페이지 이미지

that nothing was more notorious, than that the Devils were wont to cry out for very Anguiffi and Torment, when they were adjur'd by the true God, and * Tertullian made publick Challenges to the Heathens, that if they would but admit them to this Trial, the Christians would undertake to make their most famous Deities acknowledge the Power of Chril, and to make their very Gods confess themselves to be wicked and seducing Spirits; or else they would be contented to be slain upon the place, and this he wrote under Persecutions, and in Apologies dedicated and presented to their Persecutors themselves..

And indeed, the Oracles in all parts of the World foon began to fail

, so as they had been never known to do before: for their Power began to abate and decây upon the Approach of our Saviour's Birth into the World, till by degrees they quite ceas'd, which the Heathens wonder'd at, and were much perplex'd about it, as we learn from what they have left written upon that Subject. And thoJulianii m the Apostate used all the ways that he could think of, to bring them into credit again, he was never able to effe& it, but the most famous of them confefs'd to him, when he consulted it, that a miraculous and Divine Power residing in the Remains of a Christian Martyr after his Death would suffer no Answer to be given. And it is To remarkable, that I must mention it once more, that when the same Apoftate Emperor, in Hatred and Despite to the Christian Religion, became a great Paw tron of the Jews, and encourag'd them to re-build their Temple; great Balls of Fire broke forth near the Foundation, and destroy'd both the Work it felf and! the Persons employ'd in it. And this we have related, not only by several Christian Writers that liv'd

* Apolog. c. 23.

Cicer. de Divinat. Plutarch. de Oracul. defectu. m Chrysoft. in Babylam Martyr. Orat. 2.Soz. Hift. 1. 5; C. 19, 7.1


about that time, but by an n Heathen Historian, who was then living, and wrote the History of those times, and has shewn himself in no respect over-favourable to the Christians, but was a Soldier under Julian, and had 'ifo Inclination to say any thing that might seem to diminish his Character. The Judgments allo which befel several of the greatest Persecțitors of the Chriftian Religion, were so miraculous and so terrible, as to extort a Confeffion from some of them, of God's Justice in their Punishment, and to force them to reu call their perfecuting Ediats, and change them for others-in favour of Christianity. • The Edicts of Maximianus and Maximin, to this purpose, are to be feen in Eusebius : and P the Judgment upon Julian was fo sudden and fo remarkable, that some of the Heathen cavilld, that the God of the Christians had not thewn that Mercy and Forbearance, which they reported of him, in it.

And when the Power of Miracles which came down on the day of Pentecoft upon the Apostles, and was continued in the Church after them, thus manifested it self in opposition to the Pretences both of the Jews and Heathens, in fuch a manner, as must provoke them to make all the Discoveries they possibly could, concerning it, when it thus triumph'd over all the Gods of the Heathen, whilst its poor and persecuted Profefsors were under the Feet of the Heathen Empe, tors, and Tay continually exposed to their Cruelțies, and at the peril

' of their Lives, proffer'd in publick Apologies, by a miraculous Power, or, as the Apofțle speaks, by the Power and Demonstration of the Spirit, to prove their own Religion true, and theirs false, and its cruellest Persecutors were by miraculous

Ammian. Marcellin. lib. xxiii. c. 1. citat. sup. p. 237, 238. © Eufeb. Hift. lib. viii: c. 17. ix. c. jo. Lactant. de Morib: Perfecüt. C. xxxiv. xlix. P Hieron. in Hab. Cij.


Judgments forced to become its Protectors; this was all that could be desired towards the fulfilling the Pro mife of our Saviour to his Apostles, that they should become his Witnesses to all Nations. But,

3. The Gospel could not have been thus propaga ted, unless this Power of the Holy Ghost had been still farther manifest, by the Courage and Resolution, and Patience of the Apostles under their Sufferings. Our Saviour tells them, that they fhould receive power after that the Holy Ghoft was come upon them, to become witneft fos unto him, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and ir Samaria ; these were the places where our Saviour himself had wrought his Miracles, and where he had been hated and persecuted, and at last crucified; and there is reason to believe, that the Apostles went not from Jerufalem and the parts adjacent, 9 till twelve years after his Afcenfion: and when they had testified his Refurre&ion, and preach'd his Gospel to the Jews, their work was not yet at an end, but they were to be his Witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth;

and even thither several of them went, fearing no Dans gers, and being discouraged at no Sufferings.

There is a natural Boldness and Courage in some Men, by which they are often carried both to do and to endure a great deal more than others : But it was not fo with the Apostles; they were naturally very timorous and faint-hearted, they all forsook their Max kter, and fled, when he was first apprehended, and they were very backward to believe his Resurrection; and when they and the rest of the Disciples were convinced of it, they did not preach it to athers; but after he had been seen of them forty days, and dih cours'd with them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, they still had mistaken Notions and Expectations concerning it: when they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou

9 Eufeb. Hift

. lib. 5. cap. 18.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

at this time, restare again the Kingdom to Ifrael? And
when Christ was taken up from them, into Heaven,
they stood gazing up after him, not knowing what to
think of it, till two Angels, admonish'd them, that it
was in vain for them to stand looking thus any lon-
ger : And after his Ascension, they stay'd ten days,
before they ventur'd to publish any thing of what had
come to pass, till on the day of Pentecoft, in a visible
and audible manner, the Holy Ghost descended upon
them, and quite changed their Temper, and of the
most timorous, made them the most couragious and
resolute, inspiring them with a Divine Vigor and Pre-
fence of Mind,
--. For of all their Miracles, few seem to have been
more wonderful, than that Firmness and Constancy of
Mind, which Men so low, and mean, and abjed, and
before fo fearful, as the Apostles were, now shew'd,
upon all occasions. When our Saviour spoke to these
his poor Disciples, and commanded them to go and
teach all nations, Matt. xxvüi. 19. it was fuch a Com
mand as no King nor Law-giver ever presum'd to
give, in the Height of all his Power and Greatnefsi
And when God himself fent Mofes to the Children of
Ifrael only, Moses fear'd the Success, and would fain
have declin’d the Message. And bow might the Dif
ciples have reply'd to our Saviour, how fhall we
preach to the Romans, and dispute with the Græcians,
and discourse with the moft remote and barbarous Nar
tions, who have been bred up in the Knowledge only
of our own Native Tongue ? How can we compet all

to forsake the Worship of the Gods of their several Countries, and to observe all things whatsoever we are commanded to teach them? With what force of Eloquence are we firțed for fuch a Design? What Hope can we have to fucceed in an Attempt to fet up Laws in oppofition to the Laws established for so many Ages, in behalf of their own Gods? What Strength can we have to overcome such Difficulties,


and to accomplish such an Enterprize ? But they made no Obje&tions; our Saviour had conversd with them forty days, after his Resurrection, and now tells them, that all Power is given unto him in Heaven, and in Earth, and he commands them not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, faith he, ye have heard of me, A&si:-4. And when the Holy Ghost was come, they were endued by him with a courage and resolution almost as wonderful, as the Miracles they wrought, to perform the great Work which lay before them-: they were not in the leaft daunted at any Dangers, or Torments, or Deaths; but went on courageously in their Duty, by the power and affistance of the Holy Ghost, by:whom they were enabled to bring the World to the obedience of the Gospel of Christ: They opposed themselves to all the affaults of, Men and Devils: Nothing could now discourage them, who before were so timorous and unbelieving; the coming of the Holy Ghost down upon them, wrought a mighty change in them, who were to work as great an alteration in all the World befides. St. Peter standing with the Eleven lift up his Voice, he spoke with wonderful Resolution, and the rest stood by to bear witness to the Truth of what he said. They stood now undaunted by, to testifie that their Master was again alive, who had forsaken him as soon as he was apprehended; and he that beforeso shamefully denied him thrice, being startled and affrighted at the Queftion of the High Priest's Maid, now speaks aloud in a vast concourse of People, with so much stedfastness, that this alone was a fufficient evidence of the truth of what he delivered. They were not in the least concerned at the mockery and abufes that were put upon them, the Spirit had de fcended on them, and raised them above such mean and foolish apprehensions, they were now full of the Holy Ghost, and no worldly thoughts could move them, they acted with the force and vigour of


« 이전계속 »