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of thofe SER M.

"If the,

what might they expect would be the fate
who fhould flight and reject the gospel ?
"word spoken by angels was ftedfaft, and every
tranfgreffion and disobedience received a just re-
compence of reward; how fhall we escape, if we
neglect fo great falvation, which at first began to
"be spoken bp the LORD, and was confirmed unto
us by them that heard him? GOD alfo bearing
"them witnefs, with figns and wonders, and with
"divers miracles, and gifts of the holy Ghost, ac-
"cording to his own will. Zuveπiμaglugerlos T

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es, GoD adjoining this farther teftimony of signs "and wonders." The apoftles teftified what they had heard from our LORD; and to give credit and confirmation to their teftimony, GOD was pleafed to endow them with miraculous gifts; " he bare them "witness with signs, and wonders, and miracles." So likewife, Acts xiv. 3. it is faid, that "God gave "teftimony to the word of his grace, granting figns

CCXXIX.

and wonders to be done by the apoftles." Sometimes there are more words put together, to express the giving of this miraculous power. Acts ii. 22. JESUS of Nazareth, approved of GOD by miracles, "and wonders, and figns." 2 Cor. xii. 12. St. Paul, fpeaking of himself, fays, "the figns of an

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apostle were wrought among you, in all patience, "in figns, and wonders, and miracles." Thefe were the marks of an extraordinary and immediate commiffion, fuch as was that of the apostles.

It is to no purpose nicely to enquire into the difference of thefe words, σημεία, τέβαλα, δυνάμεις, "signs, wonders, and miracles," because in all probability there is no difference intended, it being the manner of the Hebrews, when they would express a great thing, or a great degree of any thing, to heap VOL. XI. feveral

Y

SER M-feveral words together, fignifying the fame thing. CCXXIX. So we find, Deut. v. 6. "Thou shalt love the LORD

thy GoD with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, "and with all thy might," that is, greatly, with a very ardent and intense degree of affection. So likewife in the text, GOD is faid to "bear witness to the "apostles with figns, and wonders, and miracles," that is, in a very eminent and extraordinary manner, by great and wonderful miracles.

From these words three things offer themselves to our confideration.

First, that miracles are a divine teftimony given to a person or doctrine. "GOD bearing them tefti"mony by figns, and wonders, and miracles."

Secondly, that God gave this teftimony to the apostles and firft preachers of christianity, in a very eminent manner: for fo the phrafe fignifies; fo many words being multiplied to exprefs the greatness of the thing.

Thirdly, we will confider the reason why miracles are now ceafed in the church, and have been for feveral ages, fo that there have been no footsteps of them for a long time.

First, that miracles are a divine testimony given to a perfon or doctrine. God is here faid to

bear

witness to the apoftles with figns, and wonders, ." and divers miracles;" that is, the miracles which God enabled them to work, were an evidence that their doctrine was from GOD.

And because there is fome difficulty in this argument, therefore that we may the more diftinctly un-derstand of what force this argument or teftimony of miracles is, to prove the divinity of any person or doctrine, it will be requifite clearly to state thefe two things.

I.. What a miracle is.

II. In

CCXXIX.

II. In what circumftances, and with what limita-S ER M, tions, miracles are a fufficient teftimony to the truth and divinity of any doctrine. The clearing of these two things fhall be my work at this time.

So

I. What a miracle is. The forteft and plainest defcription I can give of it is this, that it is a fupernatural effect, evident and wonderful to fense. that there are two things neceffary to a miracle. 1. That it be a fupernatural effect.

2. that it be evident and wonderful to fenfe. 1. That it be a fupernatural effect. By a fupernatural effect, I mean fuch an effect, as either in itfelf and in it's own nature, or in the manner and circumftances of it, exceeds any natural power that we know of to produce it. For there are fome things that are miraculous in themfelves; others that are only miraculous in the manner and circumftances of their operation. For instance, the refurrection of one from the dead, is a thing which in itfelf is fuC pernatural, and an effect above any power that we know of in nature to produce; but the healing of feveral difeafes, and the fpeaking of languages, are not things wich are in themfelves and in their nature fupernatural; for we fee that they may be acquired by natural skill and induftry: but to heal all forts of difeafes in an inftant, and by a word, and without the application of natural means; and on a sudden to fpeak languages which a man never learned; these are things, which though they be not in their nature, yet in fuch circumstances as thefe, they are fupernatural.

I fay, that a fupernatural effect is that which is above any natural power that we know of to produce; by which I do not mean, that miracles are always an immediate effect of the divine power, and confequently that GoD alone can work them. For angels,

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CCXXIX.

ER M.good or bad, may do fuch things, as exceed any natural power known to us, and fuch as we cannot distinguish by any certain marks and characters from thofe effects which are wrought by the immediate power of GOD; and if we cannot distinguish them, they are equally miracles to us. When the angel flew 185000 in the camp of the Affyrians in one night, this ought in all reafon to be reckoned a miracle; and yet this, though done by the command of GOD, an angel might do by his own power and ftrength; for they excel in ftrength :" but what limitations to fet to their power, we cannot tell, only it is finite; fo that excepting those things, which the fcripture hath peculiarly appropriated to GOD, we cannot fay what it is that an angel cannot do.

.

The fame may be faid concerning evil angels. The devil may work wonders, or affift his inftruments to work them. So Pharaoh's magicians wrought feveral miracles by the power of the devil, and did fome of the very fame things that Mofes and Aaron did, either really or in appearance, and it is all one whether. For he, who, to men's fenfes, turns a rod into a ferpent, works as great a miracle to me, as he who really does it; and if I am not to believe a thing to be a miracle, when to my senses it appears to be wrought, I am never to believe any, unless I could make fome difference between those miracles which are real, and thofe that only appear to be wrought; for if we know not how to distinguish them, they are to us all one as if they were real: but if they may be diftinguished, then there will be need of another miracle, to fhew which are real and which not; and the fame queftion and doubt will arife about that miracle, and fo without end.

CCXXIX.

So that I do not fee what is gained by faying, that S ERM. Pharaoh's magicians did only delude men's fenfes, but did not turn their rods really into ferpents, as Aaron did his; because this may be faid on one fide, as well as on the other for to the standers by there was no difference, but the one feemed to the fenfes of the beholders, to be as real as the other; and the text makes no difference, but fays, "the magicians did "in like manner; for they caft down every man his "rod, and they became ferpents," only Aaron's had this advantage, that "his rod fwallowed up their "rods:" but the main difference was here, Mofes and Aaron wrought 'fuch miracles, as the magicians could not work, neither really, nor in appearance : for when Aaron by fmiting the duft with his rod, had turned it into lice, it is faid that the magicians attempted to do fo with their enchantments, but could not, and then they yielded, and acknowledged that it was "the finger of God." And if they had not been thus plainly overcome, but could, to all appearance of fenfe, have done all those things which Mofes and Aaron did, it might juftly have been difputed which had been the true prophets.

So that the devil and his inftruments may work miracles. Mofes plainly fuppofeth that a false prophet, who comes to feduce the people to idolatry, may work a true fign or wonder, Deut. xiii. 1, 2. "If there arife among you a prophet, or a dreamer "of dreams, and giveth thee a fign or a wonder; "and the fign or the wonder come to pafs, whereof "he fpake unto thee, faying, let us go after other gods." And our bleffed SAVIOUR exprefly foretels, Matth. xxiv. that "falfe chrifts, and false prophets fhall arife after his death, and fhew great figns and wonders."

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