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if they are to be saved through his means, and for the confirmation of that necessary faith, these miracles were performed: the author of the objection, who himself asserts that Moses delivered the ima portant doctrine of a future state, will not deny that the belief of a future state is a necessary belief; and if it be so, it must follow that Christ's resurrection and appearance upon earth after his crucifixion, (a miracle I presume as great and striking as any wrought by the hand of Moses) was as pertinent to that general end, as the wonders in the land of Egypt and at the Red Sea were to the particular purpose of rescuing the Jews out of their captivity.
If we grant that Moses, as this objector intimates, did impart the doctrine of a future state, Christ did more by exemplifying it in his own person, and against such evidence we might presume even a Sadducee would not hold out. Now, as so large a portion of the Jewish nation were still in the avowed disbelief of that doctrine, which our opponent believes was taught them by their great prophet and lawgiver himself, surely he must of force allow, that the resurrection of Christ was to them at least, and to all who like them did not credit the doctrine of a life to come, a necessary miracle.
Where such a teacher as Moses had failed to per.. suade, what less than a miracle could
their infidelity? Unless, indeed, our author shall join issue with Abraham in his reply to Dives, as recorded in the words of Christ, and maintain with him, that as they would not believe the word of Moses, neither would they be persuaded, though one actually rose from the dead.
And now I will more closely animadvert upon the bold assertion of David Levi, the Jew, (whose hostile opinions we tolerate) that the miracles of
Christ, the Saviour of the world (whose religion we profess) were scarcely just or rational.'
Our faith is at issue, our established church falls to the ground, our very sovereign becomes no longer the defender of our faith, but rather the defender of our folly, if this contemner of Christ, this alien, who assaults our religion, whilst he is living under the protection of our laws, shall, with one stroke of an audacious pen, undermine the strong foundation of our belief.
Let us hear how this modern caviller confutes those miracles, which his forefathers saw and did not dare to deny.
He takes two out of the number, and if there is any merit in the selection, he is beholden to his correspondent for it: these are, first, the driving the devils out of the man possessed, and sending them into the herd of swine; Mat. viii. 28. Secondly, the curse pronounced upon the barren fig-tree;' Mark xi. 13.
Upon the first of these he has the following stricture - This I think was not strictly just, for as according to your (Dr. Priestley's) opinion, he was but a man and a prophet, I would willingly be informed what right he had to destroy another man's property in the manner he did by sending the devils into them, and so causing them to run violently into the sea and perish?'
This miracle is recorded also by Saint Mark; v. 1. and again by Saint Luke, viji. 26. What Saint Matthew calls the country of the Gergesenes, the other two evangelists call the country of the Gadarenes, and St. Luke adds that it is over against Galilee; this country, as I conceive, was within the boundaries of the half tribe of Manasseh, on the other side of Jordan, and is by Strabo called Gadarida, lib. 16. Now Moses, both in Leviticus xi. and Deuteronomy xiv. prohibits swine, as one of the unclean beasts : “Of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.' Isaiah also states it as a particular sin and abomination in the Jews, whom he calleth a 'rebellious people, a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; which remain among the graves and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh.' lxv. 2, 3, 4. And again, · They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens, behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, &c. shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.' Ixvi. 17. Eleazar the scribe, when constrained to open his mouth and eat swine's flesh, chose rather to die gloriously, than to live stained with such an abomination.' 2 Macc. vi. 18, 19. The seven brethren also, who were compelled to the like abomination, declared, they were ready to die rather than to transgress the laws of their fathers.' This being the law of Moses with respect to this proscribed animal, and such being the corruptions of the people in violating that law, I am at a loss to discover the injustice of the miracle; seeing what abominations these creatures had occasioned am
amongst the Jews, so as to draw down the denunciations of the prophet Isaiah, repeatedly urged in the passages above quoted; and it is with particular surprise I meet the charge from one, who is himself a Jew, and who, I must presume, would die the death of Eleazar rather than be defiled with such abominable food. It would be hard indeed if Christ, whom he arraigns for abolishing the Mosaical dispensation in one part of his argument, should in another be accused of wrong and injury for conforming to it: but any wretched shift shall be resorted to for matter of railing against Christ, and rather than not feed his
spleen at all, he will feed it upon swine's flesh: let the learned Jew first prove to me that a hog was not an abomination to his countrymen, and it will then be time enough to debate upon the injustice of destroying them; meanwhile I shall not be disposed to allow of any damages for the swine in question at the suit and prosecution of a Jew.
His second attack is pointed against the miracle of the fig-tree, which was blasted at the word of Christ.
Though Saint Matthew as well as Saint Mark records this miracle, yet, for reasons sufficiently obvious, he refers to the latter, who says, " that when Christ came to it he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.' His argument upon this passage is as follows: · Hence it is manifest, that he required the tree to produce fruit out of season, and which would have been contrary to the intent of its Creator; and therefore he, as a dutiful son, curses the innocent and guiltless tree for doing that, which his father had commanded it to do, viz. to bear fruit in its proper season:' graph our Jew has quickened his argument with some facetious irony, and he follows it with an air of exultation as well as insult : “ If, after this, Christians should still persist in the miracle, according to the letter of the story, much good may it do them; but I am sure it will never be the means of converte, ing the unbelieving Jews to the Christian faith.'
I close with him in opinion that this miracle will not be the means of converting his unbelieving brethren to Christianity; for how can I hope, that what their fathers saw and yet believed not, should at this distant period gain belief from their posterity? I also join with him in saying (and I suspect I say it with somewhat more sincerity) much good may it do to all those Christians, who persist
In this para
in their belief of it! A descendant of those who murdered Christ, may act in character, when he insults his miracles and ridicules his person, but a believer in Christ will be an imitator of his patience.
It is now time to dismiss the irony and apply to the argument. This simply turns upon St. Mark's interjectional observation, not noticed by St. Matthew in his account, viz. “that the time of figs was not yet: He says, that Jesus being hungry saw a fig-tree afar off, having leaves, and came if haply he might find any thing thereon: By this it appears that the tree was in leaf, and Jesus approached it with the expectation of finding something thereon ; but when he found nothing but leaves, he said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever!' And his disciples heard it: these came again the next morning, and passing by the fig-tree saw it dried up
from the roots; which when Peter remarked as a completion of the miracle, Jesus said to them all, • Have faith in God!'
In these important words we have the moral of the act. The tree, which this reviler takes upon himself to say, was commanded by God to bear fruit in its proper season, was on the contrary commanded by God to bear fruit no more, but serve a nobler purpose by witnessing to the miraculous power of Christ: and now if an innocent and guiltless tree was blasted out of season by the word of Christ for the purpose of inspiring the beholders with Faith in God, the benefit conferred upon human nature may well atone for the injury done to vegetable nature; though I am free to acknowledge to its pathetic advocate, that, as a Jew, he has undertaken a more cleanly cause, than when he before stood forth in defence of the hogs: as well may
he bewail the innocent and guiltless trees and grain of Egypt, which were smittep by the hail, when Moses