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Who are they among all the Gods of the Countries that have delivered their Country out or my Hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my Hand? 2 Kings xviii. You see here the King of Assyria acting the sime Part with the King of Egypt -y and, if iis Power was broken all at once, he susserei but in the same Way that the King of Egypt did; and this Judgment was brought upon him with the same View, to make him an Example, and to vindicate and assert the Supremacy of God in the Eyes of all- the Nations.
This appears to be the first and original
Use of Miracles, and they are an immediate
and direct Proof of what they are brought
to assert, the Supremacy of God. For, when
the single Question is, who is the Mightiest,
must it not be decided in his favour who
visibly exerts the greatest Acts of Power?
In this Cass e no Difficulty can arise from the
Supposition that other Beings as well as God
are able to work Miracles. The Miracles
performed by the Magicians in Egypt were
so far from lessening the Authority of the
Works done by Moses, that they added to it:
For the greater the Powers were which God
humbled and subdued, the greater Evidence
did he give of his own Superiority. So that,
Works, or are sometimes employed and per-
mited by God, for the Punishment of Men, to deceive them by such Appearances, in
Power of God. With respect to the People of the jew: Miracles had a double Use: For by their long Continuance in Egypt they became infečted with the Errors and Superstitions of the Country, and served their Idols. So that they wanted a Proof that the God of their Fathers was indeed the Supreme Being, as much as the Egyptians themselves. Thus the Prophet Ezekiel says in the Name of God, In the Day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine Hand unto the Seed of the House of jacob, and made myself known unto them in the Land of Egypt; when I lifted up mine Hand unto them, saying, I am the Lord your God; then said I unto them, Cast yeaway every Man the Abominations of his Eyes, and deftle not yourselves with the Idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me; they did not cast away the Abominations
of their Eyes, neither did they forsake the Idols'
of Egypt, Ezek. xx. 5, &c. Which Account given by the Prophet shews plainly . . . . their
their corrupt State in Egypt; which was not easily worn off, as appears from their frequent Aćts of Disobedience in their Passage through the Wilderness, and their great Propensity to fall back into Idolatry: So that God was frequently provoked to destroy them; and, had they been chosen for their own sake, they would have been destroyed: But, God having made choice of them to be his own peculiar People, and intending to manifest himself to the Heathen World by the Protection of that People, he saved them for his own Name's sake: Which is the Account the Prophet Ezekiel gives, speaking in the Name of God, I said, I will pour out my Fury upon them, to accomplish my Anger against them in the midst of the Land of Egypt. But I wrought for my Name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the Heathen, among whom they were, in whose Sight I made myself known unto them in bringing them forth out of the Land of Egypt, Ver. 8, 9. - o But there was another Use of Miracles peculiar to the jews, in which the Egyptians. had no Concern : For Moses was sent not only to be their Deliverer, but also to be their Lawgiver. With the Egyptians he had no Covenant to make, nor new Statutes to give: He required of Pharaoh to let the - Children Children of Israel go; which in Justice and Equity he ought to have done, confidering how his Country had been saved by one of that Family, and how highly he offended against the Laws of Hospitality by detaining them as Slaves, who came into his Country upon the Hopes and Promise of Protećtion. But the jews were called out of Egypt to be the peculiar People of God, and to be put under a new Covenant and new Laws, under the immediate Government of God; Blessings which they had no Right to expect, and for the Accomplishment of which Mosès could give them no Assurance, but by the Evidence of such Works as plainly proceeded from the Hand of God, and proved the Commission which Moses had to speak in his
Name. The jewish Government, being a Theocracy, leads us to expect a Series of Miracles in the Administration by the immediate Hand of Providence; and so indeed we find the Case to be: And the wonderful Preser– vation of that People, when obedient, and the as wonderful Punishments, when they were disobedient, were standing Proofs to themselves, and to all the Nations round about them, that their God was the only Lord and Governor of the World. But I Moses
moses had no Successor as a Lawgiver: Prophets and righteous Men were often sent by God to reprove and admonish the People for their manifold Transgressions of the Law given by Moses, but without any Authority to add to, or diminish from it. And so the Case stood, till the Great Prophet, like unto Moses, came in the full Power and Authority of God to make a new Covenants not with one People, but with all the Nations of the Earth, Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God by Miracles and fFonders 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 any
Vot. I. U Doctrine j