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who reckoned his time like the Greeks and. Romans: that all the eleven Apostles were not present; for that Thomas was not with them, and did not see him till eight days after; that, instead of telling them to wait till Pentecost for the gift of the holy inspiration, he then “ breathed on them, and said, receive
ye the Holy Ghost;” and at the same time, (O impious falsehood!) gave them power to remit or to retain any person's sins; that, after this, instead of continuing at Jerusalem, they all went back to Galilee; that our Lord there appeared to them for the third time after his resurrection, at the Sea of Tiberias, to reclaim them, by a second wonderful draught of fishes, from their old occupation to which they had returned ; and that, after ordering Peter, if he loved him more than the fishes he had caught, to feed his lambs and his sheep, he left them all in Galilee. Were such irreconcilable, contradictory evidence as this to be brought to support any cause whatever in our own courts of justice, what would be the sentiments of every impartial, honest jury-man, concerning it?
IV. In prosecution of the plan of inquiry laid down and pursued with the other three Evangelical histories, our next step is
to observe the miracles and extraordinary acts attributed to our Saviour, which are peculiar to this writer i and then the prophecies recorded by him.
The first miracle he has related, and whichi he calls the beginning of the miracles: of Jesus, is the changing the water into wine at a marriage feast, when the inviter's stock of wine grew low; though the story itself in, forins us, that the guests had already drunk so well, that the master of the feast judged it more probable; that 'if any more, wine bad been brought them, it would have been of an inferior quality to what they had been drinking; but this miraculous wine was of so superior and excellent a flavour, that it must necessarily re-excite even the sated appetites and tempt them to continue their intemper tance with a fresh relish, That this writer, and many another orthodox preacher of what is called Christianity, had he: been endowed with sufficient power, would have perforined, and gladly partaken of, the intemperatę joys of so wonderfully seasonable a transmutation, I can easily suppose; and think it not improbable that he would also have exerted his susi pernatural ability to the enriching himself and his poor disciples; by transmuting the cheap
and baser metals into gold, and to the enjoyment of many other instances of sensual indulgence, equally laudable and equally Christian as the intemperate use of strong liquor; but whosoever rightly apprehends the character and doctrine of the holy Mediator of the New Covenant, and has observed how utterly incompatible every degree of sensual exeess is with the Gospel precepts of sobriety, temperance, moderation, and the subjection of our bodily appetites to reason and religious duty, will find such a miracle as this incredible, though it had been recorded in all the four histories; and coming in so very exceptionable a form, upon the single, unsupported testimony of so very exceptionable an historian, it is altogether as unworthy of belief as the fabulous Roman Catholic legend of St. Nicholas's Chickens, of later times. To Luke's credit, he is so far from giving it the least confirmation, that though he informs us our Lord, from motives of compassion for a large multitude who had followed him to such a distance from their own homes, and staid to hear him so late, that they could not otherwise have been provided with ne cessary sustenance, miraculously fed five thousand persons with only five loaves and two fishes; yet he does not tell us of his changing so much as one firkin of water into wine on that charitable occasion, though, here, he is said to transmute eighteen firkins, to prolong the festivity of those who, by their own confession, had already drank very abundantly.
The second miracle recorded by this writer is the healing the nobleman's son at Capernaum, without seeing him, in the fourth chapter: å miracle much more becoming the character of Jesus than the foregoing. It appears, however, to be an imitation of the healing the centurion's servant of the same city, related by Luke; though many of the principal circumstances are so altered, that it cannot pass for the same; and it is highly improbable, that two different cases, so similar to each other, should occur at the same place, within so short à space of time. .
In the fifth chapter, qur author relates the miraculous cure of a poor, friendless, impotent man. So far all is credible. But unfortunately he tells us, this man had been long waiting to obtain his cure from the miraculous efficacy of the Pool of Bethesda, whose waters, being disturbed at certain seasons, by an Angel, who descended for that purpose, acquired for a moment the wonderful virtue of healing every kind of sickness or disease; but lost it again so instantaneously, that none,
but the single patient who got first into the pool after the troubling of the water, could receive the least benefit from it. In contradiction, therefore, to the whole tenor of the Jewish history, from whence we learn, that there was no prophet, nor any supernatural interposition of divine providence, amongst the Jews, from the time of their last return from Babylon, to the coming of Jesus Christ, this writer informs us of a standing miracle amongst them, notoriously and frequently repeated in the sheep-market, that is, in one of the most public places in Jerusalem. Had this been true, it could never have escaped the notice of either Jew or Roman, resident in that metropolis; but must hare been often spoken of by every historian who gave an account of that city: yet no such circumstance is so much as once hinted át by Luke, Josephus, nor any of the Roman historians.
The next extraordinary, though not pro-. perly miraculous, transaction related of our Saviour by this writer, is his conduct respecting the woman taken in adultery, c. viii. a story, which has not one single circumstance