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the coafts of Tyre and Sidon) and came nigh unto the fea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain, and fat down there, And great multitudes came unto him, having with them thofe that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and caft them down at Jefus feet, and he healed them: infomuch that the multitude wondered when they faw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to fee: and they glorified the God of Ifrael. Since then the miracles of the Meffiah were wrought by Jefus alone, Jefus alone can have any juft claim to be the Meffiah: and from his works we may conclude (John VI. 14.) This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
4. Very obfervable is the difference between the conduct and fuccefs of thefe deceivers and of Jefus Chrift: for in him we have all the marks and characters of fimplicity and truth, in them of fraud and impofture. They were men of debauched lives and vicious principles: he did no fin (1 Pet. II. 22.) neither was guile found in his mouth; even Pilate his judge declared (John XIX. 6.) that he could find no fault in him. They lived by rapin and fpoil, by plunder and murder: He (Luke IX. 56.) came not to deftroy mens lives but to fave them; He fed the hungry, healed the fick, and went from place to place doing good. Their conduct breathes nothing but ambition and pride, cruelty and revenge his behaviour was all humility and meeknefs, charity and love of mankind. They were actuated by worldly motives, and propofed to themfelves fecular ends and interefts; Jefus was the fartheft removed from any fufpicion of that kind, and when the people would have taken him (John VI. 15.) to make him a king, he withdrew himfelf from them, and departed again into a mountain himfelf alone. Their' pretenfions were accommodated to the carnal expectations of the Jews, and withal were backed by force and violence, and yet could not fucceed and profper: on the contrary, the religion of Jefus was fpiritual, difclaimed all force, and took the way (humanly fpeaking) not to prevail, and yet prevailed againft all the power and oppofition of the world. Now of thefe who were the deceivers, think you, who was the true Chrift? Had Jefus
en impoftor, he would have lived and acted like
it tho' the truth will at laft prevail over error
1. de Bell. Jud. Lib. 6. · 2. και συμμίκλος όχλος ξακισχιλίες. et plurimna
omifcua ad fex hominum.
vwv. ufque ad triginta hominum millia,
fpirit or demon and indeed no plague or epidemical diftemper is more catching and contagious than enthufiafm. It paffeth from man to man like wild-fire. The imagination is foon heated, and there is rarely judgment enough to cool it again. The very elect, even good Chriftians themselves, if they attend to enthufiafts, will be in danger of taking the infection, and be continually liable to be (Eph. IV. 14.) toffed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrin, if they have not (as all have not) a fufficient ballaft of difcretion to keep them fteddy. In reality enthusiasts know as little of the revelation given us by Chrift, as of the reafon given us by God. They are blind leaders of the blind. Wherefore if they fhall fay unto you, Behold, he is in the defert, behold his power is experienced in the field-preaching, go not forth; behold, he is in the fecret chambers, behold his prefence is confpicuous in the tabernacles or conventicles, believe it not. He is beft fought in his word, and in his works; and he will certainly be found by thofe, and thofe alone, who love him, not with fanaticism and enthusiasm, but in truth and foberness, fo as to keep his commandments, which is the only infallible proof and legitimate iffue of love. For as our Saviour himself faith, (John XIV. 23.) If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
6. Once more it is to be observed, that we must not credit every one, who cometh to us with a pretence of working miracles. For the falfe Chrifts and falfe prophets pretended to fhow great figns and wonders; and yet notwithstanding all their miraculous pretenfions, our bleffed Lord cautions his difciples not to believe or follow them. But then the question will be naturally afked, If we must not believe those who work miracles, whom muft we believe? how fhall we know whether a perfon doth or doth not act by commiffion from heaven? how fhall we distinguish whether the doctrin is of God or of men? Indeed if miracles were not poffible to be wrought at all, as fome have pretended: or could be wrought only by God, or thofe who are commiffioned by him, as others have argued; the reply would be ob
vious and eafy: but, that miracles are poffible to be wrought is a truth agreeable to reafon, and that they may be wrought by evil fpirits is a fuppofition agreeable to fcripture; and therefore the beft anfwer is, that reafon muft judge in this cafe as in every other, and determin of the miracles by the doctrins which they are alleged to confirm. If a doctrin is evil, no miracles can be wrought by a divine power in its behalf; for God can never fet his hand and feal to a lie. If a doctrin is good, than we may be certain, that the miracles vouched for it were not wrought by the power of evil fpirits; for at that rate, according to our Saviour's argument, (Luke XI. 18.) Satan would be divided against himfelf, and his kingdom could not ftand. Good fpirits can never confirm and establish what is evil, neither can evil fpirits be fuppofed to promote what is good. Suppofing that the miracles pretended in favor of Paganifin were all real miracles, yet as they lead men to a corrupt religion and idolatrous worship, no reverence, no regard is to be paid to them, according to the command of Mofes, (Deut. XIII. 1, &c.) If there arife among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a fign or a wonder, And the fign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he fpake unto thee, faying, Let us go after other Gods (which thou haft not known) and let us ferve them: Thou Jhalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your foul. In like manner we must not admit any thing contrary to the doctrins of Chrift and his apostles, whatever miracles are boafted to recommend and authorize it. For the doctrins of the Chriftian religion are not only perfectly agreeable to reason, but moreover God hath confirmed it, amply confirmed it, by miracles, and hath enjoined us ftrictly to adhere to it; and God can never be fuppofed to work miracles to confirm contradictions: and therefore allowing (what we cannot reafonably allow) that the miracles of Apollonius and other impoftors were true and well attested, yet the foundation of Christ standeth firm, and cannot at all be fhaken by them. Should
any man, or number of men, with ever fo great and confident a pretence to infallibility affert-that it is our duty implicitly to believe and obey the church: when Chrift commands us (Matt. XXIII. 9.) to call no man father upon earth, for one is our Father which is in heaven
that the fervice of God is to be performed in an unknown tongue; when St. Paul in his firft Epiftle to the Corinthians hath written a whole chapter (XIV.) exprefly against it-that the facrament of the Lord's fupper is to be adminiftered only in one kind; when Chrift inftituted it, (Matt. XXVI.) and his apoftles ordered it (1 Cor. XI.) to be celebrated in both-that the propitiatory facrifice of Chrift is to be repeated in the mafs; when the divine author of the Epiftle to the Hebrews teacheth us, (X. 10.) that the body of Jefus Chrift was offered once for all, and (ver. 14.) that by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are fanctified that men may arrive at fuch highths of virtue as to perform works, of merit and fupererogation; when our Saviour orders us, (Luke XVII. 10.) after we have done all thofe things which are commanded us, to fay, we are unprofitable fervants, we have done but that which was our duty to dothat attrition and confeffion together with the abfolution of the priest will put a dying finner into a ftate of grace and falvation; when the fcripture again and again declares, (Heb. XII. 14.) that without holiness no man fhall fee the Lord, and (1 Cor. VI. 9.) the unrighteous fhall not inherit the kingdom of God-that the fouls of men, even of good men, immediately after death pafs into purgatory; when St. John is commanded from heaven to write (Rev. XIV. 13.) Blefed are the dead which die in the Lord, that they may reft from their labours, and their works do follow them-that we must worship images and the relics of the faints; when our Saviour teacheth us, (Matt. IV. 10.) that we muft worship the Lord God, and him only we muft ferve-that we muft invocate and adore faints and angels; when the apoftle chargeth us (Col. II. 18 ) to let no man beguile us of our reward in a voluntary humility and worthipping of angels-that we must pray to the virgin Mary and all faints to intercede for us; when St. Paul affirms, (1 Tim. II. 5.) that as there is only