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whose pleasure? His own, or God's? Not his own; but God's. But if so, then your demand is not made on man, but on God. I cannot say it is modest, thus to challenge God; or well suiting the relation of a creature to his Creator.
2. However, I cannot but think, there have been already so many plain interpositions of divine power, as will shortly leave you without excuse, if you either deny or despiser them. We desire no favour, but the justice that diligent inquiry may be made concerning them. We are ready to name the persons on whom that power was shewn, which belongeth to none but God; (not one or two, or ten or twelve only) to point out their places of abode; and we engage they shall answer every pertinent question, fairly and directly; and, if required, shall give all those answers upon oath, before any who are impowered so to receive them. It is our particular request, that the circumstances which went before, which accompanied, and which followed after, the facts' under consideration, may be thoroughly examined, and punctually noted down. Let but this be done, (and is it not highly needful it should ? at least by those who would form an 'exact judgment,) and we have no fear, that any reasonable man should scruple to say, This hath God wrought!
As there have been already so many instances of this kind, far beyond what we had dared to ask or think, I cannot take upon me to say, whether or not it will please God to add to their number. I have not herein known the mind of the Lord, neither am I his counsellor. He may, or he may not; I cannot affirm or deny. I have no light, and I have no desire either way. It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' I desire only to be as clay in his hand. • 3. But what if there were now to be wrought ever so many “real and undoubted miracles 2” (I suppose you mean by undoubted, such as being sufficiently attested, ought not to be doubted of.) Why, this, you say, “would put the controversy on a short foot, and be an effectual proof of the
truth of your pretences.” By no means. As common as this assertion is, there is none upon earth more false. Suppose a teacher were now, on this very day, to work real and undoubted miracles: this would extremely little shorten the controversy between him and the greater part of his oppo
For all this would not force them to believe, but mány would still stand just where they did before : seeing men may harden their hearts against miracles, as well as against arguments.
So men have done, from the beginning of the world :even against such signal, glorious miracles, against such interpositions of the power of God, as may not be again till the consumimation of all things. Permit me to remind you only of a few instances; and to observe, that the argument holds a fortiori: for who will ever be impowered of God again, to work such miracles as these were? Did Pharaoh look on all that Moses and Aaron wrought, as an « effectual proof of the truth of their pretencès ?” Even when the Lord made the sea to be dry land, and the waters were divided :' when the children of Israel went: into the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall, on the right and on the left ?' Exod. xiv. 21, 22. Nay;
The wounded dragon rag'd in vain;
And fierce the utmost plague to brave,
And sunk beneath th' o'erwhelming wave. Was all this “an effectual proof of the truth of their pretences,” to the Israelites themselves ? It was not. They were still disobedient at the sea ; even at the Red Sea ! Was the giving them day by day bread from heaven, an effectual proof to those two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown,' who said, with Dathan and Abiram, Wilt thou put out the eyes of these 'men? We will not come up.' Numb. xvi. 14. Nay,? when the ground clave asunder that was under them, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them'up' ver. 32, neither was this an effectual proof to those who saw it with their eyes, and heard the
cry of those that went down into the pit: but the very next day they murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord!
Was not the case generally the same with regard to the prophets that followed ? Several of whom stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire,' did many mighty works; yet their own people received them not. Yet they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword; they were destitute, afflicted, tormented !' Utterly contrary to the commonly-received supposition, that the working real undoubted miracles, must: bring all controversy to an end, and convince every gainsayer. Let us come nearer yet.
How stood the case between Lord himself and his opposers ? Did he not work real and undoubted miracles? And what was the effect? Still when - he came to his own, his own received him not.' Still he was despised and rejected of men.' Still it was a challenge not to be answered, . Have any of the rulers, or of the pharisees believed on him ?' After this, how can you imagine, that whoever works miracles, must convince
all men of the truth of his pretences ?”
I would just remind you of only one instance more.. « There sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked. The same heard Paul speak : who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.'-Here was so undoubted a miracle, that the people lifted up their voices, saying The gods are come down in the likeness of men.?. But how long were even these convinced of the truth of his pretences ? Only till there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium;' and then they stoned him' (as they supposed) to death! Acts xiv. 1, &c. So certain it is, that no miracles whatever, which were ever yet wrought in the VOL. XII.
world, were effectual to prove the most glaring truth, to those that hardened their hearts against it.
4. And it will equally hold in every age and nation.
If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced' (of what they desire not to believe though one rose from the dead.' Without a miracle, without one rising from the dead, eav TIS JEREL TOLELY if any man be willing to do his Will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.' But if he be not willing to do his Will, he will never want an excuse, a plausible reason for rejecting it. Yea, though ever so many miracles were wrought to confirm it. For let ever so much light come into the world, it will have no effect, (such is the wise and just Will of God,) on those who love darkness rather than light ?' It will not convince those who do not simply desire to do the Will of their Father which is in heaven: those who mind earthly things; who, (if they do not continue in any gross outward sin, yet) love pleasure or ease; yet seek profit or power, preferment or reputation. Nothing will ever be an effectual proof to these of the holy and acceptable Will of God, unless first their proud hearts be humbled, their stubborn wills bowed down, and their desires brought, at least in some degree, into obedience to the law of Christ.
Hence, although it should please God to work a-new, all the wonders. that ever were wrought on the earth, still these men, however wise and prudent they may be in things relating to the present world, would fight against God and all his messengers, and that in spite of all these miracles. Mean while God will reveal his Truth unto babes, unto those who are meek and lowly, whose desires are in heaven, who want to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.' These need no outward miracle to shew them his will: they have a plain rule, the written Word. And the anointing which they have received of him, abideth in them, and teacheth them of all things,' (1 John ii. 27.) Through this they are enabled to bring all
doctrines to the Law, and to the Testimony.' And what soever is agreeable to this they receive, without waiting to see it attested by miracles. As on the other hand, whatever is contrary to this they reject; nor can any miracles, move them to receive it.
5. Yet I do not know, that God hath any way precluded himself from thus exerting his sovereign power, from working miracles in any kind or degree, in any age to the end of the world. I do not recollect any scripture, wherein we are taught, that miracles were to be confined within the limits either of the Apostolic or Cyprianic age; or of any period of time, longer or shorter, even till the restitution of all things. I have not observed, either in the Old Testament or the New, any intimation at all of this kind. : St. Paul' says indeed once, concerning two of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, (80 I think, that text is usually understood,) whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be tongues, they shall cease.' But he does not say, either that these or any other miracles shall cease, till faith and hope shall cease also: - till they all be swallowed up in the vision of God, and love bë all in all.
I presume you will allow; there is one kind of miracles (loosely speaking) which are not ceased; namely, regata. Verdes, lying wonders, diabolical miracles ; or works beyond the virtue of natural causes, wrought hy the power of evil spirits. Nor can you easily conceive that these will cease, as long as the father of lies is the prince of this world. And why should you think, that the God of truth is less active than he, or that he will not have his miracles also ? Only not as man wills, neither when he wills'; but according to his own excellent wisdom and greatness.
6. But even if it were supposed, that God does now work beyond the operation of merely natural causes, yet what impression would this make upon you, in the disposie tion your mind is now in ? Suppose the trial were repeated, were made again to-morrow. One informs you the next day, "While a clergyman was preaching yesterday, where