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and why they were introduced. In early times we meet with none; for there was no occasion for them while men preserved a right notion of God; were acquainted, as it were, with him ; and knew his voice when he spoke. But when idolatry prevailed, and every nation had its deity, to whom it gave the name of god, then it was necessary, for the preservation of true religion, to distinguish between the true God and pretended ones. Then God thought proper to show his superiority over the heathen deities, and to assume a character of distinction by his mighty works. The first miracles of which we have any account, were those wrought in Egypt, at which time God declared himself to be the God of the Hebrews. The question arises, Why did he, who is the God of all the world, so style himself? To account for this, the state of religion in the world at that time must be considered. All the nations of the earth had at that time their local deities. Here the question was between God under the character of God of the Hebrews, and that of God of the Egyptians, which of them was supreme ; and this could only be determined by a superiority of power shown in miracles; and those wrought by Moses were such as plainly pointed out the hand of the Almighty Creator. But the purpose of God in sending Moses to show his wonders in Egypt, was not only to deliver the Hebrews, but to make his name known over all nations. Egypt was a great country, notorious, for idolatry, from whence the infection spread to others : hence the properest scene on which God could exert his power for the conviction of all people. And the miracles wrought there were such as all the world had a concern in, being so near akin to the works of creation, that by a just comparison they might be known to come from the same hand; for who but the Author of Nature could stir up things animate and inanimate to punish offenders ? Did not God, by these signs, speak plainly to them and say, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me : I kill, and I make alive,' &c.

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Deut. xxxii. 39. This use of miracles appears throughout the history of the Jews : instanced in the contest of Elijah and the priests of Baal, 1 Kings xviii. 21. The case of the destruction of the Assyrian army in the reign of Hezekiah, seems to carry with it a severity hard to be accounted for ; since other princes had laid siege to Jerusalem without incurring so terrible a calamity. But Sennacherib sent a defiance to God, and boasted of victories obtained against him: he acted like Pharaoh, and suffered like him ; being made an example to show the supremacy of God to all nations. This indeed appears to be the first and original use of miracles. The miracles of the magicians shown to have added to, rather than detracted from, the authority of the works done by Moses.

With respect to the Jews, miracles had a double use. By their long continuance in Egypt they became infected with idolatry, so that they wanted a proof that the God of their fathers was the Supreme Being, as much as the Egyptians themselves; thus Ezekiel xx. 5. &c. But there was also a use of miracles peculiar to them, in which the Egyptians had no concern: Moses was sent, not only to be their deliverer, but their lawgiver. The Jews were called out of Egypt to be the peculiar people of God, under a new covenant, &c. for which Moses could give them no assurance but by the evidence of works, which plainly appeared to come from the hand of God.

The Jewish government, being a theocracy, leads us to expect a series of miracles in its administration : and such was the case ; and these were constant and standing proofs to them, and to the nations around, that their God was the Lord. But Moses had no successor as a lawgiver, until the great Prophet, like unto Moses, came, in the full power and authority of God, to make a new covenant, not with one people, but with all nations; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by miracles, &c.

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As before observed, the great doctrines of natural religion , have for evidence the works of nature, and want not the support of miracles. But when any new doctrine, of which nature has given no notice, is published, such must be established by new proofs. Reason, indeed, shows that God is to

, be trusted and obeyed in what he promises or commands; but still a proof is required, that such promises or commands do come from him : hence miracles necessary to the introduction of a new revelation. Miracles do not prove the truth of any doctrine, but that the commission of him who does them, comes from him by whose power alone they could be performed. The law of Moses requiring submission to commands and doctrines that are not established by the light of nature, it was necessary to found them on the authority of God, to which no submission could be due till sufficient evidence was given of it, to guard men from imposition, &c. ; and whoever considers of what consequence it was to mankind to have a standing evidence of the unity and supremacy of God manifested in his government of the Jews, and how the Mosaic Dispensation prepared the way for the salvation of the world by the gospel, will see reason to think that the end proposed was worthy of God, and that his acts herein were not only those of power, but of great benevolence.

The miracles of the gospel had the same, or a greater end in view. As Moses overcame the magicians of Egypt, and their false gods, our Saviour destroyed the power of Satan and wicked spirits, and idolatrous rites. If Moses had a divine commission to the Jews, Jesus had a more ample one, to publish salvation to all mankind; and as the terms of it were such as human wisdom could never suggest, hence the necessity of miracles.

No miracles can alter the clear dictates of natural religion ; and such is the case also with respect to any former divine revelation : admitting therefore the Mosaic and Christian revelation to be both divine, they must be consistent, each in its pro


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per place carrying on the views of Providence: this evidently was the case of Moses ; and to this purpose are the words of our Saviour, Matthew v. 17. 18.: he also constantly appealed to the Law and the Prophets : so also St. Paul before Agrippa, Acts xxyi. 22. Indeed one revelation admitted to be of divine authority, must be a touchstone to try all succeeding revelations; for God cannot contradict himself: the miracles of Moses and our Saviour not only prove their divine authority, but are a bar to all succeeding pretenders. The miracles reported to have been done in the heathen world are unworthy of God, who does not work miracles merely to astonish men, but to serve the great ends of Providence; and he did not rest the authority of his law on one or more single miracles, but on a long series; and if miracles are properly applied as a proof of God's will, then such as are wrought without any declaration of his will, in which we have any concern, are not to be set up in opposition to those of Moses and Christ, which involve the happiness of mankind here and hereafter. Miracles worked for the establishment of the gospel, compared with the pretended ones of the heathen.

Some miracles mentioned in the Old Testament as wrought in behalf of particular people and for particular purposes, though of divine authority, not to be set in competition with those of the gospel ; they are to be considered merely as acts of God's government in his capacity of King of Israel.

Secondly, it is considered what sort of works are to be admitted for miracles, in proving the truth of a religion.

The first inquiry is, whether the miracles might not proceed from human art or cunning; but it scarcely can be necessary to prove that such miracles as raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, &c. exceed the power

But perhaps they were not done, and were only false appearances; as when the man born blind was restored to sight, he did not recover his prove an all

of man.



eyes, but the people lost theirs : now this would have been the greater miracle of the two.

But must they of necessity proceed from God, because they could not be wrought by men? Is there no order of beings capable of performing them ? Can we safely say that no being but the All-wise and Almighty God could perform them, seeing that neither the miracles of the gospel, nor the works of nature, directly prove an infinite power or wisdom ?

This matter rightly stated : the works of nature, though they may not appear works of an infinite


do powerful cause, or the being of a God, because they of necessity prove a first cause of all things; which cause being unlimited, nothing is or can be done which it cannot do. It must then be remembered that a revelation is not introduced to prove the being of a God; that our Saviour's miracles were not wrought for that purpose ; but supposing the being of a God, to prove him the author of the revelation : if then as good arguments be brought to prove God the author of the revelation, as can be brought to prove his being, all who believe the one must believe the other. The miracles of the gospel examined in this point of view, and shown to prove-first, that God is the maker of the world : secondly, that he is the governor of it: thirdly, that he has the essential attributes of justice, righteousness, holiness, and goodness.

But it is asked, how do we know that the miracles of the gospel did not proceed from an evil power, since there are instances, as some think, of miracles so wrought? This question answered : we know it in the same way that any man knows the works of nature to proceed from a good being : the love of virtue, and hatred of vice, is as inseparable from the gospel of Christ as from the reason of man ; and the former more distinctly teaches us to know and acknowlege the holiness and goodness of God, than reason or the works of

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