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the Wind and Fire, in which the Holy Ghoft came upon them, and with as much unconcernedness, as if they had no difficulties to encounter: the World they very well knew, and found was against them, but they had the affurance of his help, who had overcome the World. They were pre ffed on every fide, with Want and Difgrace,and all manner of Hardfhips; fome mocked and reviled them, others tormented them; the rage, the tumults, the confpiracies of whole Cities and Countries broke loose upon them, all the malice and contrivance of Men and Devils was joined against them; and yet with what freedom doth St. Peter fpeak? Ye men of Ifrael hear these words, Jefus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and figns, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye your felves alfo know him being delivered by the determinate Counfel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and flain, whom God hath raised up, whereof we all are witneffes. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promife of the Holy Ghoft, he hath fhed forth this which ye now fee and hear, Acts ii. 22, 23, 24, 32, 33. And in the third Chapter, The God of Abraham, of Ifaac, and of Jacob, the God of our Fathers hath glorified his Son Jefus, whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the prefence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy one, and the just, and defired a murtherer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life, whom God bath raifed from the dead, whereof we are witneffes, ver. 13, 14, 15.d And before the Council, O ye Rulers of the People and Elders of Ifrael, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known to you all, and to all the people of Ifrael, that by the name of Jefus Chrift of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man ftand here before you whole. This is the ftone which was fet at nought by you
Builders, which is become the head of the corner, neither is there Salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be Javed, Acts iv. 8, &c. And again, The God of our Fathers raifed up Jefus, whom ye flew, and hanged on a tree; him bath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to If ael, and forgiveness of fins: And we are his witnesses of thefe things, and fo is also the Holy Ghoft, whom God hath given to them that obey him, A&s v. 30, &c. With what freedom and authority doth he now fpeak? How unlike is he now to the Man he was before, when he thrice denied his Mafter whilft alive? And what could make fuch an Alteration in him after his Master's death, but a fupernatural Power? · What could caufe him thus frequently and earneftly to make an open confeffion of him in the midst of the People, and before their Council, if he had not known him to be rifen from the Dead, and had not done all his Miracles by virtue of that Power which was beftow ed upon him and the reft of the Apoftles, after Chrift's Afcenfion?
And the fame Conftancy and Greatnefs of Mind appeared in St. Stephen, and the reft of the Difciples; which yet was accompanied with equal Humility and Meekness: Whether it be right in the fight of God to hearken unto you, more than unto God, judge ye for we cannot but fpeak the things which we have feen and heard, A&ts iv. 19, 20. You may do your Pleasure, but we muft do our Duty: Nothing of Fury and Violence, nor of Wildnefs and Extravagancy, but a conftant Compofedness and Gravity, and a rational fober Zeal, appeared in all their Behaviour. They told a plain Truth, and then wrought Miracles to confirm it; and afterwards fuffer'd any Torments, rather than they would renounce it, or defift from preaching it. Though they could cure all Difeafes, and difpoffefs Devils, and raife Men from the Dead, or take away
their Lives with a Word fpeaking, as in the cafe of Ananias and Sapphira; yet they were not exempted from Sufferings, because we muft then have wanted one great argument for the Confirmation of our Faith. And the Gospel was to be founded upon Principles of Love and Goodnefs, not of Fear and Aftonishment: There is fomething in the Sufferings of good Men, which is apt mightily to work upon the Affe tions, and upon any Seeds of good Nature in us ; and therefore, when by their Miracles they had raifed the Admiration of the Beholders, and convinced them of the Power by which they were wrought, their Patience under Sufferings not only confirm'd them in the Truth of Religion, but laid the foundations of a religious Life, in gaining upon the Inclinations and Affections, and in calming the Spirits, and preparing them by fo great Examples of Patience to endure all the Calamities incident to Men. Who is there, that is not more affected with the meek and humble Cou rage, and invincible Patience of the Apostles, than with all the great Acts of the mighty Conquerors and Destroyers of Mankind? A few poor, unarmed, de fenceless Men, ftand before armed Multitudes, and speak with as much Authority, as if all the Power of the World were in their hands; and indeed, all Power was in their hands, inafinuch as He affifted and infpired them, who is above All They fpeak to Multitudes with as much freedom as to one Man, and to all Nations with as much one People.
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And the fame Holy Spirit who defcended upon the reft of the Apostles on the Day of Pentecoft, defcended upon St. Paul, at his Converfion, and gave that great Apoftle fo much Confidence and Refolution, fo much Patience and Zeal under his Sufferings, which were fo fevere and teftible, that we can fearce read them with fo little Horror as he underwent them; nay, as if he had been-above all fenfe of Fear or Pain, he
took pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in neceffities, in perfecutions, in diftreffes for Chrift's fake, 2 Cor. xii. 10.
Thus did the Holy Ghoft fit and prepare the Apoftles to be Witneffes to Chrift, by infpiring them with all that Courage and Patience which was neceffary for Men that were to declare an ungrateful and despised Truth, amongst those who would think themselves fo much concern'd to oppofe and fupprefs it. If they had wrought no Miracles, their Courage and Refolution might have pafs'd for a groundless Confidence; and if they had not had the Courage to ftand fo refolutely to the Truth of what they deliver'd, their Miracles themselves might have become fufpected; but acting by a Divine Power, and being fupported in all their Sufferings by a fupernatural Conftancy and Greatnefs of Mind, and being fo fuddenly changed and rai fed above themselves in all they did or fuffered, and working the fame change in others; they gave all the evidence and certainty of the Truth of the Doctrines they taught, that it was poffible for Men to give.st
As a Power of working Miracles was derived from the Apostles down upon their Difciples, fo was the Spirit of Meeknefs and Patience under Afflictions communicated to them. St. Peter, writing to the Con verts under much Distress, testifies, That their Faith in Chrift made them happy and triumphant in the midst of all their Sufferings; wherein, fays he, ye greate ly rejoyce, tho' now for a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness, through manifold temptations; that the tryal of your faith being much more precious than of gold that pe-, rifbeth, tho' it be tried with fire, might be found unto praife, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jefus Chrift; whom having not feen, ye love; in whom, tho's now ye fee him not, yet believing, ye rejoyce with joy un Speakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 6, 7, 8. And as other Hiftories are chiefly taken up in the Account of Battles of Warriours, with confufed Noife, and Garments rolled in Blood: So the Hiftory of the Church for divers
divers Ages, principally contains the most cruel Tor ments undergone, not only with the greatest Patience, but with the greatest Joy. And it is obfervable, that God was pleafed not to raise up any Chriftian Em+ peror, 'till above three hundred Years after Chrift, that he might fhew, that the Religion which came from Heaven could need no human Aid, nor be fupprefs'd by any human Force; and that he might re commend the great Vertues of Meekness and Patience to the World, by the Examples of Men as eminent for thefe, as for the Miracles they wrought, and might inftru&t Mankind in a fuffering Religion. For to affure the World of the Truth of it, he would not grant it protection from Christian Emperors, till most of the Empire was become Chriftian, and Chri ftianity had diffufed it felf into all the known Parts of the Earth. For before the laft Perfecution, begun by Dioclefian, the Church flourished as much, and had the favour of the Court, and of Great Men, in as high a degree almost as under Conftantine himself; 'till their Profperity caused their Sins, and thefe brought Perfecution. But at last the perfecuting Emperors were forced by a Divine Power, manifefted in miraculous Diseases inflicted on them, to restore the Christians to their former Liberty, in their Worfhip of God; that fo it might appear to all the World, that the Christian Religion needed no Patronage of Men; for God would compel its worft Enemies to become its Protectors, when he saw it fitting. And P when Julian made it his great aim and bufinefs to restore Paganism again in the World, he faw, to his grief, how ineffectual all his Endeavours proved; he obferved that the Chriftian Religion ftill retained a general esteem and approbation, and that the Wives,
o Eufeb. Hift. 1. viii. c. I.
Sozom. 1. v. c. 16. & Julian. Epift. 49.