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that "no man could do such works, unless “ Çod was with him,” John iii. Our Lord himself reasons in the same manner, John x. 38. & xv. 24.; and in almost all his discourses, That if he had not done among them such works as no other man did, they would not have been so much to blame for not acknowledging his divine commiffion; but as he had, in almost numberless instances, they had no cloak for their unbelief: and these we find the Apostle adducing as the testimony of God given to the apostles, Heb. ii. 4. “ God “ also bearing them witness, both with “ signs and wonders, and with divers mi“ racles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost.”
But the finishing part of the evidence, and which may very justly be accounted the greatest miracle of all, was the wonderful success of his ministry, the proper evidence of God's working very powerfully in him; that he was not afraid to say, “ that he was not behind the very “ chiefest apostles ;" especially when the rules he laid down to himself, and punctually followed, are duly considered : for he not only renounced all the arts of craft and cunning, too commonly practised by
such as want to make a party, but even the allowable address of human wisdom, and the powers of eloquence. And he gives this reason for it, that the faith of his hearers should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God; and, in the room of all, substitutes the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 1 Cor. ii. 3. 4. 5.
There have been, in all the ages of Christianity, a number of men, who, reckoning themselves greatly wiser than their neighbours, made it their business, instead of declaring the testimony of God, to reduce the gospel of Christ to a merely rational system, exactly suited to the natural state of the human powers, the measure of a sort of moral government; and they suppose, that when that is once fairly revealed, and notified, the great Creator and gracious Redeemer have no more to do with them, until they come to stand before his judgement-seat, to be rewarded or punished, according as their behaviour has been good or bad, wise or foolish : and accordingly, much learned labour and critical skill have been employed to remove the grace of God, which Paul fa
- much infifted on, and the influence of his
Spirit, and power, out of their way; and to persuade the world, that the demonstration of the Spirit, and the power of God, on which Paul would have the faith of Christians to stand, was no more but the rational evidence arising from the miracles which the apostles and first preachers wrought by the gift of the Spirit, and the power of God. But surely Paul meant something more, when he said, “ Paul "might plant, and Apollos water; but “ that it was God who gave the increase,” I Cor. iii. 6.; and when he talks so positively of God's quickening those who were dead in fin; nay, makes faith itself, or mens believing the testimony of God, his own gift. Our Lord too certainly meant more, when he said, that “ without him” even his chosen disciples “ could do no" thing;” and Paul, when he said, “ he “ could do all things through Christ “ strengthening him.” These, with many other such expressions, must certainly have had some other meaning, than that God and Christ, after revealing this fame instrument of moral government, did noVOL.III.
thing more, but left every man to do for himself as he best could
When we add to this, the promise of the Spirit, so often repeated, not only on some chosen apostles and evangelists, but upon all flesh, even servants and handmaids, i. e. male and female slaves; and, in general, the assurance our Lord gives, that his heavenly Father will give this fame Spirit to all that ask him, be who they will, or what they will, without excepting any, Luke xi. 13.; and the purposes for which he is given, John xiv. & xvi. to supply Christ's bodily absence with advantage, “ to lead into all truth," and “ bring all things to their remembrance ;” and, in a word, to take of Christ's things, (and all that the Father hath is his), and shew them to them: he who duly considers these, and such other accounts we have in the divine record, will not hesitate to think, that this fame demonstration of the Spirit and power of God, leads to that life and power which is the distinguishing characteristic of the word of God, Jer. xxiii. 28. 29.; and that this was the mighty power which wrought effectually in the apostles. ...
We We need not stand on what the Apostle fays Peter, James, and John, fingly insisted upon, verf. 10. viz. That he and his associates, should be mindful of the poor, (an admonition which he did not need), unless it be to observe how much this duty is insisted on, commanded, and commended, in the divine record, and how little minded in common practice. It is one of those things which men have learned to call imperfect rights, because there are no human laws to inforce it; and therefore is no further minded than those laws oblige them to contribute their proportion. But in truth the poor have as good a right to relief as the great proprietor of all things can give them.
It would likewise have been needless to observe the order in which the Apostle here ranks these pillars of the primitive church, were it not for the infolent pretensions of the men who, without any shadow of reason, except what themselves have forged, pretend to be the successors of Peter. The Apostle here ranks James before him; and James possessed the . place of president in what themselves call a general council. Peter himself was fo far from usurping the title of Universal N 2