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Representations as Men can bear. This is true, you'll say; but is there no Medium between the immediate Presence of God, and his appearing in the Form of a Servant, and dying, not as the Children of Men commonly die, but as the vilest and most profligate Criminal ? Many Degrees there are, no doubt, of visible Glory, in
of which Christ might have appeared, but in pone with greater Advantage to Religion than that in which he came. Suppose he had come, as the Jews expected, in the Form of a mighty Prince, and in that Situation had propagated his Faith and Doctrine; what would the Unbelievers then have said? How often should we have been told before now, that our Religion was the Work of human Policy, and that our Prince's Doctrine and Dominions were extended by the same Sword? Was ever any Religion the better thought of for having been preached at the Head of an Army? This is certain, That, to make Religion a rational Act of the Mind, it cannot be conveyed to us in too easy and familiar a Manner: The less Awe we have of our Teacher, the more Freedom we shall exercise in weighing and examining his Doctrines. And upon this Account our Saviour's Appearance was in the most proper
Form, as it gave to Men the greatest Scope and Liberty of trying and searching into his Doctrines and Pretences: And therefore his Meanness and Poverty should least of all be objected by those who seem to contend for nothing more than to clear Religion from Fears and Prejudices,
But perhaps they will say, We wanted him not to appear in worldly State and Glory, or to exercise temporal Dominion on Earth; we would have been contented with a visible, though an inferior kind of Manifestation of his divine Authority. O Fools, and flow of Heart to believe all that the Próphets have written! What think ye of giving Sight to the Blind; of opening the Ears of the Deaf; of loosening the Tongue that was dumb; of restoring Health to the Sick; of raising the Dead to Life again ; of raising even himself from the Grave, and abolishing the Scandal of the Cross by a visible Victory and Triumph over Death? What do
call these. Things? What do they manifest to you? Are these the Works of that mean Man, that wretched, that crucified Mortal, of whom we have been speaking ? Do Slaves and Servants, nay, do Princes and the greatest of the Children of Men, use to perkorm such Works? If not, these are the
very Manifestations of divine Power and Authority which you require. Nor can it, I believe, enter into the Heart of Man to contrive any greater Signs to 'ask of any Person, pretending to a divine Commission, than these which our Saviour daily and publickly gave the World of his Authority. Had he appeared with all the visible Power and Glory which you can conceive, yet still you cannot imagine what greater Works than these he could possibly perform : And therefore the Evidence now, under all the Meanness of his Appearance, is the same for his divine Authority and Commission, as it would have been, had he come in the greatest Pomp of Glory and Power.
As to us, I think, who are removed at a Distance from the Scene of this Action, the Evidence is much greater. Had he come in surprizing Glory, we might have suspected the Relations of Men, who, we might well think, faw and heard every thing under the greatest Astonishment, and, like St. Paul when he was caught up to the third Heavens, could hardly tell whether they were in the Body, or out of the Body. But now we have the Evidence of Men who lived and conversed with him familiarly, who saw all his mighty Works, and saw them without
Surprize or Astonishment, being reconciled to them by daily Use, and the long-experienced Gentleness and Love of their Master ; and therefore they very justly introduce their Accounts with this Assurance, That they relate that only which they had heard, which they had seen with their Eyes, which they had looked upon, and which their Hands had handled, of the Word of Life. So far are we then from having any just Cause of Offence in the Poverty and Meanness of our blessed Lord, that from those Circumstances arises the
great Stability of our Faith, and this comfortable Assurance, That our Faith ftandeth not in the Words or in the Works of Man's Wisdom and Power, but in the Power and in the Wisdom of the Almighty, who knows how to produce Strength out of Weakness.