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the Perfons foretold by the Prophets; and the Prophecies likewife receive as great a Confirmation from fuch Miracles. For Prophecies and Miracles, which are fingly a fufficient Evidence of Divine Revelation, do mutually fupport and confirm each other; and hereby we have all the Affurance that can be expected of any Divine Revelation: And therefore, as Prophecy is in it self a most fitting and proper way of Revelation; fo, in conjunction with Miracles, it is the most certain way that can be defir'd.
2. The Suitablenefs and Efficacy of Miracles, to prove a Divine Revelation. It is an extravagant thing to conceive, that God fhould exclude himself from the Works of his own Creation; or, that he fhould establish them upon fuch inviolable Laws, as not to alter them upon fome occafions, when he forefaw it would be requifite to do it: For unlefs the Courfe of Nature had been thus alterable it would have been defective in regard to one great End for which it was defign'd; viz. it would have fail'd of being ferviceable to the Defigns of Providence upon fuch Occafions. The fame infinite Wisdom which contrived the Laws for the Or der and Course of Nature, contrived them fo, as to make them alterable, when it would be neceffary for God, by fufpending the Powers, or interrupting the Course of Nature, to manifeft his extraordinary Will and Power; and by the fame Decree by which he at first establish'd them, he fubjected them to fuch Alterations, as his Wifdom forefaw would be neceffary.
We can as little doubt, but that He who made the World, has the fole Power and Authority over it; and that nothing can be done in it, but by his Direction and Influence, or at leaft by his Permiffion and that the Frame and Order of Nature which he at firft appointed, can at no time be alter'd, but for great Ends and Purposes. He is not
given to change, as Men are, and can never be difappointed in his Eternal Purposes and Designs. But when any thing comes to pafs above the Course of Nature, and contrary to it, in Confirmation of a Revelation, which, for the Importance and Excellency of the Subject cf it, and in all other refpects, is moft worthy of God, we may be fure that this is his doing; and there is ftill farther Evidence of it, if this Revelation were prophefy'd of before, by Prophets who foretold that it should be confirm'd by Miracle. As, when Men born blind, receiv'd their Sight; when others were cured of the most defperate Diseases, by a Touch, or at a Distance; when the Dead were raised, and the Devils caft out; these were evident Signs of a Divine Power and Prefence, which gave Teftimony to the Doctrine deliver'd by thofe by whom fuch Miracles were wrought, and the Divine Commiffion and Authority was produced for what they did and taught. For what could be more fatisfactory and convincing to Men, or more worthy of God, than to force the Devils themselves to confefs and proclaim his Coming? to cause the most infenfible things in nature to declare his Power, by giving way, as it were, and starting back in great Confufion and Disorder, at his more immediate and peculiar Prefence, to inform Men that the God of Nature was there? This gave Teftimony to the Things reveal'd, and challeng'd the Belief of all Men, in a Language more powerful than any Human Voice, whilft God fhew'd forth his Glory, and made known his Will, by exercifing his Sovereignty over Nature, in making the whole Creation bow, and tremble, and obey. All which was perform'd according to exprefs Prophecies concerning Chrift, that there might be a vifible Concurrence both of Prophecies and Miracles in Teftimony of him. And this Difpenfation of Miracles was admirably fitted to propagate that Re
ligion which concern'd the Poor, as well as the Rich, the Unlearned, as well as the Learned. Miracles were fuitable to the Simplicity of the Gofpel, and to the univerfal Defign of it: For they are equally adapted to awaken the Attention, and command the Affent of Men of all Conditions and Capacities; they are obvious to the most Ignorant, and may fatisfy the Wifeft, and confute or filence the Cavils of the most Captious and Contentious.
And this is what all the World ever expected, That God fhould reveal himself to Men, by working fomewhat above the Course of Nature. All Mankind have believ❜d, that this is the way of Intercourse between Heaven and Earth; and therefore there never was any of the falfe Religions, but it was pretended to have been confirm'd by fomething miraculous. We may appeal to the Senfe of all Nations for the Authority of Miracles to atteft the Truth of Religion : for whenever any thing happen'd extraordinary, they always imagin'd fomething fupernatural in it; they expected that Miracles fhould be wrought for the Proof of any thing that had but the Name of Religion; and no falfe Religion could have gain'd Belief and Credit in any Age or Nation, but under the pretence of them.
The only Difficulty therefore will be, to know how to diftinguifh True Miracles from Falfe; or thofe which have been wrought for the Confirmation of the True Religion, from fuch as have been done, or are pretended to have been done, in behalf of Falfe Religions.
But here it must be obferv'd, That it is not neceffary, in this Controverfie, that we should be able to determine what the Power of Spirits is, or how far it extends, and what Works can proceed only from the immediate Power of God: It is fufficient that we know, that God prefides over All; that Good Spirits act in conftant Subjection and Obe
dience to him; that Evil Spirits act for evil Ends; that Good Spirits will not impose upon Men, and that he will not fuffer the Evil to do it, under any pretence of his own Authority, without affording Means to discover the Delufion. And the Queftion here is not concerning any ftrange Work whereof God is not alledged to be the Author, but concerning fuch as are wrought with a profefs'd Defign to establish Religion in his Name. Suppofe then that there have been many Wonders wrought in the World, which exceed all Human Power, and which yet we know not to what other Power to afcribe: this makes no Difficulty in the prefent cafe; because here, not only the Works themselves, but the Design and Tendency of them is to be confidered. For Inftance, Whether the Miracles reported to have been done by Vefpafian, were true or falfe, by a Divine or a Diabolical Power, they are of no confequence to us; he eftablished no new Doctrine, and pretended to no Divine Authority, but doubted the poffibility of his working them: And fuppofing them true, and by a Divine Power, the most that can be faid of them, is, that as God mention'd Cyrus by Name to be the Deliverer of the Jews, fo he might by Miracle signalize this Prince who was to deftroy them. But the Miracles of our Saviour and his Apoftles were wrought with this declared Purpose and Defign, That they were to give Evidence to the Religion which they were fent from God to introduce, as neceffary to the Salvation of Mankind.
Having premised this, I must resume what was before obferved concerning the Means by which falfe Prophecies might be detected. It has been already proved from the Notion of a God, that there must be fome Divine Revelation; and it has been fhewn, That Prophecies and Miracles are the most fit and proper way of Revelation, and that way which Men have ever expected to receive Revelations by. If then there have been
been False Prophecies and Miracles, they must be fuppofed to have been either before, or at the fame time, or after those Prophecies and Miracles by which the True Religion was delivered; if before, or at the fame time, then the fame Divine Wisdom and Goodnefs which obliges God to reveal his Will to Mankind, muft oblige him to take care that the Impoftures of those Falfe Prophecies and Miracles by fome means might have been discovered. But there is great reafon to believe that true Revelations fhould be first made to Men, before God would fuffer them to be tempted with false ones; and if the false were after the true Revelations, then the true Revelations themselves are that by which we ought to judge of all others.
But to speak more particularly of Miracles, which are the prefent Subject. It is inconfiftent with the Infinite Truth, and Honour, and Goodness, and Mercy of God, to fuffer Man to be deluded by falfe Miracles, wrought under a pretence of his own Authority, without any poffibility of difcovering the Impofture: And therefore if we fhould fuppofe there had pafs'd any time before the Discovery of his Will to Mankind, he could not fuffer Men, but through their own Fault to be impofed upon by fuch Miracles; but either by the false and wicked Doctrines which they were brought to promote and establish, as Idolatry, Uncleannefs, Murthers, &c. or by fome other token of Impofture, they might have been undeceived; And both in the Old and New Testament God has given us warning against falfe Miracles, Deut. xiii. 1. Mat. xxiv. 24. Gal. i. 8. 2 Theff. ii. 9. fo that we may be affured that we are to give no credit to any Miracle that can be wrought to confirm any other Doctrine than what we find in the Scriptures; and if we can but be certify'd that they were true Miracles which gave Teftimony and Evidence to them, we need concern our felves about no other.