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and cannot now overcome the unreasonable Prejudices of Infidels, the miraculous flourishing of a dead Tree would no more have been considered, as a supernatural Act, than the causing of a flourishing Tree to wither immediately, and die> with one omnipotent Word. For when Men have once imbib'd strong 'Prejudices, and are obstinately bent against Conviction, whether the Work, designed for their Cure, be of a merciful, or vindictive Nature, it makes very little Alteration in the Cafe; since the miraculous BloJJoms and Fruit of Aarons Rod (to use a Comparison suitable to our present Subject) did no more prevent the Murmurings and Disobedience of the Israelites, than the miraculous Hail and Fire, which smote the Vines and Fig-Trees of the Egyptians, cured Æem and their 'King of their hardness of Heart.
And now, to take a Review of what A sum of has been said on this Subject. Since our the blessed Saviour, who * took not on him ffe the Nature of Angels, but the Seed of Abraham, was, in all Things, made like unto his Brethren, and subject to the innocent Infirmities of humane Nature, which he, nevertheless, thought not proper, by any miraculous means, to reT medy,
* Heb, ii. 16, 17.
medy, or to exert his Divinity upon every little Occurrence of Life: Since, beyond Dispute it has been prov'd, that there were in Judea Fig-Trees, of a very early kind, which had Fruit in full Maturity before the time of the Pa/fiver, or at the time, when our Saviour, in his Return to Bethany, went to find Fruit on this; nor are the Words of St. Mark incompatible with this Circumstance: Since this Tree, barren as it was, was nevertheless intended to be the Subject of a Miracle, and by its hasty withering away, at our Saviour's Execration, a Type and Figure of the speedy Destruction of the Jewish Nation: Since, had it born Fruit, its standing in the Way made it of common Right, or, had it been enclosed, a particular Law, provided for that purpose, submitted it to the Use of every Traveller, ?hat was minded to gather of it: And, lastly, since a Miracle of this kind, served to such excellent Uses, was at this time more necessary, and in all respects as convincing, as if it had been of a merciful andc beneficial Nature; there is certainly no Appearance either of Folly, or Ignorance or Injustice, or Passion, or 111-nature, if our Saviour's doing it, as is pretended And that he could not possibly impose on
'Bp. Smallbrokis Vind. p. 43 °
his Disciples in this Instance, ib, as to make them believe what never was done, is manifest from the Scripture-account of their Attendance on him, and being present at this whole Transaction; namely, «t his Imprecation of the FigTree, and its subsequent withering away.
Thus d St. Mark informs us, that NoFallawhen the Eventide was come, Jesus went f[.|" j" out into Bethany with the twelve, and that on the Morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry. Now it is plain, that when he cursed the Tree, e the Disciples heard it j that they came to Jerusalem with him; that with him they returned the next Evening to Bethany; and that, in the next Morning, as they passed by, namely, in their return to Jerusalem, they saw the Fig-Tree dry'd up from the Roots, whereupon, we are told, that Peter, and (as f St. Matthew adds) the other Di/cifies, that still attend Jesus, took Notice of that wonderful Event, and said unto him, how soon is the Fig-free, which thou curfed'Ji, wither'd away? So that, from this whole Deduction, it is evident, that the twelve Disciples did personally accompany Jelus from the very beginT 2 'ning,
* Mark xi. ir, ta. • Ve-. 14, 15, 19, 20.
compared together. f Matt. xxi. i©.
ning, to the end of this marvellous Transaction; that they were Eye-witnesses of the whole Miracle, wherein there was no possibility from them to be impos'd on; and, consequently, no Reason for the blasphemous Suggestion, of his taking a secret Opportunity beforehand, to lay his Carpenter's Ax to the Root of this Tree.
Of his Healing the Impotent Man at the Pool of Bethesda.
The ob-" TT) UT, whatever may be said in jection. « Jp^ Vindication of Jesus's cursing u the Fig-free, his Cure of the Impo"tent Man at the Pool of Bethesda, "is a Tale so blindly, so imper"fectly, and with such monstrously "incredible Circumstances, related, as "ought to be rejected with Scorn "and Indignation. For, excepting "St. John's Gospel, where do we "find the least mention of this Pool of <[ Bethesda? Josephus has professedly "written an History of the Jewish Na
"tion, "tion, .and would doubtless have omit"ted nothing, that tended to the Ho"nour of his Country, or the Mani"festation of the Providence of God o"ver it; and yet we neither find him, "nor any other Jewish Author, giving *' any account of this miraculous Pool; "tho' it is very presumable, that, had "the Story been true, they would have <* boasted not a little of this singular il Instance of God's distinguishing Care over his peculiar People. But, al"lowing the silence of other Writers to be no Argument against St. John, yet, to give his Story a better air of Credibility, he should have told us a little more minutely the true Occasion of the Angel's descent into this Pool, how oft in the Week, the Month, or "the Year he condescended to do it; "why one diseased Person only receiv'd "the Benefit of it at once; and why "no better Care was taken, by the Pro"vidence of God, or the Civil Magi"strates of Jerusalem, in the diiposal "of that Benefit, so as to give the Prei( ference to those, that deserved it best, "and not to those, that could best "struggle for it. But, if St. John is "defective in these material Circum<( stances, he is absurd and ridiculous <} in his relation of others. For, of all T 3 « other