former. The offence therefore, if there be any, must be this, that later evangelists relate greater miracles than the foregoing. And this Mr. W. would insinuate to have been the practice of all in general. For he says, p. 11. That the first was sparing and modest in his romance; and the second, being sensible of the insufficiency of the former's tale, devises a miracle of a bigger size; which still not proving sufficient to the end proposed, the third writer, rather than his Prophet's honour should sink for want of a resurrection miracle, forges a story of a monstrously 'huge one.' To this I answer, that a general conclusion ought not to be drawn from a particular instance or two: supposing that the raising of the widow's son of Nain, related by Luke, be greater than that of raising Jairus's daughter, recorded by Matthew; and that the raising of Lazarus recorded by St. John be greater than either of the two former, a suspicion of forgery and invention cannot be fairly admitted, unless an affectation of enlarging miracles appear also upon other occasions. For which reason we will take a view of the conduct, first of all, of the three former evangelists, and then of St. John.

In the first place we will take a view of the conduct of the three former evangelists. Matthew relates a story of Christ's feeding a multitude in a miraculous manner. He says, there were five thousand of them fed with five loaves, and that twelve baskets of fragments were taken up, Matt. xiv. Neither St. Mark, (ch. vi.) or St. Luke (ch. ix.) have related a greater miracle of this kind; but tell the same story with the same circumstances: whereas, if they had been disposed to invent, the two later evangelists might have easily told a much greater miracle of this sort than Matthew had done. Again, St. Matthew has given an account of raising Jairus's daughter, ch. ix. 18. St. Mark wrote after him, and yet he has not told any greater resurrection story, but only the same, ch. v. 23. Nay, sometimes a later evangelist lessens a miracle that had been told by a former: so far are they from forging huge miracles, rather than their Master's honour should sink for want of them. Thus Matthew tells of Two possessed with devils in the country of the Gergesenes, healed by Jesus, chap. viii. 28. But Mark, who wrote after him, mentions but one of those men, ch. v. 1. Matthew also speaks of two blind men restored to sight near Jericho, ch. xx. 29; Mark mentions only Bartimeus, ch. x. 46, and St. Luke says: "There was a certain blind man by the way side begging," &c. ch. viii. 35.

There is another thing very observable. One and the same evangelist, who has given an account of a very great miracle of a certain kind, does sometimes a good while after relate another miracle of the same sort, but a great deal less than the former.

Thus Matthew first gives a history of "five thousand fed with five loaves and two fishes," and says there were "twelve baskets of fragments," ch. xiv. But when he afterwards speaks of another miracle of this kind, he mentions but "four thousand fed with seven loaves and a few small fishes," and but "seven baskets full of fragments," ch. xv. These miracles are in the like order recorded in St. Mark, ch. vi. viii. Nay, if the raising of the widow of Nain's son be a greater miracle than raising Jairus's daughter, as Mr. W. supposes, then St. Luke has given an account of his resurrection stories also in this method. For the former is in the seventh, and the latter in the eighth chapter of his gospel.

It is utterly unaccountable, that a forger of miracles should fall into such a method. He who forges stories of miracles knows they are false. His reader's mind must be humoured. By a lesser he may be prepared to receive a greater, which, if told first, had perhaps induced him to throw away the whole tale. Besides a forger of miracles certainly designs to entertain his reader, whereas in this way, instead of being entertained, he must be disappointed. And there can be no reason assigned, why the evangelists should have taken this method, (as I have shewn they have done, more than one of them, in several instances,) but that they had a strict regard to truth, and that the things they relate had been indeed so done. It serves to convince us also, that they had no undue desire to aggrandize their Master; that they have not used art in their compositions, or indulged their own fancy or invention; but have followed a certain train of real, though wonderful and surprising actions.

Now we will take a view of the conduct of St. John, the last evangelist. It is St. John in particular, that Mr. W. means when he says: The third writer, rather than his Prophet's honour should sink for want of a resurrection miracle, forges a story of a monstrously huge one,' p. 11. But this is somewhat strange, that Mr. W. should impute such an action to St. John; since he has himself said, p. 7, That to aggrandize their Master, as a worker of miracles, was 'the design especially of the three first.' Moreover Mr. W. allows, p. 9, that one resurrection


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miracle is sufficient. Why then should it be thought, that St. John hath given an account of one raised from the dead, but that he knew it had been really done?

But not to rely on these observations of Mr. W. though so much in our favour: let us observe St. John's conduct on other occasions; one instance, as I said, not being sufficient. It is he who has informed us of the turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee, John ii. 1. I am fully persuaded this was a real miracle. But it appears to me, (and I suppose to others likewise) one of the least miracles any where ascribed to our Saviour. If St. John forged miracles, why did he put down here so inconsiderable an one? Why did he not tell an huge one? He had full scope here, as much as any where, the former evangelists not having begun so soon in this account of our Saviour's ministry: as is well known to those who are at all acquainted with the harmony of the gospels.

Nor may any say, that the reason of St. John's relating here so small a miracle was, that he judged it not proper to tell a great miracle at first, but to reserve such an one, and particularly the huge miracle of Lazarus's resurrection, for the last. For soon after this he relates a surprising miracle of a great cure wrought on a person at a distance, and that the son of a nobleman. "So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee.-And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him, that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the POINT OF DEATH-Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way, thy son liveth." And afterwards upon inquiry "when the fever left him, the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judea into Galilee," John iv. 46–54.

Let us view St. John in another place. In the sixth chapter of his gospel he relates a story of Christ's feeding a multitude in a miraculous manner, which is, that he fed "five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fishes," and that they took up "twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained." This is just the same with what the three other evangelists had told before. But why did not St. John, if he indulged invention, forge here, or somewhere else, a story of a monstrously huge miracle? It had been altogether as easy for him to have told a story of about ten or twelve thousand men, or more, fed with two loaves and one small fish: and to add, that when all had eaten to satisfaction, there were twenty or thirty baskets full of fragments taken up.

There is no reason then to suspect the truth of the history of Lazarus's resurrection, purely because it is a greater miracle than those recorded by the former evangelists. If the miracle recorded by St. John be greater than those recorded by them, it is not owing (for any thing that yet appears) to St. John's invention, but to truth and real matter of fact, and his regard to it, which was equally the concern of them all.


4. The last pretended ground of suspicion of fable and forgery' to be considered is, ‹ That 'the first evangelist's omission of a miracle recorded by the last, if the miracle had been really 'done, is absolutely unaccountable.' Let us hear Mr. W. who is here very copious, in his way, saying the same thing over and over in different words; What could be the reason,' he asks, p. 6, that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who all wrote their gospels before John, should omit to record this remarkable and most illustrious miracle of Lazarus ?-What then was the reason, I ask it again, that the three first evangelists neglected to record this renowned miracle of Lazarus?' p. 8.

To which I answer, that we are under no obligation to account for the omission of the former evangelists. It would be no sufficient ground to refuse our assent to St. John's history of the raising of Lazarus, though we could think of no manner of reason at all for its being omitted by the three former.


However a variety of reasons for this omission offer themselves. I have already shewn, the evangelists have not affected to increase the number of our Saviour's miracles, but passed by many, and those very great ones, which they knew very well. Mr. W. himself allows, that one miracle of a resurrection is sufficient. He says likewise, p. 3, that the restoring a person indis'putably dead, to life again, is a stupendous miracle.' (I hope to shew hereafter, that every person said to have been raised to life by our Saviour had been certainly dead, and that therefore every one of these instances are stupendous miracles.) If then the least of these is a stupendous miracle, why should we cavil with the evangelists for not putting down every one of

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them, the greatest miracle of all, if indeed there be a difference? Is it not very reasonable to suppose, that an evangelist might content himself with the relation of one person raised from the dead, since one instance is sufficient, and is a stupendous thing?


Another very common occasion of omissions in writers is a regard to brevity. Mr. W. himself could not help thinking of this excuse, the studying brevity,' p. 9; but he would not allow it to the first evangelists. Nevertheless, I think, they have the best title to this excuse of any men that ever wrote. The four gospels bound together do not make a large volume: each one singly is a very small book. And yet the evangelists had before them the most copious and engaging subject. Beside the miracles of our Saviour, with circumstances of time and place, the names of the persons, occasions of working them, and divers other extraordinary testimonies given to him from heaven; they have actually inserted in these pieces an account of the wonderful manner of our Saviour's birth, the dangers of his infancy, the miraculous appearances of Divine Providence in his favour, and his removals and journeyings from one place and country to another. They have recorded the substance of his doctrine in plain terms, again and again. They have set down many parables spoken by him, together with their explications. Here is a mission of his twelve apostles and other seventy disciples. They have also given the cavils and questions of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, and our Lord's answers to them; the observations and reflections of the people; our Lord's public discourses before all, and his more private instructions to his disciples; his predictions of his own sufferings, of the destruction of Jerusalem, and many other events; a long and particular account of our Saviour's prosecution, condemnation, and crucifixion, as also of his resurrection and ascension: not to mention the history of the birth, preaching, baptism, and sufferings of John the Baptist our blessed Lord's forerunner.

He who considers this great number and variety of matters contained in the gospels, (as also the engaging nature of them, by which an historian must be much inclined to dwell upon them, both for his own sake and for the pleasure and entertainment of others) must needs allow, that the evangelists have ardently desired and most carefully studied brevity, or their works had risen to a great bulk. They have certainly aimed at this all along, in almost every part of their accounts: and I have before shewn they have done this in their relations of miracles; since having given a particular history of some few, they mention many others in a summary way only. It is not at all strange then (we have here a very good reason of it) that when an evangelist had given an account of one person raised from the dead, it being a stupendous miracle, he contented himself therewith.

Nor ought the evangelists to be blamed for aiming at brevity. They deserve very high commendations both for the design itself, and for their excellent execution of it. Their intention was to give a history of Jesus, that all men might believe him to be the Christ, and might have life through his name. It was absolutely necessary therefore to put down the doctrine of Christ, and also somewhat under each one of those heads above-mentioned. But though the subject was extremely copious; these books being intended for the use of all, for the learned and unlearned, for the poor, the rich, the busy, for all ranks and orders of men in all times, it was highly needful they should be short. Great books are tedious and distasteful; many books are troublesome. And I am persuaded, that the evangelists have much more effectually consulted the benefit of mankind by their short gospels, than by writing, as they might have easily done, many more, or much larger books of the history of Jesus Christ.

I have proved a regard to brevity in general, and particularly in the account of miracles; and have also shewn that this design was necessary and reasonable. This study of brevity must certainly have obliged each one of them to observe silence upon some matters, after they had related others; that they might reserve room for some important events, essential parts of their history, still behind: lest they should proceed to a length and prolixity they had resolved to avoid. It is therefore very easy to suppose in behalf of the three former evangelists, that when they had come to some certain place or period in their history of the ministry of Jesus, they observed they had given a sufficient account of his doctrine and miracles: and since they must reserve room for an account of his last sufferings, and his resurrection; they resolved to pass over in silence what happened between that period and the time of his last journey to Jerusalem, where he suffered.

Such a period as this may be observed in the three former evangelists, by which means they had

not an opportunity of relating the resurrection of Lazarus. I will shew this particularly of St. Matthew and St. Mark.

St. Matthew says, ch. xix. 1, 2, 3. "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of JUDEA BEYOND JORDAN. And great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there. The pharisees also came unto him tempting him," &c. From which verse, to the sixteenth verse of the next chapter follows an account of the question of the pharisees concerning divorce, Jesus's receiving little children, the young man that came to Christ, some discourses between Christ and the disciples about riches, and a parable. Then at ver. 17, of that chapter (the twentieth) are these words: "And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them," &c. From which it is plain, that Jesus was then going towards Jerusalem, a little before his last passover.

St. Mark says, ch. x. i." And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judea by the FARTHER SIDE OF JORDAN," &c. From whence to the 31st verse is an account of the pharisees' question concerning divorce, the little children brought to Christ, the young man that came to him, a discourse between Christ and the disciples about riches. Then at ver. 32, it is said: "And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem," &c.

From which it appears, that St. Matthew and St. Mark have given no particular account of any journeyings of Jesus, and have spoke but very little of any thing else concerning him (except some discourses in the place of his retirement) from the time he came into the country beyond Jordan, till they find him in his way to Jeresalem, before his last passover.

The same thing appears to me in St. Luke also. But that I may not be tedious, I will decline shewing that, particularly at present. I may the better be excused, because he has two resurrection miracles, which is one more than is sufficient.

Now the time of our Lord's coming into the country beyond Jordan, may be learnt from St. John. It was soon after the feast of dedication, John x. 22, which was observed in the winter. For he says: "They sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, and went again BEYOND JORDAN into the place where John at first baptised: and there abode. And many resorted unto him," ver. 39, 40, 41. From which country (according to St. John's account) Jesus afterwards came up to Bethany, and raised Lazarus; and then “ went into a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples," John xi. 54. These removes the other evangelists have omitted for the sake of brevity, or some other reason. Therefore the resurrection of Lazarus could not be well brought into their


There is another reason of their silence about this matter, concurring with their study of brevity. The design of a writer may be collected from his work. From the three first gospels it appears, that the design of the three first evangelists was to give an account of the most public part of our Lord's ministry. They therefore entirely pass over the former part of it, and begin their relation after the imprisonment of John the Baptist. Thus Matthew, ch. iv. 2. "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee." Mark i. 14. "Now after that John was cast into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God." And that St. Luke also begins his account of our Lord's ministry, at about the same time, is apparent from his gospel. See ch. iv. 14, &c.

For the same reason that they omitted the former and less public part of his ministry, before the imprisonment of John the Baptist, they have also slightly passed over what happened from our Lord's arrival beyond Jordan, till he is going up to his last passover. For in this interval he lived somewhat more privately than he had done before. He received all who came to him, either for instruction, or to be healed by him; but he did not go about the cities and villages of Judea, preaching publicly, as he had done for some time before.

St. John observing what had been the method of the three former evangelists, and that they had given a very sufficient account of that part of Christ's ministry which immediately succeeded the imprisonment of John the Baptist, resolved to supply their omissions. By which means he was led to give some history of things done by Jesus between his temptation in the wilderness and the imprisonment of John the Baptist; and also of some things that happened between our Lord's going into the country beyond Jordan, and his journey to the last passover at Jerusalem, in which last interval the miracle of Lazarus was performed.

We have here (so far as I am able to judge) a fair account of the occasion of the omission of Lazarus's resurrection by the three former evangelists, and of its relation by St. John.

Once more. Since the miracles of Jesus were so numerous (according to the account of all the three first evangelists) that they could not be all particularly related without an inconvenient and unnecessary prolixity; these evangelists might very reasonably prefer some miracles before others, and in particular the miracle wrought on Jairus's daughter before that on Lazarus. If one of these miracles were to be omitted, I would ask, which of the two it should be? I can readily answer for myself; I should choose to omit that of Lazarus rather than the other. And though all men should not presently decide with me, I believe that most would wayer in the choice.

The raising any person to life is an amazing and truly divine work. Jairus was a ruler of a synagogue, of an order of men generally averse to Jesus: Lazarus was a friend. The miracle therefore on Jairus's daughter is more unexceptionable in this respect than that on Lazarus. All the miracles of Jesus, considering his blameless character, and the circumstances with which they are related, are really unexceptionable. But there are degrees in all kinds of things; and one miracle, even of Jesus himself, may be more unexceptionable than another; which is an important thing in a miracle, as well as the greatness of the work itself. In this respect the raising of Jairus's daughter is preferable to that of Lazarus. I pass by the honour that results to Jesus from the earnest entreaties of so considerable a person as Jairus, that he would come and lay hands on his daughter, who was at the point of death, or even now dead.

Moreover the miracle on Jairus's daughter was performed in the very height of Christ's public ministry, when there were great numbers continually attending on him; enemies undoubtedly and spies, as well as other people. But to Bethany Jesus came privately with his disciples, and unexpectedly, to raise Lazarus. There happened indeed to be there at that time friends of the Pharisees (as I suppose there where every where) who went away and told them what Jesus had done. But his arrival at Bethany was perfectly unexpected to all, and a surprise even to the family of Lazarus. The evidences which there are in the relation, that our Lord's coming to Bethany at that time was unlooked for, shew that there was no concert between him and his friends there: but for the same reason the Pharisees might not be so well prepared to observe this miracle as some others.

To conclude this point: Mr. W. says, p. 9,

If Matthew, the first writer, had recorded only • the story of Lazarus, whose resurrection was the greatest miracle; and if Luke had added that ' of the widow of Nain's son; and John lastly had remembered us of Jairus's daughter, which the other evangelists, not through ignorance or forgetfulness, but studying brevity, had ⚫ omitted, then all had been well.'

Undoubtedly, all had been well then, because there are not in the gospels any tokens of forgery or fiction, but plain marks of a real history of matter of fact, and of the strictest regard to truth. But all things are as well now. And if Lazarus's story had stood in the three first gospels in the room of that of Jairus's daughter, there might have been as much room for exceptions as there is now, as appears from what I have just said about the circumstances of these persons. Nor is there any good objection to be brought against the present order. The three first evangelists have wisely taken that miracle which occurred to them in the course of our Lord's most public ministry, and which is in all respects most unexceptionable.

Upon the whole, the reasons I have here offered of the silence of the three first evangelists about Lazarus's resurrection are such as readily offer themselves to my mind; they arise out of the gospels themselves; and they appear to me to be of no small weight. But they are not intended to the prejudice of any other probable reasons assigned by Grotius, or Dr. Whitby, or any other learned and judicious writers. And whether the reasons offered by me or others appear fully satisfactory or not, is not very material: we not being obliged, as, I said at first, to assign any reason at all for this omission.

I have endeavoured to put the force of this objection of Mr. W. into the beforementioned suppositions, which I have considered. But there are yet several particulars he has mentioned under this head of what he calls the unnatural and preposterous order of time,' which I suppose we must not pass by. He says then, p. 6, Since this [Lazarus's resurrection] is only


• See Dr. Harris's Reasonableness of believing in Christ, p. 3, 4.

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