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Reason why 8. As for your Obječtion, of Christ's not being able to do Chrift did
Miracles in his own Country, That is grounded on a MilSo few Mia
take. For in that Place it is not said, that Christ could
not, or did not do any Miracles; but He did not many Country: Miracles because of their Unbelief. And to use the Words
of the learned Grotius upon the Place. Christ did Miracles round the Country, that they who knew nothing of him, might believe in him. For them that began to believe, be added new Miracles, by which they might be confirmed in their new Faith. But to those, who despised the first Miracles, he repeared no more, least the Liberality of God bould grow cheap. And indeed for such People that Nlighted his Miracles, what Reason had God to afford them more, to trample upon still? But your Argument, which makes an antecedent Faith, or good Opinion of Christ, necessary for his working Miracles, has nɔ Foundation at all. For wherever Chrilt first worked Miracles,the People were incredulous before they saw his Works, so that the first Miracle he wrought must carry its own Evidence with it, and be truly miraculous.
And then what Reason is there to think, that he should work true Miracles to convert the Infidels, and sham ones to beguile the Believers? If your Suggestion be true, that he was afraid of his Impofture's being discovered where he was known; why would he venture to do any Miracles at all? For the History allows, he did some, though not many; and one or iwo such false Tricks plaid among a prejudiced people, would have endangered his Reputation, as much as an hundred.
Phil. But unless Christ had some foul Game to play, what was the Reason that he pick'd up such a Number only of illiterate stupid Auditors*, a Parcel of poor Filbermen and diffolute Publicans, and a wretched Tribe of Mob, who were wont to run after him? If he had + designed to teach Morality seriously, without any By-ends, and had done real Miracles, he would have had Men of a better Figure to have been his Disciples; which would have much contributed to the spreading of the Gospel, when it was
* Celfus apud Orig. lib. 2.
† Ju'ian apud Cyril. lib. 6.
confirmed by the Testimony of those, who had a better Judgment and Reputation, than those first Propagators of it. But why did he sort out such poor ignorant People, that instead of Sense, were qualified only with Credulity, unless he had designed to make a Property of them? If he had designed really to instruct them, he would rationally have taught them their Duty; but instead of this, as Celfus says, he bids them only believe, and they fiall be saved; he does not cry out on them, to consider the Reason of what he says, but only to believe him. Which is a Way of proceeding which seems to carry much Suspicion with it.
Cred. The Reason why so many poor and unlettered People were first called to Christianity, was, not because their Simplicity might be more easily imposed upon, but because such Persons had better Disposuions towards it. Neither our Saviomr, nor his Apostles, did refuse Disciples of any Rank whatsoever; nor were they absolutely destitute of wise and rich Men; for Nicodemus, Joseph of
Arimar hea, and Sergius Paulus, were Men of a considerable Figure; but their greatest Harvest was among the Poor and Unlearned, because they were better qualified for the Reception of the Gospel.
For rich Men were so elated by the Grandeur of their poor better Condition, they had such a Respect of Persons, and such a qualified to Love for the Honours and Gaieties of this World, that they
Gospel th.in rarely could be perswaded to attend to the Reasons which Rich. were offered by Persons of such a mean Character and Equipage, as our Saviour and his Apostles were. They might have listen’d to a Word or two, which was spoken by some great Doctor of the Sanhedrim; but they would not vouchsafe to hear what was said, by such poor Itinerant Preachers. Besides, the Doctrine which they taught, was all Gall and Wormvood to such Persons; that Contempt of the World which Christ's Religion did recommend, that extraordinary Charity to the Poor, that Patience, Humility, Resignation to God's Will
, and Forgiveness, and loving of Énemies, which he preached, seem'd perfectly inconsistent
• Celsus apud Orig. Ed. Cant. p. 282. & p. 303.
with a great Fortune. And therefore 'tis no great Wonder, that but few of them became Converts to fuch unpa
latable Doctrines. The Igno
And, as for the Wise and Learned of that Time, they rant than were as much prejudiced against the Religion, which our the Learn- Saviour taught. The literate Jews, who had been bred
up under the great Rabbins of the Sanhedrin, had their Thoughts so wholly bent upon the ancient Traditions of their Church, and the celebrated Books and Sayings of their Masters, that they looked down with Contempt upon this new Doctrine, preached by Men of so mein Education as Jesus Christ and his illiterate Followers; and thought no one could teach any thing worth attending to, but who had come out of one of their Rabbinica Schools. The Greeks had their Heads full of Pagan Phie Lofophy, and could relish nothing but what favoured of their fashionable Eloquence, and to despised the Propagators of Christianity, as a Parcel of simple, prating, Eni hujiaftical Mechanicks
. And therefore it was very natural that our blessed Lord, and his Apostles, should make very few Profelytes out of this sort of Men, when the Pride of their Learning, and their Opinion of their vain Philosophy, was so great
a Bar against the Reception of the plain Dóztrines of Christianity: This Choice But our Saviour had another Reason, besides the natumade the ral Tendency of the Thing, why he chose to have his Progress of Follovers of the poorer and illiterate Sort of Men, viz. the Gospel
To Thew the miraculous Asistance of God in the propagaculons. ting the Gospel, and the mighty Force of Christianity,
to make its Way through the greatest Obstacles. Ther: would be one material Argument lost, for the Proof a the Divinity of the Christian Religion, if our Saviour had taught it first to the greatest Clerks among the feas or Greeks, or made his Disciples out of Men of great Families and Fortunes. It might then be objected, that is was no Wonder that this Religion throve so well in the World, when it was carried on by the united Force of the Eloquence and Reason of such celebrated Scholars, and when it was furthered by Men of such Incereft and Re
putation. You Unbelievers, then, would have fallen very hard upon us with this Argument, that Christianity was only a Politick Contrivance, and that it might be very well carried on with that Success it was, when it had all human Advantages possible to assist it. And therefore our blefsed Lord, in his infinite Wisdom, must foresee the Inconvenience of this Objection; and upon that Account, chose his first Disciples to be illiterate Men, who, by the Aliftance of God's Holy Spirit, should carry on a new Religion against all human Probability, and bear down the Jewish Ceremonies, and Heathen Idolatry, although supported by all the Arts and Diligence of the learned Rabbins and Philosophers. And this is the Sum of the Apostle's Argument. Not many Wife nor many Noble are called : But God hath chofer the foolish Things of the World to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak Things of the World to confound the Things which are mighty. And base Things of the World, and Things which are despised hath God chosen; yea, and Things which are not, to bring to nought Things that are: That no Flesh should glory in his Presence, i Cor. i. 16, C.
And so you talk a little too fast, when you say, that Why Chrift our Saviour required nothing of his Disciples but only required Faith, or barely to believe. Tis true that he designed his DifciFaith to be the Ground-work of his Religion, and there- ples. fore he endeavours to lay this Foundation first, that they should believe him to be the Messias. For, when they believed, the Doctrines of his Religion would be more casily inftilled into them; because, then, they would carry Authority with them, and he need not be
put, upon all Occasions, to prove what he taught by Scripture or Reason. But we do not find that our Saviour meant, that Men should only take up with Faith, and nothing more ; for if he did, why should he have put himself to the Trouble of preaching
his most excellent Sermon upon the Mount, where the practical Rules of Morality were laid down, with a greater Exactness than ever was in the World before? But I must freely own, that Men had greater Thoughts of Faith, in the Apostolick
Times, than they have, in these cold Ages of Christianjty. Faith then was not thought, only a bare Assent to the Truth of Christ's Doctrine, and his being the Melo fias; but such an inward Principle, or Effect of God's Grace in their Hearts, as gave them not only Conviction of, but a Zeal for their Duty, inspiring them with such flaming Affections and Love of God, and such a Longing for Heaven, as made them with for Martyrdom to get thither the sooner. And let fome Men laugh, as much as they please, at inspired and infused Habits; yet if a good Man does attentively read God's Word, devoutly meditate upon our Saviour's Life and Actions, and accustom himself to frequent and earnest Prayers, he will quickly find his Thoughts animated with that noble Sense of Religion, with such a stedfast Belief of, and such a hearty Love for our Saviour's Do&trines, as will give him that Relish of true Christian Faith, which is never to be had from the flat Rationales which some
Books do give of them. Mean Men But when you insinuate, that our Saviour made Choice as good of such mean Auditors, the better to make his pretended
fudges of Miracles pass upon them; I will only ask you, don't you as others. think these ordinary People had their common Senses, as
well as other Men? Could they not tell Wine from Wa-
. There is another Thing in the History of Christ, , which I cannot digest; which is, that you cry him up as the greatest Example of Patience, and yet he does not seem to bear his Sufferings and Death with any tolerable Courage. But hear what Celfus says to you Chriftians: If you would deify a Man for Bravery at his Death, you have the Example before you of Hercules, Æsculapius, and Orpheus. But there are yet braver than these.' Anaxarchus, when he was thrown into a great tortar, and most cruelly pounded there, he de pijed the Torrent, and said this worthy Tbing indeed of the Divine Spirit : Beat the Bellows, or