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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE,
THE before mentioned passages except
ed, the internal evidence of both these histories, the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, agrees with the external testimony of all the earliest writers, that they were written by Luke, who was not himself indeed an Apostle, but one of the first converts amongst the Jews, a disciple, and personal attendant, of the Apostles: for though the author does not call himself Luke, but Silas, yet he professes to have been the companion and fellow traveller of Paul, which from Paul's Epistles we learn that he really was. These histories also, which contain à record of the principal transactions amongst the first Christians, during a period of above thirty years, are perfectly consistent with themselves and each other, and with the Jewish and Roman histories of the same period : and the talents, the temper, and thorough information of his subject, displayed by the writer, are such as would vindicate his credibility, and claim our respect, in any ordinary historian.
But in the historian of a supernatural event, such as the promulgation of a divine revelation of the will of God to Man, still more is requisite. The duly authorized promulger must necessarily be enabled to produce immediate acts of miraculous power, in attestation of the truth of his divine mission, and to confirm it by the more sober, rational, and satisfactory testimony of propliecy. The history of such a person, therefore, must contain a relation of those miracles, and of the seveyal events predicted by the extraordinary messenger, before they came to pass; and, before we give implicit credit to the veracity of the relater, reason suggests, that, we should examine whether the recorded miracles be such as are properly adapted to the circumstances of the case, and worthy of the interposition of that almighty being, by whose power only they could have been effected an Deo dignus vindice nodus ? For no reasoning mind can think it probable, that the
divine fountain of all wisdom, as well as of all power, should enable any person to work miracles for trivial, unimportant purposes ; much less such as are inconsistent with equitý. and goodness, or any other of his eternal, im-' mutable attributes. And with regard to the predictions he records, we should consider whether the events are such as human sagacity could not foresee ; whether they are predicted to take place at such different intervals as to afford the indispensably requisite testimony of completed prophecy to the hearers of that time, and to all succeeding generations : and above all, whether such of them, the period of whose accomplishment is already past, have really been completed. It will be necessary, therefore, to examine both the miracles and predictions attributed to Jesus Christ, in the Gospel according to Luke, in these points of view.
II. In considering the recorded miracles, and the degree of probability which arises from their propriety, the leading criterion must be the genius and spirit of the revelation, the divine authority of which they are intended to attest. Thus in the religion revealed by Moses, in an age of the world when the un
improved, unenlightened state of human rea. son, taken in the aggregate, may be justly deemed the intellectual childhood of mankind, the chief object intended by it being, to preserve a just and rational idea of the Deity amongst men, till the maturity of their reasoning faculties, and an increase of light and knowledge should render them capable of a purer and more spiritual religion; and, for that purpose, to teach the Jews that, both as individuals, and as a nation, they and all mankind depended solely upon
and providence of the one true God, for
instance of temporal prosperity or adversity, for their preservation or destruction. Nothing could accord better with the genius and intent of that revelation than the miracles wrought in Egypt and at the Red Sea, to effect their deliverance from Pharaoh's tyranny, and afterwards amongst themselves, during their peregrination in the Wilderness; because they could not fail of making a lasting, national impression upon their minds, and convincing them of the tremendous power of God to accomplish all those temporal blessings or curses which were the sanction of that Law of Fear. But to gain attention to the heavenly promulgation of the New Covenant, the Evangelical Law of Love, which teaches mankind to look up to the supreme Deity with grateful affection, as to their common Father, Friend, and Benefactor, and to regard the whole human race as brethren entitled to every instance of kindness, beneficence, and love from each other, miracles of a very different nature seem obviously requisite to make them correspond with the intent and spirit of the revelation itself. Accordingly, in the history which Luke hath given us of instances of miraculous power exerted in proof of the divine authority of their mission, both by Jesus Christ himself and his Apostles, if we except the interpolated miracle of the destruction of the herd of swine, and the* miraculous suppression of the dangerous storm which had alarmed the fears of his disciples in crossing the Lake, (a miraele sine gularly calculated to confirm their entire confidence in the protection of that almighty power by which their Master was commissioned to preach the Gospel) they are all
I have omitted the wonderful draught of fishes, not knowing whether it be universally admitted to be a miracle. Yet, considera ing the situation and circumstances of the Apostles, no miraculous act could have been more proper, both to attach them to their Master, and to prove their own disinterestedness concerning worldly wealth.