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Cred. There is a Complication of Mistakes Philologas, ons upon upon which you ground this Calumny against our blessed 6n1/52.07 Lord. For you think it an odd Thing to ride upon an ridiculous.
Ass, because Men don't usually do so in our Western Countries; and the Eastern People
, in those Times, perhaps, would have laughed as much at our being such Cavaliers in the Time of Peace, as to mount Horses upon all Occasions, which they did very rarely, but in order to Battle. It was no comical Thing, as you Wits would make it, to fee a Man in those Ages, and in that Country, to ride ufen an Ass ; for Balaam, who was a great Courtier to one of the Kings of those Countries, rode upon one,
Numb. xxii. 28. A Tolen of Neither was it any Affectation of Popularity which moved
our Lord to this Action, for that was a Thing which he ty, and Naiure of his ypon all Occasions avoided, forbidding the Miracles which kingdom. he did to be divulged, and hiding himself from the Peo
ple, when they would have made him a King. But he
But, when he suffered Honours to be paid him, he chose
Besides, He permitted this Honour to be paid him, to To fhew hinn
propherick Office, by his submitting to this Triumph, Provia dence made Way for his entring upon his Sacerdotal, or his being a Sacrifice for the Sins of the World. If Christ had suffered the People to have proclaimed him a King before, the Jews would have laid hold of him, and hin dered his Preaching; and if he had not once submitted, though in the humblest Manner, to accept the Honours of that Dignity, they would not have known him to be a King as well as a Prophet, which the Messias was to be. And now his Preaching being finished, he acknowledged his Kingdom, not out of any ambitious Design, (for what Pleasure could so wise a Person take in such
poor Honours?) but to fulfill the Will of God, and the great cternal Designs of Providence; and thereby to give an Occasion now at last to the Jews to murder him, that his innocent Life might be offered up to God for a Sacrifice for our Sins. This, Philologus, is no Matter of Scoff and Ridicule, but is a Train of the most wife and adorable Providence, which some Time or other you will praise and admire, or else will eternally grieve and tremble at.
But if this was any indecent Action of our Saviour, Jews interthe Jewus would have been forwardest to expose it. But pret this of they know very well , that the same was prophesied of the
Jews, as Theodoret says, were fubeginlei, struck with
* Vid. Bochar. An. Sacr. p. 113.
E e a
sert the ancient Interpretation of their Schools
, which applied it to the Messias, and to explain it of Zerubbabel, who was a poor Prince. But these are modern Fetches, made out of despight to Christianity, and which some of the latter Jews are too generous to agree with. And therefore Grotius is not to be pardoned, for taking Part with Aben Ezra , who applies this to Zerubbabel, and gives our Saviour only the poor Comc-off of a secundary Sense. The Comment of Rabbi Solomon looks much more Christian, It is impossible to interpret this of any other than the Messias, when we see it fulfilled in no other Perfon.
Phil. To be yet plainer with you, I cannot think that those Miracles which he is said to have done were true; but only he, being cunninger than the rest of the People, made them believe that strange Things were done by his Power, which either were never done at all, or else would have been done without him. If a sick Man who was naturally in a hopeful Way of Recovery, was seen accidentally by Christ, it was then given out that he cured him*. And, if the Man had an Opinion of his miraculous Power and Holiness, his Fancy might contribute a great Deal towards it; and therefore we find that a good strong Faith is always requisite for the Support of a Miracle. Nay, the Evane gelift himself owns, That Christ could do no Miracles in his own Country, because of their Unbelief, Mat. xiii. 58. That is, they were acquainted with him from the beginning, and were not prejudiced with that extraordinary Opinion Men had of him, in other Places, and so would not let those Things pass upon them for Miracles, which deceived others.
Cred. It is not to be expected, but that Men of your Principles should disbelieve the Truth of our Saviour's Miracles; for if you were satisfied upon this point, you must necessarily own the Truth of his Doctrines ; and therefore, I don't wonder that they lay out all their Wit and Malice, to weaken the Belief of these. But to give * Celsus apud Orig. Blunt's Notes in Philostr.
you Satisfaction, that the Miracles of our Saviour were
1. By the whole Character and Tenor of our Saviour's Christ a Life, he appears to be a very good Man; and therefore
good Man, could not be guilty of an Imposture, which no Body, but fore no Imvile Rogues and Cheats, will be concerned in. Who can pof?or. believe, that so good a Person as Jesus CHRIST, who, all along his whole Life, made it his Business to do Good, to inform Men of their Dury, and to teach them the exactest Rules of Virtue; who executed his miraculous Power, not for Oftentation, and the Aggrandizing his Fame, but to do Good both to the Souls and Bodies of Men; who despised all profered Honours, and manifested a perfect Contempt of the World; who was so kind and Obliging, fo Meek and Patient, in all his Conversation ; who prayed for, and laid down his Life, for his Enemies : What Man can believe (I say) that a Person, of such wondrous Goodness, would make use of such base Tricks, as you suggest? This may be supposed of an ambitiousMan, or one of an ungodly Life, who had no Regard to Virtue, or who would do any thing to gain a popular Applause ; but can never be reasonably thought of lo good, and innocent, a Person as our blessed LORD. You cannot suppose, that he counterfeited this Goodness; for, fome Time or other, such an hypocritical Vizor would have dropped off, in his whole Course of Life. For such Men cannot always stand upon their Guard, and, in Converfation, they will now and then display what they really are, do what they can.
And if this had been the Case of JESUS CHRIST, he having so many Enemies, some of them would have been sure to have catched hold of the Slip. Or if we can suppose him to have been ever fuccessfully Cautious, after he set up for his supposed Imposture, yet how can we imagine him to have acted fuch a Part for thirty Years before his Preaching? There is no Ground for such a Suspicion, and the plain Opennels of his Conversation, oftentimes with Publicans and Sinners,
does demonstrate that he was not acting the Hypocrite's Part, who would have industriously avoided such Acquaintance to gain himself a better Reputation.
2. Men that set up for this Trade of Imposture, take Miracles Care to have as few Witnesses as ever they can in what done foof, they do, for a Multitude of Eyes will be apt to prie too fore so ma- nearly into their Tricks ; and if the Cheat happens to
succeed once or twice well, they are afraid of repeating it, for fear of some unlucky Miscarriage. But there is nothing like this, in our Saviour's Miracles. He repeated them over and over, as often as there was Occasion for them, and cured Multitudes of Blind and Lame in the fame Place. The Miracles, which he frequently did, were so publickly to be discerned, in the Face of so many Witnesles, that they were not, like strange Hear-lay Stories, done I know not where, and before I know not whom, but before Multitudes of Spectators, many of which bore him a great Deal of Ill-will
. If he had any covert Way of Curing these diseased Persons by natural Means, he would have chosen to have done it in private, but he only spake the Word in the face of the whole Multitude, and distemper’d Persons became whole. And this the Pharisees oftentimes saw him do, and durst not question the Truth of his Performances; they owned them to be performed by a supernatural Power, but maliciously attributed them to a diabolical one; and at another Time when he cured the Man of the Pally, they could not deny but that he really did cure him, finding Fault only for his doing it upon the Sabbath-day. He raised a dead Man to Life in the open Streets, as he was carrying to his Funeral, with all the Attendants about him; so that if any Trick was play'd in this Matter, there were Witnesses enough to discover it. He increased the Loaves and Fishes at one Time for the Feeding four Thousand, at another five Thousand Men, Mat. xv. 38. Now 'tis a strange Thing, that none of all these should discover the Imposture, if there was any. Nay, it is not to be imagined, that any Impostor could be so simple, as to go to put a Trick upon such an Army of People, and yet hope that none of them should find out the Cheat.