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Weakness of such Authority, the pretended Miracles of Afollonius are, for the most part, ridiculous, unworthy the "Character of a Prophet, and (as the learned Photius speaks) full of Follies and most/Irons sales. In the highest Instance of his miraculous Power, viz. his' raising a dead Hroman to Life again, z the Historian suspects (as he fays the Company did) that there was some Confederacy and Collusion in the Matter; but, • if even it were not so, the Doctrines he taught* and the Zeal he professed for the Pagan Idolatry, together with his excessive Pride, Ambition, and vain Affectation of divine Honours, are a plain Indication, that his Miracles were false, and his most surprizing Performances, either the Effects of Magick, or downright Cheat or Imposture. Of Vfspa- Tacitus indeed tells of two Cures, /«»•.. one of a Blind, and the other of a Lame Person, which Vejpafian pretended to work at Alexandria: But whoever reflects on the Situation of his Affairs at that Time, will perceive some Reason to suspect a Collusion. He was now in a Dispute with himself what to do, whether to assume the Roman Empire, or restore the antient Form of Government, a Common-wealth; The Restora->
tion ; Vtd. Vit. Apol. L. 4. c 16.
tioti of the latter was what Dion, and Euphrates, two eminent Philosophers, advised; but Apollonius (whom he likewise consulted upon this Occasion) with great Vehemence, persuaded the contrary, and (being himself accustomed to such Artifices) might, not improbably, suggest to Vespajian the Necessity of some Miracle or other, in order to recommend him to the People; as a Person highly favoured by the Gods.
And indeed, if we consider, what an obscure Person, and of what mean Original Ve/pajjan was, there seems to be the greater Reason, why Jpollonius, and others of that Party, should think of some expedient or other to raise him a Reputation in the World, answerable to the new Station of Life, they had adVised Him to accept: And whoever considers farther, a what various Artifices were about this time used, to procure an Opinion of Divinity in the Emperors, will not much wonder that such Reports should be spread of them, or that certain Persons mould be suborned to feign such Distempers, and then give themselves ,out to be cured by them. But allowing the Cures to be real, yet, since they were Things exceeding the Power of any created Being, they could M not
i Stillitiejleess Orig. Sac se. Ji. 171.
not be affected by Seraph, the false , God or Damon, who is said to prescribe them: They must be the Work of an omnipotent Hand, and might perhaps be providentially intended, to give some dignity and superior Character to Vespasian, as a Person, who, in Conjunction with his Son 'situs, was appointed by God to be a signal Instrument of the divine Vengeance on the "Jewish Nation. •
But however this be, and whether these Cures were true or false; since, in Consequence of them, Vespasian never pretended to any divine Commission, nor to establish any new Worship or Doctrine; since, the only use he made of them was purely political, and to recom0 mend himself, with greater Advantage^ to the Favour of the People: The Case is very plain, that they can never come up to any Resemblance of our Saviour's miraculous Works, which were perform* ed on purpose to establish his Authority, and to evince him to be a Prophet sent from God; to which Character the Roman Emperor (however some sycophant "Jews might endeavour to0 flatter him with it) never of himself made the least Pretension. And And, if what the Roman Emperor
GreatracK did (even upon the best Supposition)
. falls falls infinitely short of what is recorded of our Saviour; the Competition is ib very little between the Scroker Greats rack, and him, that nothing, but either gross Ignorance, or .'Malice, could have formed so unjust a Companion. In his own b Original Letter, which is still preserved in the Bodlean Library, Greatrack thinks more modestly of himselfhe makes no mention of his healing all kinds of Diseases, much less of re florin* any decays of Nature. The Kjng's-evil and some few Distempers more, he pretended to Cure by a divine Impulse; but, failing sometimes herein (asc a just Examiner of his Pretensions tells 'us) he was obliged to fly to the Assistance ot Phyjick, and Qhirurgery; to. use Plasters and proper Medicines, and that frequently too without Success. His' usual Method was, to chafe, and rub, with some Violence, the part affeded' and, in some Cafes, to pinch the Ulcers very severely, by which means he might perhaps remove some few Indispositions from one part into another, or even quite out of the Body, bv insists** Me Perspiration, d but what is all this, M 2 when
* This Letter was sent to Dr. H.?I>, Bishop of Chester, An. 166$. 'David Lloyd, in his Book entitled, Wonders no Miracles, An. 1666. * Bishop Smallkrole\ Viud. p. 27.
16 4 The L I T E R A L S E N S E of
when compared withvthe numerous and lasting Effects of one powerful Word of our Lord, either present or absent 3 of his immediately healing the most inveterate and incurable Distempers, and restoring, nos only the greatest decays of Nature, but even Life it self? Nothing at all: and therefore to sum up the Argument thus far pursued.
Since the power of working Miracles in Christ was so vastly great, that it can be supposed to proceed from no other Cause, than a Communication from God, and yet, to imagine that God would communicate any part of his Power, to give Sanction and Countenance to an Impostor, is a Thing repugnant to his sacred Attributes; since God has not left us without means, either from the Works themselves, and the Manner of doing them, or from the 'Persons themselves, and the End for which they do them, to distinguish between the true Prophet and the Impostor, the real Miracles of the one, and the lying Wonders of the other; and, lastly, since all the Signs and Characters of true Miracles concur in the Works of Jesus, but, on the contrary, violent Suspicions of Trick and Artifice, at least, an Inferiority, that will admit of no manner of Comparison, in such as are named in competition