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even an angel's voice, could proclaim more intelligibly, that God was revealing his will. Surely these wonderful works challenged implicit obedience to the Sovereign of the universe, thus exercising his dominion over nature, and making the whole creation bow and tremble and obey—and then delivering the record of his stupendous scheme of redemption to an awe-struck world.
6. Accordingly, the miracles of Christianity are so incorporated with the instructions, as to oblige men to receive not only the religion generally, but all the doctrines it communicates, as of divine authority. It is most reasonable to submit with unlimited faith to all that was delivered by messengers thus commissioned and accredited. The wonderful actions which they performed are incorporated and intermingled with the whole substance of their doctrine. The actions without the instructions are unintelligible. If the New Testament history and the New Testament miracles are entitled to credit, then all the New Testament doctrine is entitled to the same. None of the supernatural works were performed for subordinate ends : they did not aim, like the heathen prodigies, to prove the greater sanctity of an altar, or raise the credit of an oracle, or establish the usage of some insignificant rite ; but they were
performed as the great ends of the mission required, were involved in the most important doctrines, and were directed to the develop- ' ment of one vast scheme, the redemption of mankind.
That men might know that the Son of God hath power on earth to forgive sins, he saith to the sick of the palsy, as our text particularly notes, Arise, take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. That the people might learn that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, he expelled him from the bodies of the possessed. He was eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor, in the literal sense, that he might afford a pledge of the correspondent spiritual blessing. Those whom he healed, he suffered not to remain with him for the purpose of swelling his retinue, but bade them go to their friends, and sin no more. To assure the apostles of their future success in preaching the gospel, he encouraged them by a miraculous draught of fishes to follow him, and become fishers of men. He taught the universality of his religion, and the admission of the Gentiles into his Church, by purifying the outward court of the temple, and driving out in a miraculous manner the Jewish traffickers. He showed the power of faith, by devoting the barren fig-tree to sudden decay and destruction,
He encouraged the timid belief of his disciples by calming the tempest. Those multitudes whom he fed by a miracle, were first wearied and faint by a long attendance on his instructions. Thus were our Lord's miracles inseparably connected with the revelation they were designed to attest.14 The same may be said of those performed by the apostles; every thing had a regard to the high object of the mission : the facts involve the doctrines, and oblige us to receive them.
17. I only mention cursorily, that the success of the gospel, resting on the miracles as its foundation, and on no other, proves that the doctrine was from God. I enter not now on the subject of the propagation of the gospel ; but it is necessary for me to repeat, what I observed in the last lecture, that the prodigious success of the simple preaching of the faith of Christ by unlettered men, supported by these miraculous powers, proves that the revelation was divine. For it was no idle assent that the unnumbered converts gave: they exposed themselves to peril, reproach, persecution, death. Nor was it in accordance with preconceived prejudices, that the assent was given. The converts had to give up all their partialities, all their habits, and all their opinions, to re
14 Bishop Van Mildert.
nounce the traditions and superstitions in which they had been educated, and in which their fathers lived and died. The miracles did not attest a doctrine which fell in with the sentiments of a party already in favour of the tenets and practice which the religion inculcated. If this had been the case, the miracles might have been examined with less attention. But the fact was totally different; the progress of the Christian religion was attended with an entire change in the sentiments and character of the converts. The religion owed its birth to the doctrine supported by the miraculous works. The miracles attracted the attention of men, and assured them that a divine communication was made; but it was the communication itself, that is, the doctrine, which swayed the heart, changed the life, and purified the whole character. The sacred influences of grace, indeed, accompanied these means of conviction and instruction. This is another most important topic, which will be considered in its proper place. What we now state is, that the success of the Christian doctrine, authorised by the miracles, proves that there was an inseparable connexion between the wonderful works and the revelation which they attested ; in other, words, that the Christian religion was from God.
8. We observe, lastly, that though all false
religions have made some pretensions to wonderful works, yet there never was a religion set up and established by miracles, but the religion of the bible. A series of wonderful works like that on which the mission of Christ rests, was never heard of since the world began. 15
15 I except, of course, that of which Christianity was the complement and consummation, and with which it formed one connected divine revelation, the legation of Moses.
We have already proved the authenticity and credibility of the books of the Old Testament through the medium of those of the New. Of the miracles which introduced the Mosaic economy, I need not say a word : the very same arguments which support the Christian miracles, prove those of Moses. The four marks laid down by Leslie—that they were palpable-publicly performed-commemorated by national monuments and usages—and that these monuments and usages began at the very time when the mighty works were performed, are perfectly conclusive. I will only add, that there is something of greater magnificence in the Mosaic miracles they were on a larger scale, and of bolder features, in order to be handed down the better by indelible memorials, through those many centuries, during which written testimony by contemporary authors was, from the circumstances of the case, impossible. The miraculous passage of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire, the flaming summit of Sinai, the drying up of Jordan, the descent of the manna, the streams poured out from the smitten rock, the prostrate walls of Jericho, were miracles of that prodigious grandeur, as to stand forth. palpable from the scene, and to remain visible, as it were, from that remote age to the present. The milder and less stupendous, but not less divine, miracles of the New Testament, were at once more suitable to the genius of the