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sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with waves: but he was asleep.-Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.' viii.
Tertullian says, 'Cæterum navicula illa figuram ecclesiæ præferebat, quod in mari, id est, seculo, fluctibus, id est, persecutionibus et tentationibus inquietatur, Domino per patientiam veluti dormiente, donec orationibus sanctorum in ultimis suscitatus, compescat seculum, et tranquillitatem suis reddat.' De Bapt. c. 12. The little ship tossed up and down in the sea, represented the Christian church, which suffers affliction and persecution in this world, whilst the Lord sleeps, and seems patiently to overlook it, till being awakened by the prayers of the saints, in the latter days, he shall check the raging world, and restore tranquillity to his servants.' His observation is
Some persons have spoken of this miracle as of one which had the appearance of the least and most ambiguous of Christ's miracles, because it might have happened by chance, since storms are succeeded by calms, and calms by storms: but they are mistaken; a sudden calm is contrary to the course of nature; for, in a violent storm, the tossing and rolling of the waves continues after the wind is laid; and in this miracle, not only the wind fell, but the waters were immediately smoothed, ἐπετίμησε θαλάσσῃ. καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη. Γαλήνη is a smooth
Seneca de Tranquill. 2. Sicut est quidam tremor etiam tranquilli maris, aut lacus, cum ex tempestate requievit.'
De Brev. Vit. 2. Velut in profundo mari, in quo post ventum quoque volutatio est.'
Herc. Fur. 1089.
• sed ut ingenti
Herc. Oet. 710.
• Ut fractus Austro pontus etiamnum tumet,
Lucan. v. 217.
Statius, Theb. vii. 86.
< ut tumidus Borcæ post flamina pontus Rauca gemit.'
Ut, si quando ruit, debellatasque reliquit
Claudian, In Ruf. i. 70.
ceu murmurat alti
Impacata quies pelagi, cum flamine fracto
Durat adhuc sævitque tumor, dubiumque per æstum
He raised the dead, a miracle peculiarly suiting him, who at the last day should call forth all mankind to appear before him; and therefore, when he raised Lazarus, he uttered those majestic words: I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.'
He performed some miracles upon persons who were not of his own nation; and it was so ordered by divine Providence, that these persons, as the centurion, the Syrophoenician woman, the Samaritan leper, should show a greater degree of faith and of gratitude than the Jews to whom the same favours were granted. This was an indication that the gospel should be more readily received by the Gentiles than by the Jews; and this our Saviour intimates, saying, when he had commended the centurion's faith, Many shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into utter darkness.'
He cured some persons at a distance, without visiting and seeing them, to show that he should convert and save by his sacred word those who should not see and converse with him here on earth.
The darkness which was spread over the land, showed the spiritual blindness of the Jews, which continued when
the gospel shone in the Gentile world, and was an omen of their destruction.
The veil of the temple which was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, portended the abolition of the ceremonial law, and of the separation between Jews and Gentiles, and an entrance for believers by the death of Christ into the Holy of holies.
The earthquakes at the death and resurrection of Christ showed the great revolutions which should come to pass in the establishment of the gospel, and in the fall of Judaism and Paganism; for, in the sacred writers, great changes in the political world are foretold and denoted by earthquakes, by shaking heaven and earth and sea and dry land.
If Christ never wrought a miracle, and his disciples, mean and illiterate persons, feigned all these things, they were extremely ingenious to fix upon miracles which so exactly suited the character that he assumed; and amazingly fortunate to invent miracles which so aptly prefigured events that came to light in later times.
We have false legends concerning the miracles of Christ, of his apostles, and of antient Christians; and the writers of these fables had in all probability as good natural abilities as the disciples of Christ, and some of them, as the author of the Recognitions, wanted neither learning nor craft; and yet they betray themselves by faults against chronology, against history, against manners and customs, against morality, and against probability. A liar of this kind can never pass undiscovered; but an honest relater of truth and matter of fact is safe; he wants no artifice and fears no examination; and if the miracles related by him be found to be indications of future and remote events, this circumstance adds no small strength to his testimony.
Of the same prophetic kind was also one of St. Paul's miracles: At Paphos they found a certain sorcerer, a Jew-Then Paul set his eyes upon him and said-The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind for a season. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed.' Acts xiii.
By this miracle of the apostle was confirmed the prediction of Christ, I am come into the world, that they who see not may see, and that they who see may be blind."
The eyes of the wicked Jew are closed, and the under standing of the Pagan proconsul is illuminated. The one represents the impenitence and the rejection of the Jews, the other the docility and the calling of the Gentiles; and as the false prophet is only condemned to blindness for a season, so the Jews are to remain in darkness for a certain period, and to be converted in God's appointed time.
Origen therefore, who was ever inclined to judge candidly, and Chrysostom, were of opinion, that the punishment which St. Paul inflicted upon the sorcerer Barjesus brought him to a sense of his guilt, and to a sincere repentance. And indeed a man must have been hardened to a strange degree, upon whom a double miracle, first of severity. and then of clemency, would have no effect. See S. Basnage, Annal. i. p. 549.
The miracles by which St. Paul was instructed and converted have been thought by some to be of the emblematic and prophetic kind, and to indicate the future calling of the Jews; so that Paul the persecutor, and Paul the apostle, was a type of his own nation.
St. Paul, though the apostle of the Gentiles, never cast off his care for his own brethren, and always expressed himself on that subject with the warmest affection; and he alone, of the writers of the New Testament, hath spoken clearly of the future restoration of the Jews: he earnestly wished for that happy day, and saw it afar off, and was glad.
St. Paul was extremely zealous for the law, and a persecutor of the Christians: so were the Jews.
St. Paul, for opposing Jesus Christ, was struck blind, but upon his repentance he received his sight: so were the Jews, for their rebellion, smitten with spiritual blindness, which shall be removed when they are received again into favour.
St. Paul was called miraculously, and by the glorious manifestation of Christ himself, and he was instructed by the same divine master: such will perhaps be the conversion and the illumination of the Jews.
St. Paul was called last of all the apostles: the Jews will certainly enter late into the church.
St. Paul was the most active, laborious, and successful of all the disciples: such perhaps the Jews also shall be after
their conversion. But these are rather conjectures of what may be, than discoveries of what must come to pass.
OUR SAVIOUR foretold that false Christs and false prophets should arise and show signs and wonders. This somewhat perp. xed the antient Christian writers; but if the objection had been made to the apostles, when they first preached the gospel, they would perhaps have replied:
As to the wonders, which our master says shall be done by false Christs and false prophets;
Either upon examination some of those wonders will appear to be tricks and impostures;
Or they will not be wrought publicly and before proper witnesses, but will be attested by seditious ruffians, whose oath should not be admitted in any court of judicature;
Or they will be wrought to defend something that is manifestly false, and therefore will be of no weight;
Or they will be wrought to prove that God will protect and defend the Jews, which will be soon confuted by the destruction of Jerusalem;
Or they will not be such miracles as the antient prophets declared that the Messias would perform, miracles beneficial to mankind;
Or they will not be wrought with a declared purpose to disprove the truth of Christianity, or to establish any thing good and commendable, but only to amaze people, and excite them to rebellion;
Or they will be wrought at a time when the servants of Christ frequently and openly perform miracles of a more noble and amiable kind; so that it will be impossible for an impartial man not to see on which side the advantage lies;
Or they will be wrought by the permission of the divine Providence, to infatuate and seduce the wicked, reprobate, unbelieving Jews; for though Providence be concerned to take care that no honest person be misled by the miracles of a false prophet, yet God may by a just judgment permit evil men and evil spirits to delude. those who are abandoned to all wickedness, and who have forfeited his favour and protection.