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his Trustees, or by some of them, on New Year's Day annually; and that such Dissertation as shall be by them, or any two of them, on Christmas Day annually, the best approved, be also printed, and the expence defrayed out of the Author's income under his Will, and the remainder given to him on Saint John the Evangelist's Day following ; and he who shall be so rewarded, shall not be admitted at any future time as a Candidate again in the same way, to the intent that others may be invited and encouraged to write on so sacred and sublime a subject.
He also desires, that immediately following the last of the clauses relating to the prize Dissertation, this invocation may be added : “ May the Divine Blessing for ever go along with all my Benefactions; and may the Greatest and the Best of Beings, by his all-wise Providence and gracious influence, make the same effectual to his own glory, and the good of my fellow-creatures !”
INTRODUCTION. Importance of our Lord's miracles to the believer. Besides their grand object, viz. the confirmation of our Saviour's mission,they were intended as evidences of his power and mercy while on earth ;-and as illustrative of the character of his dispensation in all ages. Some expressly typical. Principal difficulty lies in determining the extent of this spiritual design. Division of the subject.
Part I. Examination of those miracles, of which our Lord has himself given the interpretation.-Miraculous curés. General analogy between sin and disease. The man sick of the palsy ;-the impotent man. More minute analogy between specific diseases and particular states of moral turpitude. Blindness, corporeal and spiritual. Ejectment of evil spirits. Our Lord's mercy extended to Gentiles as well as Jews.--The miracles of raising the dead illustrative in a twofold manner,—first as proving a grand doctrine of Christianity, the resurrection of the dead,--and second, as representing the sinner's recovery from spiritual death.—The multitude fed. The miraculous draught of fishes.
Part II. Difficulty of the mystical exposition of Scripture ;-and danger of its abuse. A type defined ;- sufficient evidence of the divine intention an indispensable requisite. Criteria by which the divine intention may be ascertained.
These criteria applied to the cures of deafness, leprosy, dumbness, &c.Strong faith of the sufferers.-—The cursing of the barren fig-tree shewn to be typical.
But in many miracles we have no evidence of a typical design. Are we to venture to assign a spiritual sense in such cases ? Statement of the argument in favour of the affirmative : but safer, and therefore better,
not to seek to be wise beyond what is written.- The New Dispensation less typical than the subject of types.-Indiscriminate spiritualization leads to uncertainty and dispute. Its danger illustrated by the various interpretations which have been given of the miracle at Cana.
Again, are we to regard the concomitants of the miracle as forming a legitimate portion of the type ? The inconsistency of such a course demonstrated. Examples given.
Necessity of caution further shewn from the use which the opponents of Christianity have made of the indiscretions of its friends. Woolston and the German neologists. Conclusion.
The primary object of the miracles wrought by our Saviour, was undoubtedly the attestation of the divine origin of his mission,—to prove that he was indeed “a teacher come from God'.” Without some visible manifestation of superhuman power, he might have appealed in vain to the blameless morality of his life, or the excellence of the doctrines which he taught. But,—however they might strive to repel the conviction,—the consciences of men were compelled to admit, that he who could cure all manner of diseases by a word,—who could feed vast multitudes with the most inadequate means, -whom the elements obeyed,and at whose command the dead returned to life, must needs
· John iii. 2.
have derived his authority from God:-and from every conception, which even unenlightened nature could form of the Supreme Being, it irresistibly resulted, that that which God had thus sealed by his testimony, must be truth. To these credentials our Saviour himself repeatedly appeals: “the works which the Father hath given me to finish",” says he, “the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.” Upon them, too, the Apostles, and their successors in the task of publishing the glad tidings of the Gospel, have delighted to dwell: and the gloomy efforts of infidelity in all ages have naturally taken a . similar direction. To the reaction of these attempts, (in modern times but too common,) upon the defenders of Christianity, we are to attribute the somewhat exclusive attention which has been bestowed on this view of the subject. But while both the zealous advocate of the Gospel revelation, and the sincere enquirer into its truth, naturally look to the miracles of its sacred author, for the defence or the establishment of their principles,—the believer, whose faith is already strongly anchored on “the Rock of Ages,” will find in them,-subservient to this, their first intention,-rich stores of information. upon the character and doctrines of that dispensation, under which it is his privilege to
John v. 36.