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Majesty did more become the Messias, thani Humility and Amiction; Poverty and Contempt, being things in their own Nature indifferent, and of no Esteem any otherwise than in respect to their conducement to some better end; which in the Messias was the Instruction of the World, and the Reonciliation of it by his Death to his offended Father. To the latter, Contempt, Amiction, and Suffering, were absolutely necessary: And to the former highly convenient. For since our Lord was not only to reform the Errours of Mankind by his infallible Doctrine, and attone for the Sins of it by his Passion; but alfo to deliver to us a moit compleat Pattern of Vertue and Holiness in his own Person; it was highly expedient, that he should suffer all the Calamities incident to humane Nature, that so he might teach Men, by his own Example, patiently to endure Amiation, undergo Poverty witli Contentment, and not be affrighted by the terrour of Death from the performance of their Duty. No Perswasion was necessary to induce Men to admit Riches, Pleasures and Prosperity; but to suffer all the Miseries of this world with a generous and unrepining Mind, nothing less than the Example of God incarnate could perswade them.
The manner wherein God chose to reveal the Gospel, might perhaps seemn strange to the Jews, as being different from that wherein the Law was revealed on Mount Sina: But far from appearing incredible, ought rather to
have seemed more congruous to the Nature of God; certainly more agreeable to the Nature of the things revealed; which being Matters of the highest Bounty and Clemency to Mankind, required not to be revealed in such a terrible manner as the Law, which was employed rather in denouncing the Judgments than the Mercies of God; but in a manner, which by the sweetness of it might declare the Clemency and Loving-kindness of its Author.
It can be no other than a brutish stupidity, not to be raised to the knowledge of God any otherwise than by the Effects of his Power and Justice; as if Acts of Mercy did not eqally declare his Nature, and lay a far greater Obligation of Obedience upon us: Or if Acts of Power must be employed, as indeed they are highly necessary; in the second place, they were far more numerous and wonderful in the Revelation of the Gospel, than of the Law; not so amazing, but more Divine; not fo terrible, but more illustrious. The Jews indeed were wont to require a Sign as the last Proof of the Christian Faith ; which, since it is apparent, that Miracles were frequently wrought by the Apostles in Confirmation of the Faith, can be understood of no other, than either that great and final Miracle, which they vainly expected from the Messias, the Reititution of their Nation to its temporal Happiness; or performing a Miracle as often as every single Person should desire it, for
establishing the Truth of Christianity; or else relying more upon Miracles than the Testia mony of the ancient Prophecies concerning Christ, and never urging their Authority to the Jews without some concomitant Miracle. In whethersoever of these Senses the Jews were wont obstinately to require a Sign of the Apostles, nothing could be more unreasonable or impertinent.
For would it not be unworthy the Majesty of God, to violate the ordinary Course of NaGure to gratifie either a falle Opinion, or a fond Delire? The Restitution of Liberty was never promised from the Messias to the Jews, and therefore was in vain expected from him. The Prophecies were fufficiently clear, and needed not the concurrent Testimony of constant Miracles: And to gratifie the idle Curiosity of every petulant Humour, by working Miracles as often as should be required, would be such a trilling Extravagance, as would more effectually destroy the Authority of such a Lawgiver, than all his Miracles would confirm it. Or if a constant uniform Miracle attending the Publication of Christianity, would fatisfie fuch Men, as surely it ouglio to do, they may discover one in that very Circumstance which they use to inforce their Objection; namely, that it was Successfully propagated in the World by ignorant and illiterate Persons, who could neither impose upon Mankind by the Crafty Artifice of Rhetorick or Insinuation, nor delude them
by the Authority of their Names; a Circumftance which unanswerably argueth a Divine Power and Assistance to have attended the first Preachers of the Gospel, and affected the Minds of their Auditors.
And then, what greater Argument can we desire of the Wisdom of God in contriving and using this Method, than those illustrious Advantages which it administred to the designed End, the Conversion of the World, and the Glory of God? For not only might the wonderful Success of it, in all Parts, even of the learned World, wrought by such weak and contemptible Means, convince all sober Persons of somewhat more than humane directing the Conduct of it; but also this method admirably conduced to secure the Honour of God, and destroy the Pride and Ambition of Men; who if they had been qualified for such an Office by acquired Learning, would have been apt to have ascribed their knowledge of Divine Matters to their own Sagacity, not the Gift of God; and intitled all the Glory of Success to their own Prudence, not the Divine Power: And further, might have induced Men to have attributed the Success of Christianity to the Sophistry and Insinuation of its 'l'eachers, not the Power of that Trnth, which accompanied it, and the Providence of that God, who founded it.
Thus we have answered the Prejudices of the Jews, and by thewing the Wisdom of
God in employing unlearned Persons, defeat: ed a like Objection of the Heathen Philosophers. But then, what the Jews admitted, that fupernatural Revelations were both convenient and necessary to the Salvation of Mankind, these Men deny, trusting to the fupposed Excellency of their own Learning, and imagining theinfelves able by the fole light of Reason to attain the highest perfection of spiritual Knowledge; herein putting themselves into a worse Condition than those whom they treat with so much Scorn, Idiots and Barbarians. For these are sensible of the failures of their own Understanding, and therefore willingly admit a Remedy; whereas those disowning all Disease, neglect the Cure of it. Surely no great Reason is required to confute these Men.
For is it unworthy the Mercy of God to assist the Soul of Man by supernatural Revelations, even although it might, (although not without great Difficulty,) attain to the knowledge of all things necessary? This none will say. Or is it unbefitting the Goodness of God to provide for the Instruction of unlearned Persons by Revelation, although most learned Men may not want it? This cannot be doubted. Or if a Revelation must be made, could it be done in any more prudent and rational manner, than was Chriftianity? This none will affirm. So then the extraordinary Revelation of Divine Truthis is consistent with the Majesty of God and