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miration is substituted in its place, when CHAP. they perceive the design and necessity of the 1. miracle.
It is plain that the church is figured by the thip, in which Peter and the apostles embarked: and it is obvious, that the night, the contrary wind and the waves, point out the conficts that the gospel should meet with in its first promulgation, and the commotions of the church throughout all ages.
The useless efforts of the apostles, when they laboured with their oars during the absence of Jesus Christ, conveys a lesson to the ministers of the Church, that their endeavours, if merely human, will be attended with little success; that Jesus Christ's attention to the distress of his difciples, when they imagined him to be abfent, manifests his concern for the church, even after he is become invisible ; that by coming to them towards the end of the night, he intended to be a sure comfort to those who confide in him, in the greatest extremity; that by walking on the waves, he was desirous to prove himself to be absolute master of the world, and superior to all the violence it employs against his ministers; that by discovering himself at a distance, and being taken for a spirit, he designed to confirm those in the faith, who are tempted to treat his promises as ideal and without reality, and more capable to augment, than to preserve from danger ; that by speaking and saying unto them It is I, he intimated to them, that he was the only one who ought to be feared, and on whom
PART their hopes should be centered ; that by enIV. abling Peter to walk upon the waters, he ma
nifested that whilft he was present no wreck could happen ; and that if by his command, and to be faithful to him, we seem on fome occasions to-relinquish the ship, it is with safety, as long as we trust in him ; that by entering the ship and causing Peter to 10turn into it, he promises never to forsake his church, and always to protect the public ministry, by whom it is conducted ; and by making the ship instantly come to land after a great deal of hard and fruitless toil, he declares that he will shorten when he pleases the labour of his ministers; but especially of those whom he shall employ in the latter days, when his grace almost alone, and in a very little time, will complete what remains of their course and labour.
Let this miracle be examined with respect to its mystical and prophetical sense, and I question not but an impartial examiner will find it worthy of Jesus Christ, as founder and protector of the church; and not only will judge it true, but comfortable, and fraught with instructions proper for the nourishment of faith, and the support of christian hope.
The apostles awake Jesus Christ in the
midst of a furious tempest, which ceases at his command. Perpetual protection promised to his church.
Efore this miracle, Jesus Christ perform’d
another similar to it in some circumstances, tho' different in others, but the truth of both is attested by the same proofs. One day, after having spoke to the people in different parables ; * “ When the even was come, “ he faith unto his disciples, Let us pass over
unto the other side. And when they had “ sent away the multitude, they took him,
even as he was in the ship, and there were “ also with him other little chips. But in the
paffage a great storm of wind arose, and the
waves beat into the ship, so that it was now “ full. Jesus was in the hinder part of the
ship asleep on a pillow : and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou
not that we perish? And he arose and re“ buked the winds, and said unto the sea,
Peace, be still: and the wind ceased, and “ there was a great calm. And he said unto
them, I Why are ye so fearful ? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceed
ingly, + Matth. iv. 35;
1 Τι δειλοί εςε ουτω και πως θα έχετε πισίν. Luke viii, 25, &c..
ingly, and said one to another, What matiIV. ner of man is this, that even the winds and ar the sea obey him."
Every thing in this miracle feems to have been concerted by Jesus Christ for the instruction of his apostles, and to demonstrate his power to them ; but on their part every thing is unforeseen, and if they had been consulted upon the circumstances, they would not have permitted Jesus Christ to have flept upon a pillow, whilst the tempestuous waves broke into the ship, and they still would have less expected the reproach of being deficient in faith, which he made them when he awaked, for having been afraid in so great danger, or because they believed that during his feep their peril was unknown to him, or thought he was unconcern'd about it. All this cannot occur to those who never saw any such thing performed. Less possible is it to conceive, that the winds and sea should obey the voice of a man, and that at his command an immediate silence should ensue. One must have experienced it to form any fuch thought, and have been a witness of that imperious command, Peace, be fill; and of its astonishing effect, in order to be able to relate it in as concife and majestic a manner as it was pronounced.
To the foregoing reflections let us subjoin the deposition of the apostles, who weathered the storm, and therefore the strongest evidence both of the tempest and succeeding calm ; who at one time were affrighted, at another full of astonishment, and who with the greatest since
rity relate this prodigy, without essaying to CHAP. justify their concern, without extenuating the I. reproach which their master made them of having little faith, without excusing themselves on account of his fleep, and the necessity of awakening him.
Doubtless there were other ships exposed to equal danger, and saved by the fame miracle. The place whither he was bound is mention’dt: the miracle, which he did in that place by delivering two possessed, who infested the whole country; is notorious, as will shortly appear I. It is impossible therefore for human reason to oppose such evidence, and 'tis consequently just to think that every sober mind will surrender to such conviction.
But this is only a part, the residue is still more excellent. Jesus Christ, who for a little space of time had silenced the winds and the sea, calls to them, and secretly excites their fury. The waves enter the ship, but he knows to what measure. In the midst of the noise and hurricane he sleeps securely; and whilst he makes a trial of the confidence his disciples place in his power and love, he conceals both under the appearance of imbecillity and neglect. Every thing seems loft, and in a desperate condition. Their faith is almost shipwreck’d, and runs into real danger, while it is too much alarmed at the danger of the ship, in which Jesus Christ was at rest. He awakes, and by a word lays the wind and filences the deep: