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teftimonies that ever were given to any Prophet, and abundantly enough to fatisfy any reasonable man, that he was a teacher come from God. Indeed his miracles were not generally fo prodigious and amazing: but they were many and publick, they were useful and beneficial to mankind; and, for that reafon, more likely to come from God. He did not call for fire from heaven to detroy his enemies but he gave fight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf, and health to thofe that were fick of the most dangerous and inveterate difeafes, and (which was always reckoned among the greatest and most undoubted kind of miracles) life to the dead. And when he himself was put to death by the malice of the Jews, though he did not come down from the cross, and was not refcued from his fufferings by an immediate hand from heaven, to triumph over the malice and cruelty which they were exercifing upon him, (which was the miracle they required to be shown) yet God was not wanting to give teftimony to him in a moft remarkable manner, by prodigies which immediately followed his death; in the ftrange darkness which came upon the dand; in the terrible earthqaake which rent the veil of the temple, and tore the rocks afunder; in the opening of the graves, and the rifing of the dead; and, laftly, in his own miraculous refurrection, the third day after he was crucified: fo that here was no fign wanting in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, to convince their obftinacy and unbelief, unless it were that very sign which they demanded. God did enough to fatisfy every man's reafon; and he is not wont to gratify the humour and curiofity of men If men be fo unreasonable as to expect this from him, God lets fuch men continue in their wilful blindness and infidelity.
Secondly, Neither had the Heathen philofophers reafon, upon account of the ftory of our Saviour's fufferings, to look upon the gofpel as fo abfurd and unreasonable a thing; as will, I hope, evidently appear, if you will be pleafed to confider with me thefe following particulars:
I. That there is nothing more inculcated in the writdings of the wifest and most famous of the Heathen philofophers than this, that worldly greatness and prosperity
is not to be admired, but despised by a truly wife man. Ariftotle, in his ethicks, makes it the property of a magnanimous and great fpirit, not to admire greatnefs, and power, and victory, and riches. So that, according to their owu principles, our Saviour was not to be defpifed upon account of his meannefs and fufferings. He might be a great prophet, and come from God, though he enjoyed nothing of worldly greatnefs and profperity.
II. They tell us likewife, that men may be very virtuous and good, and dearly beloved of God, and yet be liable to great miferies and fufferings. And to this purpofe I could bring you almost innumerable teftimonies out of the books of the philofophers. Max. Tyrius the Plaronist, speaking of Ulyffes, fays, "that the gods forced "him to wander, and beg, and wear rags, and fuffered "him to be reproached and reviled, for the love and "friendship that they bare to him." Epictetus, a poor flave, but inferior to none of all the philofophers for true virtue and wisdom, "thanks the gods for his mean con"dition, and fays, He did not believe himself to be one jot the lefs beloved by them for that reafon; and that "he was not caft into a ftate of poverty and contempt, "because the gods hated him, but that he might be fit to "be a witness to others."
III. They tell us likewife, that a ftate of affliction and fuffering is fo far from rendering a man unfit to reform the world, and to be an example of virtue, that none fo fit as those that are in fuch circumstances. Arrian, in his differtations of Epictetus, defcribing a man fit to reform the world, whom he calls the apoftle and meffenger, the minifter and preacher of God to mankind, gives this character of him: "He muft, fays he, be without house "and harbour, and deftitute of all worldly accommoda"tions;" (juft as it is faid of our Saviour, that the Son of man had not where to lay his head ;) "he muft "be armed with fuch a patience by the greatest sufferings, as if he were a ftone and devoid of fense; he "must be a fpectacle of mifery and contempt to the "world." And to mention no more, Plato, in the fecond book of his commonwealth, when he would represent a righteous man, giving the most unquestionable teftimony
to the world of his virtue, "Let him, fays he, be ftript of all things in this world, except his righteoufnefs; "let him be poor and diseased, and accounted a wicked "and unjust man; let him be whipped and tormented,
and crucified as a malefactor; and yet all this while "retain his integrity:" which does fo exactly agree with our Saviour's condition, that had he not wrote before his time, one would have thought he had alluded to its
IV. As it seems very convenient, (1 am not fo bold as to fay it was neceffary, and that God had no other way to bring about the falvation of men; for what are we, that we should prefcribe to God, and fet bounds to infinite wifdom?) I fay, as it seems very reasonable, that, in order to our falvation, the Son of God, who was to be the author of it, fhould become man, both that he might be an example of holiness, and an expiation for fin; and that he fhould be born after the manner of other men, to fatisfy us, that he was really of the fame nature with us, that fo he might converfe more familiarly with us, and might be a more eafy, and encouraging, and imitable example of all holiness and virtue; fo likewife was it convenient, that he should be fubject to the miseries and fufferings of our nature, that through the several states and conditions of humanity, he might have an experimental knowledge of the fufferings that human nature is liable to; and from his own fenfe of our infirmities, might be a more merciful and compaffionate High-prieft. And this the Apostle exprefly takes notice of, Heb. v. that it was convenient, that our High-priest should be taken from among men, that he might learn to be compaffionate, by knowing experimentally what it was to be tempted and afflicted; the knowledge of experience being the strongest motive and incitement to pity; and, confequently, to give us the greater affurance of his tender affection to us.
It was of great ufe, that he should live in fo mean and afflicted a condition, to confound the pride and vanity, and fantaftry of the world, and to convince men of these two great truths, that God may love those whom he afflicts, and that men may be innocent, and virtuous, and contented, in the midft of poverty, and reproach, and fuffering. Had our bleffed Saviour been a great
worldly Prince, his influence and example might poffibly have made more hypocrites and fervile converts, but it would not have tended one whit to make men more inwardly good and virtuous. The great arguments that muft do this, must be fetched, not from the pomp and profperity of this world, but from the happiness and mifery of the other. Befides, had our Saviour appeared in any great power and fplendor, the Chriftian religion could not have fo clearly been acquitted from the fufpicion of a worldly intereft and defign.
And then the fcripture affigns very plain and excellent reafons of his fuffering of death, that he might make expiation for the fins of the whole world; that he might take away fin by the facrifice of himself, and put an end to that troublesome and unreasonable way of worship by facrifice, which was in use both among Jews and heathens; and that, by conquering death, and him that had the power of it, he might deliver thofe, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime fubject to bondage, as the Apostle fpeaks, Heb. ii. 14. For though the death of Chrift, barely confidered in itself, be far from an encouragement to us to hope for immortality; yet the death of Christ, confidered together with his refurrection from the dead, and his afcenfion into heaven, is the clearest, and moft fenfible, and most popular demonstration that ever was in the world, of another life after this, and a bleffed immortality. So that, confidering our Saviour rofe from the dead, it is far from being ridiculous to rely upon one that died for our hopes of immortality.
V. As for the plainnefs of our Saviour's doctrine, and of the inftruments whereby it was propagated, this is fo far from being an objection against it, that it is the great commendation of it. It contains a plain narrative of oui Saviour's life, and miracles, and death, and refurrection, and afcenfion into heaven, and a few plain precepts of life; but the most excellent and reasonable, and the freeft from all vanity and folly, that are to be met with in any book in the world. And can any thing be more worthy of God, or more likely to proceed from him, than fo plain and useful a doctrine as this? Lawgivers do not use to deliver their laws in eloquent language, to fet them off with VOL. VIII. B b
flourish of fpeech, and to perfuade men to a liking of them by fubtile and artificial infinuations; but plainly, and in few words, to declare their will and pleasure.
And for the inftruments God was pleased to make use of, for the publishing of this doctrine, we grant they were generally rude and unlearned men, and our religion hath no reason to be ashamed of it; for this was very agreeable to the fimplicity of the whole defign, that all things fhould be managed in the plaineft manner; that Chriftianity might be introduced in fuch a way, as there might be no poffible fufpicion of human contrivance or worldly defign in it.
The religion itself was fimple and plain, there were no worldly inducements to the embracing of it, but all imaginable difcouragements upon that account; the inftruments of propagating it were fimple and plain men, unaffifted by learning or art, by fecular power and authority; which is fo far from being a difparagement to our religion, that it is a great reputation to it, and a plain evidence of its divine original, that it was from God, and was countenanced and carried on by him, not by might nor by power, but by the fpirit of the Lord.
And, in truth, confidering the nature of this doctrine, which confifted either of plain matter of fact, or of eafy and familiar precepts and rules for a good life, the Apostles were as fit for the propagating of it, as any fort of perfons in the world: For it did not require depth of underfanding, or fharpness of wit to comprehend it, and declare it to others; but honesty and integrity of mind, zeal and industry to promote it; in which qualities the Apostles excelled the philofophers and beft learned perfons in the world: And, providing an inftrument be fufficient and competent for its end, it matters not how plain and unpolished it be; for inftruments are not intended for ornaments, but for ufe. Now, the Apoftles of our Saviour, though they were illiterate and unbred, were as competent witneffes of matter of fact as any other perfons: For there is no wit or learning required to relate what a man hath feen and heard. Nay, the more fimple and plain, the lefs eloquent and artificial any relation is, the more likely it is to be true, and to gain belief,