Freethought Archives > Thomas Woolston > Six Discourses on Miracles

[Pg ii]

A SIXTH

DISCOURSE

ON THE

MIRACLES

OF OUR

SAVIOUR,

In View of the Present Controversy between Infidels and Apostates.


Jamque Opus exegi,——


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.

MDCCXXIX.

[Price One Shilling.]


[Pg iii]

TO THE

Right Reverend Father in God,

JOHN,

Lord Bishop of Oxford.

My Lord,

When the following Discourse was finish'd and ready for the Press, I consider'd to what Bishop the Dedication of it would be most acceptable (for I am resolv'd that none but Bishops as yet shall have the Honour of my Dedications) and[Pg iv] I had not long ponder'd upon the Matter, before I hit upon your Lordship, who must needs be pleas'd with this Discourse, because of the Advantage, that you, as well as my self, in the End, will reap by it.

By Virtue of your Professorship at Oxford, you, my Lord, are a Moderator at theological Disputations, as I am here: And whether the Execution of your Office be as troublesome as mine is, I know not: But if the Design of this Discourse takes Place, we shall find that modern Controversies about Religion are all vain; and thereupon be both of us soon eas'd of the Trouble of our Moderations at them.

It may be, my Lord, you are not so weary of your Moderatorship, as I am: Besides, that you are better paid for your Pains, your Disputants are more amicable, and, in the midst of their Disputes, more tractable: Tho' they may warmly contend, at the present, for and against the Point[Pg v] in Debate; yet like Lawyers who are no less zealous for their Clients in the Day, they commonly agree to drink a Bottle together at Night, and go to Bed, good Friends. And this is very well done of them.

But my Disputants, my Lord, call'd Infidels and Apostates, at whose Controversy I have the Trouble, by the Appointment of the Fathers, to preside, are more stubborn, turbulent and refractory. What ill Treatment they would give each other, if it was in their Power, I know not: But my Apostates, since they can't be aveng'd on their Adversaries, are full of Resentment against their Moderator, because I am not altogether partial to their Side; and how I shall escape their Indignation, God alone knows.

Whatever the Clergy, my Lord, whom I dignify with the Title of Apostates, may think, I look upon my self as a notable[Pg vi] Moderator of the Controversy; I have shewn them all the Favour I can in it, and would have brought them off with Honour, but for a little Flaw, here discover'd, in the Foundation of their Church, which, for the Determination of our Disputes, must be confess'd and granted.

If your Lordship, upon reading this Discourse, should be of the same Mind with me, I beg of you to stroak the Clergy into Temper, Patience and Compliance: Tell them, they have been long orthodox and glorious Victors over Infidels, and that it would be now an Act of Generosity to yield to them in a small Point; upon which such a Pacification would ensue, as nothing hereafter would be able to dissolve.

But I have another Favour, my Lord, here to crave of you, viz. that you would be pleas'd to persuade my old Friend, the Bishop of London, to stay[Pg vii] at Home this Lent, and keep to his Prayers and Fasting, for the casting out a certain Kind of ——, that by Fits he's unhapily troubled with; or upon the Publication of this Discourse, I shall be in Danger of being soon knapp'd for it.

If your Lordship will do me that Favour, then I will do you as good a Turn; and praise you for your Doctrine of Passive Obedience, preach'd at the Coronation: Tho' many may laugh at your Revival of that Doctrine, saying the Clergy upon an Occasion, which our most excellent Sovereign will never give them, would again have Recourse to their Reserves and Distinctions; yet I say it was well done of your Lordship to preach it, that the Tongues and the Hands (to say nothing of the Hearts) of the Clergy might go together in Subscriptions to Articles and Homilies; and so avoid that Prevarication and Inconsistency, which some now have no more Wit than to charge them with.

[Pg viii]

So not questioning your Lordship's Approbation of this Discourse and the Dedication; nor doubting but you'll make me as bountiful a Recompence for it, as any of my other Episcopal Patrons have done; I subscribe my self,

Feb. 15th
1728-9

My Lord,
The Admirer of your
Passive Obedience Sermon,
Thomas Woolston.


[Pg 1]

A SIXTH

DISCOURSE

ON THE

MIRACLES

OF OUR

SAVIOUR, &c.

Here goes my sixth and last Discourse on Jesus's Miracles; the Subject whereof is the literal Story of his own Resurrection; which, according to the Proposition in Hand, I am to shew to consist of Absurdities, Improbabilities and Incredibilities. And I hope our Bishops will quietly permit the Publication of this Discourse, especially[Pg 2] if I assure them that I mean nothing worse by it, than to make way for the understanding what the Fathers write of the mystical Resurrection of Jesus out of the Grave of the Letter of the Law and the Prophets; of which mystical Resurrection of our spiritual Jesus, the Evangelical Story of the Resurrection of a carnal Christ is but mere Type and Shadow.

I am so far from designing any Service to Infidelity by this Discourse, that I aim at the Accomplishment of some of St. John's Apocalyptical Visions. The Fathers say that a Church, built on the Letter of the Scriptures, particularly on the Letter of Jesus's Miracles, is Babylon; and that antiliteral Arguments and mystical Interpretations will be the Downfal of her. Whether there is any Truth in this Opinion of the Fathers, I am minded to make the Experiment; and tho' I should bring the old House of the Church over my Head, and be crush'd to Pieces in its Ruins, I can't forbear it: But however, I would advise the Clergy to make Haste and come out of Babylon, for Fear of the worst; or they, who upon the Authority of the Fathers are the Merchants of Babylon, will weep[309] and mourn upon her[Pg 3] Fall, because none will buy their Merchandize of the Letter any more. Dear Jesu, that such a Student as I am in the Revelations of St. John, and an Interpreter of them too, upon the Authority of the Fathers, should be charg'd with Blasphemy and Infidelity!

So to Work I went; and I had not been long musing by myself, how to sap this Foundation of the Church, before I was sensible of my own Insufficiency for it. Whereupon I sent to my old Friend, the Jewish Rabbi, for his Thoughts on this grand Miracle of Jesus's Resurrection, which he gave me some Promise of. But I desired him to forbear all Ludicrousness, Satire and Banter, for fear of Offence: For tho' our Clergy liked Volumes of Jests and Facetiousness, if they were discharg'd against Jews, Turks, and Infidels; yet when they were levell'd at Ministers of the Letter, the Case was alter'd, as quoth Plowden, and they were not to be borne with. Therefore he was to remember that Decency, Seriousness and Calmness of Argument, required by the Bishop of London[310] or I durst not print it.

In Compliance with my Desires he sent me the following Letter, which, having[Pg 4] purg'd it of a few Puns and Cunundrums, because all Appearance of Wit, as of Evil, was to be abstain'd from, I here publish, and it runs thus.

SIR,

According to your Request, I here send you my Thoughts on Jesus's Resurrection, in which I shall be shorter than I would be, because of the customary Bounds of your Discourses.

The Controversy between us Jews and you Christians about the Messiah has hitherto been of a diffusive Nature: But as the Subject of this is the Resurrection of your Jesus; so, by my Consent, we'll now reduce the Controversy to a narrow Compass, and let it turn intirely on this grand Miracle and Article of your Faith. If your Divines can prove Jesus's Resurrection against the following Objections, then I will acknowledge him to be the Messiah, and will turn Christian, otherwise he must still pass with us for an Impostor and false Prophet.

I have often lamented the Loss of such Writings, which our Ancestors unquestionably dispers'd against Jesus, because of the clear Sight they would give us, into the Cheat and Imposture of his Religion.[Pg 5] But I rejoice and thank God, there is little or no Want of them, to the Point in Hand. For I had not long meditated on the Story of Jesus's Resurrection, as your Evangelists have related it, but I plainly discern'd it to be the most notorious and monstrous Imposture, that ever was put upon Mankind. And if you please to attend to my following Arguments, which require no Depth of Judgment and Capacity to apprehend, I am persuaded that you and every one disinterested, will be of the same Mind too.

To overthrow and confute the Story of this monstrous and incredible Miracle, I was thinking once to premise an Argument of the Justice of the Sentence denounc'd against and executed upon Jesus, who was so far from being the innocent Person, you Christians would make of him, that, as may easily be proved, he was so grand a Deceiver, Impostor and Malefactor, as no Punishment could be too great for him. But this Argument (which I reserve against a Day of perfect Liberty, to publish by it self in Defence of the Honour and Justice of our Ancestors) would be too long for the Compass of this Letter; and therefore I pass it by, tho' it would give Force to my following Objections; it being hard and even impossible to imagine,[Pg 6] that God would vouchsafe the Favour of a miraculous Resurrection to one, who for his Crimes deservedly suffer'd and underwent Death.

But waving, I say, that Argument for the present, which of itself would be enough to prejudice a reasonable Man against the Belief of Jesus's Resurrection; I will allow Jesus to have been a much better Man, than I believe him to have been; or as good a one in Morals as your Divines do suppose him; and will only consider the Circumstances of the Evangelical Story of his Resurrection; from which, if I don't prove it to have been the most bare-fac'd Imposture that ever was put upon the World, I deserve for the Vanity of this Attempt, a much worse Punishment, than he for his Frauds endured.

I have sometimes wonder'd, considering the Nature and Heinousness of Jesus's Faults, for which he dy'd, that our Chief Priests and Pharisees had any Regard to his Prediction (which was so like a Bambouzlement of the Populace) that he was to rise again the third Day after his Crucifixion. There's no other Nation in the World, which would not have slighted such a vain Prognostication of a known Impostor. Let him foretell with ever so much Confidence[Pg 7] his speedy Return to Life, I dare say, any other Magistrates of ordinary Prudence would have despised him for a presumptuous Enthusiast: But, when I reflected on the Imposture of Lazarus's Resurrection, and of what pernicious Consequence it had like to have proved to the Peace and Welfare of our Nation, if it had not been happily discover'd, my Wonder here ceas'd; and I as much admire now the Wisdom, Caution and Circumspection of our Chief Priests against all possible Fraud and Deceit in the foretold Resurrection of Jesus. Tho' Jesus himself, the Head of the Confederacy, and prime Projector of the design'd Cheat in the Case of Lazarus was cut off, yet his Associates were still numerous; and it was not impossible, but they might concert a Project of a counterfeited Resurrection of him, in Accomplishment of his Prophecy, that might be of more fatal Consequence, and tend to such Confusions and Distractions among the People, as would not be soon quell'd and quieted. Whereupon our Chief Priests very prudently consider of Precautions against Cheat here, and wisely make Application to Pilate the Governour, that proper and effectual Measures may be taken against a false and feign'd Resurrection, for Fear of the ill Effects of it.[Pg 8] And one of them, as the Spokesman of their Company, seems, according to Matthew, Ch. xxviii. to have made the Speech following.

SIR, "We remember that this Deceiver and Impostor Jesus, who was yesterday crucified, and justly suffer'd Death for his Blasphemy and many Delusions of the People (that were of bad Consequence, and might have been of much worse, if he had not been timely brought to condign Punishment) said repeatedly before, that notwithstanding the Death he was to undergo he should rise again to Life the third Day after. It is not that we are at all apprehensive of such a wonderful and miraculous Event, which knowing him to have been a false Prophet as well as a deceitful Juggler, we have no Fears nor Belief of. But as it is not long since, that the Inhabitants in and about Bethany had like to have been fatally deluded and imposed on by him, in the pretended Resuscitation of Lazarus, one of his Disciples and Confederates in Iniquity; so it is not altogether impossible nor improbable but his Disciples and Accomplices, who are many, may project a feign'd Resurrection of Jesus (in[Pg 9] Accomplishment of his Prediction) by stealing his Body away, and pretending he is risen from the dead. Should such a Sham-Miracle be contrived amongst them, and cunningly executed, it would be πλανη (not an Error but) an Imposture of worse Consequence to our Nation and Religion, than the former in Lazarus could have been, if it had never been detected: We crave therefore the Favour of your Excellency, to give Command for the making his Sepulchre sure, till the third Day is past, that neither his dead Body may be taken away, and a Resurrection pretended; nor a living one slipt into its Place, and a Miracle counterfeited on that Day, when we will be present at the opening of the Sepulchre, and give Satisfaction to the People of his being a false Prophet."

Whether Pilate was at all intent on the Prevention of Fraud in this Case, or would not willingly have connived at it, to increase the Divisions and Distractions of our then unhappy Nation, may be question'd: But the Request of our Chief Priests was so reasonable, and their Importunities so urgent, that he could not resist them; and therefore order'd them a Watch for the[Pg 10] Sepulchre, which they might make as sure, as they could, against Fraud and Imposture, till the third Day.

Whereupon our Chief Priests deliberate, what Measures were fittest to be taken to this Purpose. And as I can't, and don't believe any Man else can, devise any better for the Security of the Sepulchre against Fraud, than what they took; so I admire and applaud their Prudence, Circumspection, and Precaution in the Case. They seal'd the Stone at the Mouth of the Sepulchre, and placed a Guard of Soldiers about it; which were Two such certain Means for the Prevention or Detection of Cheat in a Resurrection, as are not to be equall'd by any other.

They seal'd the Stone of the Sepulchre, which, tho' it was no Security at all against Violence, yet was an absolute one against Fraud. How the Stone which fitted the Mouth of the Sepulchre, as a Door does the Entrance into a Room, was seal'd, I need not describe. The Use and Manner of sealing the Doors of Closets, of Chests, and of Papers is common; and as it is an obvious Expedient, for the Satisfaction of the Signators, against Deceit; so it has been an antient as well as a modern Practice. Darius, King of Babylon,[311] seal'd the[Pg 11] Door of the Den of Lions, wherein Daniel was cast, with his own Signet: And wherefore did he so? For the Satisfaction of himself and of his Courtiers, when he came again to open and compare the Signature with his Signet, that no Art nor Artifice had been used for the Preservation of Daniel. So our Chief Priests seal'd the Stone of Jesus's Sepulchre, which they design'd to be present at the opening of, on the third Day, the Time appointed by Jesus for his Resurrection, and then give ample Satisfaction to the People, that there was a real, or could be no Resurrection of his Body. Wherefore else did they seal the Stone of his Sepulchre?

Your Grotius[312] thinks, that Pilate's Seal was affix'd to the Stone of the Sepulchre; but, as I believe, Pilate little concern'd himself about the Prevention of Deceit here; so I much question it. It is more reasonable to think that the Chief Priests and other Civil Magistrates of Jerusalem with their several Seals, which could not be open'd, but by themselves, without Suspicion of Fraud, sign'd the[Pg 12] Stone, and intended to be present, on the Day appointed, at the opening of the Sepulchre; not doubting, what no body could question, but Jesus would wait their coming, and arise to Life, if he could, in the Sight of themselves, and of a vast Concourse of People, that were sure to attend on them to behold the Miracle. Such a Resurrection would have been of Satisfaction to the whole Nation; and such a Resurrection, reasonably speaking, Jesus would, if he could, have vouchsafed in Accommodation to the sealing of the Stone.

But, notwithstanding this Precaution, in sealing of the Stone, the best that could be taken against Fraud, Jesus's Body was privately slipt off, early in the Morning of the Day before, and a Resurrection pretended by his Disciples; and you would have us and our Ancestors to believe, there was no Deceit in the Case; tho' confessedly none of the Sealers of the Sepulchre were present: Who can believe it? Was, or can there be, any Imposture more against Sense and Reason palm'd upon the Understandings of Mankind? If there had been a real Resurrection, the Sealers of the Stone would have[Pg 13] been the Openers of the Sepulchre; wherefore else was the Stone seal'd?

A Question, that here arises, is, On what Day, and what Time of the Day, did our Chief Priests, the Sealers of the Stone, expect, what they could not think would ever come to pass, Jesus's Resurrection? Or what was the Extent of the Time meant by Jesus, when he said that after three Days, or on the third Day after his Passion, he should rise again? If any Impostor or Prophet like Jesus should in this Age so predict his Resurrection, and be executed on Friday, the Day for his Resurrection would be presumed to be Monday, and not Sunday Morning before Day. And I humbly conceive former Ages and Nations, and our Nation in particular did compute after this Fashion. Accordingly on Monday our Chief Priests I don't doubt, intended to be present at the opening of the Seals of the Sepulchre, and to behold the Miracle: But Jesus's Body was clandestinely moved off early on Sunday (the Day before that signified and predicted for his Resurrection) to the Laughter more than the Surprize of our Ancestors, at the Notoriety of the Fraud committed, and at the Vanity of a Resurrection pretended upon it. And I may[Pg 14] appeal even to your Chief Priests of the Church, whether here's not another Note of Cheat and Imposture; and whether the Disciples were not afraid to trust Jesus's Body, its full time, in the Grave; because of the greater Difficulty to carry it off afterwards, and pretend a Resurrection upon it.

But because your Divines (who have singular Knacks at making two Nights and a full Day, that Jesus was buried, to be three Days and three Nights; and whose various Ways of Computation I always smile at) do assert that Sunday was the third Day, on which, in Accomplishment of Jonah's Prophecy, and of his Own Prediction, he was to rise again; I will suppose so with them, and will, if they please, grant that our Chief Priests, and the Sealers of the Sepulchre, expected his Resurrection on that Day, and intended, for the opening of the Seals, to be present at it.

But at what Time of the Day were they to come or could be expected at the Sepulchre? Not long before Noon. But Jesus's Body was gone betimes in the Morning, before our Chief Priests could be out of their Beds; and a barefac'd Infringment of the Seals of the Sepulchre was made against the Laws of Honour and[Pg 15] Honesty, and a Resurrection confidently talk'd of by the Disciples; and yet your Christian Priesthood at this Day would have us to believe, there was no Fraud and Deceit in all this! O most monstrous!

If our Chief Priests had trespass'd upon Jesus's Patience, and would not attend at the Sepulchre for the opening of the Seals, on the Day and Time appointed; if they had been for confining him longer in the Grave than was meet, according to Prophecy, then his Resurrection, without their Presence, had been excusable and justifiable. But this his pretended Rising to Life, not only a Day before the Chief Priests could imagine he would, or earlier in the Morning than he should, for the Sake of their requisite Presence, is, together with the Fracture of the Seals against the Law of Security, such a manifest and indisputable Mark and Indication of Fraud, as is not to be equall'd in all or any of the Impostures, that ever were attempted to be put upon the World.

In short, by the sealing of the Stone of the Sepulchre, we are to understand nothing less than a Covenant enter'd into between our Chief Priests and the Apostles, by which Jesus's Veracity, Power and[Pg 16] Messiahship was to be try'd. Tho' we read not of the Apostles giving their Consent to the Covenant, yet it was reasonably presum'd and could not have been refus'd, if ask'd. The Condition of the seal'd Covenant was, that if Jesus arose from the dead in the Presence of our Chief Priests, upon their opening the Seals of the Sepulchre, at the Time appointed; then was he to be acknowledg'd to be the Messiah: But if he continued in a corrupt and putrified State of Mortality, then was he to be granted to be an Impostor: Very wisely and rightly agreed! And if the Apostles had stood to this Covenant, Christianity had been nipt in its Bud, and suppress'd in its Birth. But they had other Views, and another Game to play at all Adventures. The Body was to be removed and a Resurrection pretended, to the Delusion, if possible, of all Mankind, in which they have been more successful than could be imagin'd upon a Project that had so little Sense or Reason, so little Colour of Truth or Artifice in the Contrivance and Execution of it. Our Chief Priests were apprehensive at first of their stealing the Body away, and pretending a Resurrection: But after the sealing of the Stone, those Fears vanish'd; because upon the stealing the[Pg 17] Body, away against such Security and Precaution, the Fraud would be self-evident, and want no Demonstration and Proof of it. But, for all this Precaution, I say, the Body was in a barefaced Manner taken away, a Resurrection talk'd of, and to the Amazement of every one, who can think freely, has been believed thro' all Ages of the Church since. Upon the whole then, I think, you may as well say, when a seal'd Closet is broken open, and the Treasure gone without the Privity of the Signators, that there's no Wrong done; as that in the Resurrection of Jesus, there was no Fraud. The Cases are equal and parallel. What then can your Christian Priests say to this demonstrative Argument of a manifest and bare-faced Cheat in Jesus's Resurrection? I have been thinking, what they will or can say; and upon the maturest Consideration I don't find they can make any other than one or more of these shuffling Answers to it, viz.

1. That it was impossible for the Disciples to steal the Body of Jesus away, because of the Watchfulness of the Guards, and therefore there was a real Resurrection, tho' the Chief Priests and Sealers of the Sepulchre were not present at it.

[Pg 18]

2. That, tho' the Chief Priests and Sealers of the Stone of the Sepulchre were not present, as I say they ought to have been, to behold the Miracle; yet his Resurrection was afterwards made as manifest to them, as if they had been there present.

3. That if Jesus did not really arise from the dead, the Belief of his Resurrection could never have been so propagated at first, nor would have been retain'd in the World for so many Ages since.

I can think of no other Answers, and believe it impossible for your Christian Priests to form any other, to the foresaid Argument of Fraud in Jesus's Resurrection: But how weak, frivolous and insufficient they all and every one are, will appear upon a little Examination into them.

1. Then, against the aforesaid demonstrative Argument of Fraud, it may be pretended, That it was impossible for the Disciples to steal the Body of Jesus away, because of the Watchfulness of the Guards; and therefore there was a real Resurrection, tho' the Chief Priests, the Sealers of the Sepulchre were not present at it.

[Pg 19]

To which I reply, and confess, that if it was impossible to evade the Guards of the Sepulchre, then there was a real Resurrection; but if there was but a bare Possibility of evading them, then this Answer is of no Force. And I am of Opinion, that the Thing was not only possible, but easy, feasible, and practicable. Tho' the Roman Soldiers were of as much Fidelity and Integrity as any of their Profession; yet it is well known, that such Creatures are subject to Bribery and Corruption, if the Disciples had any Money to tempt them with: Or if their Faithfulness to their Trust was untainted; yet it is not improbable, but their Officers, at the Direction of Pilate, who found his Account in the Distractions of our Nation, might give them the Hint to wink hard at the Commission of such a Fraud. But not to insist on either of these Ways to evade the Watch; our Ancestors said, what your Evangelist has recorded, that the Disciples taking the Opportunity of the Sleep of the Guards, carry'd the Body of Jesus off; which was a thing both possible and probable.

Of what Number the Watch did consist is uncertain. Your Whitby[313] says they[Pg 20] were sixty; but he has no Reason nor Authority to think, they were so many. If they had been to be a Guard against Violence, I could easily have believed they were more; but in as much as they were only a Watch against Fraud, and against any casual defacing of the Seals on the Stone, before the Chief Priests came to open the Sepulchre, three or four Soldiers were sufficient, and I don't think, there were any more set to this Purpose.

It is not then at all improbable, that so few Soldiers should be fast asleep at that time of Night, or so early in the Morning, when the clandestine Work was done; especially after keeping such a Gaudy-day as was the Feast of the Passover, which, like the Festivals of other Nations, was celebrated with Excess. Foot Soldiers then, you may be sure, upon the Bounty of one or other, did no more want, than they would scruple to take their Fill, which like an Opiat, lock'd up their Senses for that Night, when the Disciples, being aware of the lucky Opportunity, carry'd the Body of Jesus off safely.

And where's the Absurdity to suppose, that the Disciples themselves might contrive the Intoxication of the Guards? Herodotus tells us a Story of a Deadbody's[Pg 21] being stolen away by such an Artifice. And I don't think the Disciples of Jesus either so foolish or conscientious, as not to take the Hint, and enterprize the like Fraud. Peter, who, upon Occasion, could swear and curse like a Trooper, would hardly scruple to fuddle a few Foot-Soldiers. But which way soever it came to pass, the Watch were asleep, which is neither hard to conceive nor believe; and then the Disciples executed that Fraud, which has been the Delusion of Nations and Ages since.

Your Evangelists would hint that the Chief Priests gave Money to the Soldiers to say, they were asleep, when the Disciples stole the Body of Jesus away, as if they were brib'd to a false Testimony; but there neither was nor could be any such thing. If there had been a real Resurrection to their Astonishment and Amazement, as it is represented in your Gospels, no Money could so soon have corrupted them to a false Witness, being under such Fears of God and of Jesus. I don't doubt but our Chief Priests might reward the Soldiers for speaking the Truth, and exhort them to persist in it, with a Promise to secure them[Pg 22] against the Anger of Pilate for their sleeping and Neglect of their Duty.

Here then is no Answer to the foresaid Argument or Objection against Jesus's Resurrection. It was not at all impossible for the Disciples, who stole the Body away, to avoid the Guards, who were and may reasonably be supposed to be lull'd asleep, when the Disciples did it. Neither is there any more Force in the

2. Second Answer to it, viz. That tho' the Chief Priests, the Sealers of the Stone of the Sepulchre, were not present, opening the Seals and beholding the Miracle; yet his Resurrection was afterwards made as manifest to them, as if they had been there present.

Ay, this is somewhat like an Answer, if there be any Truth in it. A Manifestation of Christ risen afterwards to our Chief Priests would have been equivalent to their Presence at and Sight of the Miracle. But how was his Resurrection manifested to them? did Jesus ever afterwards appear personally to them, to their Satisfaction, that he was the same Person, whom they crucified and put to Death for a Deceiver and false Prophet? No; this is not once affected by your Evangelists or ever insinuated by any antient or modern Writer. How then was Jesus's Resurrection made[Pg 23] manifest to our Chief Priests? Why; your Divines say, what is all that can be said here, that the Words of the Disciples, who, being Men of Honesty, Simplicity and Integrity, would not lye, are to be taken for it. Very fine, indeed! our Chief Priests are to take the Words of the Disciples for Jesus's Resurrection, and look upon them as Men of Veracity, when they knew and experienc'd them to be grand Cheats, not only in stealing the Body of Jesus away, but in the known Imposture of Lazarus's Resurrection, or your Evangelist had never implicitly called it so. When therefore Deceivers will not be Lyars; nor Thieves Dissemblers of the Fact they are accused of, I will own Jesus's Resurrection to have been manifest enough to our Chief Priests. There's no need of more Argument here: He that bellows more Words on it, loses Time.

It has been a constant Objection of us Jews, against the Resurrection of Jesus, that he appear'd not personally afterwards to our Chief Priests, to Pilate and to others his Crucifiers and Insultors, to upbraid them with their Infidelity and ill Treatment of him. Whether Jesus would not have done so, if he really arose from the dead; and whether he ought not in Reason, for the Conviction and Conversion of[Pg 24] Unbelievers, to have done so, with me is no Question. Celsus of old[314] in the Name of the Jews made the Objection; and Olibio, a late Rabbi[315] has repeated it. But in all my Reading and Conversation with Men or Books, I never met with a tolerable Answer to it. Origen and Limborch, the Writers against Celsus and Olibio, gently slide over the Objection, as if it was too hot or weighty to be touch'd and handled by them. To recite the poor, short and insufficient Answers of those two Great Authors, to the Objection, would be the Exposing of them, and giving such Strength to the Objection, which it don't want. Therefore I will leave the Objection, which Origen[316] owns to be a considerable one, to the Meditation of your modern Advocates for Christianity; and when they can prove, that Jesus, after his Resurrection did personally appear to his Crucifiers, the Chief[Pg 25] Priests and Sealers of the Sepulchre, to their Confutation; or that, according to the Law of Reason, he ought not to have appear'd to them, then I will turn Christian, and grant, that in the Argument above, which proves plain Fraud in the Resurrection, there's no Force nor Truth. In the mean time Jesus's Non-Appearance to the Chief Priests is a Confirmation, that he did not arise from the Dead, but that his Body was stolen away, or he would have waited in the Grave, the coming of the Sealers of the Stone, and their regular opening of the Sepulchre, to the Conviction and Conversion of all there present, and Confirmation of the Faith of all Ages and Nations since. But,

3. A third Answer to the foresaid Argument of Fraud in the Resurrection of Jesus, drawn from the Nature, Use and Design of sealing the Stone of the Sepulchre, is, that tho' the Sealers of the Sepulchre were not present, opening the Seals and beholding the Miracle; yet Jesus did certainly arise from the Dead, or the Belief of his Resurrection could never have been at first propagated by the Apostles, nor would for so many Ages of the Church since have stood its Ground.

[Pg 26]

Here's as little Reason in this Answer as in either of the two former. Who knows not, that many Errors in Philosophy, and as many Frauds in Religion have been sometimes accidentally, sometimes designedly espoused and palm'd upon Mankind, who in Process of Time become so wedded to them thro' Prejudice and Interest, that they will not give themselves Leave to enquire into the Rise and Foundation of them. False Miracles have been common Things among Christians; and as the Resurrection of Jesus is their grand and fundamental one, so it is not at all difficult to account for the Rise, Propagation and Continuance of the Belief of it.

Why it has been believed thro' these latter Ages of the Church, is no Wonder at all. The Priests had their Interest in it; the ignorant and superstitious had their Comfort in it; and the wise and considerate, for fear of Persecution, durst not enquire into the Grounds of it.

The only Difficulty here is to know, upon what Principle, the Project and Story of Jesus's Resurrection was at first devised. And whether it was Ambition or Revenge upon our ancient and Pharisaical Priesthood, that prompted the Apostles to it, is all one to me. Such bad[Pg 27] Principles too often put Men upon desperate Attempts. But however, an Imposture it was, for the Argument above. To say the Apostles and Confederates in the Fraud, would not have stood to it, and have dy'd for it, if the Resurrection had not been real Fact, signifies nothing. Many Cheats and Criminals, besides them, have asserted their Innocencey, and deny'd their Guilt in the utmost Extremity of Death, without the like Views of Honour and Fame. The only Thing that's surprizing and astonishing in this Sham-Miracle, is, that tho' it was the most manifest, the most bare-faced, and the most self-evident Imposture that ever was put upon the World; yet it has been the most fortunate and successful, having past thro' many Ages and Nations with Reputation and Renown; and might have continued for as many Generations to come, but for the Argument above, that perfectly and clearly overthrows its Credit.

But some may say here, where was the Wisdom and Providence of God, all this while, to suffer so many Ages and Nations to labour under such a Delusion? Why, I'll tell you; The Providence of God in it was, "To humble Mankind, in the End, for their vain[Pg 28] Ostentation of Wisdom, Learning and Science falsly so call'd; "To shame them for their Madness and Wickedness to persecute one another for different Opinions in that Religion, whose very Foundation is false and groundless; "To caution them against a blind and implicit Faith for the future; against believing any thing out of the Sight and Reach of their Understandings; "To admonish them of the Necessity of Liberty to think, speak and write freely about Religion, for the Correction of Errors and Discovery of Truth; and, lastly, "To reduce the World, when it should be ripe for it, to the golden Religion of Nature, which upon the Testimony of our old Cabalistical Doctors, and of your Jesus himself, is the End of the Law and the Prophets.

And thus have I spoken to the Answers, which your Christian Priesthood may be presumed to make, to the foresaid Argument of Fraud in Jesus's Resurrection, drawn from the Design of our Chief Priests in sealing of the Stone of his Sepulchre. I should not have concern'd my self to speak to these their supposed Answers, but to save them the Trouble of making them, and the Imagination of there being some Force in them.

[Pg 29]

As to the Stories in your Evangelists of Jesus's several Appearances after his pretended Resurrection, sometimes to the Women, and at other Times to his Disciples, I am not at all obliged to refute them. If these Appearances had been more frequent, better circumstanced, and more solemnly averr'd, they would have wanted no Confutation. There's no Doubt on't, but the Disciples, who, for the Argument above, unquestionably stole Jesus's Body away, in order to pretend a Resurrection, would talk much of his appearing to them, and of the Conversation afterwards, they had with him. And if they had told better and more plausible Tales of their Sight of and Conversation with him, it would be nothing to the Purpose; better, I say, and more plausible Tales than those upon Record, which for Absurdity, Nonsense and Incoherence carry their own Confutation along with them.

Whoever blends together the various History of the four Evangelists, as to Jesus's Appearances after his Resurrection, will find himself, not only perplex'd how to make an intelligible, consistent, and sensible Story of it; but must, with Celsus[Pg 30][317] needs think it, if he closely think on't, like some of the confused and incredible womanish Fables of the Apparitions of the Ghosts of deceased Persons, which the Christian World in particular has in former Ages abounded with. The Ghosts of the Dead in this present Age, and especially in this Protestant Country, have ceas'd to appear; and we now-a-days hardly ever hear of such an Apparition: And what is the Reason of it? Why, the Belief of these Stories being banish'd out of Mens Minds, the crafty and vaporous forbear to trump them upon us. There has been so much clear Proof of the Fraud in many of these Stories, that the wise and considerate Part of Mankind has rejected them all, excepting this of Jesus, which, to Admiration, has stood its Ground. It's no Wonder indeed, that the Clergy, who are more incredulous than other Folks as to Stories of Apparitions, do stick to this of Jesus, the only one excepted out of all others. It is a sweet Morsel of Faith, and they readily swallow and digest it, because they live by it; otherwise this Story of Jesus's Appearances after Death had hardly escaped the Fate of other Apparitions; nay, would have been rejected one of the first of them; there being hardly one, I dare say it, among all the Stories of[Pg 31] Apparitions, were they to be collected together; that's more absurd and incredible than this of Jesus.

I have not Room here to make any Remarks on your Evangelical Story of Jesus's Apparitions after his Death; and if I had, I durst not do it, for fear of an offensive Ludicrousness, and of transgressing the Rules of Decency, Sobriety and Sedateness of Argument, you have confined me to. But however; I can't read the Story without smiling, and there are two or three Passages in it, that put me in Mind of Robinson Cruso's filling his Pockets with Biskets, when he had neither Coat, Waste-coat, nor Breeches on. Sometimes I think your Evangelists wanted Wit to adapt their Tale to Sense, and to accommodate the Transaction to Nature; and sometimes I think them crafty, and were minded, like Daniel de Foe in his aforesaid Romance, to put the Banter upon the Credulity of Mankind, with some disguised and latent Absurdities, that, in the Conclusion and Discovery, they might be heartily laugh'd at for the Belief of them. I dare not, I say, so much as hint at one of these Absurdities, lest I should be unwarily tempted to crack a Jest on it. But the Time, I hope, is coming, when I shall use more Freedom. And should your[Pg 32] Priesthood, in Proof of Jesus's Resurrection, urge any of these Stories of his corporal Presence and Appearance after it, then I trust, they'll permit me to make as merry Descants on them, as your Bishops, when Academical Jesters, used to do on other Men's Bulls and Blunders.

In the mean time I depend on the foregoing single, sober and sedate Argument of Fraud in this grand Miracle, which I found on the Nature and Design of sealing the Sepulchre; and for Confirmation of my Opinion and Proof of Fraud in it, will conclude this Letter with a parallel Case and Story. Not many Years since, one Dr. Emms, of the Society of the French Prophets, who in their Inspirations were, like Jesus and his Disciples of old, Declaimers against the Pharisaical Priesthood of this Age, did by himself, or some of his Fraternity did for him, predict his Resurrection on a certain Day, when there was a Concourse of People about his Grave in vain to behold the Miracle, as there would have been about Jesus's Sepulchre, if he had lain in it, his full Time. But supposing in this Case, that the Magistrates and Priesthood of this City, to prevent a Cheat and Delusion of the People, had interr'd the[Pg 33] Doctor in a Church-Vault, and seal'd the Door of it against the Day appointed for his Resurrection, commanding a Night-Watch to look to the Vault, that no Violence or Deceit be used: This would have been a wise Precaution against Fraud, as was in the Case of Jesus. But what if his Fraternity, having a Mind, like Jesus's Disciples, to bambouzle the People and Priesthood, had, some of them drawn the Watch aside to a Gin-shop, whilst others carry'd the Body off, pretending a Resurrection? What would all reasonable Men have said here? That it was an impudent and bare-fac'd Imposture. But to carry on the Farce; supposing, the Doctor's Fraternity had afterwards averr'd that they had seen and convers'd with him alive, several Times, as before his Death; and had told particular Stories of their Conversation with him; as first of all, how he appear'd to some of their Women (who were admonish'd of the Certainty of his Resurrection by a Youth or an Angel or two, they could not tell whether, but they were as like to Angels, which they never saw before in their Lives, as Youths could be) who knew him, not by his Countenance, for their Eyes were holden, but by his Talk on Scripture Prophecy, which was his usual Cant before his[Pg 34] Death. And at another Time he appear'd to his old Acquaintance, who knew him, not by the Features of his Face, but by an habitual Motion and Action of his Hand in breaking of Bread. And at another Time he was corporally present, but they thought, they saw a Spirit. About eight Days after that, he appear'd among more of his old Friends, but for all their former Intimacy with him, some of them doubted whether it was the Doctor or not. At another Time he came to them in another Form and Shape, unlike to his pristine one, but they were sure it was He by his Exposition of the Scripture. At another Time, when they were assembled together and the Doors were lock'd, for fear of the Clergy, the Doctor slipt unexpectedly into their Company, either from behind a Curtain, or miraculously enter'd at the Key-hole. And the last Time he appear'd, there was one of his intimate Friends had not known him, but by a Sore in his Breast, which the Power of God, in his Resurrection, did not heal: After which, they said, he vanish'd away, was taken up into Heaven, and they saw him no more. Supposing, I say, the French Prophets had told such like Stories of Doctor Emms's Resurrection and of his Appearances to them; what would[Pg 35] your Priests and all other wise Men have said to it? Why, that it was all idle Tales, manifest Lyes, Sham, and Imposture; and that if the Doctor, in Confutation of the Errors of our Priests, had risen to Life, God would have kept him in his Sepulchre, his full time, and have rais'd him in the Presence of Priests, Magistrates and People; and that he would have walk'd afterwards publickly in the Streets without Danger, to the Satisfaction of all, who knew him, that he was the same Emms who died and was bury'd: Without Danger, I say, from the Populace, who would have been so far from affronting him, that they would have almost adored him for the miraculous Favour God had done him, in his Resurrection from the Dead; and that he would never have skulk'd about, and absconded himself for forty Days together, before he was pretendedly translated; and therefore there was nothing but notorious Deceit and Imposture in all these Pretences.

I need not make the Application of this Case and Story, which your Priests know how to do for me. To say here, that there's none would be so desperate to engage in such a Fraud, as is the supposed Case of Dr. Emms above, is a Mistake.[Pg 36] Many Thousands for their Diversion would enterprise it; and the Stories of the Apparitions of Ghosts, which are almost all the Frauds of the Crafty to delude the Ignorant, do prove it. I my self would be forward to concert such an Intrigue, if it were but to put the Banter upon the Clergy, to ruffle their Tempers, and secretly to laugh at them. Nothing would deter me from it, but Fears of the Civil Magistrate, which was not the Danger of the Disciples of Jesus, because Pilate, for the Sake of Rule over the Jews, was a Countenancer of every Faction amongst them; and particularly[318] Tiberius, upon Pilate's Representation of the Matter, soon commanded that the Disciples of Jesus should not be molested, nor call'd into Question: So the Disciples stood to the Fraud, told the Story of Jesus risen so often, till they believed it themselves, and drew Multitudes into the Belief of it: Which Belief must have continued thro' all Generations to come, but for my Argument of Fraud, before urg'd and argued.

Here, Sir, before I conclude this Letter, I think it my Duty however to give[Pg 37] you my Opinion of the Religion, that Jesus and his Disciples were for introducing into the World. Tho' I believe, what I have proved, his Resurrection, to be a Piece of Fraud, and his other Miracles to have been all Artifice; and tho' our Chief Priests and ancient Nation are justifiable in the Sentence, that was pass'd and executed upon Jesus; yet I must do him and his Disciples the Justice, to own, that the Doctrine they taught was, for the most Part of it, good, useful and popular, being no other than the Law and Religion of Nature, which, all Nations being wearied with their own Superstitions, and sick of the Burthen of their Priests, ran apace into. Accordingly one[319] of your ancient Fathers says, that they who lived according to the Law of Nature, were true Christians. And I must needs say, that if Christians, in Process of Time, had not sophisticated this primitive Religion of Jesus; if they had not built their systematical Divinity upon him, and brought strange Inventions of Men into his Worship; if, lastly, they had not again subjugated and entangled themselves with another and worse Yoke of Bondage, to an intolerable and tyrannical[Pg 38] Priesthood of the Church, the World might have enjoy'd great Happiness under Jesus's Religion, even that Happiness which is now only to be expected upon a Disproof of his miraculous Resurrection, that has been the Foundation of a most confused Superstructure of wild Doctrines and Opinions: Or more truely speaking, That Happiness of the State of Nature, Religion and Liberty, which may be look'd for upon the coming of our Messiah, the allegorical Accomplisher of the Law and the Prophets; whose Advent, upon the Tradition of our Cabalists, will be towards the latter End of the Sixth grand Age of the Creation, to remove from our Faces and our Hearts the Veil of the Letter; and in the mean while I adhere to the umbratical Rites, Ceremonies and way of Worship, derived from our Forefathers.

Thus, Sir, have I finish'd my Letter on Jesus's Resurrection; and whether I have not said enough to justify our Jewish Disbelief of that Miracle, let your Chief Priests judge. I don't expect my Argument against it will be convincing of any of your Preachers. They have a potent Reason for their Faith, which we Jews can't come at; or I don't know but we might believe with them.

[Pg 39]

I trust you'll meet with no Molestation for the Publication of this Letter; neither do I think, it was any thing of mine, inserted in your Discourses, that at any time brought Trouble on you. It was your own Imprudence to rave, as you do, against Ecclesiasticks. What need had you to talk of the Mischiefs and Inconveniences of an Hireling Priesthood? What Occasion had you to call them Ecclesiastical Vermin, and to speak of the Happiness of Mankind upon their Extinction? These things are very provoking. And here's the true Source, in my Opinion, of all your Troubles!

Tho' I have here shewn, that Christ is not risen, yet I have more Wit than to make the Inference of St. Paul, that their Preaching is vain. Their Oratory is still useful, if it be but to tickle the Ears and amuse the Understandings of the People about Doctrines they underhand not, whether true or false. And such an Order of Men, as are your Priesthood, are, by their Habit of long Robes, an Ornament to Society; and it is an Honour to the Country to have them well fed and clad. Had I Room for it, I could write a curious Encomium in Praise of them, and tell the World of what Use and Advantage they have been, in all Ages. O[Pg 40] what Wars and Persecutions might have been rais'd in the World, but for their pacifick Tempers! How would Sin and Immorality have broke in upon Mankind, like a Deluge, but for the Goodness of their Lives, and the Excellency of their Precepts! How has the Increase and Multitude of their warm Sermons been the Ruin of Satan's hot and divided Kingdom of Darkness and Error! It's owing to their Pains and Labours, that every Age, for many past, has been improving in Virtue, till the present, which for Piety and good Morals is that perfection of Time, which is not to be meliorated but by the Restitution of the golden Age.

So could I enlarge in Praise of your Clergy; and so should you have done; and then you might have disputed, as you do, against any Doctrines, Miracles and Articles of Faith, without Molestation. Try, if you can't correct that fundamental Error, you have committed. Assert still, if you can, with Dr. Rogers, the Necessity of an establish'd Priesthood, well paid, for the Service of the King and the Country, under all Changes of Religion; which may be a Means to retrieve their Favour, and will beget in me a better Opinion of your Prudence, than at[Pg 41] present is entertain'd by your Assured Friend N. N.

So ends the Letter of my Friend, the Jewish Rabbi, in which, to my Comfort, he has conform'd himself to the Rules of Sedateness, Decency and Sobriety of Argument, prescrib'd by the two great Bishops of London and St. David's. If the Weight and Solidity of his Argument don't grieve the Clergy, I am in no Pain for the Levity and Ludicrousness of it. And whether the Weight and Nature of his Argument against Jesus's Resurrection will at all startle and surprize them, I know not; but I profess for my self, that I might have study'd long enough for such an Argument against it, as this Rabbi, with his great grey Beard, has presently hit of. He told me beforehand, that his Thoughts on Jesus's Resurrection should be out of the common Road of thinking; and I must needs say, he has been as good as his Word, or no Man ever kept his Promise.

There are two Things very remarkable in his Argument: The one is, the Use and Design of sealing the Stone of Jesus's Sepulchre, which he lays great Stress on, to the Proof of Fraud in his Resurrection; and the other is, his Application of these Words, the last Error (or[Pg 42] as he reads Deceit or Imposture) will be worse than the first or former, in which he makes the Chief Priests in their Speech to Pilate, to refer to Lazarus's Resurrection as the former known Imposture. If his Application be just and true, the Consequence is, that the Resurrections of Jesus and Lazarus are both Impostures. It grieves me to the Heart to think of this Consequence, which our Divines are to see to, and evade, if they can. No sooner did I read his Application of the foresaid Words, but I run to our Commentators for another and better Exposition of them: But alas! to my Sorrow, they made nothing of them, but a sort of a proverbial Expression, which the Chief Priests must have spoil'd and knock'd out of Joint. Being then under great Trouble for the Truth of Christianity, and the Certainty of these two grand Miracles, I refer the Matter to our Learned Clergy, desiring them to be as speedy as they can in another and more proper Interpretation of the foresaid Words, or Jews and Infidels will run away with them in the Rabbi's Sense, to the Confutation of our holy Religion.

I consider'd lately, that Easter drew nigh, when it was usual for our Divines[Pg 43] in their Pulpits, to insist on the Proof of Jesus's Resurrection; and therefore I hasten'd the Publication of this Discourse, that they might have these two peculiar Texts, viz. of sealing the Stone of the Sepulchre, and of the last Error or Imposture will be worse than the first, to treat on. He that produces a Sermon or Sermons, wresting the foresaid Texts out of the Hands of my Rabbi, and putting another Sense on them, to the Credit of Jesus's and Lazarus's Resurrection,

Erit mihi magnus Apollo,

and by my Consent shall be the next Arch-Bishop of Canterbury.

But my Heart aches a little for our Divines, and I almost despair of their clean Solutions of the foresaid two Difficulties. What must they do then? Why, they must give up their Religion as well as their Church, or go along with me to the Fathers for their mystical Interpretation of the whole Story of Jesus's Resurrection.

That the Fathers, without questioning their Belief of Jesus's corporal Resurrection universally interpreted the Story and every Part of it mystically, is[Pg 44] most certain. St. Hilary[320] enumerates many Particulars of the Story, and intimates what they are typical and figurative of, as any one may see by the Citation referr'd to, which I have not Room to translate and illustrate.

St. Augustin[321] says, that Jesus's Resurrection from the Dead at that time, was[Pg 45] to exhibit an Image and Resemblance of his future and mystical Resurrection. And elsewhere says[322] that it's a holy Pleasure to consider and search for the things signified by the Story of it.

That Origen is of the same Opinion, no body need question. A Multitude of his Testimonies might be produced to this Purpose, but I shall mention only one[323], wherein he asserts, that by the Sepulchre of Jesus is to be understood the Letter of the Scriptures, in which, as in a Rock, he is reposited.

St. John of Jerusalem[324] by the Crucifiers of Jesus understands false Teachers, meaning Ministers of the Letter to be sure, because he himself was a great Allegorist.

[Pg 46]

St. Hilary says that[325] Barabbas is a Type of Antichrist; and by Antichrist, as I have elsewhere shewn out of the Fathers, is meant the Letter of the Scriptures, which modern Commentators and Crucifiers of Jesus would prefer to the Spirit. For these are the two, Letter and Spirit, the Christ and Antichrist, that are contrary one to another.

St. Jerom[326] says, that by the Vail of the Temple rent at Jesus's Resurrection, is to be understood the opening the Vail of the Letter of the Law and the Prophets for the Manifestation of the divine Mysteries contain'd in them. And by the rending of the Rocks according[327] to him is to be understood the Apertion of the Oracles of God, that were before as hard as a Rock, till his spiritual Resurrection for the Illustration of them. And by the Earthquake, He says is meant the Shaking of the[Pg 47][328] Hearts of Men, and preparing them, by a Dereliction of their old Errors, for the Susception of the true Knowledge of God.

As to the Time that Jesus was dead and bury'd, which modern Divines call three Days and three Nights, St. Augustin says[329] that according to the Scripture he was not so long dead and buried. Many, says[330] he, have put various Constructions on the Time of Christ's Burial, endeavouring to make three Days of it: But we, without slighting any of their Opinions, are for a mystical Interpretation, and suppose, that by the three Days are to be understood Three Ages of the World.

The Day would fail me to collect all the Passages out of the Fathers, in Interpretation of one or other of the Parts[Pg 48] of the Story of Jesus's Resurrection, but what I have here said in a few Citations, is enough to show, that they look'd upon the whole Story, as emblematical of his spiritual Resurrection out of the Grave of the Letter of the Scriptures, in which he has been buried about three Days and three Nights, according to that mystical Interpretation of prophetical Numbers which I have learn'd of them.

And thus have I done with the Miracle of Jesus's Resurrection, which, by the Help of my Friend the Jewish Rabbi, I have shewn, according to the Letter, to consist of the greatest Incredibilities. And with this I conclude my Discourses on his Miracles, intending to treat on no more of them, unless I am invited or provoked to it. I had once an Inclination to make another Discourse on Jesus's miraculous Conception, and on his feeding his Thousands, in the Wilderness, with a few Loaves and Fishes; but upon a little Consideration on the Letter of those two Stories, I found myself too grave for the Work; and my Rabbi's Thoughts are too gay and wanton; therefore it must be omitted, till the Clergy importune me to it, and signify their Curiosity to see it perform'd by me.

[Pg 49]

My Discourses hereafter, if God spare me Life and Liberty, which under his Providence I don't despair of, to publish another Volume, shall treat on some historical Passages of the New Testament, such as, "On the Stories of Jesus's Birth; and the Appearances of Angels to the Shepherds keeping Watch over their Flocks by Night: "The Journey and Presents of the Wise Men to Jesus: "The Slaughter of the Innocents at Bethlehem, and of Herod's Cruelty: "The Travels of Joseph with the Child Jesus and his Mother into Egypt: "The Disputation of Jesus with the Doctors in the Temple, and his Elopement from his Parents: "His riding on an Ass to Jerusalem; and on other such like Passages of his Life. For I am resolv'd to give the Letter of the Scripture no Rest, so long as God gives me Life and Abilities to attack it. Origen[331] says, that when we dispute against Ministers of the Letter, we must select some historical Parts of Scripture, which they understand literally, and shew that according to the Letter, they can't stand[Pg 50] their Ground, but imply Absurdities and Nonsense. And how then is such a Work to be perform'd to best Advantage? Is it to be done in a grave, sedate, and serious Manner? No, I think Ridicule should here take Place of sober Reasoning, as the more proper and effectual Means to cure Men of their foolish Faith and absurd Notions. As no wise Man hardly ever reprehends a Blunderbuss for his Bull, any other way, than by laughing at him; so the Asserters of nonsensical Notions in Theology should, if possible, be satirized and jetted upon, or they'll never be put out of Countenance for, nor desert their absurd Doctrines. And there never was a polemical Divine, that, if he had an Opportunity and Advantage over the Weakness of his Adversary, did not take such a ludicrous and merry Course with him.

But on such historical Passages of the Gospel as before mention'd, do I trust to publish another Volume of Discourses, like to these on Jesus's Miracles; and at present pass to my third general Head, at first proposed to be spoken to, and that is,

III. To consider what Jesus means, when he appeals to his Works and Miracles,[Pg 51] as to a Testimony and Witness of his Authority; and to show that he did not properly and ultimately refer to these done in the Flesh, but to those mystical ones he would do in the Spirit, of which those done in the Flesh are but mere Types and Shadows.

And on this Head I shall be short, there being no Occasion of many Words on it. The Bishop of London[332] has collected many Sayings of Jesus, wherein he seems to appeal to the Works he then did and had done in Flesh, as to a Witness of him. But why might not Jesus then prophesy, and mean the spiritual Works which He-in-us would do? It is the known Way of the Prophets to speak of Things to come, as if they were already past, because such Prophecies are not to be understood, till their Accomplishment: Even so did Jesus prophesy, when he appeal'd to his Works, as I could prove from the Nature and Manner of his Expressions, but that the Argument would be dry and tedious: And therefore I refer the Matter entirely to the Fathers, who asserted that Jesus prophesied in his Miracles as well as in his Parables, and that the Works he then did in the Flesh were but Types of his mysterious Operations,[Pg 52] that would be the Demonstration of his Authority and Messiahship. Hence it is that Origen[333] says that Jesus's first coming was but a Type and Shadow of his spiritual Advent and that his[334] true Miracles, by which his Authority is to be proved, are spiritual: Hence it is that St. Hilary repeatedly says[335] that Jesus's Works were significative and predictive of mysterious Operations, which we were especially to look to. And Hence it is that all the other Fathers interpreted the Miracles of Jesus in a mystical and allegorical Sense.

The Question then is, to what Miracles did Jesus truly and properly appeal, in the Opinion of the Fathers, for his Authority and Messiahship? Was it to the Typical or Antitypal Works? was it to the Shadow or to the Substance of his Operations?[Pg 53] To his substantial Operations, to be sure, which are and will be his spiritual ones upon the Soul, that are greater than those once done on Men's Bodies, and which will be a proper Proof of his divine Power. And to declare my Opinion freely, I am only for such a spiritual Messiah, who will cure the Errors call'd the Diseases of Mankind, which Jesus of Nazareth has not as yet done.

But not to dispute this Point with Bishop Gibson, I will leave him in the Enjoyment of his Opinion of his literal Messiah, and miraculous Operator on Men's Bodies; if he'll but indulge me in the Belief of my spiritual Messiah to come for the healing of modern Distempers call'd the Sins and Errors of Mankind. And in the mean time let us draw the Comparison between his literal and my spiritual Jesus; and let the World judge, to whom the Preference is to be given for Power and Authority.

Bishop Gibson is for Jesus of Nazareth's Messiahship, because he cured the bodily Blindness of many miraculously; And a good Work it was: But I am for the Messiahship of a spiritual Jesus to come, who will open the blind Eyes of our Understandings to discern Truth from Error, which will be a most glorious[Pg 54] Operation, that his Jesus of Nazareth has not as yet done.

Bishop Gibson is for Jesus's Messiahship, who once cured bodily Deafness in many, which was indeed well done of him: But I am for the Messiahship of a spiritual Jesus to come, to heal the Deafness of our Souls, or their Dulness in Apprehension of sublime Mysteries, which will be a divine Work, that his Jesus has not as yet done.

Bishop Gibson is for Jesus's Messiahship, because he cured Men's bodily Lameness, for which I do praise him: But I am for a spiritual Jesus's Messiahship, who will heal Mankind of their Halting between two and more Opinions; a more blessed Work, that Jesus of Nazareth has not as yet done for us!

And so, comparing all other Diseases of Body and Soul together, I am for the Jesus, who will heal the Diseases of the Soul; and have a much less Regard for Bishop Gibson's Jesus, who cured the Diseases of a few Men's Bodies; but for all that, am not angry with the Bishop for his high Veneration of his Jesus, neither would I by any Means have him prosecuted and punish'd for not being of the same Mind with me.

[Pg 55]

But, because the Bishop suspects me of Infidelity, in that I have ludicrously treated some of the Miracles of his Jesus, which by the by he has not vindicated from the Absurdities and Incredibilities I charged them with; I will humour the Bishop, and supposing Jesus wrought literally those Miracles which are allegorically interpreted by me, will in those very Miracles compare his literal and my spiritual Jesus together; and appeal to all Men of Consideration, which is the most worthy of the Title and Honour of the true Messiah.

Bishop Gibson is for his Jesus's Messiahship, who miraculously drove the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple, just as if a Man, was God to invest him with Power, should furiously drive the Butchers and Grasiers with their Cattle, to the Confusion of their several Properties, out of Smithfield: A notable Miracle That! But I am for the spiritual Jesus's Messiahship, who according to the Form of that typical Story, will at his Coming expel Ecclesiastical Merchants out of his Church, who make Merchandise of the Gospel, selling their Bulls and Beasts, and Fatlings of the Letter: A most glorious and beneficial Work to Mankind will this[Pg 56] be! And to prepare Mens Souls for the Susception of such a spiritual Jesus, I intend to publish a Discourse of the Mischiefs and Inconveniencies of an Hireling Priesthood, wherein it shall be proved, that Mankind can't be either good, wise or happy under the Kingdom of this Messiah to come, without an Abolition and Extirpation of them.

Bishop Gibson is for the Messiahship of his Jesus, who cast the Devils out of the Madmen, and permitted them to enter into the Herd of Swine, that ran violently down a Precipice, and were choak'd in the Sea: How great a Miracle it was thus to cure the Madmen, the Bishop may know best, being perhaps better acquainted with the Devil than I am; but was it not for Pity to the Swineherds, for their Losses, I could even now laugh at the Thoughts of the Hoggs running and tumbling down-hill, as if the Devil drove them: But leaving the Bishop calmly, decently, and seriously to admire the Wisdom and Justice of his Jesus in that Act, I am for the spiritual Jesus, who, according to the typical Form of that Story, exorcis'd the furious and diabolical Tempers out of the Jews and Gentiles of old, whom no Chains of Reason could hold from doing Violence to the Christians,[Pg 57] till they were converted; and tho' He permitted the like persecuting and diabolical Spirits to enter into Ecclesiastical Swine; yet will they be precipitated into the Sea of the Knowledge of God, wherein they will be absorpt with divine Visions and Contemplations. O most glorious Work! that bespeaks the Wisdom, Power and Goodness of our spiritual Jesus, from the Beginning to the End of it.

Bishop Gibson admires his Jesus, for his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, tho' neither He nor any Body else can tell, wherein lay the Miracle, nor into what various Figures and Shapes Jesus was transform'd: But I am for the spiritual Jesus, whose glorious Transfiguration, after six grand Days of the Creation, will be conspicuous, when with the Eyes of our Understanding we shall behold him metamorphosed into the Forms of all the Types of him under the Law. I am now ravish'd with the intellectual View of this Transfiguration; and believe, was I to set about it, I could give others (except the Bishop) an Idea and Conception or it to their Astonishment at the Glory of Jesus in it.

Bishop Gibson is for the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, because he cured a Woman of an Issue of Blood, after she had[Pg 58] spent all she had upon Physicians to no purpose, which might be, or might not be a Miracle, for any thing he can argue upon it: But I am for the spiritual Jesus's Messiahship, who, at his Coming, will, according to that typical Story, cure the Woman of the Church of her Issue of Blood, that is shed in Persecution and War, which her Ecclesiastical Physicians of the Clergy have not been able to stop, tho' they have receiv'd large Fees and Stipends of the Church to that Purpose. Will not this be a desirable and beneficial Work to all Nations? And who knows not, (excepting the Bishop) that it is of the Office of the true Messiah, to give abundance of Peace to Mankind, to make the Lion to lye down with the Lamb; and to induce Men to break their Swords into Plough-shares, and their Spears into Pruning-hooks; and to make Wars to cease in all the World. Which Prophecies are so far from being fulfill'd by Jesus of Nazareth, that there has been nothing but Wrangling and Jangling, and Scolding and Fighting about him ever since. I wonder the Want of the Accomplishment of the foresaid Prophecies has not long before now occasion'd the Rejection of Jesus's Messiahship, or of the Authority of the Prophets.

[Pg 59]

Bishop Gibson is for his Jesus's being the Messiah, because he cured an old Woman of a Spirit of, no body knows what, Infirmity; consequently little or nothing is to be laid for the Greatness of that Miracle. But I am for the spiritual Jesus's Messiahship, who, according to the Figure of that literal Story, is to heal the Woman of the Church of her Infirmity of the Spirit of Prophecy, which Jesus of Nazareth has not done for her, or there would not be so many Disputes about Prophecies and their Interpretations, so far, as there is hardly one Prophecy that Christians are agreed about the Sense of. It is the grand Characteristick of the true Messiah, that he's to restore Prophecy and the Way of Interpretation of the Prophets, upon the allegorical Scheme too. I speak this, not only upon the Authority of the Prophets themselves, but upon an almost infinite Number of Testimonies of ancient Jews and Fathers; accordingly I expect the Advent of a spiritual Messiah, who alone can do it, to heal the Church of her present Infirmity, and to restore the Art and Gift of Prophecy.

Bishop Gibson is an Admirer of Jesus of Nazareth, because he told a poor Whore of Samaria, her Fortune of having had five Husbands, and being then an[Pg 60] Adulteress with another Man; which, according to the Letter, is such a poor sort of a Miracle, that I can hardly think of it without blushing: But I am an Adorer beforehand of the spiritual Jesus who, according to that Type, will out of the Law and the Prophets, allegorically interpreted, tell the present heretical and adulterous Woman of the Church all that she has done, and how she has been wedded to the sensible Things of the five Books of Moses, and is now an Adulteress with the Anti-Christ of the Letter. Such an Information of the Church will be a most stupendous and miraculous Work, and a Demonstration of our Jesus's Messiahship beyond Contradiction, in as much as it will be agreeable to the Opinion, that all Antiquity entertain'd of the true Messiah, viz. that he was to let us into the Sight, Knowledge and Understanding of the Wisdom and Beauty of Providence thro' all Ages of the World.

Bishop Gibson admires Jesus of Nazareth for his cursing the Figtree; for not bearing Fruit out of Season: Shame on that Miracle, according to the Letter, and on all Admirers of it! But I am for the spiritual Jesus, who, at his coming to the Figtree of his Church, will make its present unfruitful State to wither away, and[Pg 61] cause it to produce the Fruits of the Spirit, and allegorical Interpretations of the Scriptures, that are compared to sweet and ripe Figs. For such his Advent to this miraculous and beneficial Purpose I daily pray and say too, Blessed are all those who love his Appearance!

After this Fashion could I go thro' the other Miracles, I have treated on in these Discourses; and upon the Comparison set plainly before the Eyes of my Readers the Difference between the literal Miracles of Bishop Gibson's carnal Jesus and the allegorical ones of my spiritual Jesus, as to Stupendousness, Use and Excellency: But what I have here done in the seven Instances above, is enough to induce us to believe, with the Fathers, that Jesus's first Coming in the Flesh was but a Type and Shadow of his second Advent in the Spirit; and that Jesus of old, when he appeal'd to his Works then done, as to a Witness of his Authority, did only prophesy, and refer ultimately to his mystical Operations, that are alone the Proof of his Godlike and divine Power. Bishop Gibson says[336] of me, that pretending to raise the Actions and Miracles of our Saviour to a more exalted and spiritual Meaning, I[Pg 62] have labour'd to take away the Reality of them, and by that to destroy one of the principal Evidences of Christianity. But I presume now, he'll be sensible of the Rashness and Incogitancy of that Accusation. If he be not, I shall say of him, in Case he write any more for Jesus's literal Miracles in Opposition to his allegorical ones that he's like the Dog in the Fable (the Bishop will excuse the Coarseness of the Comparison) that let go the Substance of his Mutton, and catch'd at the Shadow, and so, like a foolish Cur as he was, lost both.

And thus have I done with the Three general Heads at first proposed to be handled in these Discourses. Now whether I am, upon the whole, an Infidel, or Believer of Christianity, the World is to judge. I'll make no more solemn Declarations of my Belief of it, much less at this Juncture of Time, when I am under Prosecution for Infidelity; because it would be a sneaking, tame, and cowardly Act in me, and such an Argument of that Meanness of Spirit, as I abhor and detest. My Works shall speak for me, in which, being conscious of the Innocency of my Intentions, and of the Usefulness of my Design, I mean to proceed; not doubting but some of our clergy, upon[Pg 63] two or three more Discourses against the Letter of the New Testament, will find me out, what I am, and whether I am not a true Professor of the Religion of the spiritual and holy Jesus.

In the mean Time I'll not compound the Difference depending between Bishop Gibson and my self, upon any other Terms, than his making me ample Satisfaction for the Injuries done to my Reputation and low Fortunes. Tho' he may thirst after my Life, or at least, my Liberty; yet under the Providence of God I fear not the Loss of either. God be prais'd, this Kingdom is bless'd with such a Civil Administration for Wisdom, Justice and Mercy, as no Nation of the World can equal. Our Magistrates are all Philosophers, Lovers of Truth, and of an Enquiry into it; and so tender of the religious as well as of the civil Rights of the Subject, that I have nothing to dread from them.

There is somewhat popular indeed, tho' nothing true nor rational, in the Clamour and Accusations of the Clergy against me. Bishop Gibson would insinuate[337] that my Discourses on Miracles strike at the Foundation of civil Society; but by an unnatural[Pg 64] Consequence of his own making. I confess, it is an heinous Crime to write any Thing that tends to the Subversion or Prejudice of the civil Society: But how will the Bishop make me guilty of it? If the Clergy will not be Disturbers of the Peace of the Publick upon my Discourses; it's certain, that the Quiet of the World, which I wish and aim at, will be inviolably kept and preserv'd for all me. My Followers indeed, when I walk the Streets of this City, are numerous; and if any of them should break the Peace, what serves my Lord Mayor's Power for, but to chastise them for it? As for my self and my Adherents at home, which, as yet, are without Number, we are all Quietists and should act against our Consciences and Religion, if we should injure any Man in his Person and Property. But I smile to see a Clergyman all on a sudden, like the Bishop, so tender of the Welfare of the Publick, when Ecclesiasticks, in all Ages past, have been the Bane of Society and the Pest of Mankind, as appears from the Wars and Persecution they have rais'd in the World; and from that Strife, Variance and Discords, they have occasion'd in Cities and Families. And with Submission to the Bishop, who I hope will not be angry for my saying it, I am sure, the Clergy at this Juncture,[Pg 65] are like an high-mettal'd blind Horse, that were they not ridden by the Civil Authority with a strait Rein, would be oppressing and trampling upon all, that flood in the Way of their Interests, to the Disturbance of Civil Society.

Profaneness too does the Bishop charge me with. But why so? Because I ridicule the Nonsense and Absurdities of Jesus's Miracles according to the Letter, which he venerates. Very fine indeed! The Bishop would worship the Head of an Ass, and a wiser Man than himself, without the Charge of Profaneness, must not laugh at his foolish Superstition.

And Blasphemy lastly does the Bishop accuse me of: And this is a sad Bugbear Word, that has frighted Abundance of People into dreadful Apprehensions of my Guilt, even to the Abhorrence of me. But the Bishop should first have defined, what is meant by Blasphemy, and have proved me guilty of it, before he had made his Exclamations: Or the Turks may say that a Jest upon their Alcoran, in which there are no Contradictions, is as much a Blasphemy, as any Ludicrousness upon the Gospels, which are full of Inconsistencies. That there is such a Sin or Error, call'd Blasphemy, according to the Scriptures, is certain: But our Divines are undetermined[Pg 66] about the Nature of it. I intend to take my Opportunity to treat on the Sin of Blasphemy, and to prove, Ministers of the Letter are the only Persons that can be guilty of it. Ministers of the Letter, upon the Authority of the Fathers, are the Worshippers of the Apocalyptical Beast; and anti-allegorical Expositions are that Blasphemy, St. John writes of, which the Beast and his Worshippers will open their Mouths in, against the most High. This shall be proved as clear as the Light. But when I do it, I would not have any think, it is with an Intention to bring the Bishops of London, Litchfield, and St. David's, or any other Divines, under Prosecution for that heinous Sin: No, my God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent; and knows how and when to reckon with such Blasphemers, without calling upon the Civil Magistrate to do it for him. Should I importune the Civil Authority to execute Vengeance upon them, I should make a foolish Calf or a Senseless Idol of my God, that was unable, or knew not how, nor when to vindicate his own Cause. Surely the Bishop of London, upon his Prosecution of me for Blasphemy, must think his God now asleep or gone a Journey from Home; or he would not be for taking God's own[Pg 67] Work out of his Hands, and committing it to the Care of the Civil Magistrates.

The Bishop moreover should consider, that the Words prophane and blasphemous are of no Use and Signification among Philosophers, who in Disputation never cast them at each other, however they may differ in Opinion. Philosophers are all supposed to be such profound Venerators of the Deity, as they would not be guilty of Prophaneness and Blasphemy for the whole World. If any of our School of Free-Thinkers should say of his Opponent that he's prophane and blasphemous, he would be reprimanded for want of Wit, Temper and good Manners; and be told that he's like a Billingsgate Scold, who has Recourse to impertinent bad Language, when her Reason fails her for better Rhetorick.

But it may be, for ought I know, the Bishop has some Design in his Accusations against me for Profaneness and Blasphemy; but I hope it is a better than to prejudice the Civil Magistrate, or to incense the Populace.

According to the Fathers I am so far from being a Blasphemer, that they say, Christ upon the literal Interpretation of his Miracles is metamorphosed into the False-Christ, call'd Anti-Christ. Whether[Pg 68] there is any Truth in this their Opinion I can't be positive, till the Experiment is fully made. But if our Clergy will keep their Temper, and grant me a clear Stage of Battle, I'll try it out; and see whether I can't, by the Club of Reason and primitive Authority, give their Anti-Christ a fatal Blow: Who knows but I may give Peace to the Church, and reconcile all Parties by it?

However this may be; I am sure, no Man can wish for a greater Advantage over his Enemy, than I have over the Bishop in this Controversy: But he shall find me a generous Adversary, who will make no worse Use of my Advantage over him than now and then to put him in Mind of his Pastoral Letter, and of the Prosecution; unless I should be tempted, ere long, to publish my Moderatorial Letter, like his Pastoral one, to the People of London and Westminster, with Ten wholesome Rules in it, not only to caution them against false Prophets and false Teachers, without forgetting the Bishop of the Diocese, but to direct them to the Ecclesiastical Fountain of the growing Sins, Errors and Infidelity of the Age, which the Clergy know I am of Ability to lay open.


[Pg 69]

When I began the Publication of these Discourses, I own, I laid a Trap for some considerable Clergyman; but little imagined, the great Bishop of London would be caught in it. But now I have taken hold of him, I'll not release him out of the Controversy, till he has sorely repented of his Ignorance or Malice in calling me a Writer, in Favour of Infidelity.

So much at present for the Bishop of London. I have been the quicker of late in the printing of this, because I am given to understand, the Bishop of St. David's stays for it, intending to make but one Work of it, and answer all six Discourses together. I hope my Rabbi's Letter here will be thought by him, a good Payment for his Patience. And now I shall be in Expectation of his Mountainous Production, and where I shall hide myself from the terrible Strokes of his Pen, I have not as yet consider'd.

I am not a little pleas'd to see a Couple of Dissenting Preachers, viz. Dr. Harris and Mr. Atkinson, lifted into the Controversy against me. If they had kept their Necks out of the Collar, they might have dissembled and pretended, that, upon the Conclusion of the Battle, when it would have appear'd, I am a real Contender for[Pg 70] Primitive Christianity, they had a better Understanding of the Fathers, and a clearer View of my Design, than to suspect me of Blasphemy and Infidelity: But now they are engag'd with equal Spite, Ignorance and Defamations against me, they must take their Share of the Fate and Shame, with the Clergy, upon the Conclusion of the Controversy.

There's no Body can think it worth my while to bestow a Six-penny Pamphlet upon either of these Gentlemen, but for all that, they shall not be altogether slighted and neglected by me. I have made a Collection of their Rhetorical Flowers, which occasionally shall be presented the Publick, to the Admiration of their Wit, Reason, Learning and Eloquence. And at present only take Notice, that they are both for the Persecution of me; but not so much for my Opinions, as the Indecency, Irreverence, and Immorality of my Stile; forsooth! which is just such a Distinction, as may be easily stretch'd to the Justification of the Persecution of all Authors, whom the Priesthood in Power shall not like. Mr. Atkinson's Argument for the Persecution of me, is much the same with that, which John Calvin used for the Persecution of that great Philosopher Servetus; the Injustice and Cruelty of[Pg 71] whose Death and Sufferings is a greater Reproach to the Name of Calvin, than the Martyrdom of any Protestant can be to the Memory of any Popish Prelate.

To conclude, what I have written, in these Six Discourses, is with a View to the Glory of God, the Advancement of Truth, the Happiness of Mankind, the Demolition of Babylon, the Edification of Jerusalem, and the Demonstration of the Messiahship of our Spiritual Jesus, to whom be Glory for ever. Amen.

FINIS.


BOOKS written by Mr. Woolston, and Sold by him next Door below the Star in Aldermanbury, and by the Booksellers of London and Westminster.

I. The Old Apology reviv'd, &c.

II. Dissertatio de Pontii Pilati Epistola ad Tiberium circa Res Jesu Christi gestas.

III. Origenis Adamantii Epistolæ duæ circa Fidem vere orthodoxam & Scripturarum Interpretationem.

IV. The exact Fitness of the Time of Christ's Advent demonstrated by Reason against the Objections of the old Gentiles, and modern Unbelievers.

V. Four Free-Gifts to the Clergy, or Challenges to a Disputation on this Question, Whether the Hireling Priests of this Age, who are all Ministers of the Letter, be not Worshippers of the Apocalyptical Beast, and Ministers of Anti-Christ?

VI. An Answer to the said Four Free Gifts.

VII. Two Letters to Dr. Bennet on this Question, Whether the People call'd Quakers do not the nearest of any other Sect in Religion, resemble the Primitive Christians, in Principle and Practice?

VIII. An Answer to the said two Letters.

IX. The Moderator between an Infidel and an Apostate: Or the Controversy between the Grounds and his Ecclesiastical Opponents, set in a clear Light, &c.

X. Two Supplements to the Moderator, &c.

XI. A Defence of the Miracle of the Thundering Legion, against a Dissertation of Walter Moyle, Esq.;

XII. Six Discourses on the Miracles of our Saviour.

XIII. His Defence of those Discourses, against the Bishops of St. David's and London.


FOOTNOTES:

[309] Revelations, Chap. xviii. 11.

[310] In his Pastoral Letter, P. 35.

[311] Daniel, Chap. vi. 17.

[312] Adducor ut credam Pilati Annulo & hunc Lapidem signatum. In Loc. Matt.

[313] Upon the Place in Matthew.

[314] Si Jesus volebat re vera declarare suam divinam Potentiam, debuerat suis Insultatoribus, ipsique Præsidi qui capitalem sententiam contra se tulerat, denique cæteris omnibus se ostendere. In Orig. Lib. ii. contra Celsum.

[315] In Limborchii Amica Collatione cum Judæo.

[316] Magna sane Res & miranda occurrit hoc loco, quæ non solum aliquem ex vulgo Credentium exercere posset, sed perfectiores etiam; cur non Dominus post Resurrectionem æque ac superioribus temporibus conspiciendum se præbuerit. In Lib. ii. cont. Celsum.

[317] Quamvis Celsus has Jesu post Resurrectionem Apparitiones conferre conetur cum vulgaribus Spectris & Visionibus. In Origen. Lib. ii. contra Celsum.

[318] Comminatus est periculum Accusatoribus Christianorum. Tertul. Apol. Cap. v.

[319] Justin Matyr. In Apol. ii.

[320] Quod autem a Joseph, rogato Pilato ut Corpus redderet, & sindone involvitur, & in Monumento novo in Petra excisa reponitur, & Saxum Ostio Monumenti advolvitur: Quanquam sit Ordo Gestorum, & sepeliri eum erat necesse, qui resurrecturus erat a mortuis, tamen non sine Rerum aliquarum Momento expressa sunt singula. Joseph Apostolorum habet speciem: & idcirco quanquam in duodecem numero Apostolorum non fuerit, Discipulus Domini nuncupatur. Hic munda sindone corpus involvit; & quidem in hoc eodem linteo reperimus de cœlo ad Petrum universorum Animantium genera summissa. Ex quo forte non superflue intelligitur sub lintei hujus nomine consepeliri Christo Ecclesiam: quia tum in eo, ut in Confusione Ecclesiæ mundorum atque immundorum Animalium fuerit congesta diversitas. Domini igitur Corpus tanquam per Apostolorum doctrinam in vacuam & novam requiem Lapidis excisi, viz. in pectus duritiæ Gentilis quodam doctrinæ opere excisum Christus infertur, rude scilicet & novum, & nullo antea ingressu timoris Dei pervium. Et quia nihil præter cum oporteat in pectora nostra penetrare, Lapis Ostio advolvitur: ut quia nullus antea in nos divinæ Cognitionis Auctor fuerat illatus, nullus absque eo postea inferatur. Metus deinde furandi Corporis, & Sepulchri Custodia atque Obsignatio, Stultitiæ atque Infidelitatis Testimonium est; quod signare Sepulchrum ejus voluerint, cujus præcepto conspexissent de Sepulchro mortuum suscitatum. In Loc. Matt.

[321] Ad hoc enim Dominus hodie resurrexit, ut Imaginem nobis futuræ Resurrectionis ostenderet. In Serm. clxviii. Append.

[322] Quid singula significent, quærere sanctæ quidem Deliciæ sunt. In Johan. Evang. C. xx. Tract. 120.

[323] Monumentum Christi est divina Scriptura, in qua Divinitatis & Humanitatis ejus mysteria densitate Litteræ veluti quadam muniuntur Petra. In Diversos Homil. 2.

[324] Ne putes, tunc solummodo traditus est Christus Principibus Sacerdotibus & Scribis.——Quando enim vides Scripturas Prophetarum & Evangelii & Apostolorum traditas esse in Manus falsorum Sacerdotum & Scribarum; num intelliges quia Verbum Veritatis traditum est Principibus iniquis & Scribis? In Mat. C. xx.

[325] Interpretario autem Nominis Barabbæ est Patris Filius: Jam itaque Arcanum Infidelitatis futuræ ostenditur, Christo Patris Filium præferendo, Antichristum scilicet hominem Peccari & Diaboli filium, potiusque adhortantibus principibus suis eligunt, Damnationi reservatum, quam Salutis Authorem. In Loc. Matt.

[326] Velum Templi scissum est, & omnia Legis Sacramenta, quæ prius tegebantur, prodita sunt atque ad Gentium Populum transierunt. In Loc. Matt.

[327] Petræ scissæ, id est, universa Vaticinia Prophetarum. In Epist. ad Hedibriam.

[328] Sed mihi videtur Terræ Motus & reliqua typum ferre credentium, quod pristinis Errorum vitiis derelictis, & Cordis emollita duritia, postea agnoverint Creatorem. In Loc. Matt.

[329] Ipsum autem triduum, non totum & plenum fuisse Scriptura Testis est. In Libro 4to de Trinitate, Sect. 10.

[330] De tribus diebus, multi sancti multa hinc senserint atque dixerint——Sed nos neutram eorum vacantes sententiam; melius tamen, si placet in his spiritualem requiramus Intellectum, tres Dies tria Tempora Sæculi ponentes. In Serm. de Symbolo.

[331] Cum disputamus adversus eos, & cum conquirimus advicem, tunc quærimus locum Dogmatis illius in litera Legis Historiæ, & ostenditur secundum Historiam stare non posse. In Psal. xxxvi.

[332] Pastoral Letter, P. 25.

[333] Adventus quidem Christi unus in Humilitate completus est, alius vero speratur in Gloria. Et hic primus Adventus in Carne, mystico quodam Sermone in Scripturis Sanctis Umbra ejus appellatur. In Jesu Novo Homil. viii.

[334] Vera Christi Miracula & Sanatio Infirmorum est spiritualis. In Matt. C. xxv.

[335] Hæc licet in præsens gesta sunt, quid tamen in futurum significent contuendum est. In Matt. C. x. S. 1. Christi Gesta aliud portendunt. C. xii. S. 1. Peragunt formam futuri gesta præsentia. C. xxi.

[336] Pastoral Letter, P. 3.

[337] Pastoral Letter, P. 35.


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