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Jesus. And by your unbelief in Jesus you make it appear, that ye are the children of those who did not believe the divine appearances in the wilderness,'
Any man may perceive, that a prophet is the most unpopular of all characters. For he is to " cry aloud and spare not; to lift up his voice like a trumpet," Isaiah Iviii. 1, and show men of all ranks their transgressions and their sins. "Moses at first supposed his brethren would have understood, how that God by his hand would deliver them," Acts vii. 25. But when he endeavoured only to reconcile two of them, and "said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?" what a smart reply did he meet with? "who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian?" Exod. ii. 13, 14. These were his apprehensions then; but when he was forty years old, and knew the world better, and God appeared to him and told him, he would send him to bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt: after divers fine excuses, which are not accepted of, he in a modest way positively refuses to go. "And he said, O Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send," Exod. iv. 13. Nor does he yield, till the anger of the Lord is kindled against him. So hazardous and difficult was this office, that God sometimes promises a prophet as a special favour and a most necessary qualification, together with a commission, boldness of countenance to execute it. "As an adamant harder than flint," says God to Ezekiel, "have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed," Ezek. iii. 9. And Jeremiah he made a " defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land," Jerem. i. 18.
It is a very unjust way of judging: such an one suffered, or was hated and opposed; therefore he was a wicked man, or an impostor. If we will pass a judgment on men, we should examine their conduct, as well as the treatment they meet with otherwise we are in danger of being unjust to the memory of some of the best men that ever were. Solomon says, "A just man falleth [into trouble] seven times, and riseth up again," Prov. xxiv. 16. And his father David: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all," Ps. xxxiv. 19. Many were the afflictions of our blessed Saviour, but he was delivered out of them all, if ever man was; having been soon raised up from the grave, and seated at the right hand of God.
Solomon says again : "An unjust man is an abomination
to the just and he that is upright in the way, is abomination to the wicked," Prov. xxix. 27. Which last observation is confirmed by divers heathen writers of good knowledge in human nature: That a man can no sooner be an enemy to all vice, and walk in the ways of virtue, but he 'becomes the object of hatred." Socrates who had been pronounced by the oracle of Apollo the wisest man, and who has since had almost universally the character of the best man among the Greeks, was put to death by his countrymen the Athenians, a people more renowned for civility and good humour than the Jews. He was always apprehensive of suffering, and sensible of the danger he incurred by opposing the evil practices of men. He goes so far as to tell the Athenians: It is impossible for any man to be
safe among them, or any where else, who honestly and 'courageously opposes vice and injustice.' He says also that he had chosen a private life as best suited to answer his design; and that if he had been in the magistracy, and taken the course he had done of instructing and admonishing all people, he had not lived so long. And Cicero observed in his time, that philosophy, which proposed to cure the minds of men, was suspected and hated by the most, as a dangerous thing. Some sovereign princes have lost their lives in attempts of reformation. Many indeed are the instances of the unjust judgments of the most. A peaceable prince, who protects the estates, the commerce, the persons and consciences of his subjects, is barely beloved; a conqueror is adored; though he needlessly hazards the lives of his own subjects, and violates toward his neighbours all the laws of nations, and all the laws of honour and humanity.
But I am ashamed to give this argument its full force. I little expected to have ever seen this objection seriously
b Si quis vitiorum omnium inimicus rectum iter vitæ cœpit insistere, primum propter morum differentiam odium habet. Quis enim potest probare diversa? Petron. Arbiter, laudat. a Grot. ad Matt. x. 22.
Και γαρ και μισονται, ελέγχοντες αυτων τας αμαθιας. Lucian. Contemplant. V. I. p. 357. edit. Amst.
Και τον αριςον των Ελληνων λαβων ὑποθεσιν [Αριςοφανης] ανδρα τοις τε αλλοις θεοις φιλον, και δη και μαλιςα τῳ Απολλωνι. Elian. Var. Ηist. 1. 2.
d Ευ γαρ ιςε, ω Αθηναιοι, ει εγω παλαι επεχειρησα πραττειν τα πολιτικά πραγματα, παλαι αν απολωλειν.—Και μοι μη αχθεσθε λεγοντι τ' αληθη. Ου γαρ εςιν όςις ανθρωπων σωθησεται, ούτε ὑμιν ούτε αλλῷ ουδενι πληθει γνησιως εναντιωμενος, και διακωλύων πολλα αδικα και παρανομα εν τη πόλει YLYVEσOαι. Plat. Apolog. Socrat. p. 31. E.
Animi autem medicina nec tam desiderata sit,- -nec tam multis grata et probata, pluribus etiam suspecta et invisa. Tusc. Q. 1. 3. init.
produced against the miracles, or any other branch of the history of the New Testament, and called calm and sedate
reasoning, p. 55. An apologist for christianity might have brought it forth and stated it, to adorn his triumph, after a confutation of other more plausible objections; but for any seriously to mention the enmity of the Jews against Jesus, as an objection against him, can be owing to nothing, in my opinion, but strange ignorance or prejudice, or a most contemptuous opinion of all the reason and observation of mankind.
Let us examine another passage in the Jew's letter. 'Such a manifest miracle, let it be wrought for what end and purpose we can possibly imagine, would strike men 'with awe and reverence, and none could hate and per'secute the author of the miracle; lest he who could raise 'the dead, should exert his power against themselves, and ' either wound or smite them dead with it. For which rea'son, the resurrection of Lazarus, on the certain knowledge ' of our ancestors, was all fraud, or they would have re'verenced and adored the power of him that did it,' p. 48. And more such stuff has this Jew again and again to this same purpose.
I must therefore remind him of some examples in the books of the Old Testament. In 1 Kings xvii. is the history of Elijah's raising the widow's son. In the next chapter he works a great miracle at the altar, and after that obtaineth rain. Nevertheless it is said, chap xix. 1, 2. “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah," and solemnly swears she would destroy him," saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time." Whereupon Elijah absconds, and in a prayer to God he says, "They seek his life to take it away. In the twenty-second chapter is mention of another prophet of the Lord, by name Micajah, of whom Ahab says to Jehosaphat in plain terms; "I hate him.”
Ahaziah, another king of Israel, fell" down through a lattice in his upper chamber, and was sick," 2 Kings i. Nevertheless, in this condition, (such stubbornness is there in the heart of man!) he sends officers, one after another, to Elijah, requiring him to come to him. Elisha also, successor of Elijah, raised a person to life and wrought divers other miracles, 2 Kings iv. Notwithstanding this, Jehoram, another king of Israel, says: ch. vi. 31. " God do so and
more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day."
One story more to our purpose out of the Jewish writings, 2 Kings vi. 11-13, but wherein a foreigner is concerned. The king of Syria is at war with Israel. Elisha informs the king of Israel of all his enemies' steps. The king of Syria is amazed, and complains to his servants that they discover his secrets: "Will ye not show me, which of us is for the king of Israel? and one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king; but Elisha the prophet, that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber." This king of Syria believed what his servant said, otherwise he had not concerned himself about Elisha. But it follows there: "And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, Behold he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses and chariots, and a great host, and they came by night and compassed him about." So that it is plain, miracles do not always fill wicked men with such awe and reverence, but that they can still hate and persecute, and break forth into rage against the authors of them.
This Jew says, p. 49: That it is certain, according to ' christian commentators, that some of them did not believe "the miracle.' Again he says, p. 51: It is plain from the 'story in John, that there was a dispute amongst the by'standers at Lazarus's resurrection, whether it was a real 'miracle or not.' I presume to say: this is a false account. It is not plain, that there was any dispute among the bystanders, whether it was a real miracle. It is plain those people, who went to the pharisees, told them of a real miracle. And the pharisees, when met in council, say: "What do we? for this man doth many miracles."
Nor do I know, that any christian commentators say, that 'some of them did believe the miracle.' They did not believe in Jesus indeed, but they knew the miracle. "Many of the Jews that came to Mary," says St. John, "believed on him." But some of them (which were present, who did not believe in Jesus notwithstanding the miracle) “ went their ways to the pharisees." This is the sense of the place.
f Grot. ad ver. 46. Impios hos fuisse necesse est; quod genus hominum ne conspectâ quidem mortuorum resurrectione resipiscere solet. Luc. xvi. 31. Omnia enim potius, etiam absurdissima, comminiscuntur, quam sua commoda aut hominum gratiam (quam istos venatos apparet) amittant. Et ad ver. 47. • Multa signa facit. Adeo excæcati erant invidia animi, ut quod argumentum esse debuerat, quo ipsi crederent, eo in ipsius perniciem incitarentur.
Answer to the Jewish Rabbi's Letter.
So the Jews in the wilderness did not believe God, but no Jew sure will say, they disputed whether the things done by Moses were miraculous.
Perhaps,' says this Jew, they discovered some frag'ments of the food, that for four days in the cave, he had 'subsisted on.' There is no ground here for a perhaps. How should a man take any food," who was bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and whose face was bound about with the" so often mentioned "napkin?"
'As it is plain,' (says the Jew again,) from the story in 'John, that there was a dispute among the by-standers at 'Lazarus's resurrection, whether it was a real miracle; so it is the opinion of us Jews, which is of the nature of a 'tradition, that the chief priests and civil magistrates of Bethany, for the better determination of the dispute, re'quired that Jesus should repeat the miracle upon another person, there lately dead and buried. But Jesus declining this test of his power, the whole multitude questioned the resurrection of Lazarus. And this was one reason of 'that vehement and universal outcry and demand, at Jesus's 'trial, for his crucifixion.' p. 50, 52,
There is no reason to believe, that this is the opinion of the Jews; but supposing it to be so, it is groundless. And here a present opinion is advanced into a tradition. This tradition is set up against authentic history, written by witnesses and other well-informed persons, who lived near the event. Is that a good cause that needs such a defence? will any man of sense and reason engage, in any other case, in so desperate a cause?
There are innumerable proofs in the evangelists, not only that the raising of Lazarus was a real miracle, but also that the pharisees knew it to be so. Their not putting Lazarus or any other person to death, as an accomplice with Jesus, is demonstration that this and the other miracles of Jesus were known to be real, and not impostures. It is apparent from the trial of Jesus, that the truth of his miracles could not be called in question. If they had, the evangelists, who have recorded so many charges against Jesus, and so many spiteful, scurrilous reproaches on him, would not have omitted this.