« EdellinenJatka »
demonstration of his authority, and of the divinity of his doctrine.
The words of our text might, indeed, be considered as referring, not merely to the mighty works which he performed in order to our conviction, but also to "the whole work which the Father gave him to do." And, undoubtedly, from the great design itself, and its accomplishment, an argument arises which includes all others, and which sets them before us with the greatest advantage; because we then not only discern the force of each, separately considered, but of all as connected with each other, and as manifesting, both the unity and consistency of the design, and the completeness of its accomplishment. But that the words of our text have a more limited reference, appears from the phraseology which our Lord employs on other occasions. And in the first passage which we shall cite, there seems decidedly to be such an allusion to the very words of our text, as clearly to shew, that our Lord intended therein to refer to his miracles.
Shortly after the cure of the man born blind, some of the Jews, who, as the context shews, probably were persons in authority, "said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they
bear witness of me." In a subsequent part of the same conference, he again alluded to the "good works which he had shewed them from his Father;" and added, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." To his disciples he delivered similar statements; which, being more enlarged, point out to us more fully the connexion of these miracles with the doctrines, in proof of which he wrought them; and the criminality of not attending to that proof:-"Believest thou not," said he to Philip, "that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son "." Shortly afterwards, when speaking to his disciples of their future sufferings in his cause, he observed, "These things will
* John x. 24, 25.
b John xiv. 10—13.
they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin ; but now have they no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me, hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they ́both seen and hated both me and my Father."
The works referred to in these passages, of which our Lord spoke as already past, had been publicly exhibited in the presence of those whom he addressed. And the miracles wrought by the Apostles, in the name of Jesus, and through the prayer of faith, of which our Lord spoke as yet future, were afterwards exhibited with equal publicity. The Jewish people could not deny, and did not in fact doubt, that they were really miraculous works, impossible to the unaided powers of a human being; although they conceived, that the authority of their traditions, and their received interpretations of the Old Testament, justified them in refusing their assent to the doctrines and dispensation, of which these were the sanction and demonstration. That dispensation and its doctrines are as important to us, as they were to them. But we are circumstanced with respect
John xv. 21, 24. in future Lectures, be more particularly considered.
Some of the passages here quoted will,
to the miracles, which prove its divine authority, in a manner somewhat different. We cannot see them; and to resolve, except we see signs and wonders, not to believe, would be to require that which would make them cease to be miracles. Ours, therefore, cannot be that sensible and striking impression of their reality and evidence, which would be felt by the subjects and spectators of miracles. Yet what we lose in this respect is abundantly supplied by the more enlarged knowledge which we have of the connection of miracles with other branches of evidence, then not so fully exhibited, and with the complete system of truth, of which they proved the divine revelation. Yet we do not lose much by the absence of such an overpowering evidence; for a sufficient conviction of their reality alone is necessary to establish the conclusion; and of that we have abundant evidence. It is, indeed, derived from the testimony of others; but a reliance upon well authenticated, and well circumstanced, testimony, is as much a law of our moral nature, as the belief of the ordinary laws by which the universe is governed is of our understanding. We ordinarily act with as little hesitation upon a sufficient moral certainty, as upon the clearest philosophical analogy, or mathematical demonstration. We cannot in either case make our own personal experience the test of all possible facts; and to
believe nothing, but that which we have ourselves seen, is as unreasonable, as it would be embarrassing. Whenever, therefore, distance of time or place prevents us from being spectators of any transaction, we can become acquainted with it only by testimony; nor have we any just ground to reject such testimony, if it be attended with the proper marks of credibility. The case is very little different, if the facts in question be of that character which we call miraculous. They differ from other facts principally with reference to the cause which produced them. It is essentially requisite that they should be subject to the apprehension and examination of the senses of mankind; but their miraculous nature is merely an inference from their reality as facts, and from a conviction that neither the ordinary procedure of nature, nor the agency of man, could have produced them. In our inquiries respecting them, we may justly scrutinize, with all possible accuracy, the testimony which reports that they occurred; we may with equal care weigh and compare the circumstances of the facts in detail, with a view of discovering whether there were any imposture or delusion. But if, after such an examination, the inference that they resulted from a miraculous agency, is the only tenable one; the nature of the conclusion at which we have arrived is by no means to be applied as an objection to its truth and