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the multitude,) are one grand evidence that God sent him who wrought them, and by them God himself authenticates the testimony; that they introduce and make way for all other proofs ;and that, when such changes as Christianity introduced, are to be effected in consequence, by unarmed instruments, and without human
power or violence, they are almost, if not absolutely, indispensable.
When only a few of our Lord's miracles had been performed, they drew from a ruler and teacher in Israel the confession, in his own name and that of his companions, “ Rabbi, we know “ that thou art a teacher come from God: for no
man can do the miracles that thou doest, except « God be with him." I “Many of the people,” also,“ believed on him, and said, When Christ
cometh, will he do more miracles than this man “ doeth ?"2 And the man born blind spoke unanswerably, when he said, “Herein is a marvellous “ thing, that ye know not whence he is, and yet “ he hath opened mine eyes. Since the world
began was it not heard that any man opened “the eyes of one that was born blind. If this “ man were not of God, he could do nothing." 3 The council also felt the force of this proof, after Jesus had called Lazarus out of the
“What “ do we? for this man doeth many miracles; and, “ if we let him thus alone, all men will believe on “ him.” 4 After his resurrection, the testimony of the apostles produced the most embarrassing difficulties to the opposing rulers : and they were induced to put the cause on another kind of trial, when Gamaliel had counselled, after introducing apposite examples, “Refrain from these men, and “ let them alone; for if this counsel and work be “ of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of
'John iïi. 1, 2.
? John vii. 31.
God, ye cannot overthrow it : lest haply ye be “ found to fight against God.”! According to the reasoning of this prudent opponent, trial has been made for much above seventeen hundred years; and, because Christianity is “ of God,” neither Jews nor gentiles, neither open enemies nor treacherous friends, have been able to overturn it, to this very day.--After all, no other religion, from the beginning of the world, except that of Moses, and that of Jesus, ever claimed to have been introduced and established by public miracles, as the testimony of God to the teacher and his doctrine. Popish miracles, heathen miracles, and Mohammedan miracles, accord in this, that they were wrought, or asserted to be wrought, in favour of a religion already established and possessed of authority, or public favour; were wrought privately, among friends; or at most before those, who dared not, or were not able, or were not inclined, to investigate their pretensions. There are, therefore, no other claimants in this cause; though some men speak as if such claims were quite common things. The miracles of Moses and of Jesus were as much superior to all the effects of magic and enchantment, as well as to those of human imposture, “as the heavens are above
“ the earth.” They stand on the same ground, and must be supported by the same arguments, and share the same fate. So that, if either Jew or Christian could succeed in discrediting the miracles of Moses or of Jesus, as God's attestation to the divine mission of either of them; every shrewd opposer of both, would perceive his advantage, and fight him with his own weapons : nay, the attempt itself would tend to universal scepticism.
P. 46. I. 18. “The authority,' &c. The quotations, though inaccurate, on this page do not affect the main question. But, if the Messiah is to be only an earthly, and not a spiritual Deliverer ; what connexion can his coming, and the restoration of Israel, have with “ the circumcision of the “ heart to love the Lord?” (p. 47. I. 12.) Is not this a spiritual blessing? Or what does Mr. C. suppose to be meant by it? Does he, with many writers concerning Christian baptism, suppose the sign and the thing signified to be the same, or inseparably connected with each other:
P. 47. 1. 20. “Let every one observe, &c.The law of Moses, undeniably, contains three distinct kinds of precepts, moral, ceremonial, and judicial. The moral law is contained in the ten commandments; summed up in the two great commandments of loving God with all the “ heart,” and “ our neighbour as ourselves;” and explained and enforced by every precept or exhortation in scripture, requiring piety, justice, temperance, inward purity, truth, and love. The ceremonial law comprises all instituted worship, and the whole of the external observances, respecting sacrifices, festivals, distinction of meats, purifications, and various things; neither arising from the nature of God and man, and men's relation to God and one another, nor previously obligatory. The
judicial laws were the magistrate’s rule of civil government. Of the two last, it may be questioned whether they be now in force or not: but it is manifest, that they have not been, as to the most essential parts of them, obeyed since the destruction of the temple, and the dispersion of the Jews; nor can'they be obeyed in the present state of the nation. The ceremonial institutions, not being previously obligatory, might be abolished by the same authority as instituted them. Christians consider them “having been shadows of good things to come; and, having now answered their end, and received their accomplishment, as disannulled, and of no validity: and it appears to us that this was intimated with sufficient clearness by the ancient prophets. Several of the prophets, also, allowed of deviations from the ritual law, and set the example of them, with acceptance from God, in peculiar circumstances : as Elijah and Elisha, and the other prophets, who were sent to the ten tribes; and who neither went themselves, nor required the pious remnant of Israelites, to go up to Jerusalem to worship: and they always marked strongly the superiority of moral to ritual obe
'Psalm xl. 6-8. Comp. Heb. x. 1-9. Jer. xxxi. 31–34. Comp. Heb. viii. 8-13.
dience. 1 Now that which is inferior in excellency cannot be of the same nature, and of the same immutable obligation, as that which is superior, and to which it must give place, when they interfere with each other. “I desired mercy, and not “sacrifice." 2
The judicial laws were framed with an equity, wisdom, mildness, and benevolence, which mark their divine original: but they were so specially accommodated to Israel, as under a Theocracy, that they could not be adapted to the political government of nations, in different circumstances; though the spirit of them might be very advantageously infused into, perhaps, every code of laws on earth.
But the moral law is unchangeable, as to its substantial requirements, in its own nature; the gospel establishes it, in its full authority, both by the obedience and atonement of Immanuel, by giving it as a rule of duty to all called Christians, and by writing it in the heart of all who are really Christians ; thus leading them to love and delight in it, to repent of every transgression of it; and to breathe out the constant prayer, “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes !”
Many professed Christians, and teachers, speak of the law being abolished,' and of a better, a new, and mitigated law being introduced by Christianity: but, as I believe this to be the most general of all heresies, and one of the most destructive both to law and gospel, I shall only say
'Ps. I. 23. li. 16, 17. Is. i. 10–18. lxvi. 3. Jer. vii. 21–23. Hos. vi. 6. Amos v. 21-24. ? Hos. vi. 6.