« AnteriorContinuar »
Mofes had no Successor as a Lawgiver : Prophets and righteous Men were often fent by God to reprove and admonish the People for their manifold Transgressions of the Law given by Mofes, but without any Authority to add to, or diminish from it. And so the Cafe stood, till the Great Prophet, like unto Moses, came in the full Power and Authority of God to make a new Covenant, not with one People, but with all the Nations of the Earth, Jefus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God by Miracles, and Wonders, and Signs.
It has been before observed, that the great Doctrines of Natural Religion have for their Evidence the Works of Nature, and want not the Support of Miracles. But, when any new Doctrine is published to the World, or any new Command, of which Nature has given no Notice, it is of Necessity that such new Doctrines should be established by new Proofs. One Thing indeed we learn from natural Reason, That God is to be trusted and obeyed in whatever he promises or commands: But still a Proof is required, that such new Doctrine or Command does really proceed from God. And this - shews how necessary Miracles are to the Introduction of a new Revelation : Not that Miracles can prove the Truth of
Doctrine ; but they direály prove the Commission of the Person who does them to proceed from Him by whose Power alone they could be performed. This Distinction between Miracles considered as a Proof of the Doctrine, and as confirming the Authority and Commission of the Person who reveals it, will plainly appear, upon considering what the Case would be, should
Man openly perform unquestionable Miracles, and then retire in Silence, without declaring any Purpose he had: The great Works might astonish and confound us; but we could not possibly make any use of them: We might indeed conclude, that some great and invisible Power assisted and enabled the Man to perform the Works; but what that invisible Power had to do with us, or we with it, we could by no just Inference conclude. But, should such a Man declare himself to be a Mefsenger from God commissioned to publish his Will to the World, and appeal to the great Works which he did as a Proof of the Authority he had received; the Miracles, though, considered in themselves, they do not directly prove his Doctrine, yet do they establish his Authority, and give the Force of a divine Command to what he publishes in God's Name.
The Law of Moses then requiring Submillion and Obedience to Commands and Doctrines which have no Establishment in the Light of Reason and Nature, it was necessary to found them upon the Authority of God, to which no Submission could be due, till sufficient Evidence was given of it, to guard Men against Imposition and Deceit either from wicked Men or wicked Spirits : And this made Miracles to be a necessary Proof in the Establishment of a new Reve } lation.
We see then to what Purposes Miracles were originally introduced, and in what Manner applied, by Moses : And, whoever considers of what Consequence it was to the Happiness of Mankind to have a standing Evidence always before their Eyes of the Unity and Supremacy of God manifested in his Government of the Jewish Nation, and how far the Mosaic Dispensation prepared the Way, and laid the Foundation, for the Accomplishment of his great Work in the Salvation of the World by Christ Jesus, will fee Reafon to think that the End proposed was worthy of God, and fully accounts for his Interposition by Signs and Wonders, which were Acts not only of great Power, but of
great Goodness and Benevolence towards Mankind.
If we consider the Miracles of the Gospel, we shall find that they had the fame Ends in View. If Moses withstood the Magicians of Egypt, and manifested a Superiority of Power 'over them, and the false Gods whom they served, our Saviour did much more in Opposition to the Power of Satan, and the wicked Spirits who had taken possession of Men, and tormented them in divers Manners : In subduing them he shewed such an uncontroulable Power, that they were obedient to his Command; and, when he said Go, they were forced to go, yielding a ready, though unwilling, Obedience. And, as the Gospel spread, Idolatry fled before it, the Heathen Deities became dumb, and their Oracles were fi-lenced. And, if we look abroad into the World, and take a View of the Nations where Idolatry and Superstition once prevailed, and where the Knowledge of the Unity and Supremacy of God is now established, which happy. Change can only be ascribed to the Propagation of the Gospel, we shall fee how fully and perfectly this great End was answered by the Miracles wrought by Christ.
If Moses had a Commission from God to publish his Will to the People of the Jews, Jesus had a far more ample Commission to publish the Terms of God's Salvation to all Mankind: And, as these Terms were of God's Appointment, and not such as human Wisdom could suggest, they stood in need of the Evidence of Miracles to support them.
It has been observed before, That no Miracles can alter the clear Dictates of natural Religion. The same may be said with respect to any former divine Revelation : For to suppose a Revelation to come from God, and to be fully established by Miracles, and that a later Revelation upon the like Proof and Authority should abrogate and render the former void, would be setting up Miracle against Miracle, and destroy the Authority of both: And therefore admitting the Mosaic Revelation and the Christian to be both of divine Original, they must necessarily be con-. listent, and each be in its proper Place to carry on the great and ultimate Views of Providence. This evidently was the Case of Mofes, who came to prepare the Way for, the full and perfect Declaration of God's Will, reserved till He should come who was the End of the Law : And to this purpose