done for a high and holy end, an end worthy of the Almighty Creator, which renders a suspension of the ordinary course of nature highly credible. They were not wasted on any trivial occasion. They were not superfluous or undefined in their purpose. The wise and benevolent end was to ascertain the truth of a declaration of God's will; to mark out the Saviour of mankind from all pretenders; to give his accountable creatures a due assurance of a divine revelation—such an end is unquestionably neither inconsistent with the divine wisdom, nor unbecoming the divine goodness. So far as we can judge, some such interference was absolutely necessary as an attestation to a religion sent from God. The extraordinary acts were precisely suitable to the extraordinary occasion which called for them. And to those who admit the being and perfections of the Moral Governor of the universe, (and those