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greater sign than this thou canst not give: and “ therefore if after I have beheaded thee thou re“ coverest to life again, both I and all my people, “ and all the world sure, will acknowledge thee to “ be a messenger from God.” And presently he commanded him to be beheaded, and there was an end of the cheat. And so there would doubtless have been of the Christian religion, if Jesus had not been raised from the dead; for he said just as this El David did, Kill me, if you please, and when you have done so, you shall see I will live again; and upon this I stake all the credit of my doctrine. And therefore, since it came to pass according to his word, we have all the reason in the world to resolve, with that Arabian prince, to believe and acknowledge him to be sent from God : for, if there be a God that loves sincerity and truth, as we are sure there is, we are equally sure he will not conspire with an impostor to cheat and delude the world : and yet this he must have done, had Jesus been a deceiver, when he fulfilled this miraculous sign of his resurrection, upon which he suspended all the credit of his doctrine. So that now we have the same certainty of the truth of our faith, as we have of the truth of our knowledge; for the truth of our knowledge supposes, that there is a God, whose goodness will not suffer us to be deceived in those things which we clearly apprehend; and the truth of our faith

that there is a God whose goodness will not suffer him to deceive us in such things as he hath given us sufficient reason to believe. For he who gives me a sufficient reason to induce me to believe a false proposition, is guilty of seducing me into a false belief; and therefore, since God, in raising Christ from the dead, hath given us a sufficient argument to induce us to believe that he sent him, it necessarily follows, either that he did send him, or that he is guilty of deceiving and abusing us.

supposes,

3. This evidence of miracles is the plainest and most popular to confirm a revelation. If the principles of revealed religion were to be proved by natural reason and philosophy, the arguments of it would be too thin and subtil for vulgar capacities, and men would never be fit to be catechized into their religion, till they had been trained up in the schools, and there instructed in the intrigues of logic and discourse; for the generality of men are capable of no other notices of things, but what are immediately impressed upon them by the objects of sense; nor have they skill enough so exactly to compare simple terms, as to connect them into true propositions, and from these to deduce their true and natural consequences. These are things that require far more leisure and skill than men's education and affairs will ordinarily afford them : so that had there not been some plainer and easier way found out, to prove the truth of Christianity than this, it had been a religion fit only for the schools of philosophers ; and the vulgar, who are not capable of close and strict discourse, and have neither time nor skill enough to trace the footsteps of truth through all the intricacies of reasoning and discourse, must have been damned to eternal infidelity. And this, without doubt, was one main reason why the moral philosophy of the heathen had so little influence upon the people ; because the arguments by which its principles were proved and demonstrated were too fine and subtil for vulgar apprehensions; insomuch that there were but few, in comparison, that could comprehend the strength and force of them : and in all probability, as little effect would Christianity have found in the world, had it not been proved and demonstrated by such evidence as is adapted to all capacities. As for instance, the immortality of the soul is one great principle of the Christian religion; but now, had we no other way of proving this principle than by philosophical arguments, how impossible would it have been to convince the vulgar of the truth of it? For first we must have proved that the soul is immaterial, by shewing that its operations, such as free-will and reflection, are incompetent with matter; from hence we must have inferred that it is immortal, by shewing that what is immaterial hath no quantitative extension, and consequently is incapable of division and corruption. Now, I beseech you, what jargon, what unintelligible gibberish, would this appear to vulgar understandings! What an insignificant noise would such fine speculations make in the ears of an honest ploughman! But now the miraculous resurrection of our Saviour is so plain and intelligible a proof of it, that every man may apprehend the force of it that hath the free use of his own faculties : for it is but arguing thus, and the thing is clearly proved; Christ told the world, whilst he was alive, that the soul is immortal, and that there are everlasting habitations of weal or woe prepared for her in another world; and in token that what he said was true, he promised that the third day after his death he would rise again, which he could never have verified, had not God given him power to do it: and to be sure God would never have given him this power, had not his saying been true: wherefore, since God did empower him to rise again, it is plain that he thereby approved the truth of his saying, and justified his doctrine to the world. This is such a plain and intelligible way of arguing, that the shallowest minds may easily apprehend the force of it: wherefore, since God designed Christianity to be a religion as well for the vulgar as for the more refined and elevated understandings, it was highly reasonable that the way of proving its principles should be plain and intelligible to all capacities of men.

4. And lastly, this evidence of miracles is the most short and compendious way of proving the truth of revelation. One reason why the moral philosophy of the heathen had so little influence on the vulgar was, because their way of proving the principles of it were so long and tedious; for they were fain to prove them by parcels; and when they had convinced their auditors of the truth of one proposition, they proceeded to another; and so they were fain to prove them all singly and apart by distinct and different arguments; which was so tedious a way, that the vulgar had not leisure enough to attend to so great a variety of reasonings, nor yet capacity enough to retain them: but he that works a real miracle in token that such a doctrine is true, proves it all at once, and needs not trouble himself to demonstrate one proposition after another : for by giving a miraculous sign of the truth of such a doctrine, God doth openly approve every proposition contained in it; because it cannot be supposed that the God of truth would approve any doctrine in the gross,

if

any part or proposition of it had been false, since in so doing he must necessarily have abused our understandings, and wittingly betrayed us into a false belief; which to affirm of God is equally absurd and blasphemous. When therefore God raised our Saviour from the dead, he did by that act openly avow the truth of his whole doctrine, and proclaim to all the world, that every article in it is as true as truth itself. So that now we need not trouble ourselves to hunt out for several arguments to prove

the several articles of our faith; for this one argument serves instead of all, that God, by sundry miracles, and particularly by raising Jesus from the dead, hath given testimony, that the doctrine which he taught is a true revelation of his mind and will to the world. And thus you see what a clear and excellent evidence Christ's miracles, and especially his resurrection, is of the truth of his doctrine: no wonder therefore that the apostle doth so much prefer it above all other evidence, as we find he doth, 1 Cor. ü. 4. For, saith he, my speech and my teaching was not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that is, I did not go about to convince ye with rhetorical harangues, or fine philosophical reasonings, but I clearly demonstrated the truth of what I preached by the miracles, which, through the power of the divine Spirit, I wrought amongst you. So that whether we consider the certainty of Christ's miracles, but especially of his resurrection, or the powerful evidence which they gave to his doctrine,

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