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gofpel in a balance, and to have found it light; is a fuppofition, fit only for thofe to make, who have not iried it. A
3. Third thing, which we learn from the doctrine of the text, is, to fatisfy ourselves of the vanity of thofe pretences which are made to miracles in the Romifb communion. The members of it boaft very much of mighty figns and wonders wrought by fome canonized, and fome uncanonized faints; their legends, their Sermons, are full of them; even their great advocate lays fuch a stress upon the number and kinds of them, as to make the glory of miracles one of the fifteen Notes, by which that church may be difcerned to be the only true church of Chrift. But now, as confidently, and publicly, as they make thefe boafts of miracles, we may observe, that the miracles themselves are faid to have been done very privately, in religious houses, and places of fecrecy and retirement; in remote regions of the world, whither nobody will go to difprove them in fuperftitious countries, where no man hath a mind, or leave, to examine them. And these are circumstances, which smell ftrongly of impofture and contrivance; for why fhould things. defigned for public use and influence, be thus tranfacted in the dark, without witneffes? A miracle is, in the nature of it, fomewhat done for the converfion of infidels; it is "a fign, not to "them that believe, but to them that believe "not:" I Cor. xiv. 22. And yet it fo happens, that, Popish miracles are generally done at home, before believers, where there is little or no need of them, or doubts concerning them: Or if a
broad, yet they are placed at fuch a convenient distance, as not to lie within reach of confutation. In China and Japan these wonder-workers may pretend to have done as many miracles as they please, without the fear of a discovery; in Spain and Italy they may venture, now and then, to fet up for them, where there are fo many always ready to favour their pretences, and to run into any pious fraud that can be contrived for them. But in heretical countries (as they term ours) they are very fhy, and fparing of their talent this way; and still, the more herefy there is in a country, the fewer miracles are heard of there. How can a man choose but fufpect thefe odd ftories, told under fuch fufpicious circumstances? how can he be blamed for not entertaining them, For, as our Saviour's brethren once reasoning with him (and, they reasoned right, tho' they applied it wrong) fo may we with one of these pretenders to miracles: There is no man doth any thing in fecret and he himself feeketh to be known openly; if thou do these things, fbew thyself to the world, John vii. 4. And whoever totally declines this trial, muft not expect to have any credit given, either to the miracles he pretends to have done, or to the mesfage he brings.
But the moft abfurd pretence of this kind, and the most oppofite to the doctrine delivered, is, that famous miracle of the corporal prefence in the eucharift; which is done fo much in the dark, that nobody ever did or can fee it, either before or after it was done, or even while it is doing; no, not the doer himself, as loudly as he may boaft of it. The miracles of the gospel are so ma
ny appeals to the fenfes of men; but this is a ftrange new kind of miracle, which is perfectly invifible. To lay, that it iuft be received by faith, that we must believe it to be a miracle; is to destroy the very end and defign of miracles; which are works done, 'in örder to procure the belief of fomewhat elfe; and are not therefore themselves to be believed, and taken for ganted. In a word, it is a miracle, the doing of which is fo utterly a fecret, that it wants another miracle to prove it to be one. And yet of all things in the world, it is the moft incapable of being proved this way; for miracles being, as I'faid, appeals to our fenfes, and tranfubftantiation a plain contradiction to them; the calling in of a miracle to evince the truth of this doctrine would be (as one very juftly reasons) "to prove to a man by "what he fees, that he doth not fee what he fees." Either therefore the pretended corporal prefence is no miracle; or, if it be one, we are ftill excufable in not admitting it, fince it comes to us in a way fo very fingular, and demands our affent against the teftimony of fente, upon the reports of which all other miracles are founded Again,
4. Fourthly, the doctrine difcourfed of teaches us likewife to reject all pretences to the spirit, to priv te vifions and inward illuminations, by which enthufiaftical or defigning men endeavour to eftablish their own particular opinions, and to give them a facred authority. Should thefe ftrange things they tell us, be true; yet they are tranfacted privately, between God and their own fouls, and cannot therefore reasonably be made a foundation for the public reception of any doctrine, ór opinion:
opinion: [For whenever God intends to establish· any thing openly, he gives open proof and evi dence of it; his notice reaches always as far as he defigns to extend his revelation; and they therefore, who have no fure fign or notice that a truth is revealed, cannot, in reafon, be obliged to entertain it. Thus it would be, I fay, fuppofing thefe vifions, and revelations alledged, were really true; whereas we have indeed the best ground in the world for fufpecting them to be falfe] fince it is evidently contrary to all the divine methods of acting, with which we are acquainted, that God fhould give a man a commission to publish a *new doctrine, and not give him wherewithal to manifest the authority of his commiflion to 0thers. "If I bear witnefs of myfelf, my witnefs is not true," John ii. 31. fays our Saviour; it is probably not true in itself, it is certainly not neceffary to be embraced as true, by thofe to whom I propofe it; and therefore it follows, "The works that I do, they bear witness of me, that the Father hath fent me,' ver. 36. The miracles which a man performs, are the only convincing arguments of his being infpired; and his own affirmation in this cafe, when divefted of thefe proofs, let it be never fo peremptory, cannot reafonably induce a belief of what he affirms.
Thus (for inftance) when the difpute was in the church of Rome between the two orders of Francifcans aud Dominicans, about the immaculate conception; one fide had vifions and revelations for it, and the other fide had vifions and revelations against it; but neither fide thought themfelves obliged to take word of the other;
and the rest of the world, that ftood by, did not think themselves obliged to take the word of either; but believed or difbelieved the immaculate conception, according as reafon, fcripture, and the authority of tradition feemed to determine them, and not according to the proportion of vifions and revelations, vouched for, or against it.
5. It will be yet a fifth improvement of what hath been laid down, to obferve from hence, how it comes to pafs, that miracles have been fo long difcontinued, and do rarely, very rarely, appear in these latter ages of the world. They were performed at first in fo confpicuous, exuberant, and convincing a manner, as to render a continual repetition of the fame proofs utterly needlefs. Had indeed these first evidences of a divine power been difplayed before a few only, or before many, but fufpected witneffes, it might have been requifite perhaps to repeat them often in fucceding times; (as often perhaps as any fingle convert to Christianity was to be made :) But be ing originally wrought, as you have heard, in the face of the fun, before a whole nation of witneffes, and those witneffes enemies; the certainty of them was fo well established, and tranfmitted to after-ages; as that no fair, impartial confiderer should be able to doubt of it; and fuch an one, having no reason to dispute the truth of former miracles, could have no reafon, no occafion, to demand new ones. God governs the moral world, as he doth the natural. He made it indeed and ordered it, at first, by miracle; but he ftcers and conducts the affairs of it ever fince, by