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his wife instructions, not with reverence but with indignation, because their proud and worldly minds were offended with the apparent meanness of his origin, in confequence of which, they would not conde fcend to apply to our Lord, for his interference, notwithstanding his long experienced power.-In all these cases the Son of God would not gratify: the vain and unreasonable expectations of some, or waste his miracles on others, who despised both him and them, for he could not do this consistently with the dignity of his office, and the object of his mission, which was calculated to try and to exalt the moral character of men, by supplying abundant evidence to the fair and humble enquirer, without " extorting the assent of the wilfully blind and obstinately negligent, or violently subduing to a reluctant submission the incorrigibly vicious and perverse.
Thus it was that the want of faith prevented our Lord from dispensing his miraculous favours ; but never did the benign Jesus, when implored, refuse to exercise his fupernatural power in relieving misery; and in no instance did he ever attempt to exercise it without full success; while in the objects and the manner of the operation ke constantly displayed a just selection and calm dignity, utterly inconsistent with the extravagance of fanaticism.,
h Vid. John iii. 1—21. Also v. 41, and especially John-viji 17. Also Luke viii. 4-18.
Our Lord's fometimes appearing to conceal his miracles, has also induced a suspicion that they could not stand the test of rational enquiry ; but it is easy to account for this circumstance, so as totally to repel the fufpicion. It cannot surely be denied, that our Lord exhibited multiplied proofs of his divine miffion even to his enemies, from whom however he was obliged frequently to shade the full splendor of these proofs, and to avoid disclosing the full extent of those objects which he came to accomplish, and the high majesty of that character which he was entitled to afsume, because thus only could he fecure the credibility, the reputation, and the success, of that religion which he laboured to establish. In order to secure these infinitely important objects, it was necessary " that he should i compleat the time foretold “ of his ministry, and after a life illustrious in mira« cles and good works, attended with humility, “ meekness, patience and sufferings, and every way “ conformable to the prophecies of him, should be “ led as a sheep to the slaughter, and with all quiet “ and submission should be brought to the cross, " though there were no guilt or fault in him : this “ could not have been, if as soon as he appeared in
public, and began to preach, he had presently
professed himself to have been the Messiah, the “ king who owned that kingdom he published to be
i Vid. Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity, Tracts, vol. iv. p. 23.
“ at hand, for the Sanhedrim would have then taken “ hold on it to have got him in their power, and
thereby have taken away his life—at least they “ would have disturbed his ministry, and hindred " the work he was about obliging him perhaps to submit prematurely to their violence, or to use such supernatural methods of escape or resistance, and to iņfli& fuch supernatural punishments, as would be inconsistent with the humble, merciful, and unresisting character which it became him to fupport, and such as might prevent those final sufferings it was necessary he should undergo.
Another purpose equally important to which this reserve was necessary, was, that he “ should not be “ feized for any thing that might make him a crimi« nal to the government, and therefore he avoided,
giving those, who, in the division that was about “him, inclined towards him, occasion of tumult for: “ his fake; or to the Jews, his enemies, matter of
just accusation out of his own mouth, by profes-,
sing himself to be the Messiah, the king of 'Ifrael, « in direct words.”—Hence also he was obliged fre. quently to conceal his miracles, which would have roused the impetuous multitude, full of their ideas, of a temporal Messiah, to repeat their efforts, to
mtake him by, force and make him a king”-an,
* Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity. Watson's Tracts, vol. iv. p. 58. 1 Locke, ibid, p. 47..
m John vj. 15. C2
event, which had it taken place, and been with any shadow of reason chargeable on our Lord's conduct, would have totally defeated the sacred purpose of his mission, since he would thus have appeared to have been justly punished for abusing religion to gratify ambition, instead of appearing the founder of a religion whose scheme was totally free from every mixture of temporal and narrow views, and every way worthy of the Son of God.
Had our Lord been impelled by the violence of enthusiasm, it is not conceivable that such would not have been his fate ; but the consummate prudence which regulated his every action, enabled him to steer his way through all the dangers that surrounded him.-In conformity, to such prudence it was, that he so often commanded those on whom he wrought his miracles - Go, and tell no man who has made “ thee whole ;" but his apostles he was ever careful should be eye witnesses of all his wondrous works, and constant hearers of his words; to them he explained every difficulty, and condescended gradually to enlighten their understandings and dispel their prejudices.—A select number of them attended his most private miracles—they beheld the awful anticipation of his divine glory at the transfiguration on the mount, which they were commanded not to declare till after his resurrection, because then only
* Mätt. xvii. Luke ix. Mark ix.
they they could declare it without any danger of being understood to describe a temporal Messiah.—Thus even the concealment of our Lord's divine works, which in fome instances took place, so far from justifying any suspicion of their being founded on fanatic delusion, clearly shews they were under the direction of the most perfect wisdom, and performed, as well as related, with every mark of foberness.
The nature of the miracles wrought by our Lord during
his public ministry, and the circumstances which attended them, prove they cannot be ascribed to the power of enthusiasm.
TH E least attention to the evangelic history will satisfy us, that the subjects of our Lord's miracles were most generally such as no power of imagination, no delusion of enthusiasm, could possibly influ.
• To turn water into wine to feed 5000 persons at one time on five loaves and two fishes, and 9 4000 at another, on feven loaves and a few fmall fishes--' to restore a withered limb-to give fight to a man forty years old, who had been born blind