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5. No man that is well in his wits can expect that God should speak to us immediately, and that no other Revelation is to be trusted. Alas! man cannot endure his voice, nor see him and live.
6. lf, therefore, any shall prove to us that they come from God, and are his messengers to reveal his will, we must believe them according to the proof that they bring.
7. If any shall seal the doctrine that he bringeth in the name of God, with the testimony of such numerous, evident, undeniable miracles, it is the highest proof of the truth of his doctrine that flesh and blood can expect. And if God do not give us sufficient help to discover a falsehood in this testimony, we must take it for his voice and truth. For if God shall let men or devils use the highest mark of a divine testmony to confirm a lie, while they pretend it to be divine, and do not control this, he leaveth men utterly remediless. For we cannot go up into heaven to see what hand these things are wrought by. We are certain they cannot be done without divine permission and commission. And we are sure that God is the true, just, merciful Governor of the world; and as sure that it belongeth to a rector to promulgate, as well as enact his own laws : and that they cannot oblige us till promulgated, i.e. sufficiently revealed. And if he shall suffer any to say, 'God sent me to you on this message,' and to back this affirmation with such a stream of miracles, through a whole age, by many thousand hands, and shall not any ways contradict them, nor give us any sufficient help to discover the delusion, then it must needs be taken for God's own act, seeing by office he is our Rector; or else, that God hath given up the world to the disposal and government of the devil. Now, let any man of right reason judge whether it be possible that the just and merciful God, being naturally our Governor, as we are his creatures, should give permission or commission to the devil to deceive the world in his name, by changing and working against the very course of nature, and by means that no man can possibly try, and so leave his creature remedilessly to be misled and perish. And whether this be not plainly to say, God is not just, nor merciful, or is not the Governor of the world ; and whether that be not to deny that there is a God; for if he be not just, and good, and Governor, he is not God. So that he that denieth Christianity, and Scripture verity, must deny the Godhead, if he know the arguments for it.
Now, for the discovery of a deceit in such a case as the testimony of miracles, I know but two ways by which man can discover the deceit, if there be any. I. By some truth of God, which is revealed to us by a more certain means than those miracles are which this new revelation doth contradict; 2. Or by some greater works by which God shall presently contradict the testimony of those wonders or miracles, as Moses did by the Egyptians. Now, we have neither of these contradictions from God, against the doctrine of Christ or his apostles. So far are they from contradicting former, or certainly revealed truths, that they consent with truth before revealed; and Christ, as the Light of the world, hath given us the kernel and clear explication of all. And so far was God from sending any to work greater miracles for the contradicting of Christ, that the poorest of his followers, for many a year after, did do wonders without any such contradiction. No enemy of the church did ever pretend to any such testimony against him. I would fain know, in one word, whether God can reveal his will to us or not? If not, then he cannot be our Rector. If he can, then by what more evident and convincing way, supposing we cannot see himself? 3. The next thing we are to prove, is, that those gifts and works of the Holy Ghost were evident and undeniable. And here are two questions in this one: 1. Whether they were evident and undeniable to the first witnesses; 2. Whether they are so to us. That is, whether the history of them be certain : and for the first, it is left beyond all doubt. For, 1. The works were numerous, done both by Christ himself and his apostles: and the wonderful gifts of the Spirit were common in every church, and in one kind or other on the generality of Christians, as I have before proved; 2. They were continued for many years together, even from Christ till the end of the apostles' time, and not all ended of long time after. For Irenæus saith the dead were raised, and lived again among them, in his days. And Tertullian (and after him Cyprian) made public challenges to the pagans and persecuting rulers, to bring their possessed with devils into the christian assemblies, and if they did not cast them out, and make them confess themselves to be devils, and Christ to be the Son of God, then they were content to suffer. 3. They were done in various places at great distance; at Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, Galatia, and through a great part of the world. 4. They were done before multitudes of people, and that ordinarily; not in a corner, but in the face of the whole world. 5. And that in the presence if not upon the persons, of the enemies themselves. All this appeareth in the whole story of the Gospel.
More than once did Christ feed many thousands with a few loaves, by miracles : oft did he heal and cast out devils in the presence of the multitude; so that the Pharisees took their advantage by it, because he would heal on the Sabbath day. They examined the blind, the lame, and others, whom he healed, and had their own confession of the cure. He turned water into wine, publicly at a marriage feast. He would not raise Lazarus till he was ready to stink, that the glory of God might be manifest in his resurrection; his disciples were the constant witnesses of other miracles, and might most easily discern whether he wére a deceiver or not; and would they follow one through such difficulties and misery, and to death itself, in hope of a resurrection to glory, by him whom they knew to be a deceiver ? At his death, the earth did quake, the temple rent, the land was shut up in darkness for three hours together, without any eclipse. Were there not witnesses enough, then, of this? His resurrection the soldiers could partly witness by the terror, and the disciples by their frequent sight of him. And Thomas must be convinced himself by putting his finger into his side, till he was forced to cry out, “My Lord and my God!" who (but even now) said, “ Except I see and feel, I will not believe.” Yea, above five liundred brethren saw him at once. But yet there is more than all this, the Holy Ghost fell so publiclyon the disciples, that the Jews and men of all countries that were then in Jerusalem, came flocking together, to hear them speak every one in his own tongue, which they had never learned, nor understood before. Gifts of healing and casting out devils were common among the disciples in all churches long after this. Christ chose especially these two, both to signify his healing, recovering work and office, and his love to man's welfare, and his enmity to Satan, and that he came to destroy his work and kingdom, and save men from him. It continued long after this the ordinary practice of the disciples to speak in strange languages in the open assembly; so that unbelievers that came in among them, were ordinary witnesses of it ; so that all the world that lived near them might see the Spirit of Jesus in his church, not to speak of all the other miracles which the apostles did. This Spirit, residing in 'men's souls, appearing visible in the actions, audible in the prophecies, languages, and other
gifts of the disciples, prevailing against the devil, and healing the diseased, and thus openly manifesting itself in all parts of the world, and before all the people where Christianity was entertained, is such a witness to Christ, and his testimony and doctrine, and to those writings which the chief actors of those miracles published, that he that denieth it, renounceth sense and reason, and openly fighteth against the God of heaven. If here were not witness enough, then we were incapable of a sufficient testimony. And yet I shall say more to this anon, from the sanctifying work of the same Spirit.
2. All that remains for the further clearing of this, is to inquire whether there be also a certainty of the history which delivereth the report of those things down to us. I have formerly proved to you herein, 1. That the authors of those histories or reports deceived not the world, but published only undoubted truths ; 2. And that we have most certainly received their writings, or records, without any considerable corruption or alteration. I will now suppose you remember what I have said of both these already, and will only add these few words more.
1. I have told you already that the law of nature effectually teacheth all nien, 1. To love themselves, and their own lives and liberty; 2. And to love truth, and hate known falsehood, where they have not some carnal advantage to make it seem lovely, that it is not possible that so many thousands of men could be found that would, to their own utter undoing in the world, take on them to work so many miracles, and see them wrought, and would follow a profession in mere delusion of others, or as willingly deluded themselves. That which now I will say, is only these two things :
1. The history of these things was not only delivered by these writings, which we call the Scriptures, but so generally received both before they were written and since, by the very evidence of the actions themselves, that churches of Christ were gathered and planted thereby, through a great part of the world ; so that the conversion of so many countries by the very present power of the Holy Ghost appearing in them, and among them, which, undoubtedly, had an evidence and glory as great as the work which was wrought thereby, were a living public history of the glorious works of the Spirit which did convince them. The world, which was brought to believe by these miracles of the Holy Ghost, was the legible history of the truth of those miracles,
2. But the main thing that I would have you note, is that which my text affordeth, that those things were generally published, both by word and writing, through all countries, and especially in that same country where they were chiefly done ; and that in the very same age,
among the same people, that are mentioned as witnesses of these things. This is a proof beyond all exception: it was not like a story raised in the next age, when all the witnesses were dead. Now, I desire every tempted or doubting soul seriously to think of this one plain truth. When all the writers, and many preachers of the gospel, shall publish up and down Judea, that Christ at such a time and in such a place fed so many thousand miraculously, turned water into wine, healed such multitudes, raised the dead, could not any man have discerned the falsehood of this, if it had been false? Nay, when they mention the pharisees' own examination and conviction of the matter of fact, would not these enemies of the Gospel have easily confuted them? Nay, what need the pharisees, then, and the Jews, to this day, father all these works on the devil, if they were not really done? For men to write and tell the world, that on such a day, at such an hour, there was an earthquake, and a general darkness, and the temple rent, if this were no such matter, would it not make them the shame and scorn of the world for liars ?
Could not all the country tell whether it were true or not? Would not this have made those that followed them all forsake them, and proclaim their shame? If thousands of men should seek credit to their testimony by telling us in England that there were earthquakes and general darkness at such an hour, would they get any followers by this report, if it were false? Paul saith, that of the five hundred brethren that saw Christ at once after his resurrection, the greater part were alive at the time when he wrote it. If this were false, how easily were it disproved, when it is written and published that men of all nations about did hear the disciples speaking in their own tongues the wonderful works of God at Jerusalem, when the Holy Ghost fell upon them: if this had been false, would it not have inade all men forsake such notorious liars, and those that before did believe them to turn off? or, at least, would not the enemy have refuted the report? But, to come nearer the scope of my text, when it shall be written and published that the Holy Ghost was so common in every church, and on all Christians everywhere, that all had either gifts of healing, or tongues, or miracles, or pro