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SECT. V. That the miracles of Jesus were divine, proved from hence, because he taught the worship of one God, the Maker of the world.

Now, if it be granted that miracles were done by Christ, which the Jews acknowledge; we affirm, that it follows 185from the law of Moses itself, that we ought to give credit to him: for God has said in the xviiith chapter of Deuteronomy, that he would raise up other prophets besides Moses, which the people were to hearken to; and threatens heavy punishments if they did not. Now the most certain token of a prophet is miracles;556556   And the foretelling future events, which may justly be reckoned amongst miracles. Deut. xvii. 22. nor can any thing be conceived more flagrant. Yet it is said, Deut. xiii. that if any one declares himself to be a prophet, by working wonders, he is not to be hearkened to, if he entices the people to the worship of new gods: for God permits such wonders lo be done, only to try whether his people be firmly established in the worship of the true God. From which places, compared together, the Hebrew interpreters rightly collected557557   See Moses Maimonides, and others quoted in Manasses’ Conciliator, quest. iv. on Deut. that every one who worked miracles was to be believed,558558   And whose prophecies came to pass; this argument is strongly urged in Chrysostom’s fifth discourse against the Jews; and in his discourse concerning Christ’s divinity, vi. tom. Savil. if he did not draw them off from the worship of the true God, for in that instance only it is declared, that no credit is to be given to miracles, though never so remarkable ones. Now Jesus did not only not teach the worship of false gods, but on the contrary did expressly forbid it as a grievous sin:559559   Mark xii. 29, 32. John xvii. 3. Acts xv. 20. 1 Cor. v. 10, 11, 13. vi. 9. x. 7. xii. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 16. 1 Thes. i. 9. 1 John v. 21. and taught us to reverence the writings of Moses, and those prophets which followed him: so that nothing can be objected against his miracles; for what some object, that the law of Jesus in some things differs from that of Moses, is not sufficient.


SECT. VI. An answer to the objection, drawn from the difference betwixt the law of Moses and the law of Christ; where it is shewn, that there might be given a more perfect law than that of Moses.

FOR the Hebrew doctors Themselves lay down this rule for the extent of a prophet’s power,560560   This rule is laid down in the Talmud, entitled, concerning the council. Thus, at the command of Joshua, the law of the sabbath was broken, Jos. vi. And the prophets often sacrificed out of the place appointed by the law, as Samuel, 1 Sam. vii. 17. xiii. 8. and Elijah, 1 Kings xviii. 38. that is, of one that works miracles: that he may securely violate any sort of precept, except that of the worship of one God, and, indeed, the power of making laws, which is in God, did not cease upon his giving precepts by Moses; nor is any one, who has any authority to give laws, thereby hindered from giving others contrary to them. The objection of God’s immutability is nothing to the purpose, for we do not speak of the nature and essence of God, but of his actions. Light is turned into darkness, youth into age, summer into winter 1 which are all the acts of God. Formerly God allowed to Adam all other fruit, except that of one tree, which he forbade him,561561   Gen. ii. 17. viz. because it was his pleasure. He forbade killing men in general, yet he commanded Abraham to slay his son.562562   Gen. xxii. 2. He forbade some, and accepted other sacrifices, distant from the tabernacle.563563   As we said just before. Neither will it follow, that because the law given by Moses was good, therefore a better could not be given. Parents are wont to lisp with their children, to wink at the faults of their age, to tempt them to learn with a cake; but as they grow up, their speech is corrected, the precepts of virtue instilled into them, and they are shewn the beauty of virtue, and what are its rewards. Now, that the precepts of the law were 187not absolutely perfect,564564   Heb. viii. 7. appears from hence; that some holy men in those times led a life more perfect than those precepts required. Moses, who allowed revenging an injury, partly by force and partly by demanding judgment; when himself was afflicted with the worst of injuries, prayed for his enemies.565565   Exod. xxxii. 11, 12,13, 31. Numb. xi. 2. xii. 13. xiv. 13. and following verses, xxi. 7, 8. Deut. ix. 18, 26. xxxiii. Thus David was willing to have his rebellious son spared,566566   2 Sam. xviii. 5. and patiently bore the curses thrown upon him.567567   2 Sam. xvi. 10. Good men are no where found to have divorced their wives, though the law allowed them to do it. So that laws are only accommodated to the greater part of the people;568568   Origen against Celsus, book iii. “As a certain lawgiver said to one who asked him, if he gave to his citizens the most perfect laws: not says he, the most perfect in themselves, but the best they can bear.” Porphyry, book i. against eating living creatures, concerning lawgivers, says thus: “If they have regard to the middle sort of life, called natural, and according to what is agreeable to most men, who measure good and evil by external things, which concern the body if, I say, with this view they make laws; what injury is done to life, if any one adds something more excellent than this?” and in that state it was reasonable some things should be overlooked, which were then to be reduced to a more perfect rule, when God, by a greater power of his spirit, was to gather to himself a new people out of all nations. And the rewards which were expressly promised by the law of Moses, do all regard this mortal life only; whence it must be confessed, that a law better than this might be given, which should propose everlasting rewards, not under types and shadows, but plainly and openly, as we see the law of Christ does.569569   Heb. vii. 19, 22. viii. 6. 2 Tim. i. 10.

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