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co the symbolical actions whereby the Jewish prophets anciently foretold God's judgments upon rebellious nations. In such representations, both Jesus and the prophets acted agreeably to the genius of the Easterns, with whom it was familiar to instruct their disciples, by actions as well as by words. Farther, in most translations of the Gospels an unfavourable air has been given to this miracle, by a misrepresentation of one of its principal circumstances. For, from the modern sense of the word curse, infidels have taken occasion to reprefent Jesus as storming, raving, and uttering execrations against the tree; an indecency which nothing but the extravagance of passion could produce. Nevertheless, als that Jesus said to the tree was, “ Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth.” And the tree having withered from the root, in consequence of this sentence, the apostle Peter, who passed by next day and observed it, was struck with wonder. “Master, faid he,' “ behold the fig-tree which thou cursedit, is 'withered away." But, in the Hebrew language, to curse the land or the trees is simply to make or pronounce them unfruitful. Thus Heb, vi. I. " that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto s cursing, whose end is to be burned.” The tree therefore which Jesus cursed is no more but the tree which he had pronounced unfruitful. Lastly, though it be faid, in our translation, that, when Jesus expected fruit from this tree, the time of figs was not yet ; it does not follow, that his expectations were unreasonable, or that the sene tence pronounced on the tree was unjust. “ The time of figs," in fcripture language, signifies the time of gathering figs. This every one must acknowledge, who looks to Matth. xxi. 34, 41. where xavf@ Twy xapawy fignifies “ the season of gathering the fruits.” The circumstance therefore, that “ the time of gathering figs was not yet," instead of shewing our Lord's expectations to have been unreasonable, proves that he had ground to look for fruit on it; for, if it had been in use to bear, it would have had figs ripening, which, though not perfectly ripe, might have been eaten by one who was hungry, as Jesus happened to be at that season.
2. The miracles said to have been performed upon the Demoniacs may be defended, though no such pofleffions have been observed either before or since. Because for wise reasons the devils may have been allowed to exercise especial power over the bodies and souls of men, in the
age wherein the Son of God lived on earth, to restrain their malice and to cast them out: among the many important ends which determined the Son of God to come down from heaven, this was one; that he might reveal the real, state of the invisible world, fo far as it has a connexion with human affairs. On this subject, mankind in all ages had been universally and grossly ignorant. The inhabitants of the West believed the invisible world to be full of weak capricious divinities, who exercised a partial, opposite, and often a fruitless superintendency over human affairs. The power even of Jupiter himself, whom they considered as supreme, they fancied to be limited by some greater inexplicable power, to which they gave the name of Fate. In the East, two supreme independent principles were acknow
ledged, ledged, the one good, the other evil. These two they supposed to be continually at war together, the one to produce all the good he could, the other all the evil. It was thus they accounted for that mixture of good and evil in the universe, so difficult to be reconciled with just ideas of God. The most pernicious effect however of this system was, that it led men to the bafest species of idolatry, to the worship of the devil, in order that they might escape the direful effects of his malice. Mankind thus erring in their conceptions concerning the invisible world, the Son of God came from that world, and testified unto all the things which he had there seen; namely, That there is but one God supreme; That all beings are absolutely subject to him; That he is infinitely powerful and good ; and that he is the friend of mankind; That God has an only begotten Son, by whom he made and governs all things; That Jesus himself is this Son of God; That he loves mankind, is their protector, and will be their judge at the last day; That, beside the Father and the Son, there is the Spirit of God, who also loves the human race, aflists them in becoming good, and prepares them for eternal life: Finally, that there are in the invisible world many good angels; that they too bear a friendly regard to the virtuous; and that they are often fent forth to minister to them who shall be the heirs of salvation; That Jesus taught men what que merous, powerful, and benevolent friends they have in the invisible world. On the other hand he taught them, that they have there also numerous, powerful, and malicious enemies, namely, the devil and his angels, who go about continually seeking whom they may destroy. At the same time, against the dread of those enemies he has fortified us, by assuring us, that the devils are all absolutely subject to God, who allows them no farther than is agreeable to the ends of his own righteous administration, and that in due time their kingdom he will utterly destroy. But the Son of God came to instruct the poor. Therefore he did not content himself
with giving a scientific account of the invisible world, for the benefit of the learned. He revealed it in a manner adapted to the comprehension of the vulgar, and which at the same time afforded to all classes of men a compleat demonstration of the truth of what he taught. He made the inhabitants of the invisible world the actual objects of men's senses; restoring unto us the knowledge of these things, in the very manner wherein, according to the Mosaic history, it had originally been communicated. For, in the first place, being himself “ the only begotten Son of God, the bright« ness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; yea, • having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily;" by ap. pearing in our world, he manifested the character and perfections of the Godhead to the senses of men. More especially, he manifested to them the infinite wisdom of God in the scheme of redemption which he taught. He thewed them his boundless power in the many and great miracles which he performed, or enabled his apoft les to perform. He displayed God's unspeakable goodness, in his own life, which was one continued course of beneficence. Hence, in allufion to the fact, that “ God was manifested in the Aeth," he told his disciples and the
people, people, John xii. 45. " He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me." In like manner, when Philip said unto him, John xiv. 8.
66 Shew “ us the Father, and it fufficeth us ;" he replied, 9. “ Have I been “ so long time with you, and yet haft thou not known me, Philip? “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how fayeft thou “ then, Shew us the Father?" 2. Jesus shewed mankind the maker, governor, and judge of the world. Being himself that great personage, by appearing in the human nature, and conversing so long upon earth, he made himself the object of men's senses. By supplying eyes and limbs to those whose bodies wanted these members, and by raising the dead, he fhewed men his creating power. By changing the course of nature in all its parts, and by ruling the wills of men, so that they did not lay hold on him till his own time came, he shewed himself to be the governor of the world. By rising from the dead, and at the same time raising others who were dead, he demonstrated that he will raise all men, and bring them to judgment. 3. The exiftence of the devil, and of evil spirits his angels, also their malice and their power, Jesus fhewed by allowing the devils in that age, not only to afflict mankind with incurable diseases, but, by means of those diseases, to take possession of their bodies and souls. Nevertheless, their absolute subjection to him, and consequently that he is himself the sole governor of the world, he demonstrated by casting them out. Whatever power therefore the devils exercise in this world, is merely by permission from him. 4. By possessions of a kind different from these just now mentioned, Jesus Chewed mankind the existence of the Spirit of God, their great friend, together with the reality and efficacy of his operation in their salvation. The apostles and firit converts he filled with the Holy Ghost; and the reality of that poffeffion he made evident to the senses of men, by the miraculous gifts which the persons filled with the Holy Ghost exercised. They spake a variety of languages, which they knew nothing of before; they uttered prophecies, the meaning of which they did not underttand; they discerned spirits; they wrought miracles : so that no one, who saw these men, could doubt that the spirit of God was in them of a truth. 5. The existe ence of good angels, and their assiduity in ministering unto those who Thall be heirs of salvation, Jesus made evident to the senses of men, by giving the angels frequent occafions of appearing in visible forms to minister unto him; namely, at his conception, birth, temptation, agony, resurrection, and afcenfion. Thus our Lord may be said, while on earth, to have made the whole inhabitants of the invisible world, along with himself, the objects of men's fenfes, and by so doing to have put their existence and their several characters beyond doubt, in all succeeding generations.
These things confidered, the miracles performed upon the Demoniacs in the Gospels appear credible, though no such poffeffions are now observed among mankind. The poffeffion of devils was peculiar to those times; just as the poffeffions of the Spirit of God, the appearances of angels, nay, and the appearance of the Son of God himfelf, undoubtedly were. Moreover, as there were reasons for con
ledged, the one good, the other evil. These two they supposed to be continually at war together, the one to produce all the good he could, the other all the evil. It was thus they accounted for that mixa ture of good and evil in the universe, so difficult to be reconciled with just ideas of God. The most pernicious effect however of this systeo was, that it led men to the basest species of idolatry, to the worshi of the devil, in order that they might escape the direful effects of malice. Mankind thus erring in their conceptions concerning invisible world, the Son of God came from that world, and testif unto all the things which he had there seen; namely, That ther but one God supreme; That all beings are absolutely subject to h That he is infinitely powerful and good ; and that he is the frier mankind; That God has an only begotten Son, by whom he 1 and governs all things; That Jesus himself is this Son of God; he loves mankind, is their protector, and will be their judge last day; That, beside the Father and the Son, there is the Sp God, who also loves the human race, allists them in becoming and prepares them for eternal life: Finally, that there are in the visible world many good angels; that they too bear a friendly to the virtuous; and that they are often fent forth to minister pert? who shall be the heirs of salvation; That Jesus taught men w merous, powerful, and benevolent friends they have in the falo: numerous, powerful, and malicious enemies ; namely, the devilom bile world. On the other hand he taught them, that they have therefore angels, who go about continually seeking whom they may
delt mention the same time, against the dread of those enemies he has for their by assuring us, that the devils are all absolutely subject to allows them no farther than is agreeable to the ends of his ov
holy G... 2 ous adminiftration, and that in due time their kingdom he w of me destroy. But the Son of God came to instruct the poor. he did not content himself with giving a scientific account visible world, for the benefit of the learned. He revealed it dich ein ner adapted to the comprehension of the vulgar, and whtacles fame time afforded to all classes of men a compleat demose the truth of what he taught. He made the inhabitants of world the actual objects of men's senses; restoring unto u Jedge of these things, in the very manner wherein, acco Mosaic history, it had originally been communicated first place, being himself “the only begotten Son of
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form of prayer which he taught his disciples,
credited in the account which he has given of it.
rafes which the Evangelists have made use of in that part