William Stevenson.

A conference upon the miracles of our Blessed Savior : wherein all the objections against them proposed in Mr. Woolston's six Discourses, and several other greater difficulties, are fully stated and considered ... online

. (page 20 of 31)
Online LibraryWilliam StevensonA conference upon the miracles of our Blessed Savior : wherein all the objections against them proposed in Mr. Woolston's six Discourses, and several other greater difficulties, are fully stated and considered ... → online text (page 20 of 31)
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&nd the man immediately Jeap't and walk't.

' The


166 A Conference upon

SECT. V. The Cripple was not deaf, nor diftant ; fo that

^V^ we may be fure it was not for his fake that the
Apoftle fpake aloud : but that all the Company
around him might hear his awful voice, as well
as fee the miraculous effect of it. Nor cou'd
it be for Lazarus* fake that Jefus called with a
loud Voice. Tho he muft have obey'd the pow-
erful Command if it had been utter'd in the foft-
eft whifper; the numerous witneffes cou'd not
have known that he was called into Life by Je-
fus if his voice had not been loud enough to
be heard by all that were prefent.

sr.fc. y . p. ; M. This is a circumftance of little moment.

4' 49. But certainly Jefus's not ordering the napkin to
be taken from Lazarus' s face, was an omiflion
that cannot fo eafily be accounted for. It leaves
too much room to fufpect fome fraud, or CO!!UT
fion, in the Miracle. The witneffes wou'd have
been more certain that there was a real Refur-
rection, if they had feen the Corpfe firft ; and
been fure that Lazarus was dead. This omif-
fion cou'd not proceed from forgetfulnefs in Je-
fus> You fay he was always prudent and cin-
cumfpect in his actions : and indeed his conduct
on this occafion is a good proof of it. He
knew very well what he was doing. If the vi-
fage of Lazarus had been fit to be feen, no
doubt the napkin wou'd have been removed.
And fmce it was not, the cautious and confi-

^ derate will conclude that there was fome good

reafon for it. You muft own, I think, that if
there was a real miracle here, the matter was ei-
ther ill conducted by Jefus ; or foolifhly related
by his Evangelift.

A 7 . We may be fure that if the Evangelift
had either known or fufpected any fraud in this
matter, he wou'd not have mention'd an ufelefs
circumitance that might leffen the credit of the


our SAV i o u R'J Miracles.

miracle. No thing but a ftrictand fcrupulpus SECT.V.
Sincerity cou'd have led. him to mention it. v - x Y\rf
But it is likely neither Jefus nor he thought ic
cou'd ever enter into the mind of man to doubt
whether a Perfon that had been four days bu-
ryed, was really dead. None of the witnefies
to the refurrection of Lazarus cou'd doubt of
his death. It is likely that fome at leaft of
thofe many Jews who were his Friends, and came joh.xi-4/.
now to condole with his Sifters, had feen the
Corpfe before it was buryed. Among the Jews
the mourning and lamentation of Friends over
the deceafed was generally very ferious and fo-
lemn. Nature inclined them to it : and they
needed only to follow its dictates. The fame
witnefies had probably feen other unqueftion-
able Miracles of Jefus ; and therefore cou'd not
fufpect he wou'd ever ftoop to any Fraud j ef-
pecially in a Cafe where they were fure it was
impracticable. None even of the unbelieving^^. 46.
Jews who were prefent cou'd doubt of Lazarus'
death : their nofes muft have convinced them
of it more effectually than a fight of the Corpfe.
If any-one had defir'd that fatisfaction, no doubt
it wou'd have been granted, The true reafon
why the dead body was not brought out of the
Cave, and mown to the Spectators, was, becaufe
many of them had feen it already : and it muft
have been a difagreable and very offenfive piece
of trouble for any of them to enter into the
cave, and bring out a {linking Corpfe. This
was the more unneceffary here becaufe Jefus
was juft going to raife it to life ; and to give
them the wonderful pleafure of feeing their dead
Friend come, of himfelf, out of the cave. Jt
cou'd fcarce be expected that Jefus fhou'd ufe
a needlefs precaution againft fuch an abfurd and
unnatural fufpicion as you fuggeft. When dip


A Conference upon

SECT.V. Stone was taken away from the mouth of the
^-*V*>^ Cave, he lift up his eyes, and faid " Father, I
" thank thee that thou haft heard me. And I
" knew that thou heareft me always : but be-
seejoh.xi. <s caufe of the people who (land by, I faid it,
i j, 13,4.. rj- nat Lazarus Ihou'd be raifed;] that they
may believe that thou haft fent me. And
when he had thus fpoken he cry'd with a
" loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he
" that had been dead came forth, bound hand
" and foot with grove-cloaths j and his face was
" bound about with a napkin. Then faid Je-
< 6 fus unto them, loofe him, and let him go".
If you duely confider'd thefe circumftances, you
cou'd not poflibly entertain the lead fufpicion
of Fraud. In this cafe Lazarus muft have been
vifited by feveral perfons during his Sicknefs ;
and feen by many after his death. His face was
tyed round with a napkin : and his hands and
legs bound with grave-cloaths. In this condition
he lay about four days in a cave, before Jefus
came to raife him to life. Now can any-one fe-
rioufly doubt whether he was dead, or alive, all
that time ? If his Sicknefs had been feign'd ,
his death muft have become real, in lefs than
four days. He cou'd not breathe freely, nor
live long with a napkin tyed about his face. So
that this very circumftance, on which you found
a fufpicion of fraud, muft to any -one elfe be a
convincing proof that Lazarus was truly dead
from the very firft. Befides, as his Sicknefs
whether real, or feign'd, muft have weaken'd
him ; fo his fafting feveral days in a cold Cave
if he had been laid there alive, muft certainly
have kill'd him,

p;f c f .p. M. No doubt care was taken to provide him

49. ' with neceffarys : and perhaps it was by difco-

vering feme fragments of the food he fubftfted


our SAVIOUR^ Miracles.

on, while he was in the Cave that the Jews de- SECT. V.
tecled the Fraud in his Refurreftion.

N. When the Rabbi fuppofed that Lazarus
might have Food by him, to live upon in the
Cave ; he forgot that his Hands were bound, or
fwath'd up in Grave-cloaths.

M. The Grave-cloaths might be fo wrapt
about his Hands, as not to bind them up.
Each might be fwath'd feparately : and then
he might ftill feed himfelf.

N. But that cou'd not be St. John's mean-
ing when he faid that Lazarus came forth, ha-
ving his Hands and Feet bound with Grave-
cloaths. If he had only meant that his Hands
and Feet were wrap' t-up, or fwath'd, each by
itfelf; why fhou'd he mention the Feet and Hands,
more than the reft of the Body , which was
certainly bound up in Grave-cloaths as well
as the Hands and Feet ?

M. Do you fancy his Hands were bound to-

N. I don't think they were fo bound together
as People alive are. fetter' d : but it is likely that
the Grave-cloaths deprived Lazarus of the ufe
of his Hands. We have but a very imperfect
Account of the Burying-drefs that the Jews ufed
in our Saviour's time. It feems to have been
various, according to 'People's Rank. The
*y/4ioy or Napkin, was tyed about the Head
and || Face. Thexe'ffcf, or o'floW included the IJo
feveral Bandages or Swathings for the Body.
The cWwv, was a Linen-meet, in which, fome-
times the whole Body was wrapt up together.
St. Luke mentions not only the *f <rmFwv in tLu
which the Body of Jefus was wrap't ; but n
the * o'do'vi*, or feparate Grave-cloaths, which c
he left in the Sepulchre when he arofe j taking
only the oWwV, or Linen-fheet, away with


270 A Conference upon

SECT. V. him, to ferve for a light Garment ; fuch as

\S^MU^ tne 7 ews Sometimes ufed to wear || alone. If the

xiv. y i, /a. cWwv, or Winding-meet, had not been ufed fo,

as to bind up Lazarus' s Arms and Body together?

there wou'd have been no occafion to loofe him.

M. Jefus might only mean that they lhou*d
untyethe Napkin that was bound about his Face.
N. If that had been all, and he had had the
free life of his Hands ; he himfelf cou'd have
loofed the Napkin ; or at lead have puih't it
up, fo that he might fee ; and go away without
being loofed by others. But *Qvn vWj/e<v, im-
plys that he cou'd hardly ftir, till they help't

T. If his Hands and Feet were bound up in
one common wrapper, as you imagin, how
cou'd he come out of the Cave ? He cou'd no
more walk without ufing his Legs, than he
cou'd eat without his Hands.

JV. The Linen-meet, in which his whole Bo-
dy was wrap't, muft have been loofer about his
Legs, than around the Arms. So that tho' he
had not the free ufe of his Arms, or Legs, he
might yet, by ftruggling, make a fhift to come
out by fhort Steps, fuch as one muft take who
is hamper'd about the Feet. The Sheet might
be wrapt loofely about him : and when he re-
viv'd, and flruggled to get up, he might loofen
it a little more ; and move forward a few Steps
out of the Cave.

ttfc. i. p. M. Had the Napkin been taken away that
*' the Spectators might fee the change of his Coun-

tenance from Death to Life , it wou'd have
been a more convincing Proof of his real Re-
furrection, than that feeing him come out of
the Cave muffled up in Grave-cloaths.

N. IfSt.Jobnhzd told us that thaSpectators faw
the mortiffd looks Q Lazarus \ and the miraculous


our SAV i o u R'S- Miracles. 27 1

change of his countenance from death to life; SECT.V.
Infidels wou'd have faid that a pale counte-
nance, or ghaftly look is no infallible fign of
death : that they who faint away, look as pale
as death :' and that the fudden return of fenfe,
and motion is no miraculous change. The truth
is, if the fpectators had feen the change of La-
zarus's countenance from a feeming death, to
real life ; it wou'd rather have gratify'd their
curiofity, than effectually convinc'd their Rea-
fon : becaufe they wou'd probably have feen no
more than what happens to thofe who from a
fwoon, and a very pale lifelefs look, return in
an inltant to the confcious ufe of their fenfes.
In fuch cafes the opening of the Eyes, and the
ufe of fpeech, or other voluntary motions, are
the firft figns of returning Senfe. The blood
and colour does not flow to the lips and cheeks
in a moment. And when a Corpfe is brought
to life, there can be no doubt whether the per-
fon was really dead. The traces of death, the
pale complexion, funk eyes, and ghaftly afpect,
muft continue for fome time. Tho the heart
beats, and the blood circulates , and the ufe of
Senfe, Speech, and Motion is immediately per-
ceiv'd j we muft not fuppofe that the revived
perfon has the look, aire, or countenance he u-
fed to have before he iicken'd. It cannot pof-
fibly be expected. Strength, Vigour, and a
healthy look muft return by degrees. This is
the conftant courfe of nature ; which a Miracle
cannot be fuppos'd to interrupt any farther than
is neceflary. . It is fo far from being probable,
or indeed poffible, that a perfon juft raifed to
life, after being dead feveral days, fhou'd have
a lively afpect, and healthy look ; that it is
both expedient , and in the nature of things -
that he Ihou'd for feyeral hours at
i leaft,

272- d. Conference upon

SECT.V. leaft, (and perhaps for fome days) have in his
S^VN-' Face a ghaftly aire, and other plain marks of
that Death, from which he is raifed. Hence it
appears that the removing the napkin from La-
zarus' face, to fhow the Spectators his ghaftly
vifage was really an unneceflfary treuble. His
mortify* d looks muft ftill have appear'd vifibly
enough after he was brought to life. Nor cou'd
the Spectators any-more doubt of his having
been certainly dead; than of his being really
brought to life again.

r>ifc. M. It is plain from the flory in St. John that

*i. ' there was a difpute among the by-ftanders,
whether it was a real miracle or not : For tho
many of the Jews who had feen the things that
Jefus did, believed on him : on the other hand it
p is certain, according to chrijlian Commentator s-,

that fome did not believe the miracle, but went
their ways to the Pharifees, and told them what
things Jefus had done: that is, told them in
what manner the intrigue was mannaged i and
complain'd of the Fraud in it.

N. I dare fay no Commentator whatever, either
Chrijlian or Heathen, befides the Rabbi, ever af-
ferted that fome of the fpectators did not believe
the miracle. But I don't wonder at his father-
ing 'his own ridiculous fictions upon chrijlian
Commentators : feeing he tells us, it is plain from
the Story mjohn that there was a difpute among
the by-ftanders , whether the refurrection of
Lazarus was a real miracle or not. -The Evan-
gelift does not give the leaft intimation of any
fuch thing. Thofe witnefles who gave the Pha-
rifees an account of the matter cou'd not doubt
whether the railing of Lazarus was a real Mi-
racle : they had all the evidence of their Senfes
for it. The only thing that- they cou'd poffibly
doubt of, was, whether the Miracle was a fuffi-
4 cient

s Miracles.

cierit proof of Chrift's divine Million, and of SECT/V.
the truth of bis Doctrine. What report thefe v^OT^
prejudiced Jews made to the Pbarifees, appears
plainly enough from the very next verfe. "
" gather J d the chief-priefts and pharifees a
" Council, and faid what do we ? for this man
" doth many Miracles. If we let him thus a-
" lone, all men will believe on him : and the
" Romans will come and take away both our
" place and nation." They were afraid that
Jefus having fuch an influence over the multi-
tude wou'd fet up himfelf to be their King :
and that fuch a rebellion wou'd alarm the Ro-
mans, and lead them to punifh the jewifh nation
with captivity ; or the intire lofs of thofe re-
mains of Liberty which as yet they allowed the
Jews to enjoy. But when Caiaphas the High-
prieft told them that it was more expedient that
one man fhou'd die for the fafety of the peo-
ple, than that the whole nation fhou'd perifrt
and be deftroyed : then, from that day forth they
took Counfel together how they might put Jefus to

M. If there had been an indifputable Miracle Dili./. P ;
wrought in raifing Lazarus; why were the 43 '
chief-priefts and pharifees fo incen/ed upon it as
to take Counfel to put Jefus to death ? where
was the provocation? I can conceive none.
Tho the Jews were ever fo canker'd with malice
and hatred to Jefus before, yet fuch a ftupen-
dous miracle was enough to flop their mouths
and turn their hearts.

N. I mewed you before that the advice of
Caiaphas , and the refolution of the Jewifh
Council to deftroy Jefus was evidently founded
upon political views. They had not the leaft
Sufpicion of any fraud in the raifing of Laza-
rus. They cou'd not buc acknowledge that
T Jefus

174 A Conference upon

SECT. v. Jefas wrought many Miracles. Their only fear
^'YN-' and concern was that all men wou'd believe on
him : and under the pretence of being the Mef-
ftab he wou'd take upon him to be King of the
Jews: and that by thefe means their nation
might be enflaved and ruined by the Romans.
But however that might be, they were fure that
if the Doctrine of Jefus prevaiPd, the heathen
nations wou'd be fet upon the level with God's
chofen people: that Jerufalem wou'd no longer
be the chief place of worfhip and refort: that
their fpiritual Authority over the people, and
their facrifices wou'd be flighted : and all their
power and perquifites be loft. The Priefts and
pharifees did not hate Jefus for being a healer
Dire.* p. of Difeafes, and doing fuch beneficent Miracles
" as -the raifing of Lazarus ; but becaufe he free-

ly oppofed and condemn'd their Errors ; and re-
proved them for their hypocrify, rapacioufnefs,
and other vices : becaufe he threaten'd their na-
tion with ruin ; and taught a fcheme of Doc-
trine which they cou'd not relifh. Thefe were
the provocations you inquired after. Hence
their rage and inveterate malice againft Jefus
flowed ; and their wicked refolution to deitroy

^rc./ p -^ Suppofing their prejudices againft Jefus
43- ' ' were invincible ; yet why was poor and inoffen-
five Lazarus, on whom this good and great
work was wrought, an object of their hatred ?
why were the chief-priefts fo enraged as to take
council to put not only Jefus but Lazarus, to
death ?

ch.jtii.j, N. The reafon of their hatred and rage a-

** gainft Lazarus is plainly given by St. John.

When the people heard that Jefus was come

" to Bethany, they came from Jerufalem ; not

" for his fake only, but that they might fee La-

" xarut

our SA v i o u RS Miracles. 2 7 J

alfo, whom he had raifed from the SECT.V.
*< dead. Therefore the chief-priefts confulted *~~v*~J
* that they might put Lazarus alfo to death ;
< becaufe by reafo.n of him many of the Jews
went away and believed on Jefits. 9 * This was
the true caufe of their rage againft Lazarus.
He was a man of figure and credit ; well known
at Jerufalem; and much beloved. His tefti-job.xi.jfc
mony had great weight : and the numbers that 33-
were converted by it, and forfook the prieftsj
encreafed dayly. Nothing cou'd fo effectually
put a flop to this as their deftroying Lazarus ;
who was the more obnoxious to their rage, by
his being a particular Friend, and difciple of s<eV ^.
Jefus. The Miracle in raifmg him to life was
moft ftupendous and unquestionable. It put
an end to all their Cavils : and fo far ftopt their
mouths that they cou'd objeft nothing to it.
But that it might fpread no further among the
people , they refolved to cut-off Lazarus :
which wou'd have ftruck a terror into the wit-
nefles of his Refurreftion y and have obliged
them to be either quite filent, or very cautious.
You fee now that Lazarus was not hated and
perfecuted by the Jews merely for having a good Di fc./. g
and wonderful work done upon him, but be- 1 ***
caufe he was a living monument, and unquefti-
onable Evidence of Cbrift's miraculous power ;
and gave fuch a teftimony to his Divine Autho-
rity and Miflion that all men were coming to
believe on him. The Temple was like to be for-
faken ; and the priefts neglected. They fre- joh.xii. i$,
vaiPd nothing by all their mad zeal and outrage ;
but found the world was gone after Jefus. And
all this was chiefly owing to the refurrec~Hon of
Lazarus. Thefe were the reafons of the inve-
teracy and rage of the Priefts and Pharifees a-
gainft him, And it is fuch a credible and pro- p, 43 .
T 2 Mk

A Conference upon

SECT. V. lable account of this matter as intirely comports
with reafon and fenfe : and is agreable to the
Practice and Conduct of the priefts of other
nations, when poficfs't by the fame blind zeal
that influenc'd the Pharifees.

M. But fuppofing what is never to be grant-
ed, that the Jews of old were fo inhuman, bru-
tifh, and barbarous as to hate and perfecuteXa-
zarus as well as Jefus for this miracle ; yet why
did Jefus and his Difciples, wkh Lazarus, run
away and abfcond upon it ? for they walk't no
more openly among the Jews , but went thence
into a Country near to the wildernefs: and
there Jefus continued with his Difciples. Is not
here a plain fign of guilt and Fraud ? men that
have God's caufe, and Truth, and Power on
their fide, never want Courage and refolution
to ftand to k. However you may palliate the
cowardly and timorous conduct of Jefus and his
Confederates in this cafe ; yet with me it is like
demonftration that there was a difcover'd cheat
in the miracle : or they wou'd have undaunted-
ly faced their Enemys, without fears and appre-
henfions of danger from them.

N. Here is nothing but miflake and mifre-
prefentation ; and wrong reafoning upon falfe
facts. St. John fays nothing of Lazarus' run-
ning away and abfconding : but rather intimates
the contrary. He tells us indeed that when, up-
on the advice of Caiapbas, the jewifli Council
had refolved to put Jefus to death ; he appear'd
no more openly among the Jews for a while ;
but withdrew with his Difciples ; becaufe the
proper time for laying down his life was not
yet come. He had for the very fame reafon
feveral times before this, withdrawn himfelf
from the rage and violence of the Priefts and
Pharifees. So that his retiring now with his


our SAVIOUR'S M trades. 277

Difciples towards the wildernefs cou'd not raife SECT. V.
the leaft fufpicion againft Jefus either of guilt <-"YN>
or Fear. It only fhowed a prudent care to pre-
ferve his life till the time fhou'd come for him
to refign it. When that time approach'!, he re- .
turn'd tojenifalem', and appeared .openly among
the Jews. He came firft to Bethany where La- joh.xii.i.
zarus was : who was fo far from abfconding that
he feems to have continued ftill at his own
Houfe ; where Jefus found him. The time for
his death being now at hand ; he ihewed no
figns of guilt, or fear : nor took any more
fare to avoid the rage of his Enemys. He
feems rather to have purpofely exafperated them
by entering into Jerufalem, in an humble kind
of Triumph, amidft the acclamations and Ho-
fannahs of the Multitudes that followed him.
He now taught dayly in the Temple : and by every Luk>xix
ftep of his conduct manifeflly Ihewed that it was
not Cowardice that made him withdraw for a-
while. Prudence obliged him to preferve his
life, without working continual miracles, till
the proper time fhou'd come for him to part
with it. And then he undauntedly faced his Ene-
mys j without any timorous dread of that death,
difgrace, and inconcejveable torment, which he
foretold, and was fure, they wou'd inflict upon

M. Whatever the Evangelifls fay, it isunna- Difc.j-.p. 4 j.
tural to hate a miraculous healer of Difeafes i
and there muft be fomewhat fupprefs't about the
inveteracy of the Jews to Jefus ; elfe his healing
power, if it was fo great as is imagined, mult
have reconciled them to him. But that they p ' 4 ^
ihou'd hate not only Jefus for rajfing the dead,
but the perfon raifed by him, is improbable, in-
predible, and impoflible. If Hiftorians can pa-
rallel this Story of the malignity of the
T 3

178 A Conference upon

SECT.V. towards Jefus* and Lazarus, upon fiich a real
Miracle -with any thing equally barbarous and
inhumane, in any other Se6l or Nation, there
wou'd be fome reafon to believe what is charg*4
upon the Jews to be true. Or if fuch inhuma-
nity abftraftedly confider'd be at all agreeable
to the conceptions any one can form of human-
nature in the moft unciviliz'd and brutifh peo-
ple j I fhou-d grant the Jews in the Cafe before
us to be fuch a peqple. But I can fee no reafon
to entertain worfe thoughts of them than of o-
ther people.

N. There can be no fuch thing as inhumanity
abftraftedly confider'd. Human-nature is inca-
pable of it. Wherever any inhuman adlion is
done, it flows either from fome great Provoca-
tion, or violent Paffion j or from outragious
Zeal, which is the only principle that can lead
men to calm, inhumane,' fteddy cruelty. But
even there the inhumanity is not to be dbftrafted-
ly conjider'd. The unhappy Sufferers, however
juft and good, are reprefented as Hereticks and
the worft of Men : and the Inquifitor or Perfe-
cuter thinks he doth fervice to God by deftroy-
ing or punifhing'them. I have fufficiently ex-
plain'd the reafqns of the rage and malice of the
Chief-priefts and Pharifees both againft Jefus*
and Lazarus. And it is eafy to find parallel Ca-
fes where real Miracles did not check the rage
and malice fhewn againft thofe who wrought
them. The Rabbi talks as if he never read or
heard of Pharaoh's obilinacy after he and his
people had fuffer'd long under the terrible
plagues and calamitys that Mofes miraculoufly
brought upon them. He ftill harden*d his neart > an< ^ ev>en threaten'd Mofes with death, if
ch.xi-4, 5-. he ever came again into his prefence. Nay thp
J h ; xU ' a * the Lord fmote the firft-born of all the Rgyp-

our SAV i o u R'J Miracles. 179

fo that there was not a Houfe where there SECT. V.
was not one dead : yet, when at Pharaoh's ur-
gent requeft the Israelites went out of Egypt into
the wildernefs, his heart was ftill turn'd againft
them i he purfued them in a hoftile manner to
deftroy them ; and was at laft drown'd with his
army in the Red-fea. Tho Elijah wrought fe-
veral unquestionable miracles, Jezebel threaten 'd -Kings x\x.
him with death. When he foretold Aha^iab^^^
death, that King fent a Captain and fifty men \i. m *
to take him : and tho the Prophet called down
fire from Heaven that confumed them, yet Aba-
ziab fent out another party to apprehend him j
who perifh't in the fame manner. How often
did the Ifraelites themfelves rebel againft God
and murmur againft his fervant Mofes^ their De-
liverer, and Guide and Lawgiver -, of whofe
miraculous power they had the moil convincing
proofs ? They were angry with him for bring-
ing them out of Egypt: and were almoft ready ^^1.4,
to Jlone him. When he was abfent from them,

Online LibraryWilliam StevensonA conference upon the miracles of our Blessed Savior : wherein all the objections against them proposed in Mr. Woolston's six Discourses, and several other greater difficulties, are fully stated and considered ... → online text (page 20 of 31)