Freethought Archives > Thomas Woolston > Six Discourses on Miracles

[Pg ii]

A FIFTH

DISCOURSE

ON THE

MIRACLES

OF OUR

SAVIOUR,

In View of the Present Controversy between Infidels and Apostates.


——Ridiculum acri
Fortius & melius magnas plerumq; secat Res.


The Second Edition.


By Tho. Woolston, B.D. sometime Fellow of Sidney-College in Cambridge.


LONDON:

Printed for the Author, and Sold by him next door to the Star, in Aldermanbury, and by the Booksellers of London, and Westminster, 1728.

[Price One Shilling.]


[Pg iii]

TO THE

Right Reverend Father in God

THOMAS,

Lord Bishop of Bangor.

My Lord,

Whatever we poor Authors may sometimes pretend to, by the Dedication of our Works to Great Men; it's certain we aim at nothing less than Rewards and Preferments, whether we deserve them or not: That this is my Design in Dedications, is so apparent, that it's to no Purpose to deny or dissemble it.

Wherefore else have I made Choice of some of our Learned and Wealthy Bishops for the Patrons of[Pg iv] these Discourses, which I foresaw would be grateful to their nice and critical Palates? Wherefore else have I been so profuse of such Compliments on their Lordships, as I was sure, they would take great Pleasure in? Wherefore else, My Lord, do I inscribe this to your Right Reverend Name, but that I expect your Approbation of it, and hope for a Recompence, equal to the Honour, that is here done you.

Some, who are envious, My Lord, of my good Fortune in Episcopal Patrons, will not believe that I have receiv'd so much as one Purse of Gold for any of my Dedications; but I would have such Malignants to know, that the less I have receiv'd, the more there is behind: And I can moreover assure them, that their Lordships have it in their Heads and their Hearts too, highly to advance me in the World; and if their Endeavours for my Promotion fail not, I shall be a very Great Man.

[Pg v]

Such primitive Doctrine, My Lord, as I have reviv'd, must, in the Judgment of our Bishops, be deserving of their distinguish'd Favours: And if they should Design for me such a mystical Crown of Glory, as the Gentile Priests help'd some of the Fathers of the Church to; I profess without Dissimulation, that, for all my Love to Mysteries, it will be more than I am ambitious of: But if the Honour is forc'd on me, it will be my Duty to their Lordships, to sound an allegorical Trumpet of their Fame, that their Names, which, might otherwise be soon forgotten, may be everlastingly remember'd for their Love and Good-will towards me.

But the chief Foundation, My Lord, of my Merits lies, they say, in my Treatment of the Miracles of our Saviour, after the Manner you handled a Scripture-Prophecy, of a Man's kicking a Serpent on the Pate, for biting him by the Heels:[Pg vi] And if your Lordship got a Welsh-Bishoprick upon it, what may not I expect for my more meritorious Works of the same kind? The Great Mr. Scheme has celebrated your Praise for that Effort of your Wit: And I must needs say, to your Lordship's Applause, that were not your Thoughts unhappily shackled with Interest and Subscriptions, (an Unhappiness you sadly lament!) you would endeavour to make as pleasant Work with the Letter of the Old, as I can do with that of the New Testament.

I have not here Room, My Lord, for a sufficient and deserv'd Encomium on your Use and Intent of Prophecy; therefore must be content to say of it, in short, that it is a most curious Piece of, what the Fathers call, Engastromuthism; or such a singular Specimen of a Webb, spun out of a Man's own Bowels, as one of fewer Brains in his Head can hardly equal.

[Pg vii]

It was wisely done of your Lordship to caution your Readers against taking your Book for an Answer to Mr. Grounds; otherwise it had not been impossible, but some others as well as the Worshipful Benchers of the Temple might have mistaken the Use and Intent of it.

After I had gone thro' your beautifully-printed Work, I wish'd, My Lord, for another Decoration of it, that some Annotations out of the Fathers had been subjoin'd to it. How would your Notions then and Theirs about Prophecy have stood as a Foil to each other! How should I then have admired the Difference between a Rich Bishop and a Poor Father as to Wit and Sense! How should I then have contemplated the Usefulness of Ecclesiastical Wealth in our Clergy for the Understanding of the Inspirations of the poor old Prophets!

When your Lordship is call'd upon for another Edition of your Book,[Pg viii] vouchsafe me the Favour of making some marginal Remarks on it, which shall not be without their good Use. As you know, savoury Sawce makes some sort of Food go down the better; so a little more of that Salt, which Mr. Scheme has too sparingly sprinkled on your Work, will give your Readers, a right Relish of it: But whether I am indulg'd this Favour or not; I than take another opportunity, according to Promise elsewhere made, of testifying to the World, how much I am,


October 25.
1728.

My LORD,
The Admirer of
Your Use and
Intent of Prophecy,
Thomas Woolston.


[Pg 1]

A FIFTH

DISCOURSE

ON THE

MIRACLES

OF OUR

SAVIOUR, &c.

According to Promise in my last Discourse, I am in this to take into Examination the three Miracles of Jesus's raising the dead, viz. Of Iairus's Daughter[270]; of the Widow of Naim's Son[271]; and of Lazarus[272]: The literal Stories of which[Pg 2] I shall show to consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities and Incredibilities, in Order to the mystical Interpretation of them: And because some of our Bishops and Clergy were a little disgusted at the ludicrous Treatment of the Letter of some foregoing Miracles, I will handle these with the more Caution; being as unwilling, as any Man of my primitive Faith can be, to offend weak Brethren.

Whether Jesus rais'd any more from the dead, besides the foresaid three Persons is uncertain from the Evangelical History. St. Augustin[273] thinks, he rais'd many others; and he founds his Opinion on the modest Hyperbole of St. John, who supposes[274] the World it self could not contain the Books that might be Written of Jesus. And Eusebius Gallicanus, of whose Mind entirely I am, says[275] the Reason lies in the Mystery, why these three, and no more than these three Miracles of this[Pg 3] Kind are recorded by the Evangelists. But since our Divines are averse to Mysteries on Miracles, I would gladly know their Opinion, whether Jesus rais'd any others from the dead, or not: I have made some search into modern Writers for their Opinion in this Case, but can't find it: And unless I knew their Opinion, it would be lost Labour to argue against either Side of the Question, and much more against both Sides of it: But I can assure our Divines, that, which Side of the Question soever they should hold, the Consequence upon the Argument would be neither better nor worse, than that they must of necessity espouse the mystical and allegorical Interpretation of these Miracles, or grant that Jesus literally rais'd none from the dead at all.

But waving that sort of Argument for the present against the Letter; these three Miracles are reputed the greatest that Jesus wrought: And I believe, it will be granted on all hands, that the restoring a Person, indisputably dead, to Life again, is a stupendous Miracle; and that two or three such Miracles well circumstanced, and credibly reported, are enough to conciliate the Belief of Mankind, that the Author of them was a divine Agent, and invested with the Power of God, or he[Pg 4] could not do them. But God knows, (and for the sake of the Mystery, I am not sorry to say it) this is far from being the Case of these three Miracles before us, or of any one them.

That these three Miracles are not equally great, but differ in Degree, is visible enough to any one, that but cursorily reads, and compares theirs Stories one with another. The Fathers of the Church[276] have taken Notice of such a Difference amongst them. The greatest of the three, and indeed, the[277] greatest Miracle, that Jesus is suppos'd to have wrought, is that of Lazarus's Resurrection; which, in Truth, was a most prodigious Miracle, if his Corps was putrified and stank; or if there were no just Exceptions to be made to the Credibility of the Story. Next to that, in magnitude, is Jesus's raising of[Pg 5] the Widow's Son, as they were carrying him to his Burial: And a great Miracle it was to bring him to Life again; if none before or since had been mistaken for dead, and carried to their Graves alive; or if no Impostor and his Confederates could frame such a seemingly miraculous Scene, as is that whole Story, to his own Glory. The least of the three is that of his raising Jairus's Daughter, which in Appearance is so far from a Miracle, that according to the Story itself, she was but asleep, or by the Shrieks of By-standers frighted out of her Senses for the present.

But however it really might be with these three supposed dead and revived Persons; the Case of none of them was well enough circumstanced to serve the Purpose of our Divines. I am apt to believe with the Fathers, that Jesus actually did raise the dead; but then, as these Miracles are only recorded for the sake of the Mystery, I affirm that none of them, as to the Letter, will abide the Test of a critical Examination, nor stand its Ground against such Exceptions as may be made to them. If Jesus was to raise any dead Bodies to Life, for a Testimony of his divine Power and Authority, he would and should have made Choice of other dead Persons, under other Circumstances of Death; and[Pg 6] the History of their Resurrection should have been more credibly and carefully transmitted to Posterity, so as there should have been no Room left to make a reasonable Doubt of the Truth of it. But this, I say, is not the Case in the Resuscitation of any of these Persons, as will appear from the following Remarks and Observations upon them. And

1. Observe, that the unnatural and preposterous Order of Time, in which these Miracles are related, justly brings them all under suspicion of Fable and Forgery. The greatest of the three is indisputably that of Lazarus's Resurrection; but since this is only mention'd by St. John, who wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, and above sixty Years, according to the best Computation, after our Lord's Ascension; here is too much Room for Cavil and Question, whether this Story be not entirely his Invention. What could be the Reason that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who all wrote their Gospel's before John, and many Years nearer to the Death of our Saviour, should omit to record this remarkable and most illustrious Miracle of Lazarus? They could not forget it, nor be ignorant of it, if the Story had been really true; and to assign any[Pg 7] other Reason than Ignorance or Forgetfulness, is hard and impossible. To aggrandize the Fame of their Master, for a Worker of Miracles, was the Design of all the Evangelists, especially of the three first, who may be presumed to make a Report of the greatest, if not of all, that Jesus wrought: But that there should come after them an Evangelist with an huge and superlatively great Miracle, and meet with Credit for it, is against all Sense and Reason; neither is there any Story, so disorderly told, in all History, that Critics will admit of the Belief of. The first Writer of the Life of an Hero, to be sure makes mention of all the grand Occurrences of it, and leaves no Room for Biographers afterwards, but to enlarge and paraphrase upon what he has written, with some other Circumstances and Additions of less Moment. If a third or a fourth Biographer after him shall presume to add a more illustrious Transaction of the Hero's Life, it will be rejected as Fable and Romance, tho' for no other Reason than this, that the first Writer must have been appris'd of it, and would have inserted its Story, if there had been any Truth in it. And whether St. John's Story of Lazarus's Resurrection, that Miracle of Miracles, ought not to be subjected to the like Criticism upon it,[Pg 8] Christians may consider, and Infidels will judge.

What then was the Reason, I ask again, that the three first Evangelists neglected to record this renown'd Miracle of Lazarus? And why too (may I enquire here) did not Matthew and Mark mention the Story of the Widow of Naim's Son, as they could not but know of it, if true, more certainly than Luke, the Companion of Paul, who alone has made a Report of it? Grotius says,[278] it may seem strange that this illustrious Miracle of the Widow's Son was omitted by Matthew and Mark: And what is the Reason that Grotius gives for this strange Omission? Why, he tells us[279] that these two Evangelists were content with one miraculous Instance of this Kind, by which Christians might judge of Jesus's Power in others also. And is this Reason sufficient? True it is, they were content with one Instance; but if they had made a Report of two or three more of the same sort, no body would have thought their History of Christ overcharg'd with impertinent and tautological Repetitions.[Pg 9] But one Instance of a Person rais'd from the dead, they were, says Grotius, content with: And I'll grant one to be sufficient: But which then should they, as wise and considerate Historians have made Choice of, the greatest or the least Miracle? The greatest, to be sure, and that was of Lazarus, or of the Widow's Son, if they knew of either. But instead of either of these, they tell us the Story of Jairus's Daughter, that is[280] an imperfect and disputable Miracle, in Comparison of the other two, which consequently they knew nothing at all of, or they would have preferr'd the Report of them.

If Matthew, the first Writer, had recorded only the Story of Lazarus, whose Resurrection was the greatest Miracle; and if Luke had added that of the Widow of Naim's Son; and John lastly had remember'd us of Jairus's Daughter, which the other Evangelists, not through Ignorance or Forgetfulness, but studying Brevity, had omitted, then all had been well; and no Objection had hence lain against the Credit of any of these Miracles, or against the Authority of the Evangelists: But this unnatural and preposterous[Pg 10] Order of Time, in which these Miracles are recorded (the greatest being postponed to the least) administers just Occasion of suspicion of the Truth and Credibility of all their Stories. And it is lucky for Christianity, that Jews and Infidels have not hitherto hit upon the Absurdity of this preposterous Narration, or they might have form'd a cogent Objection against these Miracles thus, saying;

"Jesus, it is manifest, rais'd not the dead at all. The only Person, that Christians can reasonably pretend, he did raise, was Jairus's Daughter, whom Matthew writes of; and she, according to the Story was only in a Sleep, or an Extacy, when Jesus revived her. But the Galileans, who were after a Time call'd Christians, finding their Account in a Resurrection-Miracle; Luke, for the former Advantage of the Cause, devised another Story of better Circumstances, in the Widow of Naim's Son: But this not being so great a Miracle, as the Church still wanted; John, when no body was alive to contradict and expostulate with him for it, trumps up a long Story of a thumping Miracle, in Jesus's raising of Lazarus, who had been not only dead, but buried so long[Pg 11] that he stank again. But to prove the Story of this Miracle to be false and fabulous, we need say no more than that it was last recorded. If there had been any Truth in it, the first Evangelist would have remember'd us of it.

"We don't suppose, that you Christians, because of your Prejudices, will subscribe to this Account, that we thus give of the Rise of these Miracles: But this is certain, that if these three Miracles had not been reported of Jesus, but of Mahomet, in the same disorder of Time, by three different Historians, you would presently have scented the Forgery and Imposture: You would justly have affirm'd that the three Stories were apparently three Fables and Falsehoods; and that the three Historians visibly strove to outstretch each other: That the first was sparing and modest in his Romance; and the second, being sensible of the Insufficiency of the former's Tale, devises a Miracle of a bigger Size; which still not proving sufficient to the End proposed; the third Writer, rather than his Prophet's Honour should sink for want of a Resurrection-Miracle, forges a Story of a monstrously huge one; against which it is, and always will be Objection enough, that it was not[Pg 12] related by the first Historian. So would you Christians argue against these three Miracles in another Impostor's Case; and there is not a judicious Critic in the Universe, that would not approve of the Argument, and applaud the Force of it, tho' you will not endure the Thoughts of it in the Case of your Jesus.

"But to come nearer home to you; supposing John (who was then above a Hundred, and in his Dotage) had not reported this Miracle of Lazarus; but that Clement (joining it with his[281] incredible Story of the Resurrection of a Phœnix) or Ignatius, or Polycarp, or the Author of the Apostolical Constitutions had related it; would not your Christian Critics have been at work to explode it? There is not an antient extra-evangelical Tradition of any Note about Jesus, that some or other of your Critics have not boggled at; but such a Story as this of Lazarus would have been received by none. I question, whether Mr. Whiston would not have rejected the Constitutions upon such a Story in them; or if his Fancy for some other Things in them had overcome his[Pg 13] Reason against this; yet Bishop Smallbroke, who has written against the Canonicalness of the Constitutions, with his judicious Animadversions upon this Story, would absolutely have overthrown their Authority. And what would he have said here? Not only that the Miracle smells rankly of Forgery and Fraud, or the Evangelists, especially Matthew, had never forgotten to record it; but he would have reminded us of intrinsic Notes (hereafter to be mention'd) of Absurdity, and Incredibility, that would for ever have cashier'd the Belief of it. And whether we Infidels ought not to take the same Liberty to criticize on John's Gospel, which you do on your Apostolical Fathers, who wrote before him, let the impartial and unprejudiced judge: If in justice we ought to take it; we are sure we could give two or three notable Reasons (but that We will not now put Christians out of Temper with them) why John may be suspected of a Mistake or Fraud in this Miracle, rather than any other Christian Writer of the first or second Century."

To such an unhappy Objection, arising from the unnatural and preposterous Order of Time, in which they are recorded,[Pg 14] are these three Miracles before us obnoxious. And I am thinking how Ministers of the Letter will be able to get over it. As for my self, who am for the mystical Interpretation of these Miracles, I have a solid and substantial Answer at hand to the foresaid Objection, an Answer that curiously accounts for the Order of Time in which these Miracles are related; but my Answer will not please our Divines, nor stand them in any stead; therefore they must look up another good one of their own, that will comport with the Letter; or the said Objection, improved with another presently against Lazarus's Resurrection, will be too hard, not for Christianity it self, but for their Ministry.

Grotius, being aware of the foresaid Objection, has given us such a[282] Solution of it as then occurr'd to his Thoughts. Dr. Whitby, not being satisfied with Grotius's[Pg 15] Solution, has given us[283] another: But how weak and insufficient both their Solutions are, I will not spare Time to consider, till some Writer shall appear in Defence of the Sufficiency and Strength of one or other of them. And so I pass to a

2. Second Observation, by Way of Objection to the Letter of these Miracles, and that is, by enquiring, what became of these three Persons after their Resurrection? How long did they live afterwards? And of what Use and Advantage were their restored Lives to the Church or to Mankind? The Evangelical and Ecclesiastical History is entirely silent as to these Questions, which is enough to make us suspect their Stories to be merely romantick or parabolical; and that there were no such Persons rais'd from the dead; or we must have heard somewhat of their Station and[Pg 16] Conversation in the World afterwards. It's true, that Ephiphanius[284] says, what he found among Traditions, that Lazarus lived thirty Years after his Resurrection: But how did he spend his Time all that while? Was it to the Honour of Jesus, to the Service of the Church, and Propagation of the Gospel? Of that we know nothing; tho' in Reason and Gratitude to Jesus, his Benefactor, it ought to have been so spent; and if it had been so employ'd, History surely would have inform'd us of it. According to the Opinion of Grotius, in a Citation above, Lazarus for the rest of his restored Life absconded, and skull'd about the Country for Fear of the Jews, who lay in Wait for him; which is a Suggestion, not only dishonourable to Jesus, as if the same Power, that rais'd him from the dead, could not protect him against his Enemies; but reproachful to Lazarus himself, who should have chosen to suffer Death again, rather than not bear an open Testimony to Jesus, the Author of his Resurrection. However it was, we hear no more of Lazarus, than that he lived thirty Years afterwards, which Tradition,[Pg 17] without other Memorials of his Life, brings the Miracle more under suspicion of Fable, than if he had dy'd soon after it. And of Jairus's Daughter, and of the Widow of Naim's Son, which is astonishing, we read nothing at all. Does not this Silence in History about them, make their Miracles questionable, and but like Gulliverian Tales of Persons and Things, that out of the Romance, never had any Being.

Jesus did but[285] call a little Child, and set him in the midst of his Disciples; and that Act was remember'd in the Piety and Zeal[286] of Ignatius, who made a renown'd Bishop. But the Favour and Blessing conferr'd on these three rais'd Persons was exceedingly greater; and one might have expected, that Lazarus and the Widow's Son would have been eminent Ministers of the Gospel. But instead of that, their Lives afterwards were pass'd in Obscurity, or, what's as bad, Ecclesiastical History has neglected a Report of them. What can any one hereupon think less, than that the Favour of the Miracles was lost on undeserving Persons, which I abhor the Thoughts of; or that their Stories[Pg 18] are but Parables, which I rather incline to.

Ministers of the Letter may here say, "That the Ecclesiastical History of the Apostolical Age is very scanty; and that many Memorials of other Persons and Transactions are lost and buried in Oblivion: Which unhappy Fate has attended the after-Lives and Actions of these rais'd Persons, or undoubtedly we should have had a famous Record of them." This is not impossible; tho' in the Wisdom of Providence it is hardly probable, but that some more Remembrance must have been left of one or other, if not of all the three Persons; in as much as such a Remembrance of them would now-a-days have no less gain'd a Belief of the Miracles, than this Historical Silence tends to the Discredit of them.

It's somewhat strange, that we hear no more of the after-Fame and Life of any of the diseased Persons, whom Jesus miraculously cured; excepting of the Woman, heal'd of an Issue of Blood; who, tho' she spent ALL she had, even ALL her Living upon Physicians; yet out of the Remains of it erected, says[287] Eusebius, at Cæsarea Philippi, two most costly Statues of Brass, to the Memory of[Pg 19] Jesus and of herself, and of the Miracle wrought by him; which Dr. Whitby[288] as if he was tainted with Infidelity, endeavours to make an idle Tale of. But excepting, I say this Story of this Woman, we hear nothing of any other heal'd Person; which is Matter of some Speculation: But that the Persons rais'd from the dead should not at all be mention'd in History for their Labours and Lives afterwards to the Honour of Jesus, is absolutely unaccountable. Whether such a profound Silence in History about them be not shocking of the Credit of the Miracles, let our Divines consider. I am of Opinion that if Jesus really rais'd these Persons from the dead; this and no other Reason, in the Providence of God, can be given for the Silence of Ecclesiastical History about them afterwards, than to make dead-letter'd Stories of their Miracles, in order to turn our Heads entirely to the Consideration of their mystical Signification, without which the Letter, for the Argument before us, is deserving of no Regard nor Credit. But

3. By way of Objection to the Letter of these three Miracles, let us consider the[Pg 20] Condition of the Persons rais'd from the dead; and whether they were at all proper Persons for Jesus to work such a Miracle upon, in Testimony of his divine Power. If they were improper Persons according to the Letter, it's not credible that He, who was the Wisdom of God, would raise them; or if he did, it was because they were the properest to make mystical Emblems of their Stories.

That Jesus ought to have rais'd all that dy'd, where-ever he came, during the Time of his Ministry, none, I presume, can hold. Two or three Instances of his almighty and miraculous Power of this Kind will be allow'd to be sufficient: But then they must be wisely and judiciously made Choice of, out of a vast Number of Persons, that must needs die in that Time. Where then was his Wisdom and Prudence to chuse these three Persons above others to that Honour? Why were all of them, or indeed any one of them preferr'd to other Persons of a different Age and Condition in the World? Nay, if the Letter of their Stories is only to be regarded, were not all these three Persons almost the improperest and most unfit of any for Jesus to exercise that Power on?

[Pg 21]

Jairus's Daughter was an insignificant Girl of twelve Years old: And there could be no Reason for raising her, but to wipe sorrow from the Hearts, and Tears from the Eyes of her Parents, who ought to have been better Philosophers, than immoderately to grieve for her. And was here a good Reason for Jesus to interpose with his Almighty Power? No certainly; a Lecture of Patience and Resignation this Case had been enough. And tho' Jesus could raise her from the dead; yet for as much as that Favour was to be conferr'd but on a few; and his Miracles ought to be useful as well as conspicuous, she should have been pass'd by, as an improper Object of his Power, in Comparison of many others, presently to be named. If therefore a better Reason, than what's discernible in the Letter, is not to be fetch'd from the Mystery; I can't suppose that Jesus, the Wisdom of God would raise this Girl; but that the modern Belief of her Resuscitation, exclusive of the mystical Signification, is, as shall be by and by argued, altogether groundless.

The Widow of Naim's Son too was but a νεανισκος Youth, and whether any thing older than the Girl above is doubtful; but his Life certainly was of no more Importance to the World after, than[Pg 22] before his Resurrection. And why was he then one of the three to be rais'd from the dead? Why had he this Honour done him, before others of greater Age, Worth, and Use to Mankind? Some will say, for the Comfort or his sorrowful Mother. And is this Reason sufficient? A Discourse on the Pleasures of Abraham's Bosom, where she would e'er long meet her Son, had been enough to chear her Heart. If therefore the Fathers don't help me to a solid mystical Reason, why the Son and only Son of a Widow was to be rais'd by Jesus, as they were carrying him to his Burial, I'll not believe, He would raise this dead Boy rather than many others, for the Manifestation of his Power; but that the Story of his Resurrection, as shall soon be reasonably proved, was all Sham and Cheat.

Lazarus indeed was Jesus's Friend, whom he Loved; and as I will not question but Jesus's Affection was wisely and deservedly placed on him; so here, to Appearance, was a better Reason for the raising of him, than of either of the other Two. But even this Reason, supposing Jesus was to raise but three Persons, is not sufficient against the Cases of many others, that may be put for the Manifestation of his Power, for the Illustration of his Wisdom and Goodness, and for the[Pg 23] Conversion of Unbelievers: Consequently, if this Story of Lazarus be not parabolical, the litteral Fact is disputable, and obnoxious to such Exceptions presently to be observed against it, as will not be easily got over.

Jesus rais'd the dead, and wrought other Miracles, say our Divines often, not only to manifest his own Power and Glory, but his Love to Mankind, and his Inclination to do them good: For which Reason his Miracles are useful and beneficial as well as stupendous and supernatural Acts, on purpose to conciliate Men's Affections as well as their Faith to him. On this Topick our Divines are copious and rhetorical, when they write on Jesus's Miracles, as if no more useful and wonderful Works could be done, than what he did. And I do agree with them, that (what Reason bespeaks) the Miracles of a pretended Author of Religion ought to be both as useful and great as well as could be. But such were not Jesus's Miracles according to Letter, and least of all his Acts of raising the dead. For if we consider the Persons rais'd by him, we shall find, he could hardly have exerted his Power on any of less Importance to the World, both before and after their Resurrection. A young Girl indeed is fitter to be raised[Pg 24] than a decripid old Woman, who by the Course of Nature was to return to Corruption again, as soon as restored to Life: And a Boy rather than an infirm old Man for the same Reason: And Lazarus the Friend of Jesus, perhaps, and but perhaps, rather than his profess'd Enemy. But what are these three Persons in Comparison of many others of other Circumstances? Instead of a Boy, and a Girl and even of Lazarus, who were all of no Consequence to the Publick, either before or since; I should think, Jesus ought to have rais'd an useful Magistrate, whose Life had been a common Blessing; an industrious Merchant, whose Death was a publick Loss; a Father of a numerous Family, which for a comfortable Subsistance depended on him. Such dead Objects of Jesus's Power and Compassion could not but offer themselves, during the Time of his Ministry, and if he meant to be as useful as he could, in his Miracles, he would have laid hold on them. If a few Persons only were to be rais'd from the dead, the foresaid were the properest, whose Resurrection and Return to Life would have begotten the Applause as well as the Wonder of the World; would most extensively have spread Jesus's Fame; and would have gain'd him the Love and[Pg 25] Discipleship of all that heard of his being so great a Benefactor to Mankind. Such Instances of his Power would have demonstrated him to be a most benign as well as a mighty Agent; and none in Interest or Prejudice could have open'd their Mouths against him, especially if the Persons rais'd from the dead were selected upon the Recommendation of the People of this or that City. But that an insignificant Boy and a Girl, (forsooth!) and the obscure Lazarus, are preferr'd by Jesus, to such publick and more deserving Persons is unaccountable. Their Story therefore, upon this Argument, savours of Romance and Fraud; and unless the Mystery help us to, what the Letter can't, a good reason for Jesus's Conduct here, the Miracles may be hence justly question'd, and the Credibility of their Report disputed.

But now I am speaking of the Fitness and Unfitness of deceased Persons to have this grand Miracle wrought on them; it comes into my Head to ask, why Jesus rais'd not John the Baptist to Life again? A Person of greater Merits, and more Worthy of the Favour of Jesus and of this Miracle, could not be. If Jesus could raise any from the dead he would surely have raised him; and why did he not? This is a reasonable Question and an[Pg 26] Answer should be thought on for it. Was it a Thing out of Jesus's Power? Not so; He was Omnipotent, and could by Force or Persuasion have rescued John's Head out of the Hands of his Enemies; and the tacking it again to his Body, and the infusing new Life into him was no more difficult to Jesus, than the Resuscitation of a stinking Carcass. If Jesus had here exerted his Power, and rais'd his dearest Friend and choicest Minister for the Preparation, if not Propagation of the Gospel, none could question his Ability to raise any others, tho' he had rais'd no more. But in as much as John the Baptist, one of his singular Merits and Services to Christ, was overlook'd and neglected by him; and three useless and insignificant Persons had this Honour done them, the Facts may reasonably be called into question, and, if the Mysteries don't solve the Difficulty, their litteral Stories may hence be accounted foolish, fictitious and fabulous; especially if we consider,

4. That none of these three rais'd Persons had been long enough dead to amputate all Doubt of Jesus's miraculous Power in their Resurrection. As to Jairus's Daughter, she was but newly expired, if at all dead, when Jesus brought her to[Pg 27] Life again. Jesus himself says, she was but asleep. And according to Theophanes Cerameus[289], and Theophilact[290] there is Room to suspect that this Girl was only Κατοχος beside herself. And it is not impossible, but the passionate Skreams of the Feminine By-standers might fright her into Fits, that bore the Appearance of Death; otherwise why did Jesus turn there inordinate Weepers out of the House, before he could bring her to her Senses again? And why did he tell her Parents, that she was only in a sleep, but to Comfort them with the Possibility of his awakening her out of it? Is not this destructive of the Miracle, and making no more of it, than what another Man might do? And is there not some Probability, that here's all of this Story? But supposing she was really dead, yet for the sake of an indisputable Miracle in her Resurrection, it must be granted, that she ought to have been much longer, some Days if not Weeks, dead and buried.

As to the Widow of Naim's Son, there was somewhat more of the Appearance of Death in him, than in Jairus's Daughter. He was carried forth to his Burial, and so may be presumed to be really a dead[Pg 28] Corpse. But might not here be Fraud or Mistake in the Case? History and common Fame affords Instances of the mistaken Deaths of Persons, who sometimes have been unfortunately buried alive, and at other Times happily, by one Means or other, restored to Life: And who knows but Jesus, upon some Information or other, might suspect this Youth to be in a lethargick State, and had a Mind to try, if by chafeing, &c. he could not do, what successfully he did, bring him to his Senses again: Or might not a Piece of Fraud be here concerted between Jesus, a subtil Youth, and his Mother and others; and all the Formalities of a Death and Burial contrived, that Jesus, whose Fame for a Worker of Miracles was to be rais'd, might here have an Opportunity to make a shew of a grand one. The Mourning of the Widow, who had her Tears at Command and Jesus's casual meeting of the Corpse upon the Road, looks like Contrivance to put the better Face upon the Matter. God forbid, that I should suspect, there was any Fraud of this Kind here; but of the Possibility of it, none can doubt. And where there is a Possibility of Fraud, it is Nonsense, and mere Credulity to talk of a real, certain and stupendous Miracle, especially where[Pg 29] the Juggler and pretended Worker of Miracles has been detected in some of his other Tricks. All that I have to say here to this Matter, is, that if Jesus had a Mind to raise the Son of this Widow, in Testimony of his divine Power, he should have suffer'd him to have been buried two or three Weeks first; otherwise, if the Mystery don't account for Jesus's stopping the Bearers of the Corpse upon the Road, here is too much Room for suspicion of Cheat in the Letter of the Story.

Lazarus's Case seems to be the less exceptionable of the three. He had been buried four Days, and supposed to be putrified in the Opinion of his Sister Mary, and of modern Christians: And if so, his Resuscitation was a most grand and indisputable Miracle. And I could have wish'd, if I had not loved the Mystery rather than the Letter, that no Cavil and Exception could have been made to it. Whether Lazarus, who was Jesus's Friend and beloved Disciple, would not come into Measures with his Lord, for the Defence of his Honour, and Propagation of his Fame, Infidels, who take Christianity for an Imposture, will not question: And whether he would not consent to be interr'd alive, in a hollow Cave, where there was only a Stone laid at the Mouth of it, as long as[Pg 30] a Man could fast, none of them will doubt. Four Days was almost too long for a Man to fast without danger of Health; but if those four Days are number'd according to the Arithmetick of Jesus's three Days in his Grave, they are reducible to two Days and three Nights, which Time, if no Victuals were secretly convey'd with him, a Man might fast in Lazarus's Cave. As to the stinking of Lazarus's Carcass: that, Infidels will say, was but the Assertion of his Sister beforehand, like a Prologue to a Farce. None of the Spectators at his Resurrection say one Word of his stinking. And as to the Weepings and Lamentations of Jesus and of Lazarus's Sisters, they will say that was all Sham and Counterfeit, the better to carry on the Juggle of a feign'd Resurrection. And what's worst of all, they will say, that tho' Jesus did call Lazarus forth with a loud Voice, as if he had been as deaf as a dead Man; yet his Face was bound about with a Napkin, so that the Spectators could not discern what was of the Essence of the Miracle, the Change of his Countenance from a dead to a live one, which is a plain Sign, that it was all Fraud and Imposture.

God forbid, that I should have the same sense with Infidels, of this Matter; but to be just to their Suggestions and Imaginations[Pg 31] here, I must needs say, there are some other unhappy Circumstances, presently to be consider'd, in this Story, which, if they are not emblematical, make it the most notorious Cheat and Imposture that ever was put upon Mankind. In the mean Time, from what is here argued, it is plain, that Lazarus was not so long dead and buried, as that there is no Room to doubt of the Miracle of his Resurrection.

Now whether these Arguments against these three Miracles, drawn from the Shortness of the Time, in which these Persons lay for dead, have any Force in them, let our Divines consider. If nothing of all this is in their Opinion affecting of the Credit of the Miracles; yet they must allow, that Jesus, if he could raise the dead, might have made Choice of other Instances of Persons, more unquestionably dead, who had lain longer in their Graves, and were in a visible State of Putrefaction. And if this grand Miracle of raising the dead was to be wrought by Jesus for the Manifestation of his Glory, and in Testimony of his Authority; he should have exercised his Power on some such Persons, nominated by the Magistrates of this or that City, who with the People should be present at the miraculous Operation, beholding the putrified Bodies,[Pg 32] (without a Napkin before their Faces) and how they were suddenly enliven'd and invigorated with new Flesh, after the Similitude of their pristine Form, when in Health and full Strength. Because that Jesus rais'd not some such Persons to Life, I must take the Stories of the three Miracles before us to be but typical of more mysterious Works; or believe them for the Arguments above to be downright Cheats and Fables. And what is enough to induce a modern Divine to this Opinion. Is

5. The Consideration, that none of these rais'd Persons did or could, after the Return of their Souls to their Bodies, tell any Tales of their separate Existence otherwise the Evangelists had not been silent in this main Point, which is of the Essence of Christianity. Are not our Divines here reduced to an unhappy Dilemma, either to deny the separate Existence of the Soul, or the precedent Deaths of these rais'd Persons? As Christians, We profess to believe both, which seemingly are incompatiable; or the Evangelists had made such a Relation, as their return'd Souls had given of the other World. Was any Person, in this Age, to be rais'd to Life, that had been any time dead; the first Thing[Pg 33] that his Friends and Acquaintance would enquire of him, would be to know, where his Soul had been; in what Company; and how it had fared with him; and Historians would certainly record his Narrative. The same Curiosity could not but possess People of old, when these Miracles were wrought; and if the rais'd Persons had told any Stories of their separate Existance, the Evangelists no less unquestionally would have reported them, in as much as such a Report would have been, not only a Confirmation of that Doctrine; which is of the Essence of our Religion; but an absolute Confutation of the Sadducees and Sceptists of that Age, and of the Materialists of this. But this their Silence in this Case is of bad Consequence, either to the Doctrine of the Soul's Existence in Separation from the Body, or to these Miracles themselves, since we must hereupon almost necessarily hold, that these rais'd Persons were not at all dead, or that their Souls dy'd with them.

The Author of a Sermon, ascrib'd to St. Augustin tells us[291] that Lazarus after[Pg 34] his Resurrection made a large Report of Hell, where he had been: But as this is a mere Fiction of that Author, without the least Authority from Scripture; so I presume it will be accounted a Blunder in him, to suppose the Soul of Lazarus, the Friend and beloved of Jesus, was in Hell. The Soul of Jesus indeed, for Reasons best known to himself, upon his Death, descended into Hell, when some think he should rather have gone, with the penitent Thief, into Paradise. But the Thoughts, that any of Jesus's Friends should go to Hell, I suppose will not be born with; or what will become of the Preachers of this Age, who would be accounted Men or that Denomination. And if Lazarus's Soul had been in Paradise, it was hardly a good Work in Jesus to recall it, for thirty Years afterwards, to the Miseries and Troubles of this wicked World. I wish therefore our Divines could determine, where Lazarus's Soul was for the four Days of his Burial; because I can't possibly conceive any thing else, than that he was not really dead, or that his Soul dy'd with him, or went to a bad place, otherwise after his Resurrection he had never[Pg 35] absconded for fear of the Jews, as if he was unwilling to die again, and return to the Place from whence he came.

But however it was with the Souls of these rais'd Persons before their Re-union to their Bodies, here is another Difficulty and Objection against these Miracles; and how will our Divines get over it? Perhaps they may say, that tho' these rais'd Persons were before really dead; yet their Souls were not as yet gone to their Places prepared of God for them, but continued hovering about their Bodies, like the Flame about the Snuff of a Candle, with desires

——iterumq; revertiCorpora——

to be again rejoin'd to them. And withall my Heart let this Answer pass, if our Divines and Infidels can so agree upon it. As for my own Opinion, it is this, that these Miracles of Jesus are Parables, and that it was beside the Purpose of the Parable, and of the Evangelists to say any thing of the Place and State of the Soul upon its Separation from the Body; otherwise the Letter of their Stories is manifestly obnoxious to the Objection above, or the Deaths of these pretended rais'd Persons, upon Christian Principles, are questionable. But

[Pg 36]

6. And lastly, Let us consider the intrinsick Absurdities and Incredibilities of the several Stories of these three Miracles. And such Absurdities shall we find in them, that, if they had been intended as Testimonies of Jesus's divine Power, had never been inserted in their Narratives.

As to Jairus's Daughter, and her Resurrection from the dead, St. Hilary[292] hints, that there was no such Person as Jairus whose Name was fictitious, and coin'd with a spiritual Signification for the Use of the Parable; and he gives this Reason, and a good Reason it is, why he thought so, because it is elsewhere[293] intimated in the Gospel, that none of the Rulers of the Synagogues confessedly believed on Jesus. Is not here then a stumbling-Block at the Threshold of the Letter of this Story? But why did Jesus say, this Girl was but in a Sleep? If he was going to work a Miracle in her Resuscitation, he should not have call'd Death,[Pg 37] Sleep; but if others had been of a contrary Opinion, he should first have convinced them of the Certainty of her Death, before he did the great Work on her. And why did he charge the Parents of the Girl not to speak of the Miracle? If he meant it as Testimony of his divine Power, he should rather have exhorted them, in justice to himself to publish it, and make it well known. And why, as St. Ambrose[294] puts the Question, did he turn the People out of the House, before he would raise her? The more Witnesses are present at a Miracle, the better it is attested, and the more readily believed by others; and who should be present at the Miracle rather than those who were incredulous of Jesus's divine Power? Are not all these Circumstances, so many Absurdities, which, if they are not to be accounted for in the Mystery, are so far destructive of the Letter, as that it is Nonsense and Folly in our Divines to talk of a Miracle here, against Jesus's express Word and Prohibition to the contrary.

As to the Story of the Widow of Naim's Son, excepting what is before observed of[Pg 38] the shortness of the Time, in which he lay dead, and of the Unfitness of his Person to be rais'd before an Husband and Father of a Family, to the Comfort of his Wife and Children, (which are enough to overthrow the Credulity of the Miracle) I have here no more Fault to find in the Letter of it.

But the long Story of Lazarus is so brimful of Absurdities, that, if the Letter alone is to be regarded; St. John, who was then above a hundred, when he wrote it, had lived beyond his Reason and Senses, or he could not have committed them.

I have not Room here to make Remarks on all these Absurdities, which would be the Work of a Volume; but shall single out three or four of them at present, reserving the rest for another Opportunity, when the whole Story of this Miracle will appear to be such a Contexture of Folly and Fraud in its Contrivance, Execution, and Relation, as is not to be equall'd in all Romantick History; and our Divines will find themselves so distress'd upon the Dissection and Display of it, as that they must of Necessity allow this Story to be but a Parable; or, what's most grievous to think on, give up their Religion upon it.

[Pg 39]

First then, observe that Jesus is said to have wept and groan'd for the Death of Lazarus: But why so, says[295] St. Basil? Was not this an Absurdity to weep at all for the Death of him, whom he could, and was about to recover to Life again? Another Man may as reasonably grieve for the Absence of his Friend, whose Company and Presence he can retrieve in an Instant, as that Jesus should shed Tears for Lazarus in this Case. If Jesus could not or would not raise him from the dead, he ought not, as a Philosopher, who knows Man is born to die, to betray so much Weakness as to weep for him. Patience and Resignation unto God upon the Death of our dearest Friends and Relations is what all Philosophers have rightly taught; and Jesus, one would think, should have been the most Heroical Example of these Graces; and how came he to fail of it here? A Stoical Apathy had better became him than such childish and effeminate Grief, which not only makes him a mean and poor-spirited Mortal; but is a gross Absurdity and Incredibility upon Consideration of his Will and Power to fetch[Pg 40] Lazarus to Life again. If there be not, according to the Fathers, Mystery in these Tears of Jesus, they are a foolish and unnatural Prelude to a Farce, he was acting in the pretended Resuscitation of Lazarus.

Some antient Catholicks, not being apprised of the Mystery, were so offended at these Words, Jesus wept, that, as Epiphanius[296] says, they expung'd them out of their Bibles; and I wonder, they have not, before now, disturb'd the Faith of Ministers of the Letter, to the utter Rejection of the Miracle.

Secondly, Observe that John says, it was with a loud Voice, that Jesus call'd Lazarus forth out of his Cave. And why, I pray, a louder Voice than ordinary? Was dead Lazarus deafer than Jairus's Daughter, or the Widow's Son? Or was his Soul at so great a Distance from his Body, as he could not hear a still and low Voice? Some such silly Reason as this must be given for this loud Voice here; but how absurd it is according to the Letter, Infidels will judge, till Christians can assign a better. The dead can hear the Whisper of the Almighty, if Power go along with it,[Pg 41] as soon as the Sound of a Trumpet. St. John then should not have written of a loud Voice, unless he meant to adapt his Story to the Capacities and Conceptions of the Vulgar, who have no Apprehensions of God's Power, out of sensible and human Representations of it.

Thirdly, Because that a Miracle should be well guarded against all Suspicion of Fraud, I was thinking to make it an Absurdity, that the Napkin, before Jesus rais'd Lazarus, was not taken from his Face, that the Spectators might behold his mortified Looks, and the miraculous Change of his Countenance from Death unto Life. What Infidels think of this Circumstance I know not: I hope it is not with them a Token of Fraud and Imposture; tho' I must needs say, that if the Fathers did not let me in to the Mystery of the Napkin about Lazarus's Face when Jesus call'd him forth, I should not my self like it.

Fourthly, and lastly, Observe, St. John says, v. 45. that many of the Jews, who had seen the Things that Jesus did here; believed on him; and some of them, v. 46. who did not believe, went their Ways to the Pharisees and told them what Things Jesus had done in this pretended Miracle,[Pg 42] and how the Business was transacted: Whereupon the Chief Priests and Pharisees were so far incens'd as v. 53. from that Day forth they took Council together to put him to Death; and Ch. xii. 10. consulted, that they might put Lazarus also to Death. Jesus therefore (and his Disciples and Lazarus fled for it, for they) v. 54. walk'd no more openly among the Jews, but went thence into a Country near to the Wilderness (a convenient hiding Place) and there continued with his Disciples; otherwise in all Probability they had been all sacrificed.

I dare not argue upon these Circumstances, neither would I, for the Honour of Jesus have mention'd them; but that my old Friend, the Jewish Rabbi, who help'd me to the Satirical Invective against Jesus's Miracle of turning Water into Wine, has hence form'd an Objection against Lazarus's Resurrection, and sent me a Letter upon it, desiring me to publish it, and exhort the Clergy to answer it; otherwise he would clandestinely hand it about to the Prejudice of our Religion: Whereupon I, rather than Christianity should so suffer, do here publish it, and it is as follows.

"Sr. When we last discours'd on Jesus's Miracles, I promised to send you my Thoughts on Lazarus's Resurrection, which I look upon as a notorious Imposture,[Pg 43] and for the Proof of it, need go no farther, than to the Circumstances of its Story, which your Evangelist has related.

"If there had been an indisputable Miracle wrought in Lazarus's Resurrection; why were the Chief-Priests and Pharisees so incens'd upon it, as to take Council to put both Jesus and Lazarus to Death for it? Where was the Provocation? I can conceive none. Tho' the Jews were ever so canker'd with Malice and Hatred to Jesus before; yet such a most stupendous Miracle was enough to stop their Mouths, and turn their Hearts: Or if their Prejudices against Jesus were insuperable, and they hated him but the more for the Number and Greatness of his Miracles; yet why is poor Lazarus, inoffensive Lazarus, upon whom this good and great Work was wrought, an Object of their Hatred too? Your Divines are to give a credible and probable Account of this Matter, such a one as will comport with Reason and Sense; or we shall conclude, that it was Fraud, detected in this pretended Miracle, which justly provok'd the Indignation of our Ancestors.

"To say, what is all you can say, that it was downright Inhumanity, Barbarity and Brutality in the Jews to hate Lazarus[Pg 44] as well as Jesus, will not do here. Tho' this may pass with many Christians, who are ready to swallow, without chewing, any evil Reports of our Nation; yet it can't go down with reasonable and unprejudic'd Men, who must have other Conceptions of human Nature in all Ages and Nations, than to think it possible, that a Man, in Lazarus's Case, can be hated and persecuted for having had such a good and wonderful Work done on him. And why then was he hated and persecuted? I say, for this, and no other Reason, than because he was a Confederate with Jesus in the wicked Imposture, he was putting upon Mankind.

"But supposing, what is never to be granted, that the Jews of old were so inhuman, brutish, and barbarous as to hate and persecute Lazarus as well as Jesus for this Miracle; yet why did Jesus and his Disciples, with Lazarus, run away and abscond upon it? for they v. 54. walk'd no more openly among the Jews, but went thence into a Country near to the Wilderness, and there Jesus continued with his Disciples. Is not here a plain Sign of Guilt and of Fraud? Men, that have God's Cause, Truth and Power on their Side, never want Courage and Resolution[Pg 45] to stand to it. And however your Christian Priests may palliate the cowardly and timerous Conduct of Jesus and his Confederates in this Case; yet with me, it's like Demonstration, that there was a discover'd Cheat in the Miracle, or they would undauntedly have faced their Enemies, without Fears And Apprehensions of Danger from them.

"Our Ancestors then, who unquestionably detected the Fraud, were in the right on't to prosecute with Severity, the whole Party concern'd in it: And if they had aveng'd the Wickedness of it upon Lazarus as well as they did upon Jesus, I should have commended them for it. Whether such a monstrous Imposture, as was this pretended Miracle, happily discover'd does not call aloud for Vengeance and most exemplary Punishment; and whether any Nation of the World would suffer the like with Impunity, let any Man judge.

"For all the Reports of your Gospels, it is unnatural to hate a miraculous Healer of Diseases; and there must be somewhat supprest about the Inveteracy of the Jews to Jesus, or his healing Power, if it was so great as is imagined, must have reconciled them to him: But that they should hate not only Jesus for[Pg 46] raising the dead, but the Person rais'd by him, is improbable, incredible, and impossible.

"If Historians can parallel this Story of the Malignity of the Jews towards Jesus and Lazarus upon such a real Miracle, with any Thing equally barbarous and inhuman, in any other Sect or Nation; we will acknowledge the Truth of it against our ancient Nation: Or if such Inhumanity, abstractedly consider'd, be at all agreeable to the Conceptions any one can form of Human Nature in the most uncivilis'd and brutish People, we will allow our Ancestors, in this Case, to have been that People.

"Was such a real and indisputable Miracle, as this of Lazarus is supposed, to be wrought at this day in Confirmation of Christianity, I dare say, it would bring all us Jews, to a Man, into the Belief of it: And I don't think it possible, for any People to be so begotten, byass'd, and prejudiced, as not to be wrought on by it. Or if they would not part with their Interests and Prejudices upon it, they would have more Wit and Temper, than to break forth into a Rage against all or any of the Persons concern'd in it. And, for my Life, I can entertain no worse Thoughts of our old Nation.

[Pg 47]

"Supposing God should send an Ambassador at this day, who, to convince Christians of the Mischiefs and Inconvenience of an Hireling Priesthood, should work such a Miracle as was this of Lazarus's Resurrection, in the Presence of a multitude of Spectators; how would your Bishops and Clergy behave themselves upon it? Why, they would be as mute as Fishes; or if they did fret and grieve inwardly for the Loss of their Interests; yet they would have more Prudence (ask them else,) than to show their Anger openly, and persecute both Agent and Patient for it. Wherefore then are they so censorious and uncharitable as to preach and believe another Notion and Doctrine of our Ancestors?

"But if a false Prophet, for the subversion of an Hireling Priesthood, should, in spite to the Clergy, counterfeit such a Miracle, and be detected in the Operation; how then would Priests and People, Magistrates and Subjects behave upon it? Why, they would be full of Indignation, and from that day forth would take Council to put the Impostor and his Confederate to Death, of which they would be most deserving; and if they did not abscond and fly for it, like Jesu[Pg 48] and his Disciples to a Wilderness in the Country to hide themselves, the Rage of the Populace would hardly wait the Leisure of Justice to dispatch and make terrible Examples of them. Was not this exactly the Case of Jesus's Imposture in the Resurrection of Lazarus; and of the Punishment he was threaten'd with, and afterwards most justly underwent for it?

"Mankind may be in some Cases very obdurate, and so hard of Belief, as to stand it out against Sense, Reason and Demonstration: But I will not think worse of our Ancestors than of the rest of Mankind; or that they any more than others would have withstood a clear and indisputable Miracle in Lazarus's Resuscitation. Such a manifest Miracle, let it be wrought for what End and Purpose, we can possibly imagine, would strike Men with Awe and Reverence; and none could hate and persecute the Author of the Miracle; least He who could raise the dead, should exert his Power against themselves, and either wound or smite them dead with it. For which Reason, the Resurrection of Lazarus, on the certain Knowledge of our Ancestors, was all Fraud, or they would have reverenc'd and adored the Power of him, that did it.

[Pg 49]

"It may be true, what John says, that many of the Jews, who had seen the Things that Jesus did, believed on him, that is, believed that he had wrought here a great Miracle: But who were these? the ignorant and credulous, whom a much less juggler than Mr. Fawkes could easily impos'd on. But on the other hand, it is certain, according to Christian Commentators, that some of them did not believe the Miracle, but went their ways to the Pharisees and told them what Things Jesus had done, that is, told them, after what manner the Intrigue was managed; and complain'd of the Fraud in it. How they came to suspect and discover the Fraud, was not John's Business to relate; and for want of other ancient Memorials, we can only guess at it. Perhaps they discern'd some motion in Lazarus's Body, before the Word of Command, to come forth, was given; perhaps they discover'd some Fragments of the Food, that for four days in the Cave, he had subsisted on. But however this was, they could not but take Notice of the Napkin about his Face all the while; which Jesus, to prevent all suspicion of Cheat, should have first order'd to be taken off, that his mortify'd Countenance might be view'd,[Pg 50] before the miraculous Change of it to Life was wrought. This neglect in Jesus (which I wonder John had no more Wit than to hint at) will be a lasting Objection to the Miracle. Jesus was wiser, than not to be aware of the Objection, which he would have obviated, if he durst, by a Removal of the Napkin, to the satisfaction of all Spectators there present. Because this was not done, we Jews now deny, there was any Miracle wrought; and, whether our Unbelief upon this Circumstance be not well grounded, we appeal to Christian Priests themselves, who must own, that if there was a Miracle here, the Matter was ill conducted by Jesus, or foolishly related by his Evangelist."

"It is a sad Misfortune, that attends our modern enquiry after Truth, that there are no other Memorials extant of the Life and Miracles of Jesus, than what are written by his own Disciples. Not only old Time has devour'd, but Christians themselves, (which in the Opinion of the impartial makes for us) when they got Power into their Hands, wilfully destroy'd many Writings of our Ancestors, as well as of Celsus and Porphiry and others, which they could not answer;[Pg 51] otherwise I doubt not but they would have given us clear Light into a the Imposture of Lazarus's Resurrection: But if Jesus, according to his own Evangelists, was arraign'd for a Deceiver and Blasphemer, in pretending to the Sonship and Power of God by his Miracles; in all Probability this Piece of Fraud in Lazarus was one Article of the Indictment against him; and what makes it very likely, is that the Chief Priests and Pharisees, from the Date of this pretended Miracle, took Council together to put him to Death, not clandestinely or tumultuously to murder him, but judicially to punish him with Death, which, if they proved their Indictment by credible and sufficient Witnesses, he was most worthy of.

"As it is plain from the Story in John, that there was a Dispute among the By-standers at Lazarus's Resurrection, whether it was a real Miracle or not; so it is the Opinion of us Jews, which is of the Nature of a Tradition, that the Chief-Priests and civil Magistrates of Bethany, for the better Determination of the Dispute and quieting of the Minds of the People, requir'd that Jesus should re-act the Miracle upon another Person, there lately dead and buried. But Jesus[Pg 52] declining this Test of his Power, the whole Multitude of Believers as well as of Unbelievers before, question'd the Resurrection of Lazarus; and were highly incens'd against both him and Jesus for the Deceit in it. And this was one Reason among others of that vehement and Universal Outcry and Demand, at Jesus's Tryal, for his Crucifixion. I'll not answer for the Certainty of this Tradition or Opinion, but as the Expedient was obvious, so it has the Face of Truth and Credibility; and for the Proof of it, I need only appeal to Christian Priests and Magistrates; whether, under a Dispute of a Miracle of that Consequence, they would not require, for full Satisfaction, it should be acted over again; and, if the Juggler refused, whether there would not be a general Clamour of People of all Ranks for his Execution.

"Matthew, Mark and Luke, who knew as much of this Sham-Miracle as John, had not the Confidence to report it; because, when they wrote, many Eye-Witnesses of the Fraud were alive to disprove and contradict them; therefore they confined their Narratives to Jesus's less juggling Tricks, that had pass'd more current: But after the Jewish State[Pg 53] was dissolved, their judicial Records were destroy'd, and every Body dead that could confute him, John ventures abroad the Story of this Miracle; and if the good Providence of God had not infatuated him, in the Insertion of the Circumstances here observed, it might have pass'd through all Generations to come, as well as it has done for many past, for a grand Miracle.

"Thus, Sir, have you a few of my Thoughts on the pretended Miracle of Lazarus's Resurrection. I have more to bestow on it, but that I would not be tedious. There's no need to argue against the other two Resurrection-Stories. You know omne majus includit minus, and if the greatest of the three Miracles be an Imposture, the two less ones of Consequence are Artifice and Fraud. And rather than the Miracle of Lazarus shall stand its Ground, I'll have t'other Bout at it from some other Circumstances; the Consideration of which will make it as foolish and wicked an Imposture, as ever was contrived and transacted in the World; such a wicked Imposture of most pernicious Consequence to the Welfare of the Publick, that it is no Wonder, the People, by an unanimous Voice, call'd for the Releasement[Pg 54] of Barabbas, a Robber and Murderer, before Jesus. I don't suppose these Arguments against this Miracle will be convincing of your Christian Clergy, who are hired to the Belief of it. But however, a Bishop of many thousands a Year to believe, can't in Conscience deny, that the Arguments above are a sufficient Justification of our Jewish Disbelief of it.

"If you, Sir, should write a Discourse gainst the Letter of the Story of Jesus's Resurrection, I beg of you to accept of a few of my Conceptions on that Head, which, I promise you, shall be out of the common Road of thinking. Your Divines think they have exhausted that Subject, and absolutely confuted all Objections that can be made against it, but are much mistaken. Sometimes we Jews dip into their Writings on this Head, and always smile with Indignation at their foolish Invectives against the Blindness of the Eyes, and Hardness of the Hearts of our Ancestors. If they would but favour us with a Liberty to write for our selves, a reasonable Liberty, which in this Philosophical Age we don't despair of, especially under so wise just and good a Civil Administration, as this Nation is happily bless'd with, we[Pg 55] would cut them out some more Work, which they are not aware of. In the mean Time I am your assured Friend,"

N.N.

So ends the Letter of my Friend, the Jewish Rabbi, which consists of calm and sedate Reasoning, or I would not have publish'd it; for I am resolv'd he shall no more impose upon me with his ludicrous and bantering Stuff, like his Satirical Invective against Jesus's Miracle of turning Water into Wine, so offensive to our Godly Bishops. And because it consists of calm and sedate Reasoning, which Bishop Smalbroke allows of, I hope his Lordship will take it into Consideration, and write an Answer to it, which I, without the Help of the Mystery, can't do.

If the foresaid Letter be offensive to our Clergy, who don't judge it meet that the Jews should take this Liberty to write against the Miracles of our Saviour, and in Vindication of their own disbelief of Christianity, I beg of them, for the Love of Jesus, not to let their Displeasure be visibly seen; because the Jews will then laugh in their Sleeves, and perhaps openly insult and triumph upon it: But if they will privately acquaint me with their Displeasure[Pg 56] at it, I'll promise them to hold no more Correspondence with such Jewish Rabbies; neither will I ever hereafter publish any other Objections against Christ's Religion and Miracles, than what come from the Hotentots and Pawawers: and then it will be strange, if our dignified Clergy, of most grave and demure Looks, can't solidly confute the worst, that such ignorant and illiterate People can urge against them.

And thus have I done with my Objections against the Letter of these three Miracles. If our Divines shall think there is little or nothing of Force in them; then an Answer, which I should be glad to see, may the more easily be made to them. As for my part, without being conceited of the Acuteness and Strength of any of the Objections, I think it impossible satisfactorily to reply to them, without having Recourse to the Opinions of the Fathers, that these three Miracles, whether they were ever litterally transacted or not, are now but emblematical Representations of mysterious and more wonderful Operations to be perform'd by Jesus.

To the Fathers then let us go for their mystical Interpretation of these Miracles. St. Augustin, in his Introduction to a Sermon on the Widow of Naim's Son, says[Pg 57][297] thus, "There are some so silly as to stand amazed at the corporal Miracles of Jesus, and have no Consideration of his greater and spiritual Miracles, signified by them: but others who are wiser can hear of the Things that Jesus did on Men's Bodys, without being astonish'd at them, chusing rather to contemplate with Admiration his more wonderful Works on Men's Souls; after the similitude of bodily Miracles. And these are the Christians that conform their Studies to the Will of our Lord; who would have his corporal Miracles, spiritually interpreted: For He wrought not Miracles in the Flesh, for the sake of such Miracles abstractedly consider'd; but[Pg 58] that, if they were surprising to some Mens Senses, they should be more astonishing to the Understanding of others, who apprehend the spiritual Meaning of them. And they who by Contemplation can attain to the mystical Signification of Jesus's Miracles, are the best Scholars and most learn'd Disciples in his Church and School. And, (speaking of the Absurdity of Jesus's cursing the Figtree according to the Letter) presently after says, that this he observ'd, that he might persuade his Hearers to think, that our Lord Jesus therefore wrought Miracles, that he might signify somewhat by them, which he would have his Disciples to learn and consider of. Come now, says he, and let us see what we are mistically and spiritually to understand by the Stories of the three Persons rais'd from the dead."

There are two Ways, that the Fathers took in the moral and mystical Interpretation of these Miracles: One was from the Number three, and their Difference in Magnitude. According to which they said with St. Augustin[298] that these three[Pg 59] sorts of dead Persons, so rais'd to Life, are Figures of three sorts of Sinners, whom Jesus raiseth from the death of Sin to the Life of Righteousness. They who have conceiv'd Sin in their Hearts, and have not brought it forth into Act; are figured by Jairus's Daughter, who lay dead in the House of her Father, and was not taken forth to her Burial. Others, who after Cogitation and Consent, pass into actual Sin are figured by the Young Man, carried towards his Grave. But those Sinners, who are habituated and long accustom'd to Sin, are like Lazarus bury'd, and in a stinking Condition under the Corruption[Pg 60] of it; whom Jesus, for all that, with the loud Voice of the Prædication of his Gospel, will call forth out of the Death and Grave of their Sins to a new Life. So does St. Augustin make these three dead Persons and their Resurrections, Emblems of the said three Sorts of Sinners, who are dead in Trespasses and Sins, and by the Power of Jesus quicken'd to a Life of Righteousness. And to this Opinion of St. Augustin, do St. Ambrose, Eusebius Gallicanus, and Venerable Bede agree. And according to this Notion of these Miracles they descend to a particular Explication of the several Parts of their Stories. As to give you two or three Instances.

The People who were turn'd out of the House, upon the raising of Jairus's Daughter, which is an Absurdity according to the Letter are, says[299] Bede, a Multitude of wordly and wicked Thoughts, which, except they are excluded from the Secrets of the Heart, are a Hindrance of the Resurrection of a Sinner to a new Life.

[Pg 61]

The Bearers of the Young Man[300] to his Burial are Vices, evil Spirits, Hæreticks, and Seducers; and the Widow, his Mother, to whom he was restored, is the Church, who mourns for the Death of such Sinners, as are typified by that Young Man.

Jesus's weeping for dead Lazarus, which is an Absurdity according to the Letter, is a Sign[301] of the deplorable State, that habitual Sinners are in, enough to excite the Sorrows and Mournings of good Christians, who have the Spirit of Christ, for them. And the Stone that lay at the Grave of Lazarus, is[302] a figure of the Hardness of the Heart of such a Sinner[Pg 62] which must be taken away before Jesus will call him to a new Life. So do the Fathers moralise and allegorise every Minute Circumstance of these three Miracles, as any one, who will consult them, may find, and save me the Trouble of a tedious Recital of their Authorities.

But the other mystical Way of interpreting these three Miracles is by making them Types of three great Events at the Time of Christ's spiritual Advent. Accordingly the raising of Jairus's Daughter is a Type of the Conversion of the Jews at that Day, as Eusebius Gallicanus[303] and venerable Bede[304] and others expound it. By Jairus, the Ruler of a Synagogue; is meant Moses[305]; and by his Daughter is to be understood the Jewish Church, which, being at present in a State of Spiritual Death, will be revived and converted in the Perfection of Time. And to the mystical Resurrection or Restitution of the Jewish Synagogue, call'd Jairus's[Pg 63] Daughter, will Jesus come[306] at the same Time he heals the Woman of the Church of her Issue of Blood. And this is the Reason that the Stories of these two Miracles are blended together by the Evangelists, with their synchronical Numbers of the Age of the Girl and of the Disease of the Woman; because they are Types of that blessed Scene of Affairs at the Conversion of the Jews, when the Fulness of the Gentiles is come in. Concerning which blessed state of the Church, Origen[307] says, Jesus wrought many Miracles, by Way of Type and Figure.

Among all the Miracles that Jesus wrought, and are recorded by the Evangelists, I think, as far as I have had Occasion to observe, the Fathers are most scanty in their Interpretations of that of the[Pg 64] Widow of Naim's Son: Excepting what is before noted of his being a figure of a Sinner dead in actual, tho' not habitual Sin, I find very little. But if Origen's Comments on this Miracle had been extant, I dare say he would have given us this following Interpretation of it. This Widow, he would have call'd the Church; and her only Son or masculine Offspring, he would have call'd the Spiritual Sense of the Scriptures, which is now dead, and that the Ministers of the Letter, who are his Bearers, are for interring him within the Earth of the Letter: But Jesus, upon his Spiritual Advent will put a stop to the Intention of such Bearers, by reviving the Spiritual Sense of the Scriptures; and by restoring it, like a quicken'd Son, to the Comfort of his Mother, the Church; who has been in a sorrowful and lamentable Condition upon the Death and Want of it: This, I am sure, would be Origen's Interpretation of this Miracle, which, if I had Room here, by a little Circumlocution, I could prove.

As to Lazarus's Resurrection, it is in the Opinion of the Fathers[308] a Type of the[Pg 65] general and mystical Resurrection of Mankind in the Perfection of Time. But this is a most copious Subject; and unless I could here throughly handle it, I had much better say nothing.

And thus have I done with the three Resurrection Stories. If the Convocation, next Session, would determine by an Orthodox Vote, whether Jesus rais'd any more, than the said three Persons, from the dead or not; I would present them with a new and more entertaining Chain of Thoughts against these Miracles; such a Chain of Thoughts, as, upon the Conclusion, let them hold which Side of the Question, they please, will necessarily induce us to hold the mystical Meaning of these Miracles, or to grant that Jesus rais'd none from the dead at all.

My next and last Discourse on Jesus's Miracles shall be against the Letter of the Story of his own Resurrection, in which, if our Bishops will keep their Temper and Patience, till I publish it, I'll cut out such a Piece of Work for our Boylean[Pg 66] Lectures, as shall hold them tug, so long as the Ministry of the Letter and an Hireling Priesthood shall last. If Christ be not risen, then, according to the Inference of St. Paul, is their Preaching vain; and why should the People be any longer charg'd with the Maintenance of an ignorant and idle Order of Men, to no Use and Purpose?

If I had not had Experience of it, I could never have believed that, for all the ludicrous Nature of these Discourses, our dignified Clergy could have been so foolish or malicious as to prosecute me for an Infidel and Blasphemer upon them. How a Man may be mistaken in himself! I took my self for a real Advocate for the Truth of Christianity; and was so vain as to imagine these Discourses tended to a Demonstration of Jesus's Messiahship: And tho' the Bishop of London may be of a contrary Opinion, yet I am still so conceited of my Ability to defend our Religion, that I'll stake my Life against his Bishoprick, which I'll not be troubled with, if I win it, that he can't form an Objection against Christianity, which I can't solidly confute, and make our Readers merry too, with his Weakness and Impertinence in it. But perhaps it may be unbecoming of his Lordship's Character, and against the[Pg 67] Grain, to make an Objection to that Religion, which he finds much temporal, as well as some spiritual Comfort in the Profession of; I will therefore descend to another Proposal, viz. If he'll but publish an Answer to the Jewish Rabbi's Letter in this Discourse, and vouchsafe me the pleasure of a Reply to him; then (to save the Civil Magistrate's Trouble) I will suffer any Punishment that in his Clemency he shall think fit to inflict on me, for what's past. Oh, what a Hazard do I here run of Life or Liberty!

Some Christians, in my Case, would think it a sad Misfortune to be odiously represented as an Infidel and Blasphemer; but I, in Temper and Principle, despise such Obloquies, Slanders and Defamations; and would not give a Rush to remove them, so long as I had the Answer of a good Conscience that I was undeserving of them: But considering, that it is the Duty of a Christian to seek the Peace and Friendship of all about him, and especially of our good Bishops, who, in Compassion to the Danger they think my Soul is in, have taken zealous and laudable Pains with the Civil Magistrate for my Conviction and Conversion; I do here, for the sake of a Reconciliation with their Lordships and other good People, make a formal[Pg 68] and solemn Confession of my Christian Faith, which tho' I don't express in the Words of the Apostical, Nicene or Athanasian Creeds; yet will do it in such Terms as will be a Demonstration that at the Bottom I am found as a Roch. Be it known then to all Christian People, that

Imprimis, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Ministry of the Letter of the Old and New Testament is downright Antichristianism.

Item, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Miracles of Jesus, as they are recorded by the Evangelists, litterally understood, are the lying Wonders of Antichrist.

Item, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that all opposition and Contradiction to spiritual and allegorical Interpretations of the Scripture, is the Sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

Item, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Ministry of the Spirits or allegorical Interpretations of the Law and the Prophets will be the Conversion of Jews and Gentiles.

[Pg 69]

Item, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Ministry of the Letter, and an Hireling-Priesthood have been the Cause of the Infidelity and Apostacy of these latter Times.

Item, I believe upon the Authority of the Fathers, that the Spirit and Power of Jesus will soon enter the Church and expel Hireling-Priests, who make Merchandise of the Gospel, out of her, after the manner he is suppos'd to have driven the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple.

These are a few Articles of that Faith, once deliver'd to the Saints of the primitive Church, which I firmly believe, and will earnestly contend for. Now I appeal to the Christian World, whether a Man of such a Faith, like Heart of Oak, can be an Infidel or Blasphemer. Upon this ingenuous Confession of my Faith, which I make by way of Atonement for my past supposed Errors and Offences, I hope the Bishops and all good Christian People will be reconciled to me.

St. James says, that Faith without Works is dead, and how a Man ought to show his Faith by his Works, without[Pg 70] which Faith is an empty and airy Nothing. Accordingly I am making what haste I can to show the Sincerity of my Faith by these my Works and Discourses of this Kind. And by the Grace of God, I hope our Bishops will find me as unmoveable as a Rock in the said Faith.

According to the foresaid Articles of this my Faith, I am so fully convinced, not only of the Error of the Ministry of the Letter, but of the Mischiefs and Inconveniences of an Hireling-Priesthood, that, having set my Shoulders to the Work, I am resolv'd, by the Help of God, to endeavour to give both a Lift out of this World. This is fair and generous Warning to our Clergy to sit fast, and look to their own Safety, or they may find me a stronger Man than they may be aware of. And tho' I don't expect long to survive the Accomplishment of so great and glorious a Work; yet I am delightfully ravish'd and transported with the Forethought and Contemplation of the Happiness of Mankind, upon the Extinction of Ecclesiastical Vermin, out of God's House; when the World will return to its Primogenial and Paradisaical State of Nature, Religion and Liberty; in which we shall be all taught of God, and have no need of a foolish and contentious Priest, hired to harangue[Pg 71] us with his Noise and Nonsense. Which blessed State of the World God of his infinite Mercy hasten, for the sake of our Spiritual Messiah, Mediator and Redeemer Jesus Christ. To whom be Glory for ever, Amen.

FINIS.

FOOTNOTES:

[270] Mat. ix. Mark v. Luke viii.

[271] Luke vii.

[272] John xi.

[273] Quot autem mortuos visibiliter suscitaverat quis novit? non enim omnia quæ fecit scripta sunt. Johannes hoc dicit, multa alia fecit Jesus, quæ si scripta essent, arbitror totum Mundum non posse Libros capere. Multi ergo sunt alii sino dubio suscitati, sed non frustra tres commemorati. In Serm. xcviii.

[274] John xxi. 25.

[275] Non autem vacat a Mysterio, quod, cum plures Dominus suscitaverat, tres tantum Evangelistæ eum suscitasse scripserunt. In Homil. Feriæ quintæ post Dominis. 4tam.

[276] Suscitaverat Dominus filiam Jairi Principis Synagogæ, sed adhuc mediante morte, adhuc viante Spiritu, adhuc Anima Claustra Tartari nesciente. Suscitavit & unicum Matris filium, sed sic ut retineret Pheretrum, ut anticiparet Sepulchrum, ut Corruptionem suspenderet, & præveniret fætorem; ut ante mortuo Vitam redderet, quam tota mortuus jura Mortis intraret. Circa Lazarum vero quod geritur totum singulare est, quem circa Vis tota Mortis impleta est. In Pet. Chrysol. Serm. lxiii.

[277] Inter omnia Miracula quæ fecit Dominus noster Jesu Christus, Lazari Resurrectio præcipue prædicatur. St. August. in Loc. Johan.

[278] Mirum videri potest Historiam hanc tam illustrem a Matthæo & Marco omissam. In Loc. Luc.

[279] Sed videtur mihi horum uterq; contentus fuisse uno Exemplo redditæ Vitæ in Jairi filia ex quo similia alia possunt intelligi. In Loc. Luc.

[280] Nondum perfecta Mors est in Puella. St. August. in Serm. xcviii.

[281] In Epist. prima ad Corinth. Cap. xxv.

[282] Quæri solet, cur hanc tam nobilem Historiam priores Evangelii scriptores non attigerint. Mihi hoc succurrit, cum illi scriberent, vixisse resuscitatum Lazarum, & periculum ei fuisse a judæis, si quod illi acciderat, palam vulgaretur. Nam etiam mox narratur C. xii. 10, ob hoc ipsum structas ei insidias. Quare visum illis hoc ad tempus subticeri posse, cum alia Exempla resuscitatorum suppeterent. At mortuo Lazaro, cum jam nemini Periculum ex rei Narratione fieri posset, additum hoc a Johanne in hac quasi prætermissorum Collectione. In Loc. Johan.

[283] The last of the three Evangelists writing but fifteen Years after our Lord's Ascension, might think it needless so mention a Miracle concerning a Person, living so near Jerusalem, where there was so great a Fame thereof, and so many living Witnesses. St. John, writing his Gospel, say the Ancients, above sixty Years after our Lord's Ascension, when by the Deaths of the Person, and most of the Witnesses that were present at his Resurrection, the Memory and Fame of it might be much impair'd, had great Reason to perpetuate the Memory of it, by this large Rehearsal of it. In Loc. Johan.

[284] Quin & illud inter traditiones reperimus triginta tum Annos natum fuisse Lazarum, cum a mortuis excitatus est; atq; idem ille postea triginta aliis annis vixit. In Hæres. lxvi. Sect. 34.

[285] Matt. xviii. 2.

[286] In Nicephor. Callist. Eccl. Hist. L. ii. c. 35.

[287] In Eccl. Hist. L. vii. c. 18.

[288] In Loc. Matthæi.

[289] Puellam ex illo Tumultu plangentium stupore correptam esse, non vero defunctam. In Homil. de Juri filia.

[290] In Loc. Matthæ.

[291] Atque ut miraculum divinæ Virtutis accresceret, dum Convivis interrogantibus tristia Loca pænarum, sedesq; alta nocte semper obscuras, Lazarus indicat diligenti narratione per ordinem. Diu quæsiti longisq; temporibus ignorati invenerunt tandem Inferi Proditotem. In Serm. cxvi. Append. St. August.

[292] Princeps hic, Lex esse intelligitur, quæ Dominum orat pro Plebe, quam ipsa Christo prædicata ejus Adventos Expectatione nutriverat, ut Vitam mortuæ reddat. Nam nullum Principem credidisse legimus, ex quo Persona hujus principis orantis merito in Typum aptabitur. In Loc. Matt.

[293] John vii. 48, and xii. 42.

[294] Quæ tamen tantæ diversitatis Causa? Supra publice Viduce filius suscitatur, hic removentur plures arbitri. In Loc. Luc.

[295] Qua igitur Ratione, qui tanta hæc erat facturus, id quod evenit, judicasset merito Lacrymis esse prosequendum? In Homil. de Gratiarum Actione.

[296] Lacrymatus est Jesus, quod aliquando erasum fuisse a Catholicis quibusdam scribit Epiphanius. Vid. Drusium in Loc. Johan.

[297] Quidam corporalia ejus Miracula stupentes, majora intueri non norunt. Quidam vero ea, quæ gesta audiunt in Corporibus nunc amplius in Animis admirantur.——Dominus enim noster Jesus Christus ea quæ faciebat corporaliter, etiam spiritaliter volebat intelligi; neque enim Miracula propter Miracula faciebat, sed ut illa quæ faciebat, mira essent Videntibus, vera essent Intelligentibus.——Alii & facta mirati & intellecta assecuti. Tales nos esse debemus in Schola Christi.——Hoc dixi (de ficu arefacta) ut persuaderem Dominum Jesum Christum ideo Miracula fecisse, ut aliquid illis Miraculis significaret; ut excepto eo, quod mira & magna & divina erant, aliquid inde etiam disceremus. Videamus ergo quid nos discere voluit in tribus mortuis, quos suscitavit. In Serm. xcviii.

[298] Ista tria Genera Mortuorum, sunt tria Genera Peccatorum, quos hodie suscitat Christus.——Sunt ergo instar filiæ Synagogæ Principis, qui peccatum intus in Corde babent, in facto nondum habent. Condemnatur Consensus ad Iniquitatem; respiratur ad Salutem atq; Justitiam. Surgit mortuus in Domo, reviviscit Cor in Cogitationis Secreto. Facta est ista Resurrectio Animæ mortuæ intus intra Latebras Conscientiæ, tanquam intra Domesticos Parietes.——Alii post Consensum eunt in factum, tanquam efferentes mortuum, ut quod latebat in Secreto, appareat in publico. Nonne illi juveni dictam est, Tibi dico, surge & redditus est Matri; sic qui jam fecerit, si forte admonitus & commotus Verbo Veritatis ad Christi Vocem resurgit, vivus redditur Ecclesiæ.——Qui autem faciendo quod malum est, etiam mala Consuetudine se implicant, tales Consuetudine maligna pressi, tanquam sepulti, ita sepulti ut de Lazaro dictum est, jam putet. In Serm. xcviii.

[299] Cum ejecta esset Turba, intravit. Moraliter non resurgit Anima, quæ intrinsecus jacet mortua, nisi prius a secretioribus Cordis excludatur inopportuna sæcularium Cogitationum Multitudo. In Loc. Matt.

[300] Mali isti Portitores, qui ad sepeliendum hominem ferunt, sunt Vitia & maligni spiritas, Hæretici & seductores. Hos enim nisi Dominus sisteret, quoscunq; semel acciperent, sepulturæ & æternæ Damnationi traderent. Suscitatus igitur Adolescens sedet, loquitur & Matri redditur, quia ad Penitentiam conversus in Ecclesiæ pace quiescit, Dei Magnalia loquitur, sua peccata confitetur; & Ecclesiæ reconciliatur. Euseb. Gallic. in Homil. Feriæ quinta post Domin. 4tam.

[301] Et lacrymatus est Jesus. Lacrymemur igitur & nos pro omnibus illis, quos in Fætore Vitiorum jacere sentimus. Euseb. Gallic. in Homil. Feriæ 5ta post Domin. 4tam.

[302] Lapis autem revolutus a Monumento significat Infidelitatis Duritiam ab Hominum Corde submotam. Theop. Antioch. in Loc. Johan.

[303] Quod enim tunc temporis factum est in una Puella, hoc in sine Temporum futurum est, ut fiat in tota Sonagoga. In Homil. Feriæ 5ta post Domin. 4tam.

[304] Synagoga circa finem sæculi erit restituta saluti. In Loc. Matt.

[305] Jairus illuminatus vel illuminans, Moses intelligitur. Bed. in Loc. Mat.

[306] Ad hanc ergo Principis filiam dum properat Dei Verbum, ut salvos faceret filios Isræl, sancta Ecclesia de Gentibus congregata, quæ inferiorum Lapsu Criminium deperibat, paratam aliis fide præripuit Sanitatem. St. Ambros. in Loc. Luc. Quod vero post restitutam immundæ Mulieri Valetudinem, defuncta Puella a mortuis restituitur; ne hoc quidem ab exquisita Allegoria alienum. Nam Reliquiæ salvæ fiant, juxta Apostolum, cum ingressa fuerit Gentium Plenitudo. Theop. Ceram. in Homil. de Jairi filia.

[307] Quarum Rerum Causa multa fuere Jesu Miracula. In Johan. Cap. XI.

[308] Per Lazarum Genus humanum ostenditur. Theop. Antioch. in Loc. Johan. Nostra Resurrectio figuratur per Lazari Resurrectionem.——Spelunca sive Sepulchrum Lazari Litteram Legis umbratilem designat.——Magna Voce clamavit Jesus, id est, Prædicatio Evangelii per quam humana Natura Peccatorum Vinculis & in Sepulchro Infidelitatis jacens vocatur ad Vitam. Theop Ceram. in Homil. de Lazaro.


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