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ction of the first Temple. But if no visible Alteration be made in the case, either by Repentance on the one hand, or by Disobedience on the other; the Fulfilling of Prophecies, whether they contain Threatnings or Promises, is a certain Sign of a True Prophet, and when the Event doth not answer the Prediction, this is as sure a Sign, that it was deliver'd by a false Prophet. But if the Prophecy were not pretended to be in the Name of the True God, but were given out with a profesi'd Design to entice Men to the Worship of False Gods; then God might suffer it to befulfill'd, to prove his People, Dent. xiii. 1,2,3. For this was consistent with God's Truth and Goodness, especially after Warning given, and after so clear a Revelation both by Prophecies and Miracles: if any Man, in this cafe, would be seduced by any Wonder, or Prophecy, to follow other Gods, it must be great Perverseness in him. But when Prophecies are delivers by many Prophets, in divers Ages, and different Places, all teaching the fame Doctrine, and tending to the fame End and Design in their several Revelations, and that End is the Discouragement of all Wickedness, and the Maintenance of all Vertue and true Religion, these Prophecies have all that can be requisite to assure us that they are from God; and God, by suffering them to be fulfill'd, and to pass so long in the World, under his own Name, and with all the Characters of his Authority upon them, has given us all possible Assurance that they are his, and engag'd us, in Honour to his Divine Attributes, to believe that they really are by his Authority.
And the Certainty of Prophecies being thus grounded upon the Divine Attributes, besides the direct Evidence which they afford to whatever is deliver'd by them, they add an undeniable Confirmation to those Miracles which have been foretold, and are
wrought at the Time, and in the Manner, and by the Persons foretold by the Prophets j and the Prophecies likewise receive as great a Confirmation from such Miracles. For Prophecies and Miracles, which are singly a sufficient Evidence of Divine Revelation, do mutually support and confirm each other; and hereby we have all the Assurance that can be expected of any Divine Revelation: And therefore, as Prophecy is in it self a most fitting and proper way^ of Revelation; so", in conjunction with Miracles, it is the most: certain way that can be desir'd.
2. The Sutableness and Efficacy of Miracles, to prove a Divine Revelation. , It is an extravagant thing to conceive, that God should exclude himself from the Works of his own Creation; or, that he should establish them upon such inviolable Laws, as not to alter them upon some occasions, when he foresaw it would be requisite to do it: For unless the Course of Nature nad been thus alterable it would have been defective in regard to one great End for which. it was design'd; viz.. it would have fail'd of being serviceable to the Designs of Providence upon such Occasions. The fame Infinite Wisdom which contrived the Laws for the Order and Course of Nature, contrived them so, as to make them alterable, when it would be necessary for God, by suspending the Powers, or interrupting the Course of Nature, to manifest his extraordinary Will and Power j and by the fame Decree by which he at first establifh'd them, he subjected them to such Alterations, as his Wisdom foresaw would be necessary.
We can, as little doubt, but that He who made the World, has the sole Power and Authority over it; and that nothing can be done in it, but by his Direction and Influence, or at least by his Permission ', and that the Frame and Order of Nature which he at first appointed, can at no time be alter'd, but for great Ends and Purposes. He is not
given to change, as Men are, and can never be disappointed in his Eternal Purposes and Designs. But when any thing comes to pass above the Course of Nature, and contrary to it, in Confirmation of a Revelation, which, for the Importance and Excellency of the Subject: of it, and in all othe/ respects, is most worthy of God, we may be sure that this is his doing; and there is still farther Evidence of it, if this Revelation were prophesy'd of before, by Prophets who foretold that it should be confirm'd by Miracle. As, when Men born blind, receiv'd their Sight •, when others were cured of the most desperate Diseases, by a Touch, or at a Distance; when the Dead were raised, and the Devils cast out i these were evident Signs of a Divine Power and Presence, which gave Testimony to the Doctrine deliver'd by those by whom such Miracles were wrought, and the Divine Commission and Authority was produced for what they did and taught.. For what could be more satisfactory and convincing to Men, or more worthy of God, than to force the Devils themselves to confess and proclaim his Coming? to cause the most insensible things in nature to declare his Power, by giving way, as it were, and starting back in great Confusion and Disorder, at his more immediate and peculiar Presence, to inform Men that the God of Nature was there? This gave Testimony to the Things reveasd, and chalkng'd the Belief of all Men , in a Language more powerful than any Humane Voice, whilst God fhew'd forth his Glory, and made known his Will, by exercising his Sovereignty over Nature, in making the whole Creation bow, and tremble, and obey. All which was perform'd according to express Prophecies concerning Christ, that there might be a visible Concurrence both of Prophecies and Miracles in Testimony of him. And this Dispensation of Miracles was admirably fitted ;o propagate that Re
Iigion which concern'd the Poor, as well as the Rich, the Unlearned, as well as the Learned. Miracles were sutable to the Simplicity of the Gospel, and to the universal Design of it: For they are equally adapted to awaken the Attention, and command* the Assent of Men of all Conditions and Capacities; they are obvious to the most Ignorant, and may satisfy the Wisest, and confute or silence the Cavils of the most Captious and Contentious.
And this is what all the World ever expected, That God mould reveal himself to Men, by working somewhat above the Course of Nature. All Mankind bave believ'd, that this is the way of Intercourse between Heaven and Earth ; and therefore there never was any of the false Religions, but it was pretended to have been confirm'd by something miraculous. We may appeal to the Sense of all Nations for the Authority of Miracles to attest the Truth of Religion: for whenever any thing happen'd extraordinary, they always imagin'd something Supernatural in it, they expected that Miracles should be wrought for the Proof of any thing that had but the Name of Religion; and no false Religion could have gain'd Belief and Credit in any Age or Nation, but under the pretence of them.
The only Difficulty therefore will be, to know how to distinguish True Miracles from False; or those which have been wrought for the Confirmation of the True Religion, from such as have bee% done, or are pretended to have been done, in behalf of False Religions.
But here it must be obscrv'd, That it is not necessary, in this Controversie, that we should be able to determine what the Power of Spirits is, or how far it extends, and what Works can proceed only from the immediate Power of God: It is, sufficient' * that we know, that God presides over All \ that Good Spirits act in constant) Subjection and Obe• dicnce
dience to him } that. Evil Spirits act for evil Ends \ that Good Spirits will not impose upon Men, and that he will not suffer the Evil to do it, under any pretence of his own Authority, without affording Means to discover the.Delusion. And the Question here is not concerning any strange Work whereof God is not alledged to be the Author, but concerning such as are wrought with a profess'd Design to establish Religion in his Name. Suppose then that there have been many Wonders wrought inthe World, which exceed all Human Power, and which yet we know not to what other Power to ascribe: this makes no Difficulty in the present case; because here, not only the Works themselves, but the Design and Tendency of them is to be considered. For Instance,Whether the Miracles reported to have been done by Vefpasian, were true or false, by a Divine or a Diabolical Power, they are of no consequence to us \ he established no new Doctrine, and pretended to no Divine Authority, but doubted the possibility of his working them: And supposing them true, and by a Divine Power, the most that can be said of them, is, that as God mention'd Cyrus by Name to be the Deliverer of the Jews, so he might by Miracle signalize this Prince who was to destroy them. But the Miracles of our Saviour and his Apostles were wrought with this declared Purpose and Desigu, That they were to give Evidence to the Religion which they were sent from God to introduce, as necessary to the Salvation of Mankind.
Having premised this, I must resume what was before observed concerning the Means by which false Prophecies might be detected. It has been-already proved, from the Notion of a God, that there must be some Divine Revelation; and it has been shewn, That Prophecies and Miracles are the most fit and proper way of Revelation, and that way which Men have ever expected to receive Revelations by. If then there have -." . been