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Matt. xi. 4, 5.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go, and shew
John again those things which ye do hear and see : The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.
it is considered, carries with it such undeniable marks of supernatural power and wisdom, as will leave us no room to doubt of its divine original. The purity of its doctrines, the reasonableness of its precepts, the excellence of its motives, the spotless innocence and integrity of its Author, do all with concurring force proclaim it to be the mighty power of God unto salvation. But, having already attentively considered the force of this internal evidence of the truth of
Christianity; I shall now proceed to examine the external evidence, arising from miracles and prophecy.
And 1st, The positive and direct proof of our Saviour's divine commission, are the various miracles, which he wrought in confirmation of his doctrines. To these, therefore, we find him constantly appealing, as the strongest and most irrefragable evidence of his heavenly power and authority; as speaking fully and clearly to the senses of mankind, and, therefore, not to be eluded by any sophistry or evasion of perverse or designing men. Thus, when the Jews sought to kill him, “because he said that God was his “ Father, making himself equal with God;" he tells them, that he might, indeed, appeal to the testimony of John the Baptist, for the truth of what he had said : But why, says he, need I do this I -" I have a greater witness than that “ of John : for the works which the Father hath “ given me to finish, the same works that I do, “ bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent “ me.” Thus also, in the instance before us, when John himself sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, “Art thou he that should come,' that is, the promised Messias, " or look we for “ another?” he does not return a direct answer, but appeals to the miracles which he wrought
before their eyes, as a sufficient answer to this enquiry : “ Go, and shew John again those
things which ye do hear and see: The blind “ receive their sight, and the lame walk, the
lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the “ dead are raised up, and the poor have the “ Gospel preached unto them :" Az if he had said,—The scriptures of the Old Testament foretold, that the Messias should be endued with a divine power from above, by which “the eyes " of the blind should be opened, the ears of the “ deaf unstopped, the lame maņ should leap as
an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing :” These things ye now see fulfilled before your eyes this day : ye can, therefore, have no doubt of my divine commission ; ye must, indeed, be convinced, that I am He that should come; the Deliverer so long promised to your fathers.
Thus we see that our Saviour thought the works which he did a sufficient evidence of his divine power, and of the truth of his religion. And, indeed, abundantly sufficient they are to every candid and unprejudiced enquirer
' after truth. But, in this age of scepticism and licentiousness, there have not been wanting some, who will not acknowledge their force, and have even impiously dared to call in question the truth and reality of those miracles, which are recorded to have been wrought by our Saviour and his disciples, and to ascribe the progress of the Gospel, not to the finger of God, extraordinarily displayed in its support, but to a combination of natural and ordinary causes.
Though I am persuaded, therefore, that I am principally addressing myself to those who believe the Gospel, and, therefore, acknowledge the hand of God to have been visibly displayed in the support of the religion we profess; yet, I hope, it will not be deemed an useless or unnecessary task to examine at large the grounds upon which these pretended doubts are founded, lest the sophistry of a Gibbon should be mistaken for argument, or the reveries of a Rousseau pass for unanswerable demonstration; and to shew that we have the most incontestible proof, that the blind did indeed receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised up. .
And 1st, It has been pretended, that the persons on whom, or before whom, 'the miracles of our Saviour were performed, might possibly be imposed upon by some fraud or artifice.
To this I answer, that there appears not the least shadow of foundation for such a supposi
Can we sup
tion as this. For, as our Saviour's miracles were
thy way, thy son liveth ;” and finds that " from that hour the fever left him?" Can a whole company be deceived, when they see a man that was dead, and laid four days in the grave, raised to life by the authority of a word,
.“ Lazarus, come forth ?” Can a vast multitude be cheated, when they see no less than five thousand inen fed with five barley loaves and two small fishes, and twelve baskets filled with the fragments, which remained over and above? or can we suppose that they would have followed Jesus, if they had not known the miracle to be real? Is it, again, possible for a woman diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years, not to know that she was healed ? Could the
paralytic man possibly be ignorant, that the use of his limbs was restored to him? Can a man that is born blind receive his sight, and not be sensible of the change? Can ten men that are lepers be cleansed, and sent to the priest to offer sacrifice; and all this in imagination only?-the