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enlightening the understanding and by purifying the will.
This, the blessed Jesus declares, where he professedly treats of the office of the holy Spirit.--I will pray the Father (says he) and he shall give you another ComFORTER, that he may abide with you for ever; even the SPIRIT OF TRUTH. He dwelleth iu you; and shall be in you—which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father shall send in my name : he shall TEACH YOU ALL THINGS*.
These are the two parts of his office: As the TEACHER, to impress upon the understanding all those practical and speculative truths, which constitute the sum and substance of our holy Religion; and as the COMFORTER, by purifying and supporting the will, to enable us to persevere in the profession of those truths that constitute the body of moral righteousness ; the foundation (as we have shewn) of that JUSTIFYING FAITH, to which the Gospel hath annexed salvation or eternal life.
And the economy of the Gospel seemed to require, , that when this Dispenser of divine assistance, the Holy SPIRIT, was to be clearly revealed, and personally distinguished, as soon as Jesus was GLORIFIEDT, his first descent, ainongst the Faithful, should be attended with signs and wonders, to bear witness to the SANCTIFIER in the same way that they had borne witness to the REDEEMER. These signs were, in both cases, of the same nature, and performed for the same ends: First, for CREDENTIALS of their mission; and, secondly, INDICATions of their office. -" When the day of Penticost was
fully come, they [the Apostles) were all, with one “ accord, in one place; and suddenly there came a “ sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and • it filled all the house where they were sitting. And " there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of “ fire, and it sat upon each of them : and they were all “ filled with the Holy Ghost; and began to speak “ with other tongues, as the SPIRIT gave them utter
1 This iniracle manifested itself in the gift of tongues, to the astonished multitude, barbarous and civil, then * Johp xiy. 26. + Jolin vii. 39.
Acts ii. 1. et seq.
casually assembled from every quarter of the habitable Globe, who heard the APOSTLES, (all natives or inhabitants of Galilee,) speaking to each of these Strangers, in his own mother tongue. And this being for the service and conviction of others, was, in its nature, TEMPORARY * Other eflusions of the holy Spirit were PERMANENT; and these, instead of being conveyed in a sound from heaven as of A RUSHING MIGHTY WIND, were only conveyed and felt in the STILL, SMALL VOICE. For these were principally for the use and benefit of the favoured Receiver; who, although he himself was fully assured by them of the divine presence, yet could he give no sufficient evidence of that Presence to others.
Thus it appears, that this species of divine assistance, which our holy Religion calls Grace, is to be considered as one of the peculiar blessings bestowed upon the Faithful. I'or, as hath been observed, the Father and the Son have been graciously pleased to associate, in the administration of this new economy, a third divine Person, called in Scripture the Holy Ghost.
THIS MIRACULOUS appearance of the Holy SPIRIT, on his first Descent, naturally and happily leads us fora ward in this our general vieme; by bringing us to the consideration of the extraordinary manner in which it hath pleased Providence to promulge and propagate the Christian Faith,
Nor, as it is apparent to common sense, that an immediate Revelation from Ileaven can be firmly established no otherwise than by the intervention of MiRACLES; and, as we have found, by the sad experience of human corruption, that this SUPREME EVIDENCE of our holy Religion hath been fatally discredited by the contagion of lying wonders, deforming almost every age of the Church, it will be of the utmost importance to discover and fix the bounds of this extruordinary interposition .
* See Note [K] at the end of this Book.
But a MIRACLE, even when best supported by human testimony, needeth to be still further qualified, ere it can deserve credit of a rational Believer : namely, that it be so connected with the system to which it claims relation, as that it be seen to make a part of it, or to be necessary to its completion.
It is otherwise, in Facts, acknowledged to be within the
verge of nature and human agency. Here all that is wanted to recommend them to our belief, is the testimony of knowing and honest Witnesses.
While in pretended Facts beyond the verge of nature and human agency, such as those we call MIRACULOUS, much more is required when offered to our belief. The controul and arrest of the established Laws of Nature, by the God and Author of Nature, either mediately or immediately, is a thing which comMON EXPERIENCE hath rendered so extremely improbable, that it will at least balance the very best human testimony, standig unsupported and alone. And why? Because ordinary Facts carry their Causes openly and inanifestly along with them: Or if not so, yet none are required, as we are convinced their causes must be INTRINSECALLY there. But in l'acts pretended to be miraculous, the immediate efficient cause is extrinsecal; and therefore leaves room for doubt and' uncertainty: or rather, when, in this case, men perceive no cause, they are apt to conclude there is none; or, in other words, that the report is falsc and groundless. So that when the whole evidence of the Fact, dcerned miraculous, is solely comprised in human testimony, and is, in its nature, contrary to UNIFORM EXPERIENCE, the Philosopher will, at least, suspend his belief.
But though in all MIRACLES, that is, in Facts deemed miraculous, the EFFICIENT CAUSE continues unknown; yet, in those which our holy Religion seems to recommend to our belief, the FINAL CAUSE always stands apparent. And if that cause be so important as to make the slirack necessary to the ends of the DISPENSATION, this is all that can be reasonably required to cntitle it to our belief; when proposed to us with the same fulness of human testimony, which is sufficient to establish a common fact since, in this case, we have the MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF
THE DEITY to secure us from an error, so fatal to our welfare *.
And the confining our belief of Miracles within these bounds, wipes away (as I conceive) all the miserable sophistry of our modern pretenders to Philosophy, both at home and abroad, against MIRACLES, on pretence of their being contrary to GENERAL EXPERIENCE, in the ordinary course of things. 'At least, the TRUE PhiloSOPHER so thought, when he made that strict enquiry into Truth, towards the conclusion of his immortal Work—“Though cOJIMON EXPERIENCE (says he) AND.
THE ORDINARY COURSE OF THINGS have justly a mighty influence on the minds of men to make them
give or refuse credit to any thing proposed to their be" lief; yet there is ONE CASE wherein the STRANGENESS “ of the facts LESSENS NOT THE ASSENT to a fair testimony given of it. For where SUPERNATURAL events
are suITABLE TO TUE ENDS AIMED AT FY HIM who “ hath power to change the course of nature, then, under “such circumstances, they may be FITTER to procure “belief, by how much the more they are BEYOND ON
CONTRARY TO ORDINARY OBSERVATION. This is “ the proper case of MIRACLES, which, well attested, do “not only find credit themselves, but give it also to other “ truths which need such confirmation t."
Now the MIRACLES, which Christianity objects to our belief, and which, therefore, demand credit of every reaa sonable inan, are, and I apprehend must be, qualified in one or other of these three ways:
I. They must either, in the first place, be such as Christ and his inspired Servants and Followers are re
Here, by the way, let me observe, that what is now said gives that Criterion, which Dr. Middleton and his Opponents, in a late controversy concerning NIIRACLES, demanded of one another; and which yet, both Parties, for some reasons or other, declined to give; namely, some certain mark to enable men to distinguish (for all the purposes of Religion) between true and certain Miracles, and those which were false or doubtful,
+ Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding, vol. ii. Chap. Of the Degrees of Assent, $ 13. p. 286.------This great man, we find, understood it to be apparent to common sense, that the belief of an immediate Revelation from Heaven could be firmly established no otherwise than by the aid of Miraclés.--Buţ see this truth proved more at large as we go along, VOL. VI.
corded corded to have performed for the CREDENTIALS of their mission. - II. Or, secondly, such as make a necessary part in, or towards the completion of the Gospel System!
III. Or, thirdly and lastly, such as have been performed directly to manifest and VERIFY THE DIVINE PREDICTIONS, when impious men have set themselves on attempting to defeat them.
I. When a Miracle is wrought (as in the first case) for the' CREDENTIAL of a Messenger coming with the revealed Will of God, to Man, we may safely confide in it. Because such a Miracle is so far from being beneath the dignity of the occasion, that it is even necessary to answer the important purpose of it. Under this Idea, it hath, I believe, been generally conceived in every age of our holy Religion, till the present. Indeed, it seems to have been the constant expectation of Believers, that these supernatural attestations should accompany. every NEW MESSAGE from Heaven ; insomuch that all the pretended Revelations in the Pagan World, as well as the real in the Jewish and the Christian, were constructed on this principle of credit,
But now, in these times, some there are even amongst the Ministers of the Gospel, who tell us, they think, or at least are hardy enough to teach, that the REASONABLES Ness of the Doctrine is the best, and indeed the only true evidence of its divine Original.
If in this they should not be inistaken, I may, however, boast, that I, myself
, have, in this work, greatly strengthened this boasted plenitude of evidence, , But, in reverence to Truth, I hold myself obliged to own, that, in my opinion, the REASONABLEN ESS of a Doctrine pretended to come immediately from God, is, of itself alone, 110 PROOF, but a PRESUMPTION only of such its divine Original: because, though the excellence of a Doctrine (even allowing it to surpass all other moral teaching whatsoever) may shew it to be worthy of God, yet, from that sole excellence, we cannot certainly conclude that it came immediately from him ; since we know not to what heights of moral knowledge the human understanding, unassisted by inspiration, may arrive. Not