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which he could make out his intercourse with the angel Gabriel.
Thus again, the several idolatrous religions, in the East and Weft-Indies, are faid to have receive ed their fanction from miracles done by the first authors and founders of them : But then the reporters of these facts are so much later than the facts themselves, that 'tis impoflible to have any rational afsurance concerning the reality of them: [Their Mango-Gopal, Amida Brama, and Zaca, are fupposed to have atchieved wonder) at a time when their was no way of transmitting accounts of them to posterity, but by memory alone, and fome thousands of years before there could be
any written monuments of them. Now this, I say, is to build the proof of divine truths
upon tainty of some accounts, whereof men can never be certain; it is to establish the belief of a revelation upon things done, or said to be done, in a corner, and which require a new revelation to make them credible.
The Jewish religion was indeed published by God in a very open and folemn manner, before a whole nation, with thunders and lightnings, and the found of heavenly trumpets, on the top of mount Snii. Yet still infidelity finds room to object, that the truth of this revelation depends upon the testimony of friends only; and that the scene of it is laid in a place, where nobody could be present, but the persons concerned to support the account whether true or false. And should any of these persons have been inclined to contradict it, yet they could not ; because the whole race of them perished in the wilderness, ere a
correspondence was yet opened between them, and any other people.
Such objections, 'tis true, are of no weight, laid in the balance with the evidence given for the truth of thofe facts; yet it is some advantage to the proof of Gospel miracles, not to be liable even to thefe little exception's, and on no fide to he open to any doubts or fufpicions wharfoever! And from hence we may take occasion to confider also in the.
2. Second place, how inexcusable they are, who, notwithstanding that operi, inconteftable manner in which the divine authority of the gofpel was manifested, continue still to stand our against it; to refift, and even to deride, the ut moft efforts made by an omnipotent arm tos wards afferting the mission of Jefus ; parallel them with the mock wonders of Satan, and the im postures of false prophets; and to infinuate, as if they were all equally done by collufion. Such was he, whose name ought not to be mentioned without reproach, and whom therefore I shall not mention ; but his words are thefe ; "If we “ look (fays he) upon the impoftures wrought by “ confederacy, there is nothing, how impoflible “ soever to be done, that is impoffible to be bear " lieved. For two men conspiring, the one to “ seem lame; the other to cure him with a charm;" « will deceive many; but many conspiring, one " to seem lame, another to cure him, and all the " rest to bear wittness, will deceive more.” Which was intended to suggeft, that the miraculous cúres recorded in the gospel, were not really cures, but cheats, and concerted between the feeming objects
and authors of them; though the relation of feveral of these cures be, as I lewed before, fo circumstanced, as to make this account of them not only ridiculous, but impoffible. He mighd as we ] have pretended to explain the miracle of our Saviour's giving eyes to the blind by reasoning on the medicinal virtues of the clay and the fpittle employed on that occalion.
The men who talk at this rate (as, I fear, many men now do, and that openly, and not in a corner) who can bring themselves thus to confound the plainest marks of truth and falfhood, reality and imposture, and to impute the most clear and demonstrative profs that ever were given of a divine power, to confederacy and a juggle ; fuch' men, I say, are inexcufable upon all the accounts of right reason anl good fenfe ; and incurable by all further methods of proof that can possibly be addressed to them. They are infidels" not because they want fufficient grounds of conviction, but because they resolve not to be otherwise. To no purpose is it to dif. pute with them about these foundations of our faith ; to no purpofe is it to exhort, beseech, perfuade, or reprove them: “ Their eyes are shut, " that they cannot see'; and their ears stopped, " that they cannot hear; and their hearts hard as the
nether mill-stone." Our reasonings of this kind inay indeed be of some use, in respect of those, who are yet untainted with the principles of infidelity; and may serve to keep such free from the infection : But, to suppose that any good can be done by them upon those, who pretend to have weighed' the evidence of the Voi. III.
gospel in a balance, and to have found it light; is a fuppofition, fit only for those to make, who have not iried it. А
3. Third thing, which we learn from the doctrine of the text, is, to satisfy ourselves of the vanity of those pretences which are made to miracles in the Romiso communion. The members of it boaft very much of mighty signs and wonders wrought by fome canonized, and fome un canonized saints; their legends, their Sermons, are full of them ; even their great advocate lays such 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 discerned to be the only true church of Christ. But now, as confidently, and publicly, as they make these boasts of miracles, we may observe, that the miracles themfelves are said to have been done very privately, in religious houses, and places of secrecy and retirement ; in remote regions of the world, whither nobody will go to disprove them; in superstitious countries, where no man hath a mind, or leave, to examine them. And these are circumstances, which smell strongly of imposture and contrivance ; for why should things deligned for public use and influence, be thus transacted in the dark, without witnesses ? A miracle is, in the nature of it, somewhat done for the conversion of infidels ; it is “ a fign, not to " them that believe, but to them that believe “not:" 1 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 such 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 see up for them, where there are so 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 shy, and sparing of their talent this way; and still, the more heresy there is in a country, the fewer miracles are heard of there. How can .a man choose but fufpect these odd stories, told under such suspicious 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) so may we with one of these pretenders to miracles : There is no man doth any thing in secret and he himselt seeketh to be known openly; if thou do these things, soew thyself to the world, John vii. 4. And whoever totally declines this trial, must not expect to have any credit given, either to the miracles he pretends to have done, or to the mer sage he brings.
But the most abfurd pretence of this kind, and the most opposite to the doctrine delivered, is, that farnous miracle of the corporal presence in the eucharift; which is done fo much in the dark, that nobody ever did or can see it, either before or after it was done, or even while it is doing ; no, not the door himself, as loudly as he may boast of it. The miracles of the gospel are so ma