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And in reason, miracles are the highest attestation that can be given to the truth and divinity of any doctrine ; and supposing a doctrine not to be plain. ly unworthy of God, and contrary to those natural notions which men have of God and religion, we can have no greater evidence of the truth of it, than miracles ; they are such an argument, as in its own nature is ape to persuade and induce belief.
All truths do not need miracles; some are of ealy belief, and are so clear by their own light, that they need neither iniracle nor demonstration to prove them. Such are those self-evident principles which mankind do generally agree in : Others which are not so evident by their own light, we are content to receive upon clear demonftration of them, or very probable arguments for them, without a miracle, And there are lome truths, which however they may be sufficiently obscure and uncertain to most men, yet are they lo inconsiderable, and of so small consequence, as not to deferve the attestation of miracle's į so that there is no reason to expect that God should interpose by a miracle, to convince men of them.
Nec Deus interfit, nifi dignus vindice nodus
But for such truths as are necessary to be known by us, but are not sufficiently evident of themselves, nor capable of cogent evidence, especially to prejudiced and interested persons, God is pleased in this case many times to work miracles for our convicti. on ; and they are a proper argument to convince us of a thing that is either in itself obscure and hard to be believed, or which we are prejudiced against, and hardly brought to believe ; for they are an argument à majori ad minus, they prove a thing which is obfcure and hard to be believed, by some thing that is more incredible, which yet they cannot deny, because they see it done. Thus our Saviour proves hinself to be an extraordinary person, by doing such things, as never man did she convinceth' them, that
they ought to believe what he said, because they saw him do those things, which were harder to be believed (if one had not seen them) than what he said.
Miracles are indeed the greateft external confirmation and evidence that can be given to the truth of any doctrine, and where they are wrought with all the advantages they are capable of, they are an unquestionable demonstration of the truth of it ; and such were our Saviour's miracles here in the text, to -prove that he was the true Messias ; here are mira. cles of all kinds, the blind receive their fight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up. For the nature of them, they are such as are most likely to be divine, and to come from God, for they were healing and be. neficial to mankind. Our Saviour here instanceth in those things which are of greatest benefit and advantage, and which free men from the greatest miseries and inconveniencies ; the restoring of sight to the -blind, and hearing to the deaf, foundness and health to the lame and the leprous, and life to the dead. And then for the number of them, they were many; not one instance of a kind, but several of every kind, and great multitudes of most of them: And for the manner of their operation, they were publick, in the fight and view of great multitudes of people, to free them from all suspicion of fraud and impofture: they were not wrought privately and in corners, and given out and noised abroad, but before. all the people, so that every one might see them, and judge of them ; not only among his own disciples and followers, as the church of Rome pretends to work theirs, but among his enemies, to: convince those that did not believe ; and this not done once, and in one place, but at several times, and in all places where he came, and for a long time, for three years and a half; and after his death, he endued his disciples and followers with the same power, which lasted for some ages. And then for the quality of them, they were miracles of the greatest magnitude ; those of them, which in themselves might bave been performed by natural means, as healing
the the lame, and the leprous, and the deaf, he did in a' miraculous manner, by a word or a touch, yea and many times at a great distance. But others were not only in the manner of their operation, but in the nature of the thing unquestionably miraculous, as giving of light to those that had been born blind, and raising up the dead to life, as Lazarus, after he had lien in the grave four days : and himself afterwards, the third day after he had been buried; which, if there ever was or can be any unquestionable miracles in the world, ought certainly to be reputed such. So that our blessed Saviour had all the attestation that miracles can give, that he came from God. And this is the first evidence of his being the Mes. fias.
The Jews acknowledge that the Messias, when he comes, shall work great miracles; their own Talmud confefleth, that Hous, the fon of Foseph and Mary, did work great miracles; and the history of the gofpel does particularly relate more and greater miracles wrought by him, than by Moses, and all the Praphers that had been since the world began ; so that we may still put the same question to the Jews, which they did in our Saviour's time to one another ; when he cometh, when the Messias whom ye expect comes, will be do more miracles than these which this man bath done ?
But, Secondly, this will yet more clearly appear by the correspondency of the things here mentioned, with what was foretold by the Prophets concerning the Messias.
Not to mention innumerable circumstances of his birth, and life, and death, and resurrection, and af cension into heaven, together with the success and prevalency of his do&rine in the world, all whicla are punctually foretold by some or other of the Prophets : 1 shall confine myself to the particulars here in the text.
Firh, It was foretold of the Messias, that he should work miraculous cures. Isa. xxxv. 4, 5, 6. speaking of the Messias, he will come and save you ; then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the
deaf deaf shall be unstopped ; then all the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb fing ; this you see was fulfilled here in the text. It is true indeed, the text mentions another miracle which is not in the Prophet, that he raised the dead ; but if God did more than he promised and foretold, this is no prejudice to the argument, if all that he foretold was accomplished in him. Besides, the Jews have a proverb, that God is not content to perform barely what he promiseth, but he usually doth something over and above his promise. That the Messias should heal the blind, and the deaf, and the lame, Isaiah prophefied ; and God makes good this promise and prediction to the full; the Meflias did not only do these, but, which is more and greater
of these, he raised the dead to life.
Secondly, It was likewise foretold of the Meffias, that he should preach the gospel to the poor, Ifa. lxi. 1. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, saysaisestd 10X015. to preach the gospel or good tidings to the poor ; so the LXX render the words ; and they are the very words used by our Saviour here in the
It is true indeed, this was no miracle, but it was the punctual accomplishment of a prophecy concerning the Messias, and consequently an evidence that he was the Messias, But besides, it had something in it which was very strange to the Jews, and very different from the way of their Doctors, and Teachers ; for the Rabbies among the Jews would scarce instruct any but for great reward; they would meddle with none but those that were able to requite their pains ; the ordinary and poorer sort of people they had in great contempt, as appears by that Nighting expression of them, John vii. 48, 49. Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees believed on him ? but this people who knoweth not the law.are cursed. And, Grotius upon this text tells us, that the Jewish masters had this foolish and infolent proverb among them, that the Spirit of God doth not rest but upon a rich man, to which this prediction concerning the Messias was a direct contradiction : The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. In old time the Prophets were especially sent to the Kings and Princes of the people: but this great Prophet comes to preach the gospel to the poor. None have so little reason to be proud as the fons of men, but never was any so humble as the Son of God; our Saviour's whole life and doctrine was a contradiction to the false opinions of the world; they thought the rich and great men of the world the only happy persons, but he came to preach glad tidings to the poor, to bring good news to them whom the great doctors of the law despised, and ser at nought: and therefore to confound their pride and folly, and to confute their false opinions of things, he begins that excellent sermon of his with this saying, Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the king. dom of God.
Thirdly, It was foretold of the Meffias, that the world Thould be offended at him, Ifa. viii. 14. He shall be for a stonė of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel. And Ifa. liii. 1, 2, 3. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him; he is despised and rejected of men, and we hid as it were our faces from him ; he was despised, and we esteemed him not; and this likewise is intimated in the last words of the text, and blessed is he whosoever Mall not be offended in me. Intimating, that notwithstanding the great works that he did among them, which teftified of him that he came from from God, notwithstanding the predictions of their Prophets concerning the Messias were so clearly and punctually accomplished in him; yet notwithstanding all this, they would take offence at him apon one account or other, and reject him and his doctrine; but even this, that they rejected him, and would not own him for their Messias, was another sign and evidence that he was the true Messias foretold by the Prophets : For among other things this was exprefly predicted concerning him, that he Thould be despised and rejected of men.