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The Nature of Christ's Miracles were such, that they Nor capible could admit of no Collusion. Jugglers may play abun-oColiw,.06
. dance of strange Tricks, becaule they are Masters of an artificial Slight of Hand, and use a great Deal of cunning Gesticulation to keep People's Eyes from an exact Sight of what they do, which if narrowly lookt into, would not ar all be wondrous,
But our Saviour's Miracles can never be accounted for, this Way. No Juggler can make a lick Man believe, he is well; or a blind Man fancy, he sees ever afterward. It is possibk, by some secret Cunning, that Christ might make five Loaves to appear to be ren; but he could never by such an Art make five thousand people think they filled their Bellies with them. Legerdemain might put a Fallacy upon these People's Eyes; but such travelling Pcople's Stomachs could never be cheated, after this Rate. What Trick could be play'd, when the Woman that touched but the Hem of his Garment, had her Itue of Blood dried up? Or what Juggling could there be, when he raised up Lazarus from the Dead, when the Corps stank, and the Spectator's Nofes, as well as their Eyes, were Witnesses of the Miracle?
A Man that would set up for a Counterfeiter of N Cheat, fuch Miracles, which would cost a Man so much Pains to
bulufe he perform, and so much Dinger, if found out, must needs nothing by expect foma temporal Advantage by it. No Body could it. be so simple, to forfeit his Honesty, his Fame, and his Neck for nothing. He would expect some Recompence , or other, for such an hazardous Undertaking, and not cheat for pure Cheating lake. But what Advantage did our Saviour make, or could he expect, from thát Imposture, which you would suppose him to have carried on? As for Fanie, and Riches, and Honour, which are the
great Baits that set all your Impostors agog, it is plain he despised, and undervalued all these Things. There is no Doubt to be made, but that if his Eyes had been upon Gain, he might have drawn considerable Wealth from such a Number of People, which every where followed him ; or at
least he might have raised himself above that Poverty, he chose to live in.
So many religious Men and Women, and some of them of considérable Fortune, would have been very proper Subjects, for a Man of such Designs to have worked upon; but this was never objected, or suspected of him ; and he was so little Master of Riches, that he was forced to be at the Expence of a Miracle, to pay a small Tax. If Fame or Honour had been his Aim, he would have codeavoured to have spread and propagated the Glory of his miraculous Works ; but he rather endeavoured, upon all Occasions, to stifle them; and, when the Multitude would lave made him a King, he conveyed himself away from them. The other Mock-Meffias's were spurred on to their Impostures
, by the Hopes of that Kingdom, which our Saviour refused; but it does not appear, that our Saviour had any other Aim, but to do Good to Men's Souls; and, when ever they talked to him of a temporal Kingdom, he always told them His Kingdom was not of this World. If our Saviour had had any Spark of Ambition in him, That favourable Opportunity would have tried him ; for the Jews, at that Time, were full of Expectation of a temporal Mefias, and he might have carried the whole Nation after him, if he had but set up for a secular Prince, För that, which disgusted the Jervs most, and made many of his Followers leave him, was his Crossing their Notions with a spiritual Kingdom, which they had no Idea of. 'Tis plain, therefore, if our Saviour had designed any secular Advantage to himself, he would have closed with their fond Opinions, to have gained an Interest among them ; but contrariwise, he lost the Favour of many of their great ones, by Reproving them for their Faults, and, at last, Nlighted the Kingdom, they would have conferred upon him. Therefore (I say) no Honour could be a Bait to him to carry on an Imposture, who could so bravely despise the greatest of Honours
. All that you can say, is, That he looked upon it as the greatest Hinour, to be the Ring-leader of a Sect.
5. But 6. If all these Miracles were Cheats and Delusions, tho' Such Numthey had the good Luck to pass upon the People at first, bers could yet fome Time or other the Fraud must be discovered,
5. But then we must consider, that though this has Because of been the Inducement for several Impostors, to deceive the great the People, yet this has been, when they thought they impoffors, were able to do it without any great hazard, especially of their Lives. Every one, who lived in the Jervish Common-wealth, must needs know what a capital Punishment was to be inflicted upon False Prophets, or Impostors, and therefore no one in his Senses would venture his Life, for the sake of such a Cheat, where there was not an extraordinary Advantage attending. As for those that set up for Temporal Messias's, the Case is widely different; they gathered after them a Number of Men in a hostile Way, who could defend them from the Power of the Law; but those who propagated a false Religion, in a peaceable Method, were left naked to the Sword of Justice, and therefore they could no otherwise but expect, to sacrifice their Lives for their Do&trine : And, according to your Supposition, this must be our Saviour's Case; and therefore, how can you suppose him to be so simple, as to expose his Life for the sake of a wild Imposture, and for the Honour of being a Ring-leader to some few giddy Follovers? Indeed, in those Places, where Liberty of Opinion is tolerated, Men may venture upon such an impudent Design; but this is not to be supposed in a Nation, where the Laws were so severe upon Innovators.,
Every one, who reads our Saviour's Sermons, must allow him to be a Man of common Sense; but he must have been a Man out of his Wits, to have gone about to carry on an Imposture, which he must have been cer. tain to be executed for. Or, if he had any Hopes to evade the Rigor of the Lovs, it must be by soothing the Men in Authority; but our Saviour did not in the least attempt this, when by his daily Reproof, he provoked the Scribes and Pharisees, who only were able to support him; and therefore you must make him downright mad, to have managed an Imposture after that Rate.
A Cheat, espe
especially, since, if they were Cheats, they must be managed by a Combination of several People. Suppose, that 'twas agreed between Lazarus and Christ, that he should appear only to be dead, and to be raised by him again; that the Widow's Son plaid the same Trick; that the blind Men could see before; that the lame Men pretended only to halt; and that the Five Thousand Men gave only out a false Story, that they had their Bellies full out of such a small Provision, &c. Now if these Miracles were only pretended, and there being so many Men conscious to the Cheats, how should it come to pass, that none of all those should ever discover them? When a Number of Men are concerned in a Secrecy, even where the Cause is most juft, some Traytor or other betrays the Intriegue; and therefore you cannot think, there would be more Fidelity in such a vile Imposture, as you suppose this to be. Chrift had one false Disciple among the Twelve ; and therefore, to be sure, all those Five Thousand Men could never agree to be Vouchers for such a lying Miracle. Or if they kept his Counsel in his more prosperous Estate; yet when he fell into Trouble, if they had any Insincerity to accuse him of, to be sure some or other would have been brought to his Trial to accuse him; which would have given in more material Evidence, than any thing his Adversaries then objected against him. There is hardly one single Imposture advanced, but that something or other is started up in a little Time, which, by comparing of Circumstances together, discovers the Cheat : But for such a Multitude of Impostures, (which our Saviour must upon your Account be guilty of) carried on by à Confederacy of so many people, and in the space of so many Years never to be discovered; and for want of this, that the Jews should be forced to take up with such peor Evidence against our Saviour'; and that all the Infidels, down from the Apostolick Age to this Time, should have never been able to make any such unfair Deal ings appear; this is perfectly incredible, and more mira, culous, let me tell you, than any thing that we fay he did.
Enemies owni'd bis
7. But is it not a little unreasonable, Philologus, that All Christ's you should question the Truth of our Saviour's Miracles, which have been owned for so many Ages, and Miracies. which the greatest Enemies of the Christian Religion never could be so hardy as to question? The Unbelievers, in the Time of Christ and his Apostles, and in tlie next following Generations, were the best able to examine into the Truth of these Matters; but they, after all the Inquisition their Wit or Malice could maké, could not find but that our. Saviour did these miraculous Works, which are attributed to him; and therefore they set themselves only to give an Account, how he came to do them otherways, than by the Power of God, which they were unwilling to own he was aflisted with. The Jews, who were contemporary with our Saviour, attributed them to a diabolical Power, saying, He cast out Devils by Beelzebub the Prince of the Devils. The Heathen Infidels, as Hierocles, Celsus, Julian, &c. do contend, that they were done by Magick; and the modern Jews never pretend to disown the Matters of Fact, but only say, these extraordinary Things were done by a right Pronunciation of the Shem Hamphoras, or the inexprelsible Name of God, which Christ having, by Cunning got out of the Temple, enabled him, (as they tell us) to do all the Miracles which he did. And besides, the modern Jews are so far from disowning the miraculous Power of Christ, that they have several Stories of it in their Talmud; as Mahomet himself, in his Alcoran, has the same. Therefore, methinks, it has a little too much the Air of Confidence, for the Unbelievers only of this Age, to deny his miraculous Power, which has constantly been allowed, by the most inveterate Enemies of Christianity, for so many hundred Years; some of which lived so nigh the Time, when these Matters were transacted, and were so sharp-sighted withal, and ow'd such a Spight to Christianity, that they would have detected the Juggle, if there had been any, altogether as well as our Eagle-eyed Wits now a-days pretend to do.