Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

what is the excellency, necessity, and authority of them, I shall now add three or four arguments to help your faith, which, I hope, will not only prove them to be a divine testimony to the substance of doctrine (though that be a useful work against unbelief), but also that they are the very written laws of God, and a perfect rule of faith and duty. (2 Tim. iii.16.). My arguments shall be but few, because I handle it but on the by, and those such as I find little of in ordinary writings, lest I should waste time in doing what is done to my hands.

1. •Those writings and that doctrine which were confirmed by many and real P miracles, must needs be of God, and consesequently of undoubted truth. But the books and doctrines of canonical Scripture were so confirmed: therefore, &c.

Against the major proposition nothing of any moment can be said; for it is a truth apparent enough to nature, that none but God can work real miracles, or, at least, none but those whoin he doth especially enable thereto; and it is as manifest that the righteous and faithful God will not give this power for a seal to any falsehood or deceit.

The usual objections are these: first, antichrist shall come with lying wonders. I

Answ. They are no true miracles: as they are répara tévdovs, (2 Thess. ii. 9) lying, in sealing to a lying doctrine : so also in being but seeming and counterfeit miracles. The like may be said to those of Pharaoh's magicians, and all other sorcerers and witches, and those that may be wrought by Satan himself. They may be wonders, but not miracles."

° See this argument from miracles, managed by Camero Prælect. “De Verbo Dei,' (fol.) pp. 439-441, &c., and Grotius . De Verit. Religionis Christianæ.' Vide et Polan. Syntag. lib. 1. c. 17.

P Dopum et iniraculorum et linguarum dandarum fuisse et extraordinarium, et a solis apostolis (peculiari privilegio dato à Christo) conferri solitum, certo certius est.- Danæus contr. Bellarm. de Baptismo, p. 443. But this certio certius is a mistake, if he intend to exclude all besides apostles.

9 Nam ut Ægyptiorum vatum nequaquam vis omnis æquari gratiæ potest, quæ Mosi mirandum est in modum collata. Sed exitus arguit, Ægyptios præstigiis niti : Moysen vero quæ gesserit, gessisse divinitus. Sic et eorum qui Christi falso sibi nomen adsciscunt, et qui perinde ac Jesu discipuli virtutes mentiuntur et prodigia ; coarguuntur plane vel in omnis iniquitatis seductiones fallaces, &c.--Origen, cont. Celsun, lib. 2. fol. (mibi) 23. G. I do not not believe that God would have let the Egyptian sorcerers do su great things as they did, had not Moses been present, that so his miracles might discredit their wonders, and God be the more mayuified by the conquest.

* Fuerunt miracula ut buccivæ atque præcones quibus evangelium commendabatur. Ut enim lex Mosis compluribus miraculis in monte Sinæ et per desertum authoritatem sibi conciliavit, quæ postea destiterunt cum d terram promissionis ventum est; eademque ratione miracula nunc quoque sublata sunt, cum evangelium per universum orbem diffusum est. Promissio igitur quam Christus in Marco 16, 17, scribi voluit, non ad omnia tempora pertinebat.- Pet. Mart. Loc. Commun. Clas. 1. c. 8. sect. 20.

Object. 2. God may enable false prophets to work miracles to try the world, without any derogation to his faithfulness.

Answ. No: for divine power being properly the attendant of divine revelation, if it should be annexed to diabolical delusion, it would be a sufficient excuse to the world for their believing those delusions. And if miracles should not be a sufficient seal to prove the authority of the witness to be divine, then is there nothing in the world sufficient; and so our faith will be quite overthrown. · Object. But, however, miracles will no more prove Christ to be the Son of God, than they will prove Moses, Elias, or Elisha, to be the sons of God, for they wrought iniracles as well as Christ.

Answ. Miracles are God's seal,s not to extol the person that is instrumental, nor for his glory; but to extol God, and for his own glory. God doth not intrust any creatures with his seal so absolutely, as that they may use it when, and in what case they please. If Moses, or Elias, had affirmed themselves to be the .sons of God, they could never have confirmed that affirmation with a miracle ; for God would not have sealed to a lie. Christ's power of working miracles did not immediately prove him to be the Christ, but it immediately proved his testimony to be divine, and that testimony spoke his nature and office : so that the power of miracles in the prophets and apostles was not to attest to their own greatness, but to the truth of their testi mony concerning Christ. Whatsoever any man affirms to me, and works a real miracle to confirm it, I must needs take myself bound to believe him.

Object. But what if some one should work miracles to confirin a doctrine contrary to Scripture, would you believe it? Doth not Paul say, “If an angel from heaven teach any other doctrine, let him be accursed ?"

Answ. I am sure God will never give any false teacher the power of confirming his doctrine by miracles ;t else God should

s See huw Christ's miracles prove his Godhead, in Botsacci Anti-Crellio,' pp. 178, 179, 194, 195, 198, 716—718, &c.' So Marius Victorius advers. Arian. lib. 1.

* That none but God can work a miracle (except as an angel may be his instrument), see Aquin, cont. Gentiles, lib. 3. q. 122.; also, what a miracle is, ibid. 9. 10; and of magicians' wonders, q. 103, 104.

[ocr errors]

subscribe his name to contradictions. The appearance of an angel is no miracle, though a wonder.

Object. But every simple man knows not the true definition of a miracle, and consequently knows not the difference between a miracle and a wonder, and so knows not how to believe on this ground.

Answ. As God doth not use the testimony of miracles, but on very great and weighty causes, to wit, where natural and ordinary means of conviction are wanting, and usually for the delivering of some new law or truth to the world, or the like; so when he doth use it, he sufficiently manifesteth the reality of the miracles." Satan's wonders are such as may be done hy natural means; though, perhaps, through our ignorance, we see not the means. But God oft worketh that which no natural means can do, and Satan never performed. As the raising of the dead to life, the creating of sight to him that was born blind, the dividing of the sea, the standing still of the sun,with multitudes of the like. Again, though many of Christ's works may be done by natural means, as the healing of the deaf, the dumb, the lame, &c., yet Christ did them all by a word speaking, and so it is apparent that he made no use of natural means, secretly nor openly. Again, the wonders of Satan are most commonly juggling delusions, and therefore the great miracles that pagans and papists have boasted of, have been but some one or two strange things in an age, or usually before one or two, or some few, and that of the simple and more partial sort, that are easily deceived: but if upon the fame of these you go to look for more that may be a full and open testimony, you will fail of your expectation. But, contrarily, that there might be no room for doubting left, Christ wrought his miracles before multitudes; feeding many thousands at several times, with a small quantity; healing the sick, blind, lame, and raising the dead before many; the persons afterwards showing themselves to the world, and attesting it to his enemies : and this he did not once or twice, but most frequently; so that they that suspected deceit in one, or two, or ten, might be satisfied in twenty. Yea, which is the greatest convincing discovery of the reality, it was not himself only, but

* Read Zanchius at large of this, vol. 1. tom. 3. lib. 4. c. 12. ^ De Potentia Dæmonum.'

* Miracula vera sunt propria veræ ecclesiæ. Nam certum est Deum veracem et gloriæ suæ zelo ardentem, nunquam testimonia perhibiturum fuisse aut esse iis qui falsam doctrinam de ipso et voluntate ejus spargunt.-Pol. Syntagm. lib. 1. cap. 28.

...

multitudes of his followers, whom he enabled, when he was gone from them, to do the like, to speak strange languages before multitudes, to heal the sick and lame, and raise the dead. And usually false wonders are done but among friends, that would have it so, and are ready to believe; but Christ wrought his in the midst of enemies that gnashed the teeth, and had nothing to say against it. And I am persuaded that it was one reason why God would have Christ and all his followers have so many and cruel enemies, that when they had nothing to say against it, who doubtless would pry narrowly into all, and make the worst of it, it might tend to the establishing of believers afterwards. Again, usually false miracles, as they crept out in the dark, so they were not divulged till some after ages, and only a little - muttered of at the present: but Christ and his apostles wrought

and published them openly in the world. If the Gospel history had been false, how many thousand persons could have witnessed against it, seeing they appealed to thousands of witnesses then living, of several ranks and qualities, and countries ? It is true, indeed, the magicians of Egypt did seem to go far. But consider whether they were mere delusions, or real wonders by secret, natural means; doubtless, they were no miracles directly so called. And lest any should say that God tempted them by such above their strength, you may observe that he doth not suffer Satan to do what he can do, without a sufficient counter testimony to undeceive men. When did God suffer the like deceit as those sorcerers used ? Nor would he then have suffered it, but that Moses was at hand to overcome their delusions, and leave the beholders with full conviction, that so the enemies' strength might make the victory the more glorious. Balaam could not go beyond the word of the Lord. So that I desire all weak believers to observe this, That as God is the faithful Ruler of the world, so he will not let loose the enemy of mankind to tempt us by wonders, further than he himself shall give us a sufficient contradictory testimony. So that if we do not know the difference between a miracle and a wonder, yet God's faithfulness affords us a sufficient preservative, if we disregard it not. And if we should grant that Satan can work miracles; yet he being wholly at God's dispose, it is certain that God will not permit him to do it, without a full contradiction; and, therefore, such as Christ's miracles he shall never work. Else should the creature be remedilessly deluded by supernatural powers, while God looks on.

Secondly: But the main assault I know will be made against the minor proposition of the argument, and so the question will be, de facto, whether ever such miracles were wrought or not? I shall grant that we must not here argue circularly to prove the doctrine to be of God by the miracles, and then the miracles to have been wrought by the divine testimony of the doctrine, and so round. But yet, to use the testimony of the history of Scripture, as a human testimony of the matter of fact, is no circular arguing.,

Sect. II. Toward the confirmation of the minor, therefore, I shall first lay these grounds : 1. That there is so much certainty in some human testimony, that may exclude all doubting, or cause of doubting ;' or there is some testimony immediately human, which yet may truly be said to be divine : 2. That such testimony we have of the miracles mentioned in Scripture. If these two be cleared, the minor will stand firm, and the main work here will be done.

First : I will therefore show you, that there is such a certainty in some human testimony. Both experience and reason will confirm this. First, I would desire any rational man to tell me, whether he that never was at London, at Paris, or at Rome, may not be certain, by a human faith, that there are such cities ? for my own part, I think it as certain to me, nay, more certain, than that which I see: and I should sooner question my own sight alone, than the eyes and credit of so many thousands in such a case. And I think the sceptic arguments brought against the certainty of sense, to be as strong as any that can be brought against the certainty of such a testimony. Is it not somewhat more than probable, think you, to the multitudes that never saw either parliament or king, chat yet there is such an assembly, and such a person : may we not be fully certain that there was such a person as King James, as Queen Elizabeth, as Queen Mary, &c., here in England; yea, that there was such a

y De certitudine Histor. lege Reignoldam' De Lib. Apocr. Prælect.' 124126. Respondeo, esse quandam famam, quæ tanti esse debet; tantæ, inquam, authoritatis, ac si rem ipsam oculis usurpassemus. Camer. ‘Prælect. de Verbo,' fol. p. 440. See there his full proof that these miracles of Christ and the disciples have such infallible testimony, and by what conditions certain fame may be known from uncertain.

2 Fides humana non habet sua natura certitudinem infallibilem : quamvis sit fides humana, quæ moraliter loquendo, evidens et infallibilis censetur ; ut quod Roma sit, quod Indi sint, &c.-Ames, in Disput. de Fidei Divin, Veritat. thes.3.

VOL. XXII,

т

« AnteriorContinuar »