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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

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forfakenhim. They declare that the Pharifees
job. 1x14. called him a Sinner , or wicked Perfon ; and
v . ,. reproach't him with being a breaker of the
Luk. vii. 34. Sabbath ; a Glutton , and a wine-bibber ; an
Mat. xxvii. Impoftor, or deceiver of the people ; as one

Jo 3 h. x. 20. tnat was ma ^ anc ^ Pfftfft by tne Devil : and
war.iii. ai. jn fine, as a Confederate with Devils. The
Evangelifts not only relate all thefe things
plainly and candidly , but they do not fo much
as tell us that what the Jews laid to the charge
of Jefus, was falfe and injurious ; which, one
wou'dhavc thought, Truth and Juftice requir-
ed them to do. Their Silence on fuch occa-
fions is really furprizing. They never fay
one word in his defence, unlefs when they re-
late any difcourfe of Jefus wherein he vindi-
cated himfelf. They neither commend him ;
nor cenfure his Enemys : but leave us to col-
lect his true Character from his Doctrine, his
Miracles, and his Conduct. I appeal now to
any unbyafs't Perfon, whether if a candid Jew
had compofed any of the Gofpels, and con-
fined himfelf to mere Facts, he cou'd have
fpokcn more coldly and indifferently ofCbri/l- t

or



bur SAV i o u R'J Mir deles. 40 j

or mown lefs concern for his honour and re- SECT. Vfc
puration than the Evangelifts have done. They s *^r^>
fpeak of tbemfefoes too , and the other Apo-
flles, with the fame honeft impartiality. They
have recorded their low rank in life ; and
their very mean Employments : their Want ofMat.ijt.^
Faith ; their dullnefs and (lownefs of appre- ar - ' r6 >
henfion in the plaineft matters-, their grofs Mar > iv -^
Miftakes ; their contentions about Superiority , j^'Si?.
the * ambitious requeftof James and John ; thcjjj- .?4-
envy and indignation of the reft againft them : 24. ' *
the wicked treachery of Judas ; Peter's ihame- * ^ xx -
ful denying his Mafter, with all its aggravat-Mar.xiv. 7 n
ing Circumftances ; (which are related
Mark his particular Friend ;) the cowardice Lu ^
of the other Apoilles in forfaking him ; their job.
ignorant disbelief of his refurrection at firfl; 1 *
and 'Thomas's obftinate incredulity till he had
all the pofllble evidence of Senfe for his con-
viction. Luke too in the dfts gives us a yietyg-*. i . rii
black (and therefore undoubtedly true) Cha-
racter of his friend Paul before his converfion :
and mentions the warm contention and rup- ch - xV>
ture betwixt Paul, and Barnabas. And the
Apoftle generally fpeaks of himfelf in fuch
very humble and abafing terms, as having been
a Perfecuter, * Blafpbemcr* injurious to the Dif-
( ciples of Chrift, and even unworthy to be c ailed **
an Apoftle ; that we cannot poflibly doubt ofj,
his finccrity in any thing he faid or did. The
candid relation of all thefe things is an incon-
teftable proof of the integrity of the Evange-
Jills and Apoftlcs. Indeed there is no Hiiiory
whatever that has half fo much intrinfick evi-
dence of its truth and credibility, as we find in
the Holy Scriptures.

D d 2 f. Your



404 A Conference upon

SECT. VI. 7*. Your remarks prove that in the Gofpeli
there are all the Appearances of Truth and
Candour that can be defired: but might not
the Evangelifts have artfully affected, and con-
trived this fhew of Sincerity on purpofe to gain
credit , and to make their teftimony appear un-
queftionable ? How can we be fure that they
did not defign to impofe upon the world, by
giving a romantick account of things that were
never done ?

N. Such extravagant fufpicions tend to de-
ftroy all truft and faith among mankind ; and
to lead people to the wildeft fort of Scepticifm.
If mean, artlefs, ignorant Men are to be fuf-
pected of a refined policy and the deepeft dif-
fimulation, while they give all imaginable proofs
of their fmcerity and honeft meaning ; there is
an end of all truft and confidence. It muft be
impofiible to diftinguifh betwixt Integrity, and
Fallhood in any cafe. The ftrongeft appearan-
ces of Candour and Veracity may Hill be fuf-
pected : Human teftimony can never be in-
tirely rely'd on. All Hiftory may be but
Romance : and the only things we can be fure
of are thofe which we fee, or feel. I proved
fully before that it was morally impofiible for
Jefus, or his Apoftles, to be engaged in any
Fraud, either in his raifing others from the
dead ; or in his being raifed himfelf on the
third day. And the fame reafoning is equally
applicable to every part of their Conduct. What
I then offer'd to your confideration is farther
confirm'd by the intrinfick marks of credibility
contain'd in the Gofpels : and by the external
Evidence of their Truth, that arifes from the
concurring teftimony of other * Hiftorians who

* See Grstiut of the Truth of the Chriftian Religion :
tad The Credibility of the Gofpsl- Hiftory * by Mr. Lardner.

relate



our SAV i o u RS Miracles. 4 o j

relate feveral of the remarkable Fads that are SECT.
mention'd, and Events that are foretold, in the
Gofpels. Let me farther remind you that if
the Evangelifts cou'd be fuppofed either foolifh
or wicked enough to attempt impofing upon
the world, by giving a falfe account of things
in their Gofpels, it muft have been impoffi-
tie for them to fucceed in it : becaufe they
cou'd not expect to be believed if they related
any thing of moment but v/hat vaft numbers
of other Chriftians knew, and believed, and
practifed, as well as the Evangelills themfelves.
The Doctrine of Jefus was preach't and pro-
pagated by the Apoftles in feveral Nations, be-
fore any of the Gofpels were written. Churches
were planted in many places ; and united So-
cietys of Believers were form'd., The Lord's
day was religioufly obferved in commemoration
of Cbrift's having rifen upon the firft day of
the week : and the Sacraments of Baptifm,
and the Lord's Supper were dayly adminifter'd.
So that when Matthew's Gofpel was publifh't
there were many thoufands of chriftian Con-
verts who had heard Jefus, or his Apoftles
preach ; and had feen their Miracles ; and
cou'd eafily know whether that Gofpel con.
tain'd the fame doctrine which they had often
heard, and thofe Facts which they had either
feen themfelves, or heard related by fuch as
were EyewitnefTes of what they declared. Thefc
numerous Converts, muft certainly have known
whether the account that Matthew's Gofpel
gives of the Doctrine and Miracles of Jefit5>
the original inftitution of the Sacraments, and
other religious Ufages they obferved, was the
lame that they had often heard from the A-
pollles. The fame Obfervation may be ap-
ply'd to the other three Gofpels 5 with this
P d'3



A Conference upon

SECT. VI. particular advantage : that after the frft

pel was publifh't, and approved by the Apo-
itles, the other difciples of Jefus had not only
their-own perfonal knowledge of the chriftian
doctrine to depend on , but a written Standard
of it, with which thofe who had none of the
Apoftles among them to confult, cou'd com-
pare the other Gofpels that were afterwards
publifh't -, and the more eafily diftinguifh the
genuine, from the fpurious ones that the an-
tient Hereticks compofed to fupport their im-
moral pernicious Errors. So that whether we
confider the intrinfick marks of credibility
contain'd in the Gofpels themfelves i or the
external Evidence and Atteftation given to the
truth, and genuine Authority of them, by a
vaft number of unqueftionable Witneffes ; and
the concurring teftimonys of other Hiflorian*
both Jewifh, and Heathen -, we have the ut-
moft reafon to believe not only that the Go-
fpels, and other Books of the New-Teftament
\vere written by the perfons whofe names they
bear ; but that they contain a faithful account
of the Doctrine of Jefus, and of the Miracles,
and other Facts which confirm the truth and
divine authority of it.

< T. I cannot, after all, but think it fome-
what furprizing that in the Gofpels we ihou'd
have fuch a dark perplexing account given us of
feveral of Jefas's Miracles, as furnifhes too
great a handle for Infidels to queftion the Mi-
raculoufnefs of fame Fads, arid the Trutb of
others. If the Evangelifts had really been
Eyewitnefles, (or got exact information from
others,) of what they relate, they muft have
told moft of the Storys in the Gofpels, after a
more plaufible manner. If they had made a
difcreet choice of proper Circumftanccs in re-.

latin g



our SAV i o u R'J Miracles. 407

lating each fact: if they had added fome that
they have fupprcfs't ; and omitted fome ufe-
lefs ones that they have mention'd , their ao
counts of things wotf'd have been far more
unexceptionable.

N. However great a paradox it may feem,
I cannot but think that thofe very Circum-
ftances of the Miracles we have examin'd,
which Mr. /^. reckons abfurd and incredible,
are really convincing proofs of the truth of
thofe Miracles ; and of the Sincerity with
which the Evangeliits have recorded them.
If they had chiefly defigrfd to aggrandize the
fame of Jelus, for a worker of Miracles, as
Mr. W. fuppofesj they cou'd eafily have fuf-
frefs't thofe Circumitances that furnifh him
v/ith his Objections ; and have added others,
that wou'd have made Jefus's Miracles appear
far more aftonifhing than many of them do.
Had the Evangelifts defign'd to impofe upon
the credulity of mankind , and to write a
Romance, inftead of a true Hiftory ; they
wou'd have told us that feveral of the Traders
in the Temple, who offer'd to relift Jefus, were
ftruck dead, or blind, upon the Spot : that
the two thoufand Swine when driven by the
Devils into the Sea, were by Jefus brought
put alive -, and reilored to the Owners : that
he was transfigured in a valley before thou-
fands of people 5 and that Mcfes and Elias
went up to Heaven in their fight : that the
Woman with the ijjue of blood was brought to
Jefus upon a bed, lying at the point of death:
that the Other who was bowed-together cou'd
neither move hand nor foot : that he made a
wither'd Fig-tree bear ripe fruit in a moment,
to relieve his hunger : that he cured all the
D d 4



408 A Conference upon

SECT. VI. difeafed at the pool of Belbefda^ and reftored
a new leg to the lame Man, inftead of one
that he had loft before : that he gave Sight to
the Man born blind, in a moment, without
touching him : that he came and healed the
Paralytick at the door of the Houfe : that he
created Wine without Water at Cana ; and or-
dered moft of it to be immediately diftributcd
among the poor of the Town. They might
have told us that the Ruler's daughter had
been bury'd a week ; and the Wtdcw's Son a
fortnight : that Lazarus was brought out of
his Sepulchre ; and that his face was view'd by
fifteen Pbarifees, and five hundred other Jews,
before he was brought to life : and in fine,
that when Jefus was crucify'd, all his Apo-
illes were imprifoned till he rofe again : or,
that after his refunrection, he appear* d dayly to
his Difciples, and lived with them, as he ufed
to do : that he walk't publickly about the
ftreets of Jerufalem ; was hofanna'd again by-
the Multitudes : and that he afcended to Hea-
ven in the prefence not only of the Chief-
priefts and Rulers ; but of ten thoufand peo-
ple befides. Such an account of Jefus and his
Miracles was far more likely to be expected
from Deceivers, than that we have in the Gof-
pels. Had the Evangelifts combined to put
a cheat upon the world, we fhou'd certainly
have had other forts of Miracles than thofe
they have recorded. There wou'd have been
no omiflion of the greateft and moft import-
ant Miracles ; no differing accounts of the
fame Fact ; no perplexing Variety of Circum-
ftances ; nor feeming contradictions in their
Gofpels: no mention of any fort of means
ufed by Jefus ; nor of fuch Circumftances as-
feem to leflen the greatnefs of his Miracles ;

or



eur SAVIOU R'J Miracles. 409

or to render the reality of them doubtful. There SECT. VI.
vrou'd have been an intire and conftant har-
mony among the Gofpels, in every Point.
The Miracles related in them wou'd all have
appear'd ttnqueftionable and aftomjhing : and there
wou'd not have been any handle given for
fuch Objections and Cavils as Mr. W. makes
at the real Miracles of Jefus. But wou'd In-
fidels have been more apt to believe fuch un-
exceptionable Narratives ? Wou'd they not have
had far more reafon to queftion the truth
of them, than they have to cavil at the four
genuine Gofpels we now have ? What but the
ftricteft Sincerity cou'd have led the Evange-
lifts to mention thofe Circumftances of Jefas 1 ^
Miracles that are chiefly objected to ? They
cou'd not pofiibly think that t:iey made the
Miracles appear the greater. If they reflected
at all, they muft have been fenfible that fome
of the Circumftances they mention, evidently
tend rather to leflen the Miracles they relate ;
and fometimes to render them doubtful. But
they feem to have regarded nothing of this
kind. Truth was their Rule ; and fincerity
their Guide. They wrote what they faw, and
heard, and certainly knew : and never trou-
bled themfelves to confider what bad ufe fcep-
tical and ill-difpofed Minds wou'd make of
their Writings. Truth, Nature, and Veracity
appear in all that they fay : and I'm perfwad-
ed every confiderate perfon will readily a-
gree that thofe very Circumftances of Cbrift'i
Miracles which Mr. W. finds fault with, ren-
der them more credible, than if fuch Circum -
ftances had not been mencion'd. Through-
out the debate with Mr. M. I fhowed you
that there is not the leaft abfurdity or in-
credibility in any of thofe Circumftances : but

that



41 o A Conference upon y Sec.

SICT.VI. that they are all probable and confiftent. And
VxYN^J have now farther Ihown that they are a
convincing proof of the integrity of the E-
vangelifts : fo that inftead of rendering their
teftimony queftionable j thefe lejjening circum-
flances we have conftder'd and vindicated, tend
above all things to confirm the truth and cre-
dibility of the Gofpels.

T. Your rcafoning is plaufible ; and your
notions hang well together. But I have ftill
fome ftrong objections to propofe againfl the
truth and reafonablenefs of the Chriftian Re-
ligion, as it is reprefented in your Creeds,
and Syftems. If you can defend every part
of Jefus's Doctrine, as well as you have vin-
dicated his Miracles ; it is likely I may be-
come your Profclyte. But till you do that,
I mud retain my fceptical Notions, fufpend
my Judgment ; and believe what I can.

TV. I mall always be ready, Sir, tp give
you all the fatisfaction I can, upon any point
you may propofe. And I don't doubt but I
fhall be able to convince you that the Chri-
ftian Doctrine is intirely agreeable to Reafon ;
jh. Tiii. 49> and that the reafonablenefs, the perfection, and
c. vii.is. tne necej/ity of it is fuch a proof of its divine
original, as wou'd alone determin any wife and
impartial Judge of things, to prefer it far
before any Inftitution of Religion, or Scheme
of Duty, that ever was propofed to the world.
But it is now too late to enter upon fuch an
important copious Subject. I'm your humbk
Servant.
IT. Sir, I'm yours.



1 H E END.



BOOKS printed for James and John Knapton at
the Crown in St. Paul's Church- Yard.

A Vindication of the Miracles of our blefTed Savi-
our ; in which Mr. Woolfton's Difcourfes on them
are particularly examin'd, his pretended Authorities of
the Fathers againft the Truth of their literal Senfe arc
fet in a juft Light, and his Objections in Poinr of Rta-
fon are anfwer'd. Vol. I. In which the three firil Dif-
courfes of Mr. Woolfton are coniider'd. By the Right
Reverend Father in God Richard, Lord Bilhop of St
David's. The Second Edition.

A Charge delivered to the Reverend the Clergy of the
Diocefe of St. David's, in a Triennial Vifitation of the
fame in Augift, 1718. By the Right Reverend Father
in God Richard, Lord Bimop of St. David's.

A Defence of Chriflianity from the Prophecies of the
Old Teftament : Wherein are confidered all the Objec-
tions againft this kind of Proof, advanced in a late Dif-
courfc of the Grounds and Reafons of the Chriftian Reli-
gion, by the Right Reverend Father in God Edward
Lord Bifhop of Coventry and Lichfield. The Third
Edition, 8.

A Vindication of the Defence of Chriftianity from
the Prophecies of the Old Teftament : In anfwer to the
Scheme of literal Prophecy confider'd. In two Vols.
With a Letter from the Reverend Mr. Ma/Jon, concern-
ing the Religion of Macrobim, and his Teftimony
touching the Slaughter of the Infants at Bethlehem.
With a Poftfcript upon Virgil's fourth Eclogue. By
the Right Reverend Father in God Edward Lord Bifhop
of Coventry and Lichfield.

A Letter to Mr. Woolfton, occafion'd by his late
Defence of his Difcourfe, in anfwer to the Bifhops of
St. David's and London, &c. from a Deacon of the
Church of England.

The Nature of the Kingdom or Church of Chrift :
A Sermon preached before the King, March 31, 1717.
The Fifteenth Edition. Price 4 d.

A Dif-



Books printed for James and John Knapton. -

A Difcourfe concerning the '"Being and Attributes of
God, the Obligations of Natural Religion, and the
Truth and Certainty of the Chriftian Revelation. Be-
ing Sixteen Sermons preached in the Years 1704 and
1705. at the Lecture founded by the Honourable Ro-
bert Boyle, Efq; By Samuel Clarke, D. D. late Rector of
St. James's Weftminftcr. The Seventh Edition corrected.

A Paraphrafe on the four E-vangelifts. Wherein, for
the clearer underftanding the Sacred Hiftory, the whole
Text and Paraphrafe are printed in feparate Columns,
over againft each other. Together with critical Notes
on the more difficult Pafiages ; very ufeful for Families.
In two Volumes. By Samuel Clarke, D. D. late Rec-
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Sermons on the following Subjefts. By Samuel Clarke,
D. D. late Rettor of St. James's Weftminfter. Pitb-
lijhedfrom the Author's MSS. By John Clarke, D. D.
Dean of Sarum. With a Preface giving fome Account
of the Life, Writings and Char after of the Author. By
Benjamin Lord Bi/hop <?/" Salisbury.

VOL. II.

Of the Glory of God.
Of God's being the Father

of Mankind.
Of being the Children of

God.



VOL. I

Of Faith in God.
Of the Unity of God.
Of the Eternity of God.
Of the Spirituality of God.
Of the Immutability of

God.
Of the Omniprefence of

God.
Of the Omnipotence of

God.

Of the Omnifcience of God.
Of the WifdomofGod.
Of the Goodnefs of God.
Of the Patience of God.
Of the JufticeofGod.



Of Loving God.

Of the Fear of God.

Of the Wifdom of being
Religious.

Of imitating the Holinefs
of God.

Of the Love of God to-
wards Sinners.

Of Believing God.

Of the Grace of God.

Of the Kingdom of God.
VOL,



Booh printed for James and John Knapton.



VOL. III.
Of the Liberty of Moral

Agents.
A virtuous Mind the bed

Help to underftand true

Religion.
The Practice of Morality

leads to the Practice of

the Gofpel.
The Character of a good

Man.
The Nature of Humane

Actions.
How to judge of Moral

Actions.
The Nature of Religious

Truths.
Of Chrift's calling Sinners



VOL. IV.
Of that Belief which is ne-

cefTary to Baptifm.
The Defign and End of



Baptifm
Life.



is Newnefs of



Of being baptized into
the Name of any Per-
fon.

The Nature, End and De-
fign of the Holy Com-
munion.

Of the Catholick Church of

Chrift.
Of the Number of Thofc

that fliall be faved.
The Qualifications of thole



to Repentance. | thatThafl be faved.

The Excellency of moral That theTerms of

Qualifications.
Of Humility.
Of Poverty of Spirit.
Of the Virtue of Charity.
The Nature of L relative
, Duties.
The Inconfiftency of the



Love of God, with the
Love of the World.
The Folly of mocking at
Sin.



tion are offered to all
Men.

The Qualifications nece.
fary to receive the Terms
of Salvation.



Mens not accepting the
Terms of Salvation is
from Themfelves.j

Of the Nature of true Chri-
ftian Zeal.



In the

SERMONS on feveral Subjects. Vol. V. and VI.
By SAMUEL CLARKE, D, D, late Rector of St.



BOOKS printed for J. WALT H OE in Cor nil.

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concerning



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Deanof St. Paul's.

A Companion for the Feftivah and Fafts of the Church
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feroiceable to all that meet with it. W. Fleetwood.

The Bihop of GLOUCESTER'S Sermon at the Revival
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Dr. BERRIMAN'S Sermon before the fame Gentlemen,
Dec. i, 172,6.

Mr. WHEATLY'S Sermon before the fame Gentlemen,
Dec. 7, 1727.

"Mr. BECKER'S Sermon before the Lord-Mayor, Al-
dermen, and the feveral Livery-Companies of the City
of London^ Sept. 28, 1718.

Letters between Dr. WOOD a Roman Catholick,thePre*
tender's Phyfician, and WHITLOCK BULSTRODE, Efqj
(his Brother-in-Law) a Member of the Church of Eng-
land; publiihed with a Preface by Mr. Buljlrode.

Secreta Monita Societatis Jefu : The fecrct Intimations
of the Jefuits. In Latin and Engli/h.

Au defaut de la Force, ilfaut employer la Rufe.

Motto to Layer's Scheme.

An impartial Examination and full Confutation of the
Argument brought by Mr. WOOLSTON'S pretended



'Booh printed for ]. W AL T H o E In Cornhil!.

Rabbi, as publim'd in his fixth Difcourfe againft the
Truth of our SAVIOUR'S RESURRECTION, viz. That
He appeared only to his Difciples, after He had rifen, and
not fublickly to the Chief Priefts and the People of Jerufalem.

A Complete Hi/lory of the mod remarkable Tranfafti-
ons at Sea, from the earlieft Accounts of Time to the
Conclufion of the laft War with Frame. Adorned with
Sea-Charts, adapted to the Hiftory. Publifhei with his
Majefty's Royal Licence. By JOSIAH BuRCHETT,Efqi
Secretary of tne Admiralty.

The Free-Thinker. By Mr. PHILIPS. In 3 Volumes
Royal Paper.

Three Tragedies, viz. The Di/lreft Mother , The
Briton, and Humphrey Duke of Gloucefier. By Mr.
PHILIPS. i2 mo .

Epiflles, Odes, &c. written on feveral Subjects. With



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 30 of 31)