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only I address,) it must appear in the highest degree probable that miraculous works would attend the declaration of his will. With such positive evidence before us, then, the case is undoubted—the wonderful actions of the gospel history were directly and palpably miraculous.
But this leads us to notice
VEX ON BE
III. That there was such a CONNEXION BETWEEN THESE MIRACLES AND THE RELIGION THEY ARE SAID TO ATTEST, as to prove satisfactorily that that religion was from God.
1. For our Saviour and the apostles constantly appealed to their mighty works in proof of their mission. When John Baptist sent his disciples to our Lord to enquire whether he were the Messiah, he bid them return and tell John what miracles they had witnessed, and what doctrine they had heard. A previous notice of many of his miracles was given, the character of an ambassador from God assumed, and then a series of mighty works performed in proof of the truth of his mission. To trace out the manner of this proof, to follow our Lord's various arguments, to study the credentials of the gospel in the gospel itself, to read the Christian evidences as Jesus himself stated them, will give the most entire satisfaction to the candid mind. The progress of the
proof-the wise and forcible manner of our Saviour's arrangement of it--the majesty, the compassion, the truth of his appeals, carry their own conviction with them. Every time that we read the gospel, we are more struck with the matchless character of veracity appearing in the proofs which he adduced of his mission. At first he made scarcely any remarks on his miracles; he performed them, and let them speak for themselves. Towards the close of his ministry, again, he wrought but few mighty works, because of the unbelief of the people. But between these periods, the intermixture of arguments and miracles, of appeals to the heart and displays of divine power, form an irresistible evidence to every attentive mind, that his doctrine was divine. 2
2. Moreover the miracles of our Lord had been predicted as the express evidence of the Messiah. A long previous expectation had been ex cited, no room was left for conjecture either as to the agent or the design. . The wonders of our Lord were not single, unconnected, unexplained prodigies, but miracles performed in consequence of a design avowed long before, and which ceased to be wrought when that design was accomplished. The prophet Isaiah had marked out the very miracles which should designate the Messiah: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then shall the lame man leap as the hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing. We shall see the finger of prophecy pointed to the Messiah still more clearly when we come to the proper place; but the predictions fulfilled in the miracles of our Lord, fix and designate and seal him as divinely commissioned of God, and as not only a prophet, but the Messiah and the Saviour of the world.
3. And surely we cannot fail to observe the admirable fitness of this attestation to a divine religion. It is a manner of acting worthy of God. Let men reason to support their opinions; let them establish their doctrines by a course of arguments—they have no right to command the understanding of others. But for the Almighty God, it is not becoming that he should speak as a philosopher who disputesno, he speaks as a Master who decides; he supports his religion, not by arguments, but by deeds of omnipotence. His word is truth; to obey it is the duty of man—and what more worthy of God than to command the obedience of man by visible acts attesting the homage which all nature pays him. Such a proof is level to the capacity of man as man. It is 13 Frayssinous' Défense du Christianisme.
calculated to awaken the attention, and command the assent, and satisfy the doubts, and silence the objections of persons of all classes and conditions. Such an attestation becomes the simplicity and universality of revelation, and carries on it the genuine impress of the majesty of heaven. Miracles are the broad seal annexed by God himself to the grand charter of salvation in Jesus Christ.
4. For it is further to be noted, that the miracles of Christianity were performed by those who had all other signs of a divine mission; and therefore to whose doctrine implicit obedience was due, as to a communication from God. The mighty works, however palpable and numerous, were not the only credentials of our Lord and his apostles. Every thing else corresponded. Dignity, simplicity, disinterestedness, purity of life, holy instructions, bold rebukes of vice, fortitude, meekness, constancy unto death, were conspicuous in the heavenly ambassadors.
The gist of prophecy distinguished the same and no other persons. The miracles were acts of mercy, deeds of compassion and grace, exertions of goodness and piety. They were not disjointed wonders, but were harmoniously united with all the other signs of a mission from heaven. You need not be told that the
prodigies of heathenism, even if the facts be admitted, and the other means of solving the phenomena waived, (as the cure said to be performed by the emperor Vespasian, on which Hume relies,) were done by persons who did not even pretend to a divine commission, and who exhibited not one single mark of the messengers of the Most High.
5. The inference, therefore, from the miracles to the truth of Christianity is direct, forcible, conclusive : it speaks to every unprejudiced mind. The language of Nicodemus is the language of the unsophisticated conscience, We know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him. The testimony of our senses is not a more satisfactory evidence of the existence of external objects, than the scripture miracles are of a divine commission. When men born blind suddenly received their sight, when multitudes were cured of the most desperate diseases by a touch or at a distance, when the dumb were made to speak, and the dead were raised, when devils were cast out, and confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, when all nature gave way, and started back at the command of Christ, surely no proof could be more decisive of the immediate presence of the God of nature-surely no language, not