« ZurückWeiter »
tors. And so much for the first story: now for the second.
The second story tells us what Jesus said in the presence of queen Helena, and what afterward happened between him and Judas Iscariot. The scene of both these transactions is laid in Jerusalem; but the Jews do not pretend that queen Helena was ever at Jerusalem before her conversion to their religion, and she was converted to Judaism in the sixth year of the emperor Claudius, that is, in the thirteenth year after Jesus had been put to death by the Jews, and when Judas Iscariot, driven to despair by an accusing and tormenting conscience, had made way with himself; and so much for this second story, and so much for the charge brought against Jesus, that he wrought his miracles by magic arts," (or rather by the power of the Shem Hamphoresh,) “which hath no other foundation but the two foregoing most incredible stories.” I hope my dear Benjamin hath too much good sense to need any
further arguments to show the fallacy of this rabbinical fable. In the sequel of this letter it will be shown that Jesus Christ performed his miracles by his own power. I will here briefly state that,
§ 7. The design of his miracles was twofold: viz. to prove the reality of his divinity and the truth of his Mes. siahship. The manner in which he wrought his miracles, the concomitant circumstances, and the language of the sacred writers who recorded them, clearly show that he acted as a divine person, that in various instances he wished this to appear, and that the inspired historians viewed matters in no other light. Permit me, my dear Benjamin, to call your particular attention to the following observation: Jesus wrought his miracles in his own name, and not in the name of God. His apostles, on the contrary, never wrought a miracle in their own name, nor in the name of God, but in the name of Jesus. Luke, 10:17. Acts, 3:16. 16: 18. Again, Jesus wrought his miracles by his own power, and that by a mere word of command, and whenever he pleased. Matt. 8:2, 3, 16. Luk:, 4:36. John, 5:21, and 10: 37, 38. Not so with Moses; he was only an instrument, and could not work miracles at all times. “For saith the Lord, I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders, which I will do in the midst thereof." Ex. 3: 20. Again,
See that thou do all these wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand.” Ex. 4:21. Moses could neither bring nor remove them. But Jesus was the author of his mighty works, and he did them whenever he pleased. He performed them by the word of his mouth, or by the touch of his garment, when he was present, and when he was at a distance. Nothing could withstand his power or his will. He rebuked the sea with supreme authority, which convinced the disciples of his divinity. Mark, 4:39, 41. This is the character and prerogative of Jehovah. Ps. 104:6, 7. 106: 9. Many who saw these miracles, being convinced of his divinity, made himn the object of faith; and for this purpose they are recorded. John, 2 : 23. 6:2. 11:4. 20:30, 31.
$ 8. Our blessed Savior frequently appealed to his miracles as the credentials of his mission. When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples inquiring, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which
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 preach. ed to them.” Matt. 11:2–5. Here we perceive that Jesus Christ answered their question neither in the affirmative nor negative, but referred them to the miracles which he wrought, agreeably to the predictions concerning the Mes. siah. John the Evangelist tells us that the miracles of Jesus are recorded, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” John, 20:31. And the apostle Peter thus addressed the multitude on the day of Pentecost : “ Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Acts, 2: 22.
§ 9. And now, my dear brother, having shown that miracles are sufficient credentials to prove a divine mission, that the Messiah was expected to work miracles, and that Jesus Christ wrought many miracles to prove both his disinity and his mission; let me ask you, is it unreasonable to believe that he is the Messiah? Have I not the same evidence for believing that he is the promised Messiah, as our fathers had for believing that Moses was sent to bring them out of Egypt? What would you say if a pamphlet like the Toldoth Yeshu was circulating a story that Moses had made himself master of magic in Egypt, and stole the name Jehovah, and by its power wrought all his miracles, and persuaded our fathers that he had been sent by God, and thus acted as an impostor? Would you give credit to such a report without the strongest evidence of its authenticity? But the Toldoth Yeshu is destitute of every evidence of truth is full of contradictions, and is evidently a fable not known till many centuries after the death of Christ. But before I dismiss the subject I will endeavor to make a brief comparison between the miracles of Christ and those of Moses; and I trust it will clearly appear that the superiority is greatly in favor of the former. I will mention but a few particulars.
§ 10. 1. Notice, my dear Benjamin, the greatness of the miracles which Jesus wrought. He raised the dead to life again, and one that had been dead already four days, and seen corruption. He cured the most incurable diseases. A woman that had labored twelve years of an issue of blood, that had wasted her estate upon physicians without success, was cured by the mere touch of his garment.. He cures another that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, that was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up
herself. Another, who had an infirmity thirty-eight years, he heals with a word of his mouth. He restores onc to sight who
had been born blind. He cures the leper, and effectually rebukes the fever. He speaks the word, and the demoniac is dispossessed, and the paralytic cured. He multiplies a few loaves and fishes to satisfy the wants of five thousand, and the fragments exceed the original stock. He commands devils, and they obey; he speaks to the raging waves, and there is a great calm. Well might the spectators exclaim, Such things were never seen in Israel !''
§ 11. 2. Observe, next, the number and rariety of his miracles. Our Rabbins ascribe to Moses seventy-six miracles, and to all the other prophets only seventy-four; but the miracles related by the evangelists to have been wrought by our blessed Jesus, by far exceed those done by Moses and all the other prophets together. And what shall be said of those many more which are not recorded? The evangelist John saith, " that if they should be written, he supposed that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written," John, 21:25; a figure of speech, bold indeed, but such as our people were weil acquainted with. Hence, “many of the people believed on him, and said, when Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath done ?" Equally surprising is the variety of his miracles. Had he cured many diseases of the same kind, it might have been presumed that he had acquired peculiar skill in that one particular disease. But here is no room left for suspicion. For Jesus not only healed all manner of diseases, but he displayed his almighty power over death, the king of terror; over Satan, the god of this world; and over the uncontrollable elements of wind and water.
§ 12. 3. Let us notice the manner in which Jesus wrought his miracles. How different was the conduct of Jesus in working miracles, from that of Moses and the apostles. They acted with the most profound humility and direct appeal to the Almighty, as his agents; but Christ, as the Lord of universal nature, in whose hand was the life of every living thing. They never forgot themselves in their
ministerial character, so far as to attempt to work a mira. cle at their own pleasure, in their own names, and by their own power. But Jesus wrought miracles in the same manner as he created the world. In the beginning, “God said, let there be light, and light was;" in like manner he said to the stormy wind and boisterous seas,
peace, be still, and there was a great calm"-to the leprous, " be clean"_to the croooked, “be straight"—to the deaf, “ hear"_to the blind, “ see"-to the dumb "speak”-to the withered hand, “ be stretched out"—to the dead, “ arise”—and to the putrid carcass, “come forth."
Here allow me, dear Benjamin, to observe, that if our Lord and Savior was nothing more than a mere man, and acted solely by commission from his Father, in like manner as Moses and the prophets did, and in no higher sense, there was an arrogance and presumption in his manner infinitely unbecoming such a character. But upon the principle that he was God, as well as man, all is plain, natural, and easy.
$ 13. 4. The utility of our Lord's miracles is another circumstance which deserves our notice. All the miracles which Moses wrought, were injurious either to men or beasts, or both. But of Jesus it is witnessed, " that he went about doing good.” He who once filled mount Sinai with smoke, and thunder, and lightning, so that Moses himself exceedingly feared and quaked, might have shaken the pillars of the earth, darkened the sun, moon and stars, and caused fire and brimstone to come down from heaven to consume his adversaries; but he "came not to destroy, but to save the world.” His miracles were so many acts of mercy and relief. “ His errand was to bring glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men."
$14. 5. In closing the comparison, we notice the publi city of Christ's miracles. Our Lord did not shun the light, for his deeds were good. Multitudes witnessed the cure of the paralytic. All the people were amazed at the cure of the blind and dumb. Much people were with Jesus when