« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
should be sent from God. It
necessary that one should be sent. If one be sent, he must bring credentials, to show that he is so sent; and what can those credentials be, but miracles, or acts of almighty power, such as God only can perform? In the case of Jesus, common sense spake by the mouth of the Jewish ruler, and all the sophistry in the world cannot invalidate or perplex the argument : Master, " thou art a teacher come from God; for no man " can do the miracles which thou doest, except God “ be with him."
-" They (miracles) require something more than “the usual testimony of history for their support.
Why so? If they may be wrought, and good reasons are assigned for their having been wrought, upon any particular occasion, “the usual testimony “ of history” is sufficient to evince that they were wrought. But the truth is, that they have “some.
thing more than the usual testimony of history;" they have much more; for no facts in the world ever were attested by such an accumulated weight of evidence, as we can produce on behalf of the miracles recorded of Moses and Christ; insomuch, that the mind of any person tolerably well informed concerning them, till steeled against conviction by the prejudices of infidelity, revolts at the very idea of their being accounted forgeries.
Page 3. “When Livy speaks of shields sweating blood, of its raining hot stones, and the like, we
justly reject and disbelieve the improbable asser66 tions.”
Doubtless. But what comparison can be pro
perly instituted between these hearsay stories concerning pagan prodigies, and a series of miracles, like those openly and publicly wrought, for gether, in the face of the world, by Moses and by Christ? The historical facts related by Livy may be true, whatever becomes of his prodigies; but, in the other case, the miracles are interwoven with, and indeed constitute, the body of the history. No separation can possibly be made; the whole must be received, or the whole must be rejected.
Ibid. “Neither is any credit given to the won“ derful account of curing diseases by the touch, “ said to be possessed by Mr. Greatrix, though we “ find it in the Philosophical Transactions.”
Mr. Greatrix's general method of curing diseases was not, as I remember, simply and instantaneously by the touch, but by the operation of stroking the part affected, and that long continued, or frequently repeated. Sometimes, it is said, this stroking succeeded, and sometimes it failed. If (as we are informed in a note) Boyle, Wilkins, Cudworth, and other great men, attested the fact, that there were persons who found themselves relieved by this new device, undoubtedly there were such persons. But whether this relief were temporary; whether it were owing in any, or what degree, to the working of the imagination, or to a real physical change effected by the application of a warm hand, or. any particular -temperament in the constitution of the stroker; these are points, which the reader may find discussed in Mr. Boyle's letter to Henry Stubbe, written upon the occasion, in which he reproves Stubbe, as he well
might, for supposing there was any thing necessarily and properly miraculous in the affair. Mr. Valentine Greatrix, by all accounts, was an honest, harmless, melancholy country gentleman, of the kingdom of Ireland, who, after having gained great reputation by stroking in England, returned to pass his latter days quietly and peaceably in his native country, and was heard of no more. He had no new doctrine to promulgate, pretended to no divine mission, and, I dare say, never thought of his cures being employed to discredit those of his Saviour. The wonders reported to have been wrought formerly by Apollonius Tyaneus, and more lately at the tomb of Abbé Paris, have been applied to the same purpose. But their day is over--and now all depends upon poor Mr. Valentine Greatrix !
Page 3. “The miracles of the Old Testament were " all performed in those ages of which we have no "credible history.” Pardon me.
There cannot be a more credible history than that of Moses; since it is impossible that he could have written, or the Israelites received his history, had it not been true. Would he, think you, have called them together, and told them, to their faces, they had all heard and seen such and such wonders, when every man, woman, and child in the company knew they had never heard or seen any thing of the kind ? What? Not one honest soul to cry out priestcraft and imposture! Let these gentlemen try their hands in this way. They have often been requested to do it. Let one of them assemble the good people of London and Westminster, and
tell them, that on a certain day and hour he divided the Thames, and led them on dry ground over to Southwark; appealing to them for the truth of what he says.
I should like to see the event of such an appeal. There are many such appeals recorded of Moses to his nation; and the book, in which these appeals are so recorded, contains the municipal law by which that nation has been governed, from the days of Moses to the dissolution of their polity. This is a fact, without a parallel upon earth; and let any man produce an hypothesis to account for it, consistently with the idea of Moses being a deceiver, which will abide the test of common sense for five minutes. If the deists can reason us out of our faith, let them do so: but we are not weak enough, as yet, to be sneered or scoffed out of it.
Page 3. “What reply can be made to those who
affirm, that miracles have always been confined to “ the early and fabulous ages ?”
The reply is easy—that miracles were performed, by Christ and his apostles, in the age, of all others, esteemed the most polite and learned; and that the adversaries of Christianity, in those days, never thought of denying the facts. It was a piece of assurance reserved for these latter times.
-“That all nations have had them; but that they disappeared in proportion as men became enlightened, and capable of discovering imposture.”
Many nations have had them, true or false : the false disappeared, when discovered to be so ; but the true will abide for ever. The Jewish rulers had their senses about them, as much as other people;
and those senses sharpened to the utmost by envy and malice. Yet were they obliged to confess“ This man doth many miracles.” It may be added, that had there been no genuine miracles, there would have been no counterfeits.
Upon the whole—in this section, on so leading an article, the infidels have made no considerable progress. Rather, they can hardly be said, in the nautical phrase, to have got under way.