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with a Word, that operated effectually upon the absent, and at a distance; when, Persons at Death's Door, nay, actually Dead, and Dead for some time, were commanded back to Life and Health, and himself, when slain by the Jews, and committed to the Grave, was, according to his own Prediction, railed from the Dead by the fame divine Spi-. rit, whereby he quicheneth and enliveneth all Things, which These, and many more Actions of Wof the like Nature, recorded in the Gospels, his Divine are plain Demonstrations of a Divine Mission, cpower residing in our Blessed Saviour \ And if they \vere affected by a Divine Power, we have all the certainty ima-. ginable of his being a true Prophet sent from God. For,e of all the great Attributes of God, there are none that shine brighter, and more amiably in our Eyes, than Truth and Goodness; the former cannot attest a Lye, nor the latter seduce Men into dangerous and destructive Mistakes. And yet, if God • should communicate any part of his Power to an Impostor, to enable him to work Miracles, in confirmation of his Pretences, what would become of these two Sacred Attributes? To suspect, I say, that Almighty God is capable off
• • Stanhope's Ep. & Gosp. Vol. 2.
employing his infinite Power, and of disturbing the Course of Nature, with a design to miflead and delude Mankind, in what relates to their Eternal Con-t cerns, is to destroy and subvert his very Nature, and leave ourselves no Notion at all of such a Being. Nay, for him to permit the same Evidences to be produc'd for Errors, as for Truth, is, in effect:, to cancel his own Credentials, and make Miracles of no Significance at all: And therefore we may conclude, that, how artfully soever some Impojlors may contrive their Delusions, yet, upon a strict Examination, there are always'to be sound some Marks and Characters, whereby to distinguish them from real Miracles.
Whether ever a real Miracle was Them*TMwvought by any false and idolatrous Pro- »»* ofthe phet, in Confirmation of his Pretensions, c„nc^n. \s a Matter that may well admit of de- ing false bate. f It is certain, that, from the gi- ?'°tbet'.:. ving 01 the Law, we do not meet with any, that were ever wrought under such" Circumstances; and therefore we may reasonably suppose, that the Caution, which Moses gives the Jews, s not to hearken to any Prophet, who should give a Sign for following other Gods, is not so much a Prediction of what should come 1^4 to
f Bj-. ChajiMer's Defence, p. 421.. » Pent. xiii.
to pasi, as a form of vehement Deportation; that it does not Ib much imply a possibility of their working such Signs, as it earnestly forbids the being led away by them, upon the fairest Pretensions; that it is, in short, a manner of Speech, not unlike that of St. Paul to the GalatianSy h Though we, or an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel, than that, which we have preached, let him he accursed: Where he does not suppose, that either the Apostles, or good Angels, would ever be jnduc'd to preach a Doctrine contrary to Christianity, but only puts the most extraordinary Case, and such a one, as would never happen, jn order to shew, that, upon no account whatever, they were to recede from the Truth of the Gospel.
But be that as it will, this is apparent from the very Passage now under Consideration, that the holy Penman gives us a Sign, whereby we may discover the Prophet, here spoken of, to be no other • than an Impo/ior, and that is, his tempting the People to go aster other Gods: From whence we may gather, that, if Miracles have in themselves an evil End and Tendency; if they be wrought to introduce the Worship of other Gods^ besides him, whom Reason, as well as
5 Gal. i, 8,
Scripture, assures us to be the only true
When therefore our blessed Saviour And of foretels, that 'l false Christs, and false £bat. COI»Prophets Jhoald arise, and shewgreatSigns TTMTM*° and Wonders, he plainly intimates, ,at chrip, the fame time, that, by some means or ."" m other, these Wonders would be detected,and found to be fallacious', since they would not, with all their speciousnefs, have efficacy enough to deceive the Elect. k For the Phrase, if it be possible, (tho' it shews the greatness of the Artifices employed to deceive) very strongly implies an Impossibility, that good and considerate People should be deceived by them; and consequently evinces, that these false Miracles of Pretenders would be distinguishable from such, as were per- "* formed by God, or any Agents cbmmiffion'd by him. How great soever then the Power of Anti-christ may be suppOs'd to be, yet the Apostle has taken I Matt. xxiv. 24. * Bp. SmaUbroh's Vind. p. 8..
ken care to inform us, that all his Ope• rations would be butl lying Wonders, and that those, who should be deceived by them, would be such, as did not believe the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness; and such, as God would fend a ftrong jPelu/ion upony that they Jhould believe a Lye, as a Punishment for their Infidelity, and abandon'd Wickedness. But since, in this account bf' Jnti-christ, he no where intimates, that good and faithful Christians should be thus deluded by him, but rather implies the very contrary ; we have sufficient reason to conclude, that there are certain Notes of Distinction either respecting, ist, the Works themselves, and their manner of being done; Ways to or idly, the Persons themselves, and the distin- Ends, for which they do them; where
ilom false hY a Man °f fcber and sedate ReHection
Miracles, may discern the difference between real Miracles, and lying Wonders.
From the Firjl, In relation to the Works themHftrfej solves, it is required, m that they be selves, possible, since no Power whatever can effect that which is strictly impossible; that they be probable, since the divine Power will hardly concern itself in what savours of Fable and Romance; that they be not below the Majesty of God, as he is
'x Thess. ii. 10. Qpc. "> Qbandler on Miracles.