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SECT. V. Which miracles cannot be ascribed to any natural or diabolical power, but must be from God.

WHICH report had so certain and undoubted a foundation, that neither Celsus,201201   Whose words, in book ii. of Origen, are, “You think he is the Son of God, because he healed the lame and the blind.” nor Julian, 202202   Nay, he plainly confesses the thing, when he says, in the words recited by Cyril, book vi. “Unless any one will reckon amongst the most difficult things, healing the lame and the blind, and casting out devils in Bethsaida and Bethany.” when they wrote 83against the Christians, dared to deny that some miracles were done by Christ; the Hebrews also confess it openly in the books of the Talmud.203203   In the title Aboda Zara. That they were not performed by any natural power, sufficiently appears from hence, that they are called wonders or miracles; nor can it ever be that grievous distempers should be healed immediately, only by a word speaking, or a touch, by the power of nature. If those works could have been accounted for by any natural efficacy, it would have been said so at first, by those who either professed themselves enemies of Christ when he was upon earth, or of his gospel. By the like argument, we gather, that they were not juggling tricks, because very many of the works were done openly, in the sight of all the people;204204   Acts xxvi. 26. Luke xii. and amongst whom were many learned men, who bore no good-will to Christ, who observed all his works. To which we may add, that the like works were often repeated, and the effects were not of a short continuance, but lasting. All which, rightly considered, as it ought to be, it will plainly follow, according to the Jews’ own confession, that these works were done by some power more than human, that is, by some good or bad spirit; that these works were not the effects of any bad spirit, is from hence evident, that this doctrine of Christ, for the proof of which these works were performed, was opposite to those evil spirits: for it forbids the worship of evil spirits; it draws men off from all immorality, in which such spirits delight. It appears also, from the things themselves, that wherever this doctrine has been received, the worship of demons and magical arts have ceased;205205   The books about which were burnt by the advice of the disciples of Christ, Acts xix. 19. and the one God has been worshipped, with an abhorrence of demons; whose strength and power, Porphyry acknowledges, were broken upon the coming of Christ.206206   The place is in Eusebius’s Prep. book v. chap. L. “After Christ was worshipped, nobody experienced any public benefit from the gods.” And it is not at all credible, 84that any evil spirits should be so imprudent, as to do those things, and that very often, from which no honour or advantage could arise to them, but, on the contrary, great loss and disgrace. Neither is it any way consistent with the goodness or wisdom of God, that he should be thought to suffer men, who were free from all wicked designs, and who feared him, to be deceived by the cunning of devils; and such were the first disciples of Christ, as is manifest from their unblameable life, and their suffering very many calamities for conscience-sake. If any one should say, that these works were done by good beings, who yet are inferior to God; this is to confess, that they were well-pleasing to God, and redounded to his honour; because good beings do nothing but what is acceptable to God, and for his glory. Not to mention that some of the works of Christ were such as seem to declare God himself to be the author of them, such as the raising more than one of those that were dead to life. Moreover, God neither does nor suffers miracles to be done without a reason; for it does not become a wise lawgiver to depart from his laws without a reason, and that a weighty one. Now, no other reason can be given why these things were done, but that which is alleged by Christ, viz. to give credit to his doctrine;207207   We may add, that the event itself, in that so great a part of mankind embraced the Christian religion, shows that it was a thing so worthy of God, as for him to confirm it with miracles at the beginning. If he did so many for the sake of one nation, and that no very great one, I mean the Jewish; how much more agreeable to his goodness was it to bestow this heavenly light to so great a part of mankind, who lay in the thickest darkness! Le Clerc. nor could they who beheld them conceive any other reason in their minds: amongst whom, since there were many of a pious disposition, as was said before, it would be profane to think God should do them, to impose upon such. And this was the sole reason why many of the Jews, who lived near the time of Jesus, who yet could not be brought to depart from any thing of the law given by Moses,208208   See Acts xv. Rom. xiv. Jerom in the Eusebian Chronicon, for the year of Christ cxxv. after he had named fifteen Christian bishops of Jerusalem, adds, “These were all bishops of the circumcision, who governed till the destruction of Jerusalem under the emperor Adrian.” Severus Sulpitius, concerning the Christians of those times and places, says, “They believed Christ to be God, whilst they observed also the law; and the church had a priest out of those of the circumcision.” See Epiphanius, where be treats of the Nazarenes and Ebionites. Nazarenes was a name not for any particular part, but all the Christians in Palestine were so called, because their master was a Nazarene. (such as 85they who were called Nazarenes and Ebionites), nevertheless owned Jesus to be a teacher sent front heaven.


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